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When I was hosting my Dunedin, Florida PhotoWalk (as part of the worldwide photowalk), I saw a photographer in my group, a very nice guy named David Rogers, using the handiest camera strap I’ve seen in while. It’s called the Rapid R-Strap, and while I thought it was ideal for shooting in situations like a photowalk, I’m going to order one tonight for use with my 2nd camera when I’m shooting sports.

After talking with David about it, he offered to do a full review of it for the blog, and so, here you have it; the complete review from photographer David Rogers (Thanks David!).

Review: Rapid R-Strap from BlackRapid
The Worldwide PhotoWalk seemed a perfect opportunity for me to test the R-Strap from BlackRapid, Inc. I’m not the kind of person that likes to wear a tie let alone a 6lb. swinging weight around my neck so when I found out about this strap and the fact that it came with a 30-day return policy I felt I couldn’t lose. If I didn’t like it I’d send it back and be no worse off.

It aint going back! The simplicity of the design alone has you saying “why didn’t I think of that.” Truth is, much like the automatic kitty litter box, you probably did think of it but never did anything about it.

How it works:
The R-Strap is worn over one shoulder (my left) and crosses the body like a car seat belt or messenger bag. It attaches to the camera via the tripod socket on a large lens setup or the camera body when using smaller lenses. The camera is now hanging upside down at your side or just above your right butt cheek. In one very smooth motion you grab the camera with your right hand and swing it forward and away from your body up to your eye. Shoot!, then lower it back to your side and continue about your day.

[ed. Here's a quick video from the manufacturer showing the R-Strap in action]:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/14Q1IxI_Opw" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

The greatest feature of this setup is the fact that your hands are free and your shoulders relaxed. With no camera in front of you, any motion forward like bending over doesn’t result in a swinging weight bashing that cute doggy on the head or slamming into the counter at the local store. (Yes, references made as experienced on my photowalk).

Walking with the R-Strap means no readjustments or shrugging to keep a camera balanced over your shoulder. The camera doesn’t swing from side to side across your chest and not once did my lens bash a table or chair as I walked by.

I tested the R-Strap (RS-1) with a Canon 70-200, 2.8 IS lens with a Rebel XT body in temperatures approaching 90 degrees and a humidity level of 80%. My point being, unless you have a pool nearby and are prepared to jump in, the conditions were not exactly conducive to a relaxing walk.

Aside from the R-Strap being extremely comfortable in comparison with any over the shoulder or around the neck apparatus, I never felt like I was wearing a camera that would attract attention. Brilliant for walking through a Flea Market or Turkish Bazaar, yet all the while staying ready for the grab shot.
The only added attention you will get as a result of wearing this strap is from other photographers. Even they don’t notice it until you show them, then all you will hear is, “huh, wait, what, show me that again” followed by “that’s so cool” or words to that effect. I have yet to show it to anyone who didn’t think it was a good idea. I wish I’d thought of this.

Another Gadget:
There are a whole bunch of photo gadgets on the market that promise more storage, better images and lighter loads. I’m not a heavy duty photographer and don’t enjoy carrying a lot of gear. My scorecard for any gadget is simple. If it makes me go and take pictures, it’s worth the money. When I started using Lightroom I said it makes me want to take more pictures. Now, with the R-Strap taking away a chief complaint of gear weight and discomfort, I am running out of excuses.

  1. The Rapid R-Strap RS-1 is available from blackrapid.com for $44.00 plus s/h.
  2. The RS-2 model has a space for cell phone and flash cards. $56.00 plus s/h

–David Rogers