I’ve never been a fan of conventional camera straps, particularly the ‘garottes’ camera manufacturers include with their cameras. Aside from being as comfortable as raw burlap sumptuously appointed with ragged wire edging, neck straps have a tendancy to transform a camera into a pendulum of substantial mass; an unfortunate circumstance one discovers in instances like jumping down from a fence, when one is assaulted abdominally by their DLSR. A similar downside of neck straps, is that anytime grip is not maintained on the camera, it acquires the freedom to smack into any object within range, generally with demoralizing consequences.
In considering a solution many years ago, I fashioned one of those really thin camera straps into a simple elegant wrist loop. This worked great in combination with a compact camera bag worn ‘bandolier’ fashion. With this setup, I could carry my old Nikon with wonderful efficiency, storing or accessing with ease, and also keeping it secured to my hand when in use.
Fast forward a decade or so, when I got my Rebel kit with the full battery grip…
I tried my handy-dandy wrist loop briefly, then I realized I could design something new with the strap bolster on the bottom of the battery grip. I transformed my wrist loop into what is now commonly known as a “hand strap”. This was a quantum leap in comfort, usability and security. When adjusted just so, the palm strap works to not only transfer the load of the camera to the hand and allow the fingers to freely operate the camera with a very light grip, but it also enables you to carry your camera securely with minimum effort. In fact, I need only keep my fingers curved around the grip to keep the cammer affixed to my hand as I walk or scramble along the trails seeking out shots. If I simply straighten my fingers, the camera slides off easily to park into my little bandolier bag when the terrain gets demanding.
My hand strap is a minimalist homemade unit I tailored for my camera (and somewhat large hands), but these days, Canon, Nikon and many third party companies produce more elaborate hand straps. They come in a variety of materials and designs, using leather, leatherette and even neoprene and are generally quite inexpensive, around $15.00 to $35.00.
A hand strap may not be to everyone’s shooting style, but they’re cheap enough to test out at minimal risk. The trick is adjusting it just right, so that it’s snug enough to take the camera load and free up your fingers, yet loose enough to allow you to operate all controls and slip your hand in or out of without hassle. Once it’s adjusted just so, it’s a great way to control and use your camera, and spare your neck and midriff in the bargain.
Perhaps when I start wandering the trails with multiple camera bodies, it will be time to look into the variety of over the shoulder straps, but until then I am delighted with how a hand strap suits the way I shoot.
Made Products SafeGrip: http://store.made-products.com/products/toughstrap-safegrip-set