You know that neck strap that came with your camera? Yes, the one that has the big Nikon/Canon/Sony/Fuji/Panasonic/Olympus logo on it. That thing should stay tightly locked in the box your camera came in. Neck straps, especially the stock ones, are much more trouble than they are worth. Lose the strap and not only will your photography look better, you will look better doing it!

Do You Even Need a Strap?

If you spend most of your photo time shooting from a tripod, you definitely don’t need a neck strap. In fact, during long exposures, that silly strap is likely moving about in the wind and causing sharpness-killing camera shake. Ive seen many photographers standing behind their tripod-mounted cameras with the neck strap still around their necks. This is a recipe for camera shake too. On the tripod, its best to go fully strapless and enjoy the unencumbered freedom of letting the tripod carry your load instead of your neck. I use a short piece of parachute cord to connect my camera to my tripod in case I accidentally unlock the clamp, but I could probably do without that precaution as my Really Right Stuff clamp has never ever failed me.

If you camera is always in your hand, the neck strap is likely wrapped around your wrist and hand in some sort of nasty tangle. Opt instead for a hand strap or short lanyard which will ease your grip and ensure your precious camera stays close at hand. Peak Design makes a wonderful hand strap called the Clutch, which works very well for those who work for long periods of time with camera in hand.

Sling It, Cowboy!

If you don’t want to have your camera in your hand or on a tripod, but close and handy, you need a sling. Once you try a sling, you will wonder why you ever messed with the neck strap. Black Rapid started the sling revolution with their innovative sliding clip, but I find their over padded and stiff neck pads never stay put and the joy of shooting slung is replaced with the frustration of fiddling with a wandering pad. Another issue with the Black Rapid straps is the attachment mechanism, which uses the cameras tripod socket. If you don’t need the socket for anything, (like a tripod), its not a problem. Many highly mobile photographers love their Black Rapid straps, but I found the hassle of how the camera dangles dampened my enthusiasm and that darn pad!

Peak Design's Slide and Clutch installed. Photo by Peak Design.
Peak Design’s Slide and Clutch installed. Photo by Peak Design.

Peak Design has joined the slinging party with their Slider series of straps that allow you to free up your tripod socket by attaching their handy anchors to your cameras stock strap points, or to the included Arca-Swiss plate. I find the adjustable Slider works very well when I want to carry my camera over my shoulder purse style, cross-body slung like a Black Rapid strap, or ever around my neck if I want to remind myself what it was like back when I used the stock strap. When I want to use my camera on a tripod or in my hand unencumbered by straps, the anchors detach from the strap in moments for complete freedom.

But Ive Got Two Cameras! Now What?

The slings get all crazy criss-crossed when you carry two cameras, so more innovation is needed when you rock multiple cameras. Black Rapid has this dialed with their system of dual-carry harnesses that keep everything in its place so you can shoot with either camera without battling crossed straps. Wedding shooters who have to lug multiple cameras swear by them, and the more fashionable Money Maker system from Hold Fast Gear.

Black Rapid makes several slings capable of managing multiple cameras. Photo by Black Rapid.
Black Rapid makes several slings capable of managing multiple cameras. Photo by Black Rapid.

Save Yourself and Save Your Neck!

By ditching the stock neck strap for a more evolved system, you will save your neck some serious strain and you will look much more serious about your craft. Im not saying that a silly strap will make or break your photography. Many iconic and powerful images are shot by photographers who carry their cameras with stock straps. I can tell you that by thinking about how you carry your camera and finding a system that works well for your style of shooting, you will find yourself more comfortable carrying your gear. When you are more comfortable, you are more likely to be creative and energized. Your photography will benefit.

Now go cut that silly strap off of your camera. Quick, before someone sees you!