I recently won a Black Rapid RS7 with FastenR-3 Curved Camera Strap and thought I would do a camera strap comparison against the Carry Speed Cs-1 MK II Camera Sling I purchased in May of 2011.
Before I get into the specifics, I want to take a moment to point out how wonderful these new camera straps are. After using a sling to carry my camera safely and comfortably around my hip, it is safe to say that I will never use the straps we are given with our cameras today. In fact, it pains me when I see photographers lugging their cameras around their neck, swing back and forth in front of them. Not only is it cumbersome when you actually need to use your hands, it will start to hurt your neck after prolonged periods of use.
It only took covering one event for the local newspaper for me to realize I needed a better solution for carrying my camera. Having to caption the photos, I need to get the name, age and city of everyone in the picture for groups of 3 or less. Being able to set my camera aside and get out my pen and notepad without the hassle of dealing with my camera makes my life so much easier.
Simply said, if you spend lots of time with your camera in hand, get yourself a good strap. It is a neck saver. Alright, on to the review.
I’ve never been one to follow the crowd and buy something just for its brand. After weighing the options, I went with the now obsolete Carry Speed Cs-1 MK II Camera Sling. Now that I have got my hands on a Black Rapid, which is like the Kleenex of camera straps, i thought I would put it to the test against my Carry Speed.
One of the factors the lead me to the Carry Speed was price. I paid $31 for my strap from Amazon, and looking back, it was some of the best money I have ever invested in camera equipment. The Black Rapid RS7 with FastenR-3 Curved Camera Strap is currently priced at $61.99 on Amazon which is about what the current generation of Black Rapid’s was going for back then. Looking at the current offerings from Carry Speed, they really don’t have anything around the price point I got mine for, so price may not have the same influence it did back then.
Attaching a Black Rapid to your camera is the equivalent to screwing in a 1/4″ Eye-bolt to your camera with a carabiner and strap. Black Rapid has a few different fasteners in their line of products however I will be refering to the Black Rapid FastenR-3.
Carry Speed goes a different route and has a plate the fastens to the bottom of the camera. The plate goes flush against the bottom of your camera and the mounting bolt has a nice large diameter making it easy to get it nice and snug. This design has since been outdated and the latest offerings from Carry Speed fold and are more compact.
There are couple things I like about Carry Speed’s approach. First, the loop that the strap attaches to is offset making it so the camera rests more comfortably against your hip, opposed to the horizontal direction of the Black Rapids. Additionally, the mounting bolt also has female threads making it easy to add a tripod base plate to the bottom of the fastener making it really easy and quick take the camera off and have it on a tripod in just moments.
There are two things about the Black Rapid RS7 with FastenR-3 Curved Camera Strap that I am not particularly fond of. Black Rapid has included a buckle on it’s straps. I see this as just one more potential point of failure. Putting the straps on is just as easy as lifting it over the head, so I do not feel this is a time saving or convenience feature. It is also another way for thief to get access to your beloved camera. The other thing missing from the Black Rapid I got my hands on is that there is no pocket. I know this is not true for the whole Black Rapid line but a talking point none the less. I regularly put my key fob in my strap while at events to save space in my pockets for my business cards, lens cap and phone.
Similarities: Both straps seem to be made of high quality materials that should perform well under normal conditions for years. Each od the straps have adjustable bumpers that preposition the strap to the correct spot on your shoulder when lifting or putting the camera down.
After prolonged use with my Carry Speed, here are a couple notes: Upon close inspection I noticed that one of the small Carry Speed logos is starting to come off. I wont miss it and I doubt anybody else will. I never had a problem with the fastener on my D90 but when I purchased the D600, I found the mounting hole on the D600 to be shorter, making it so the fastener bottoms out before the base of the plate presses against the body of the camera. I have remedied this with a piece of a cut up mouse pad. I did have one close call with the Carry Speed but I suspect fowl play. Just as I reached back in a busy nightclub to grab my camera, the camera detached from the strap! This was also the same night someone snaked my Gary Fong dome from my camera, so I don’t think it had anything to do with the strap itself.
Given the change in both product lines, it is really not about which is better than the other. It is about finding what is right for you. I hope that this comparison gives new buyers and idea of what options there are and aids them with their decision.