01 Jun Going Strapless
I am not sure if this column will sell you anything – I’m not even sure if it will sell you on anything. But If I can make silly decisions, so can you, and sometimes they are the smartest part of the whole day.
Take the business of breaking the habits of a lifetime and going against all that you have been taught? Well, if you can do this without travelling the wrong way up the Freeway at peak hour, you might just do your photography a service. I think I have done so by going strapless.
Like all photographers of the 1960’s I diligently threaded the leatherette straps supplied in the boxes onto the SLR and compact cameras of the period. I wore them around my neck or over my shoulder until I had banged the lenses into enough walls to dent the filter rings. Then I kept them in camera bags and fumbled for them until I dropped them on the pavement. Then I just dropped them into Pelican cases…Funnily enough, I did the same thing with my first digital cameras. Straps, cases, Pelicans, and now messenger bags, There is no one suspension or storage system that is better than all others, despite the fact that I regularly write about the bags. It’s wonderful.
But lately I have finally realised that most of my camera work happens in a studio setting and nearly all that time on a tripod. Having a neck strap, sling, or other suspension system is actually a darned nuisance – whatever it is will tend to drag on the floor or get wrapped up in the tripod head or legs. I have nearly pulled the whole assembly down by snagging on the strap.
Yet…the camera can be used hand-held for portraits and dance shots and needs to be tied to me some way as I stumble about the place. So I set out to find a studio solution:
a. Joby wrist strap. This one sits on the walk-around Fujifilm X-E2 and I slip it over my fingers rather than wrist. It would still catch the camera if it dropped but I can easily set it down to grab a beer or a cheese on a stick at a Camera Electronic product launch. Photography is all very well, but you need to remember your priorities. I like the vile green as it matches the seat covers in my car so never let me pick your ties…
b. The Fujifilm X-T2 boasts a cut-down Crumpler neck strap with fittings from one of their failed designs ( Not all their stuff is kept in their catalog – you’ve gotta review the shop about once every six months. ). It’s about as tough as army webbing so the studio camera can be tied to the roll-around studio stand and not fall off. Sunwayfoto make some marvellous accessory rails as well.
c. The strap on the side of the Fujifilm X-Pro1 that now lives in my Little Workshop studio used to be one of their cut-your-neck-off straps. I got to it and just sewed in a key ring…turning it into a light duty wrist strap. If you’ve got one sitting around for your camera all you need is a bit of contact cement, the junk key ring, and a needle full of black thread. The nylon attachement braid is already sized for your camera and it’ll be the work of 20 minutes to finish.
If the idea of getting your camera off your neck when it is out of the bag appeals to you – but you don’t want to do leatherwork yourself – have a look at the Joby products and the Lucky straps in the shop. You can also get fitted hand wraps that tie you to the right hand side of your camera with pop studs or buckles, but you might find that they are too complex or too securely fastened to be comfortable. They’re fashionable, but I’ve no idea how you cope if you have a sandwich in your left hand and get caught with a sudden sneeze. Should the sandwich be egg salad the thought is too horrible to contemplate…