Which camera strap is the best for concert photography? When I was starting out as a concert photographer, I always used the Canon (and later Nikon) neck straps that were included in the box with a new camera. I wasn’t concerned about the straps until I felt the pain in my neck and back after shooting my first festival.
If you have or have had similar health issues after shooting concerts, then this article is for you.
Neck and Back pain
A study conducted by Unity Pharmacy researching injuries encountered by many photographers found the most common were:
- Back Injuries
- Neck injuries
- Shoulder pain
- Sore elbows and wrists
Back pain and neck pain are the most common ailments of photographers. The cause is simply the strain of carrying heavy backpacks and using straps that fail to prevent injuries.
And this holds true, especially for concert photographers.
Imagine shooting a full day festival with 10 bands on 2 stages. We carry our heavy DSLR gear in backpacks or side bags for several hours, and during the shows, we have to handle big cameras with even heavier lenses (if you’ve ever shot the 70-200mm f2.8 for a day, you’ll know what I mean). The festival example might be an extreme one, but serious health issues might also occur when shooting club gigs on a regular basis.
The following camera strap review is by no means meant to be a complete overview of the hundreds of camera straps that are on the market. I have tried my best to give you an overview of the most commonly used camera straps concert photographers use in our HTBARP community.
I got the camera straps from the companies for review purposes. I am an Ambassador for BlackRapid and have an affiliation with them (you can get -10% discount when clicking one of my links in the article and use the coupon code BRMHombauer when checkout). This review reflects my personal opinion.
Which are the best types of camera straps for concert photography?
Some of you might wonder why you need a camera strap at all. I hear you and sometimes I was just too lazy to attach a camera strap and found myself without one in front of the stage. Fortunately, I never dropped my camera, but not using a camera strap in a busy environment such as in the crowd or in a photo pit is not a clever idea. A crowd surfer might hit you from behind, some people might barge into you in a mosh pit or the camera might simply slip out of your sweaty hand. You definitely don´t want to drop your camera equipment on the floor. Another disadvantage is that you only have one hand to handle other tasks such as changing lenses.
Regular camera neck strap
Regular neck straps are the ones which are included when you buy a DSLR camera. They are made of synthetic material and have the camera’s brand printed on them e.g. Nikon or Canon. It´s good marketing for the camera manufacturers, but these straps are not well-suited to use with heavier gear as they can quickly lead to neck pain. It´s better than no strap, but still not a satisfying solution for a serious concert photographer.
Camera wrist strap
Wrapping the camera strap around your wrist and gripping the body with your hand can be a good alternative to hanging the camera around your neck. These wrist straps are used for compact or lightweight DSLR cameras.
Camera hand strap
The Hand Strap is a camera strap that you attach directly to your hand, which helps to prevent shoulder strain. I tested the Spider Pro Hand Strap.
According to the manufacturer, it’s
- adjustable to any size wrist,
- compatible with extended battery pack/vertical grips.
- puts your hand in a perfect shooting position.
- compatible with any tripod or Spider plate.
- clear access to your memory card slots and battery door.
To be honest, I tried a hand strap for the first time when I was shooting the Out Of The Woods festival in Austria. The strap was comfortable in my hand and stopped my camera from being dropped but there was a major drawback that bothered me – the ability to freely move my thumb on the joystick of my Nikon camera. I use the Joystick to set single Autofocus points. That’s how I focus and the hand strap prevented me from doing that easily. If you use another Autofocus method then this issue won´t be a deal breaker, but for me it was. The other disadvantage is that you can’t use your hand for other tasks.
Camera Sling Strap
A sling strap helps if you have to carry the camera around for long periods by keeping the camera on the back instead of your chest.
Peak Design is a San Francisco based company and I love their backstory since their products were born out of passion. In 2010, Peter Dering went on a 4-month trip around the world. During this trip, he learned that carrying a DSLR camera is a pain in the ass. He returned to his San Francisco apartment, quit his nice job, and spent 10 months designing a little thingy-dingy for carrying cameras. In May 2011 Peter launched his first product on the crowdfunding page Kickstarter. It worked, and Peak Design was born. Peter started hiring friends, friends of friends, and random people he met at concerts. They now have 30 full-time employees, 50+ products, and hundreds of people working full time to manufacture those products in their partner factories. Since 2011, they’ve raised $14M+ over the course of 6 Kickstarter projects and they’re the world’s most crowdfunded active company. “Through Kickstarter, we have found the most passionate, loyal, straight-up stoked customers in the world. The funds we raise in our campaigns allow us to focus on our customers and products, and not on achieving growth goals that traditional investors often demand.” What a cool company!
One of their products that fits our need as a concert photographer is the Slide Strap (Slide Lite for smaller DSLRs and mirrorless cameras).
- can be worn as a sling, neck, or shoulder strap.
- Internally-padded nylon webbing has a smooth side that glides over clothing in sling mode and a grippy side that prevents slipping in shoulder mode
- Dual quick-adjusters provide instant access and easy reconfiguration
- Unique Anchor Link system connects quickly and dual points of connection keep your camera more stable than traditional sling straps
- Plus, Anchors now work with any 3rd party tripod plate or L-bracket, as well as any Peak Design plate
Black Rapid invented a system that is unique in the camera strap market. You attach the strap through a screw into your camera’s tripod mounting point and a small carabiner slides effortlessly along the strap. This results in having your camera hanging on your lower back, which gives you easy access to it.
- shoulder pad built with nylon mono mesh,
- curved TPE foam and poly air mesh,
- adjustable length nylon webbing with buckles.
- Includes integrated underarm stabilizer (BRAD),
- connector cover (Lock Star) & fastener (FR-5) hardware
- polyester dust bag.
Double camera harness straps help you to carry the weight of two cameras comfortably. Often, concert photographers prefer to use a wide-angle lens on one camera body and a telephoto lens on another camera body when shooting in the photo pit. You can also use only one camera with these straps.
The double harness is a better choice than having two separate camera straps since they hold the cameras on your side with an X pattern which provides added stability.
A double harness strap safely keeps your two cameras at your sides and then distributes the weight of high-end cameras over the back, chest, and shoulders to prevent health problems.
- shoulder pad built with nylon mono mesh,
- curved TPE foam and polyester air mesh,
- adjustable length nylon webbing with buckles,
- includes 2 full sets of connector (CR-3), 2pcs Lock Star & fastener (FR-5) hardware
- polyester dust bag
Welcome to the luxury camera strap department! HoldFast Gear is a company based in Oklahoma, which specializes in producing straps for photographers who love to use unique tools. From water buffalo leather to genuine python skin to an ultra-limited Star Wars Storm Trooper version (only 12 were for sale) you can get it from them.
Their main market is wedding photographers who have to wear suits at work and for photogs who love to wear a cool design accessory.
HoldFast licenses the connection method from Black Rapid so the way the camera slides along the strap is identical.
The only difference is the material for the straps (leather) and the clip design. The main clip design takes inspiration from the type of clip that attaches the sail to a boat. HoldFast modified these clips to add a swivel, a longer pin draw, and a stronger spring that all combine to make this clip even more durable and ensures you won’t drop your camera.
- Water Buffalo leather
- anchored stainless steel d-rings/hardware (no rust),
- safety straps for ultimate security and impeccably versatile design
- Pair the Camera Leashes with the MoneyMaker to create a 3 camera setup or add the ability to attach and use other accessories
So, what’s the best camera strap for concert photography?
Here are some points that are crucial when choosing your camera strap:
- keep your camera’s weight off your shoulders and therefore prevent health issues
- help to keep your camera quite still at your side when walking
- help quicken the process of changing lenses.
- keep your hands free for other tasks
- secure your camera gear from hitting the ground
It all comes down to personal preferences. I would definitely go with a camera strap using a “slide system” from Peak Design, BlackRapid or HoldFast. If you like to shoot with one camera body, then have a close look at the Peak Design Sling and BlackRapid Breathe Sport. If, however, you´re using 2 camera bodies in the pit, both the BlackRapid Double Breathe and the Money Maker HoldFast will do a good job.
I know that a camera strap is an investment and not everyone wants to spend $60+ on one. However, if you drop your camera (and you don´t have any insurance) you might think differently afterward!
But remember, it’s not about which brand you choose. It´s way more important to choose a camera strap to avoid ailments and secure your camera gear.
So do your research, decide on the best type for you (neck, wrist, hand or sling) and invest. It’ll help to protect your camera as well as your neck, back, and shoulders!
Which camera strap are you using? Let me know in the comments below.
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