I’m always in search of the perfect camera strap. It’s an obsession. I guess this obsession is based on the simple premise that I’m not satisfied with any of my current straps.

When I first saw the BlackRapid R-Strap I was immediately interested. The notion of being able to carry a spare body and not have it get in the way of my primary camera has been the dream for most of my career.

I ordered the RS-2 for $56. It’s a ton of money for a camera strap. In fact, based on my research, it’s the most expensive camera strap in the world. Is it worth it?

I am sorry to say that for me, the answer is no.

The idea is brilliant. The strap is worn over the shoulder and crosses your body like a bandolier. It attaches via a hook that connects to a bolt you install in your tripod socket. It’s very adjustable and can fit almost any body size and type.

When attached to the strap, the camera hangs upside down by your hip and is designed to swing up into position at your eye when you need it.

Not having to deal with bodies banging into each other is the goal and when the BlackRapid strap works, it achieves that goal. The camera doesn’t swing from side to side across your chest, nor will it bang into other camera bodies hung around your neck.

The strap is comfortable and comes with a neat little pocket you can use to carry a CF card. It’s well padded and attractive.

But the problem with the strap becomes apparent in actual day-to-day use. When I first was asked how I liked the strap, I consistently remarked that it was cool. But that was based on just some minor initial use. When I began to use the strap regularly, I realized it had some design flaws.

My first problem with this strap was that it constantly twists to the point that it seems impossible to get it to lay straight across your chest. It’s easy enough to untwist, but it’s a constant hassle.

Problem number two is the connection to the camera. The current connector can easily come undone. The manufacturer clearly sees this as an issue because they ship a small plastic washer to slide over the clasp to keep it from coming undone. Even that didn’t work for me. Once the camera slipped off the connector. Fortunately I caught it, but disaster was only millimeters away.

Finally – and this was the last straw – the entire strap is held together via a clasp. If that clasp is opened, the strap runs through it and the camera hits the ground. And that happened to me. I was in the field and a guy with a large video camera came upon me on the trail. He wasn’t paying attention and his tripod clipped the strap at the same place where the clasp was. While it was an improbable situation, it happened and the camera went sliding off the strap. I was saved when the camera landed in a huge pile of leaves about a foot off the ground. There was zero damage to the camera. Had it been concrete, my D700 would be toast.

I really wanted to like the BlackRapid strap. And perhaps my experience with it was unusual. Your mileage may vary. But at the end of the day, I personally wouldn’t trust the strap to secure my gear and accordingly, cannot recommend it to others.

Join the conversation! 48 Comments

  1. That’s a shame as I was on the verge of ordering one of these. The search continues!

  2. I can’t bring myself to use any strap that is held together with clips/clasps/anything other than plain strong strap. I have stood looking and contemplating the purchase many times and always walk away thinking that it could come apart. I originally heard about camera armor through twip when Scott interviewed them at PMA’s and a few months ago I bought the camera armor tuffstrap and safegrip set. It was pricey but totally worth it. Its not for every situation as the strap gets a little warm on the back of your neck in the summer but if you need something solid, I don’t think you will ever find something better. Over the summer I used the safegrip with the cameras stock strap and loved the combo… now that its cooler I put the strap back on and can move around the woods without any worries of dropping. The strap could hold 20 DSLR’s let alone one but as I said it gets bulky so I still search for the perfect strap as well.

  3. Scott, that’s too bad you had that experience. I’ve been using the r-strap for about 4 months now and have had good results. I’m an amatuer and not a pro like you so the inensity with which I’ve used the strap is probably much lower. I agree the clasp is a potential problem and should have some redundancy built in but it has not been a problem for me so far. Black rapid is updating the connector piece this month to version 2, so hopefully that will resolve the accidental release issue.

  4. You would likely spend less money designing your own (and could make lots more by selling it!). :-)

  5. Hmm, interesting, thanks for that. I was looking to get one next week on my trip to NY but I will re-consider it now. I hate neck straps and have been using a pretty useful hand strap I found over here in Germany, however it is not the ideal solution.

    James
    Freiburg, Germany

  6. The ad videos really looked cool. My main concern was the dangling camera pointing backwards: The front of lens points straight back – so the most delicate part of the camera points somewhere where I can’t have an eye on it… and on the exact height where other people usually have their hands – probably with some sharp object.
    You confirm my personal first impression: The strap probably is great – as long as there are no people around you.

  7. yea, i’ve been looking at purchasing one of these as well, i really appreciate your review. that being said, interested in selling me the strap? :-)

  8. @Ian I was so worried that this could happen to someone else that I destroyed the strap. I can just imagine selling this and having someone sue me because they lost their camera while using a strap I sold them. Not worth $50 worth of trouble.

  9. I understand. Did your strap include the new spiffy connector? I’m still thinking of purchasing one.

    p.s. thank you so much for your radio show.

  10. I was interested in the R-strap but was concerned about something a former mechanical engineer said about it, that hanging the camera off of the tripod thread which was not designed for that type of stress would eventually warp the camera chassis.

    I have found a setup that works pretty well for me, I have a hand strap on the right side of the camera and a regular camera strap attached to left strap lug and the left lug on the hand strap which connects to the tripod thread. I wear it bandolier style so the camera lies sideways on my right hip and I can bring it up to eye level pretty quickly even without the R-strap’s sliding mechanism. I do have to use a pretty long strap to get it to work but am planning to see if I can find a neoprene strap that is long enough. I am also thinking of attaching a short strap with a second o-ring to the right strap lug so that the camera can’t fall off it the hand strap comes unscrewed from the tripod thread.

    Cheers,

    Bruce Horn

  11. @ Scott,

    I’ve been using one since Ron Henry first introduced the concept and I’ve never had an issue even when carrying a 40D w/ 300mm lens. I’ve used my R-Strap while hiking in the Texas hill country and never had it change position on my body or twist in any way. I’ve probably shot over 10,000 exposures with one of my 40D’s hooked to this strap and never had a single problem.

    @ Stefan,

    You can position the camera to point forwards, backwards or even sideways if you like and I’ve found the R-Strap to be much more comfortable than any neck strap I’ve used for the past thirty years. I’ve used it shooting alone, in crowds and on photowalks. IMHO it’s the best strap design I’ve seen in many years.

  12. @Jeff as I said – your mileage may vary. I am curious how it didn’t twist. Everyone I know who owns one and who I have spoken with has had that problem but you.

    @Ian mine did not have the new connector.

  13. Thanks for sharing Scott, I too purchased the strap and was initially thrilled with it. I shot a wedding and used it to hold my XSi with a prime lens on my left side while my Canon 5D was strapped across my left with a more traditional strap. The Black Rapid worked great with the light weight body but what you have shared here has me concerned. Looks like I may order the neoprene one Brinkmann had and check that out.

  14. There is an alternative. It is the simpler, cheaper ($30) and quite possibly superior solution, the Y Strap. I have been using this simplified, competing camera strap similar in concept to the R-Strap with much success. I discovered it on the Reid Reviews web site. To check it out for yourself, go to http://figitalrevolution.com/y-strap/ video demonstration.

  15. I have had one of these straps for about 3 months, and I am still thrilled with it. I am just an amateur so I don’t use it as much as you would, but I really enjoy it in crowded areas. It is also a lot better on my neck than other straps. As far as the twisting, I haven’t had that problem while wearing it. When I pull it out of my camera bag it can get twisted together, but not when I’m wear ing it. I wonder how much body geometry plays into that? Also on the connector, I have that inside the strap pocket so the odds of it getting bumped are very low.

  16. As a professional sports shooter I was hooked on the idea since I first saw another shooter using one at a Seahawks game. Normally I shoot with three digital cameras, one attached to a 400mm f2.8 mounted on a monopod, another body with a 24-70 strung around my neck and the third body slung over my right shoulder. When I watched him sling the camera up with one motion with ease, I went out and purchased one for the camera with a 70-200mm that’s hangs on my right side. To me, it’s much simpler to grab the camera from the bottom to swing up and get the shot instead of fighting with tangled straps. I use them while photographing at all sporting events from ranging from baseball, basketball to football, in all sports levels from high school, college to pro. And you know…..I now don’t miss many shots due to fighting with tangled straps.

  17. Sorry to hear that you didn’t like it Scott. I almost picked one up for my trip to Mexico last month, and the price was holding me off. Thanks for the honest review! What do you think about a lighter camera for a more casual user, say a D40 with the 18-200? Anyone else?

  18. I have given up on straps. They always seemed to be in the way. I carry my D300/Grip/100-300 f/4 by the lens on the sideline. I switch hands and hold by grip with lens facing down during breaks. I carry in Tamrac Velocity 8x sling(which is always on my back) when not in use and have quick access to other lenses and flash. This has worked very well for me.

  19. Scott, thanks for this review. I was seriously considering the strap, but now I will look elsewhere.

  20. Wow, thanks for the review! I too was just about ready to pull the perverbial trigger and buy one of these!

  21. I hope my luck holds Scott, I ordered an R-1 about 3 days before your review. If the past holds I generally like about 75% of what you dont like… Nikon be an exception. I have a similar build to you so I hope I dont have similar twisting problems.

  22. @Ron glad to be helpful 75% of the time. I deleted the portions of your comment that were off topic.

  23. I have had the R-Strap for about 5 months, and absolutely love it. I always hated the straps that went around the neck. About the connector, the company has an upgrade connector becoming available soon, they charge $0.01 for the new connector, but shipping is $4.99 I believe. I guess if I had a single complaint about the R-Strap is if you do a lot of vertical shots, and have a vertical grip. The Mounting connector gets in the way. With it little flaw, I still believe it is the best strap, that I have used.

  24. Anyone have any suggestions for a hand strap for my Nikon D80? please feel free to email me. Thanks!

  25. I saw a post about it on Scott Kelby’s blog. While I liked the idea, I didn’t like the single point of attachment. After reading your review I like it even less. It should have additional safety lines to hook into the shoulder rings on the camera

  26. This looks like a sling for a rifle. I’ve often thought of adjusting a rifle or SMG sling for my DSLR. This looks like the same thing.

  27. I’ve been considering this strap and appreciate the review. Right now, I use the Camdapter Handstrap with a Manfrotto Plate adapter and my quick release neck strap is connected to the left side of my camera (the camdapter connects to the right strap mount and the quick release plate while the standard strap connects to the left strap mount and the quick release plate).

    I had thought about replacing it but after reading this review, I may see if I can extend my existing strap fully and see how that works. If I’m shooting 2 bodies, I use a Think Tank Steroid Belt with straps and hang the bodies off of it by clipping the strap adapters to the quick connectors on my neck straps. I have them set to hang at each hip and it seems to work for me but I don’t wear that full harness when I’m only shooting one body or if I’m doing nature and have 1 camera set on a tripod.

    Ah well, the search for the perfect strap continues!

  28. If this strap fell short of the mark, perhaps BlackRapid (or someone else) will refine the design. Thanks for the review Scott. I was very close to pulling the trigger. I’ll keep BlackRapid in my bookmarks, and check back in a few months.

  29. Odd the problems you found with the r-strap.
    Using it with a Canon 400d, 35mm f1.4 L, 100-300mm and have not had any problems with the strap getting twisted.
    I would recommend that anyone using it puts hoods on all of there lenses, but that should be true when using any strap.

  30. Seems they heard your complaints. I just received my R-1 strap and there is no more clasp that can come undone. Instead it has a traditional tension loop the the strap is fed through to hold it at the correct length. The unit I got still has the old clasp with the plastic safety on the latch (that attached the strap to the camera mount) but they will be shipping the new R2 connector that is much improved. So I believe once this new connector is available, you should give it another try.

    My only concern is the tripod mount coming loose, unscrewed, or just completely pulled out of the camera. My 1D body with an 85L is just over 5lbs hanging from that connection and I’m not sure if Canon really designs these cameras to be hung from the mount or not…???

  31. I’ve been successfully using the R-Strap for many months now and love it. I use it in conjunction with a second body on a normal strap around my neck; swing that to the side and use the body on the R-Strap. I’ve also used two R-Straps simultaneously with neither of the two bodies getting in the way of one another. Very slick, very secure (now that they have the updated clasp) and I’ve never had trouble with twisting. I use it with an 80-200 2.8 which is pretty heavy and having the large lens wrap around my waist out of the way is amazing!! Regarding the clasp, simply ensuring it is secure should be sufficient. I mean helmets on our heads stay on with a similar system and are intended to do so when in an accident and my head is way more valuable than my camera. I think you had some bad luck Scott; albeit a very real experience and a good review nonetheless. One other advantage of the R-Strap is you can store your bodies without straps (nothing in the way) and simply click in to the body you are using. I don’t know about you all, but I’ve almost pulled a camera body off the table by accidentally pulling on the standard style straps which are impossible to take off quickly. I dislike anything dangling from my camera when I don’t need a strap.

  32. I bought the R Strap to take on holidays in New York. On the second day there, the first real day of use, the strap failed in spectacular fashion.

    The stitching ripped apart, probably slowly, unraveling in a split second, leaving my beloved D300 and 70-200 2.8 plummeting toward a concrete grave. By a fluke, rather than skill, my hand was under the camera at the time as I wasn’t 100% sure of the strap yet. I didn’t as much catch the camera, as sudden feel it land in my hand.

    Very, very disappointing build quality for something that is designed to take some expensive gear

  33. Thanks for the review — I was toying with the idea of buying an R-strap, but now will definitely wait for Rev. 3 or 4 or…

  34. I’ve been using the R1 for a few months and normally walk a few miles on horse trails through the woods. I love the strap over my shoulder for comfort. The camera swings up easily and into position as advertised. The weight of my D300 and 70-200mm 2.8 causes some swinging so I’ve developed the habit of holding the lens as I walk. I have to admit it gives me piece of mind knowing I have a grip on the lens while walking. Standing I find the strap perfect. This strap is perfect for the two camera sports photographer.

  35. Never mind the strap. Great photo. I love your podcast.

  36. OK, I’ll ask… what’s your favorite strap so far then?

  37. @Stephen so far the Kata Reflex E.

  38. I’ve been through many a strap (camera!) my favorite for the past year has been the OPTech. Very comfortable, Very Good shoulder grip, reduces the unsprung weight of my D2Xs & you can unclip the main body of the strap, clip together the remaining parts and use it as a hand grip.
    I’ve not come across a better strap.
    Scott, i’m sure if you work with them to design a 2 camera strap you’d have your own ‘Fig Rig’

  39. Scott,

    I bought the strap after hearing about it a number of places. It sounded like a great idea, but didn’t quite work for me. I used it for a photowalk and after a few hours, I was back to my regular strap. It slid all over the place and never seemed to sit in place. I also had the twisting problem. Overall, for me the sliding made it uncomfortable, I spent too much time trying to straighten it out and I was worried about it falling. I decided to give it another shot and tried it a few more times with the same results. It was just taking up space in my camerabag so I took it out. I may end up giving it to my uncle and buying an optotech.

  40. [...] Scott Bourne reveiwed these on the TWP site last week TWIP BlackRapid R Strap Review – TWIP [...]

  41. I made myself a DIY RStrap out of an old camera bag strap, the clasp from a laptop bag strap and a manfrotto QR plate. Cost was zero, and it’s been fantastic. It took a small amount of fiddling to get it right, but its a huge improvement on the standard strap. The clasp has never come undone, which makes it inexcusable IMO that the real version has that problem.

    I’ve left the strap adjustable for now, and the strap adjuster has never slipped. But if I was paranoid I could easily sew it in place – after all it cost me nothing to make!

    Ben

  42. Wow…many thanks for this review…happy im not getting one now…maybe revision 2? 3?

  43. I just went to check out their website and they have a brand new version of the R-strap. The RS-4. It looks like a hybrid of the RS-1 and RS-2 (which is now discontinued). Black rapid hasn’t posted any info comparing the straps though. Does anybody know anything about the RS-4?

  44. As an owner of the RS-2, I am very pleased with the comfort and security it provides. The only issue I have with it is that it’s a little too bulky when you’re wearing dressy clothes. For casual photo walks and shoots, it’s awesome!

  45. I’ve been using a German strap (label fell off) made of neoprene. Its somewhat like the OpTech Fashion strap, but the Optech has nylon fabric on both sides, so it slips. The German strap has nylon on the top, and “skin” (smooth neoprene) on the other – never slips off my shoulder. I attach the strap to a RRS L-bracket, so the right side of the camera is strap free. While not perfect, this has been the best setup I’ve ever used. The soft strap has some give, so it is like having a suspension on the camera, and since it attaches only to the left side of the camera, it stays out of the way of my controls.

    Anyone know who made this strap? It has a pair of quick connects to narrow nylon straps, and a German flag sticker near the clasp.

  46. I was planning on buying one when I got back to the states but I guess I’ll wait… I’d love to get the camera off my neck though, especially since I’m planning on adding the battery grip and heavier glass :-)

  47. I really like the upstrap – it sits on my shoulder perfectly and I can carry my D700 and 70-200mm all day without strain.

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About scottbourne

Founder of Photofocus.com. Retired traveling and unhooking from the Internet.

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