The Crazed King Of Camera Straps

Is it just me who’s driven crazy by camera straps?

Once you have more than three or four cameras (and which film photography enthusiast doesn’t?), you want two things –

  1. A strap on each camera you use, so it’s comfortable to hold and wear, and more importantly so you don’t drop it.
  2. A neat and convenient place to keep your cameras so any one can be chosen to go and shoot some film with at a moment’s notice.

The trouble is, when you have condition number one above met, number two goes out the window. 

Even a mere couple of bestrapped SLRs on a shelf seem to become very easily entwined, ironically increasing the likelihood of dropping and breaking one.

Have you ever picked up one camera assuming it was unattached only to have two or three others leap from the shelf or box a fraction of a second later and hurl themselves headlong into your elbow/ chest/ face/ the floor or a combination of the above?

I knew I wasn’t the only one!

contax139q-2
Contax 139 Quartz, Flektogon 35/2.4 lens, leather quick release strap by 595strapco

With compact cameras it’s usually slightly better as many have short wrist straps, decreasing the possibilities of entanglement. 

But just as many have ridiculously long straps that when around your neck mean the camera dangles too low and bounces on and off your, well, privacy area, as you try to walk.

Or am I just a foot shorter than the average camera strap designer?

The obvious solution for both SLRs with neck/chest straps and compacts with wrist straps seems to be to just find one strap you love and then just use that on whichever particular camera you’re taking out each time.

Your cameras can sit happily separate on a shelf or in a box and be easily selected without the aforementioned lemming like leaping and resultant injury/ damage/ swearing.

But this is where SLR straps drive me even more crazy! 

Those tight, tiny metal rings that are so fiddly to remove from one camera and add to another, you lose the will to load a film after you’ve finally reattached them, ten minutes and half a dozen ragged fingernails later.

Compacts can be even worse, with multiple buckles and rubber padded sections needing to be navigated and woven in and out like some entry exam to the Guild of Professional Knotters.

So, after some years or frustration, I’ve finally found a simple and elegant solution for both SLRs and compacts. 

With SLRs, I liked the idea of a somewhat vintage looking leather strap. I came across 595strapco on Etsy, run by a very friendly chap called Dave Young, and soon bought a beautiful 42cm tan leather strap.

It was lovely, but if I wanted to use it on a different camera I had that same torture by tiny ring removal to endure. 

I got in touch with him again and found he also sells straps with a quick release clip at either end. I quickly ordered one.

It’s brilliant, and now as long as each SLR has a little ring already attached to each lug, I just clip the strap on in a couple of seconds. Now it’s the one and only SLR strap I ever need.

contax139q-close-2
Contax 139 Quartz, leather quick release strap by 595strapco

Plus I can have half a dozen SLRs cosied up on a shelf without any kind of surly strap stroppery, on my part, or theirs.

Inspired, I turned my attention to compacts.

Unlike SLRs, which virtually all have similar lugs, compacts vary greatly in their strap attachments.

Some do have a simple lug and ring like an SLR, some have a kind of plastic channel on the side through which a strap needs to be threaded, some have a plastic lug too thick to clip anything too, and so on.

But what virtually all my compacts do have in common is a tripod socket. 

I figured there must be simple screws that go into these for various tripods, and quickly found on eBay some very simple tripod thread mount screws with a D-ring that folds down flat.

Being ever the cheapskate, I found some that cost a mere £2.35 for a pair.

The D-ring can be used to hold as you screw in, eliminating the need for any tools. And of course the ring can easily be clipped on to.

All I needed now was one of my favourite compact camera straps (the short type, not the dangly droopy ones) and to attach it to the D-ring.

yashicaminitecaf-2
Yashica Minitec AF, tripod D-Ring plus woven wrist strap

After I did this, I remembered I had an old leather strap that had come with the case of my 1956 Soviet Kiev-2A.

So a quick modification later, I had a vintage 60 year old leather hand strap for my compacts too.

The next step is to remove all straps from all the compacts I have (maybe a dozen) and use just one of the two new hand straps I’ve made.

nikonaf3-2
Nikon AF3, tripod D-Ring plus vintage Kiev-2A leather strap

Because the straps rely purely on the tripod thread, they’re just as quick to attach and reattach than my SLR quick release strap, taking literally about three seconds to unscrew. 

An added bonus with a strap mounted like this is it’s on the bottom of the camera, and when you’re holding the camera ready to shoot, the straps drops out of the way.

A number of cameras I’ve used have the straps attached on the right of the camera, getting in the way of holding it as you try to compose.

This solution has even got me re-enthused about my little Yashica Electro 35MC which I had considerable trouble using because it only had a strap lug on the left which for me made it ergonomically awful to use.

It’s such a tiny camera I didn’t want to use it without a strap at all for fear of dropping it. So the leather strap in the tripod mount is now ideal.

yashicaelectro35mc-3
Yashica Electro 35MC, tripod D-Ring plus vintage Kiev-2A leather strap

As I said, is it just me who’s driven crazy by camera straps?

Wait, I need to correct that. WAS it only me who was driven crazy by camera straps? 

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