When getting ready to shoot, all photographers have to make the dreaded decision: strap or no strap? A camera strap presents both pros and cons, and the choice to use one is ultimately up to you.
Using a camera strap presents a wide range of benefits, such as having a fail-safe, being able to use your hands, and making the camera easier to carry. However, camera straps also come with some drawbacks, including being too uncomfortable or noticeable.
In the rest of this article, we’ll review the pros and cons of using a camera strap, along with what sort of camera strap you should use if you decide to go that route.
Table of Contents
Camera Strap – Pros and Cons
Below you will see the compiled list of all the pros and cons of using a camera strap. By reading through this section, you’ll be able to get a better understanding of whether getting one is the right choice for you.
- Extra security and stability: As all enthusiasts and hobbyists know, good-quality cameras can be an exceptionally expensive investment. The last thing you want to do is drop it somewhere. With a strap, you can be sure the camera is not going anywhere. If you were to drop it, it would simply fall against your chest; the worst that can happen is a slight bruise.
- You can freely use your hands: When you need to use your hands to fix a shot, you can just drop your camera against your body. This prevents you from having to set it down somewhere, which can be tricky in some locations.
- It prevents easy theft: If you use your camera in crowded places or while traveling, you may be (rightfully) wary of getting your equipment stolen. Thieves today know the worth of a good camera, and they often aim to grab it right out of their victim’s hands and run off. With the camera securely around your neck, they will have trouble grabbing it so easily.
- You can change your lens quicker: With a camera strap, changing lenses is much easier. You’ll be able to grab the other lens and switch it while it’s hanging from your neck.
- It can be fashionable: There are some rather stylish camera straps out there. They can definitely add to your photographer style and give you an extra edge if that’s what you’re into.
- You can carry multiple cameras simultaneously: Some professional photographers have multiple cameras that they like to use for different shots. By using camera straps, they’re able to carry multiple cameras at the same time.
- It can get in the way of photos: While shooting, your camera strap can sometimes fold up and get in the way. This can be annoying, especially if you don’t notice until after the shot. However, if you’re okay with always making sure to keep the material out of the frame, then you should be fine.
- It’s uncomfortable: Carrying a heavy camera around your neck for extended periods can get more uncomfortable than you’d think. It can cause neck and back pain, both while shooting and after the fact. Though the camera won’t weigh on you when you’re holding it and actively shooting, you’ll always feel it when you let it rest.
- You will be very noticeable: If the fact that you’re carrying a camera doesn’t get your looks, having it on a strap around your neck definitely will. It makes you a lot more noticeable, which can be a significant disadvantage if you’re into taking candid photos.
Do Professional Photographers Use Camera Straps?
Camera straps have a professional look. Of course, someone who takes photos for a living must use a camera strap, right?
Most professional photographers use camera straps; however, not all of them do. While the accessory makes the shooting process much more practical for some, others might feel uncomfortable or restricted by it.
Therefore, don’t feel pressured to buy one just because you think it will make you look more professional.
The main reason for using a camera strap is to carry your camera for longer periods of time. This makes it easier on you, for the most part (even though they can get uncomfortable).
Some photographers also need straps to carry multiple cameras at the same time, over long distances, or while they need to be doing some sort of physical activity. This makes carrying the camera a lot less stressful since they probably need their hands for balance.
However, if using a strap doesn’t feel natural, practical, or doesn’t make the shooting process any easier for you, then there’s no point in using it.
Using a camera strap is a personal choice, not a requirement for being a good photographer. Your photos will be just as striking with or without a strap.
Types of Camera Straps
Now that you’ve seen the pros and cons of using a camera strap, let’s get into the options you’ll likely be faced with when trying to choose one. There are more than you’d think!
Different Materials of Camera Straps
The materials used to make camera straps are diverse and vary in both function and price. For example, the most widely used materials are nylon, cotton, and paracord. These are the easiest to find and usually the cheapest.
There are also camera straps made of neoprene, which is water-resistant and comfier against your skin. You can also opt for a leather alternative, which is undoubtedly durable, comfortable, and gives you a sleek, sophisticated look. However, these options are both notably more expensive.
Different Styles of Camera Straps
There are quite a few style options for camera straps. If you do decide to go for a strap, you should look into the different styles to see what would suit you best.
The different styles include the following:
A standard camera strap is the neck strap. It goes around your neck and is fastened to your camera through eyelets or clips on both sides. They can be made of any of the materials mentioned above.
Sometimes, neck straps also have a quick release that allows you to take the strap off easily and quickly. This feature can come in handy if you just use the neck strap to hold the camera but prefer to shoot without it.
Some neck straps also have cushions. If you’re concerned about comfort, you can buy a nicely padded strap or one that is wider and distributes the weight more evenly.
Cross-body straps are similar to neck straps, except they run sideways across your body. They’re usually connected by a screw to the side of your camera.
Neck straps are an excellent choice if you have to carry your camera for long periods of time. Because of the way weight is distributed, cross-body straps are usually way more comfortable than their neck counterparts. You can also get them with a padded shoulder for extra support. These are also adjustable, allowing you to fit them correctly to your body size.
While a neck strap goes around the neck, a wrist strap (you guessed it) goes around your wrist. Wrist straps are usually better for smaller cameras since large models are too heavy and clunky to be held by the wrist.
Wrist straps are also only tied to your camera through one point. Therefore, if this breaks, your camera will fall. This is another reason why you can only use wrist straps with smaller, lighter equipment.
Wrist straps can be made of various materials. You can purchase them in different colors and designs as well.
If you have a large camera but hate the feel of a neck strap, you might be interested in a hand strap. These attach at two separate points, both through an eyelet and where your tripod mount goes.
If you plan to use your camera with a tripod as well, you should probably look for a variation that will not interfere with the mount so that you don’t have to deal with removing it constantly.
Hand straps are usually made of nylon or leather.
Shoulder Harness Straps
Compared to neck and cross-body straps, shoulder harness straps are a lot more secure. They slide over your shoulders like a shirt and clip onto your camera from straps that hang down.
Usually, shoulder harnesses are made of leather or nylon. Their design spreads the weight across your neck, shoulders, and back, allowing you to carry a heavy camera (or two) while not feeling the pain of the weight. This can be invaluable if you’re shooting for long periods of time.
However, shoulder harnesses can be more expensive than the other models previously discussed. They are also large and quite noticeable. Sometimes, the harness can even mess with your shooting because of how it moves on your body.
Chest Carrier System Straps
Chest carriers take securing your camera to a whole other level. They fit over your body and look similar to a bullet-proof vest.
Your camera locks onto a plate on the front of your chest, which screws into the tripod mount. You’ll need to unlock the camera from the plate when you’re ready to shoot.
These are great for carrying large cameras for an extensive time or over long distances. The camera fits your chest and doesn’t swing around. The weight is also spread out evenly over your entire upper body.
We’ve seen many wildlife photographers use chest carriers, as well as those looking to shoot a sports event. If you’re into active photography, which is when you take photos while on the move (hiking, biking, etc.), these are also very beneficial.
As expected, chest carriers are more expensive than any of the other options. They are large, noticeable, and difficult to pack. Additionally, if you’re shooting in the daytime, they can get hot.
Camera Holsters and Belt Clips
Camera holsters and belt clips are worn around your hips. Your camera screws into the plate on the holster where the tripod mount sits. It allows you to unlock the clip easily.
Holsters are perfect for those who want to avoid the added weight on their upper body entirely. However, they are merely a tool for carrying the camera. You cannot keep the camera in the holster while shooting.
This means that your camera is still susceptible to drops. Moreover, you need to be careful when you walk because your camera will stick out from your body, making it possible to knock it into surrounding objects and people.
How To Find the Perfect Strap for You
Once you determine the right style of camera strap for you, there are a few more considerations you’ll want to keep in mind. These will help you narrow down the vast array of options and find the perfect camera strap for your needs:
- Strap weight limits: Make sure that the option you choose is durable enough to hold what you need it to.
- Camera strap attachment: Check how the camera strap attaches to your camera. You may have a preference when it comes to the clasps. Some are easier to use and quicker, while others take more time.
- Length and width of straps: You should make sure the length and width of the straps are comfortable on your body. The wider the strap, the more evenly the weight is distributed. Usually, the length is adjustable, but if you’re really tall or short, you may want to double-check.
- Quality: Since your strap will be carrying your very expensive camera equipment, you want to make sure it will hold out. Make sure the strap is well-made by checking the stitches. Moreover, be sure to check the clasps.
- Material: You want to test whether the camera strap is the right material for you. Try it out on your body and see how it feels. Make sure it is sturdy when you add pressure to it.
- Attach your camera: You should always test the strap out by attaching your camera and seeing how it fits. Try it out on your body and take some photos with it on. If it feels comfortable, great!
Camera Strap Length
When purchasing a camera strap, you want to ensure you have the right fit. But how do you know what length is best for you?
Many companies selling camera straps will offer various sizes. They’ll have a standard length, a short, and a longer variation. Some will let you customize the length yourself.
Short length straps are meant for smaller and lighter cameras. They are usually worn just around the neck.
Standard length straps are very versatile and can be worn around the neck or across the body.
Longer length straps are perfect for taller individuals or those who want some extra room to move their camera around.
Here are some examples of situations where each length strap works most effectively:
- Short strap: These are perfect for photographers doing profile shots that like to keep their camera in close range. It’s easy to reach for your equipment and bring it up for a picture.
- Long strap: These are great for travel photographers who need to move their camera around a lot and cinematographers who need a lot more range. These are also excellent for cameras with large lenses- you can carry your camera across the body to spread the weight out better.
- Standard strap: These are best for commercial photographers doing typical photography work. You can wear two standard straps across your body simultaneously during photography events.
Best Camera Straps
Now that you’ve seen your options when it comes to choosing a camera strap, let’s get into some of our top recommendations. Camera straps are available in all styles and come in a wide range of budgets.
Neck Straps & Cross Body Straps
A very popular strap for DSLR cameras, great for professional and hobby photographers. You can also wear it as a neck, shoulder, or cross-body strap. It is made of a nylon material with padding that has two sides- one with some grip and one that lets it slide around over clothes. It has a quick-release clasp that makes it easy to take off.
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A great cross-body strap with an additional stabilizer strap for movement. It’s made of nylon webbing with a thick shoulder pad. It has two spring-loaded bumper clips that can be locked onto the camera. However, it is only designed for right-handed photographers.
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A simple neck strap made of neoprene that is perfect for hot summer days. It is easily washable and comfortable against the skin. Suitable for lightweight cameras.
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Shoulder Harness and Chest Carrier Straps
An extremely comfortable camera harness that allows you to remove one strap and use just one sling. It’s great for comfortably carrying two cameras and is loved by both event photographers and nature photographers.
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A chest carrier strap that comfortably spreads the weight of the camera across your upper body. The top is padded to provide even more comfort, while the waist is elastic so that you can easily move.
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A perfect harness for carrying two cameras at the same time. It’s made out of leather and provides extra security to make sure your camera is protected.
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Wrist Straps and Hand Straps
A very simple and easy-to-carry wrist strap. Using its unique Anchor Link System, it will conveniently protect your camera or binoculars from accidental falls. It also has a quick-release function that allows you to easily remove your gear from the strap.
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Anesthetic leather hand strap with a unique design that enables you to place the main strap behind the camera body. It is fully adjustable and is compatible with larger DSLR and Mirrorless cameras.
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A comfortable and affordable hand strap with a quick-release attachment and the ability to use it simultaneously with a tripod. However, it is slightly bigger than the SpiderPro Hand Strap and may not work well if you have smaller hands.
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Camera Holsters and Belt Clips
This is one of the best camera belt clips in the game, recommended by many professionals. Though it’s on the more expensive side, it is qualitative and durable. It has a very secure self-locking system but also incorporates a quick-draw camera lock so that you can quickly access it.
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A very strong and secure belt clip that allows you to attach any camera onto a strap that is up to 2.5 inches (6.35 cm) wide and 0.5 inches (1.27 cm) thick. The belt clip features a quick-release button, giving you easy access. It can hold up to 200 pounds (90.71 kg).
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This two-in-one product can act as both a shoulder strap and a belt strap. Moreover, unlike other straps, it allows you to place your camera in an enclosed container. It will protect your device from rain, dust, and more. There are also organizing pockets for extras.
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For those of you who want a camera strap that is functional and eye-catching, here are some excellent options. However, keep in mind that while these may be pretty, they lack some of the more practical functions of previously mentioned camera straps.
A beautiful shoulder strap with a variety of floral designs. It is comfortable and adjustable and works with all camera models.
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Camera straps are not for every photographer, as many are more comfortable taking photos without one. However, there are definitely more perks to using camera straps than drawbacks.
Not to mention that when it comes to buying a camera strap, the possibilities are virtually endless. You may enjoy carrying the camera around your neck, or you may prefer a simple handcuff strap. If you carry large cameras for long durations of time, a shoulder harness might be best for you.
Either way, the decision to get a camera strap is a personal one and depends on your own comfort level and preference.