(Article originally posted on Attention2Tech)
It seems, as a budding photographer delves more and more into the semi-professional world, that photography equipment gets heavier and heavier. As each lens is upgraded, more weight is added to the total setup. When a camera body gets bumped to the next level of professionalism, so, too, does the weight of the camera. Because of this, camera equipment can be quite the burden to haul around, especially for the more active photographer who needs their camera always at the ready. Having easy access to the camera can be the difference between snapping a shot of "The Catch" or snapping a blurry shot of a wide receiver's shoes. What, then, exists to solve the predicament faced by many photographers? What device can support the weight of the equipment while at the same time allowing near-total free range movement for the most acrobatic shots?
Enter the Black Rapid line of R-Strap camera straps.
For the purposes of this review, we've obtained the Black Rapid RS-4 Strap. The RS-4 is Black Rapid's most simplistic strap, but don't believe for a second that the simplicity reduces the functionality of the strap. At first glance, the RS-4 appears to be just another camera strap, however it's the added bonuses that really make these straps stand out from the crowd. The RS-4 sports a 60" strap (30" from shoulder to hip on both sides) with a comfortable padded shoulder. Each strap comes with an adjustable clip to ensure the camera doesn't swing too far behind the photographer.
Along with this clip, each R-Strap comes equipped with Black Rapid's Patent Pending FastenR-3 fastener. Unlike most camera straps that merely clip, tie or weave into a specific part of the camera, the FastenR-3 fastener screws into the tripod attach point allowing the camera to spin in a full 360 degrees, providing for full range of motion for the photographer. Each FastenR-3 fastener is made of solid stainless steel, giving the fastener a strong build, and providing the photographer with a sense of safety and durability. The FastenR-3 connects to the R-Strap via the ConnectR-2 connector, giving even more range and versatility to the strap.
Not wanting to be absolutely utilitarian, the Black Rapid RS-4 Strap also provides the photographer with prolonged comfort, sporting a large, padded shoulder strap. The RS-4 shoulder pad also comes with a zippered pouch, large enough to hold a few extra memory cards, or any other small-type accessory that you might need to have with you at all times.
So, enough with the specifications, how is the RS-4 Strap in everyday, practical use? To say that this strap was a blessing would be understating just how good this strap really is. For the purposes of this shoot, the strap was attached to the tripod mount of the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens which weighs in at just a few ounces over 3 pounds. Add to that a Canon body, possibly a battery grip, a few extra batteries and a flash, and you're looking at having around 5 to 6 pounds hanging off of your shoulder at all times. The Black Rapid RS-4 helps to distribute this weight across the shoulder, taking some of the pressure out through the accompanying shoulder pad.
During a recent shoot in the snow, I trekked that exact setup through town, walking over 3 miles in the process. Never once did my shoulder feel fatigued and stressed. In addition to the comfort, the Black Rapid RS-4 allowed me easy and quick access to my setup, while letting me know that the camera wasn't going to bounce around too much as I walked. Needing to catch a few shots rather quickly, the RS-4 presented no hinderance in getting the camera off of my hip, and up and ready-to-go.
Functionality is definitely important, but I think it's also important to note what this strap is going to do in the appearance department. Getting the camera down by your hip gives you the appearance that you might actually know what you're doing with that camera. How does it do this, you ask?
You've seen it time and time before. A guy walking down the street with his blue blocker sunglasses and safari hat, fanny pack attached firmly in front of him, and his camera draped over his neck with the packed-in strap holding it in one place. In order to take the picture, he has to grab the camera with both hands and have the strap drape itself over his chest. If he's lucky, the strap won't ride up or choke him half-to-death while he does it, but more often than not, the strap is going to give him problems.
Not so with the Black Rapid RS-4 Strap. You can keep the camera safely out of harm's way, while allowing both hands to be free of encumbrance and able to do just about anything. A flock of seagulls taking off? No problem for the RS-4 strap. Just grab the camera and the patent pending technology will bring the camera front and center, ready to take the picture, but staying out of the way of any other movement. While on my last photo walk, I was even able to use the camera with one hand, knowing that the RS-4 strap was there to hang on.
I really can't say enough good things about the Black Rapid RS-4 Strap. It's functional, while at the same time maintaining a sleek and awesome appearance. I really didn't think there could be huge differences in camera straps, but this strap is above and beyond the standard pack-in strap that comes with most cameras. Black Rapid offers a versatile line of straps to fit every photographer's needs, so chances are good that, no matter what type of photographer you are, Black Rapid has a strap for you.