For as many years as I can remember, cameras and gear bags have hung from my shoulders.
Years of weight. Strong shoulders now. But……
After a long day of shooting, you need some kind of relief. And I’m not talking about talking the cameras from your shoulder/neck.
Bag manufacturers are on the constant hunt for the easy access, well balanced, comfortable bag.
How about the straps, though? Cushioned and wide, help (love our Crumpler “Industry Disgrace”)
In recent years, slings have become a design standard.
These are straps that cross your chest and let your camera hang upside down. Sometimes on the side, sometime behind you.
There are currently 3 choices that we know, with Black Rapid being the most famous and probably the the standard bearer.
then there is the Camera Slingers
Yes, the woman in the video is right: save your back!
And a similar unit to the Black Rapid, the Sun Sniper:
So what is the difference?
On the far left (your left) is the Camera Slingers, screw in sections, and in the middle is the Black Rapid, then the Sun Sniper.
So, right from the start you can see some differences in the main module that holds you camera.
Slingers is a bit more rudimentary, larger and a pretty familiar set-up with standard hardware.
Now the next 2 get into an interesting area.
There is some controversy on the next 2 connections: Black Rapid was first and then came the Sun Sniper.
Yep. Looks the same, right?
All 3 will hold your pro camera with a good sized piece of glass.
At your side or behind you. more on that later.
Now you can see some more of the design differences.
Camera Slingers boasts a system that covers more shoulder centric and not cross body. It can easily go “double” for those that work 2 cams at once.
It also has a braking system on the main strap so you can limit the movement on the camera. You open it, as shown, the close the clasp to delineate that point.
The Black Rapid uses 2 of these on the strap for a start/stop control.
Sun Sniper doesn’t use any brakes and let’s the camera run free up an down the strap.
One of the biggest concerns we’ve always had, is having about $7,000. worth of gear hanging behind you. Anyone can come up and slice the strap and leave you hanging, so to speak.
The Sun Sniper has addressed that with metal woven into the strap so the chance of a slice theft is pretty slim. At least by the strap getting cut.
BUT…….you still have this gear hanging behind you. We feel that it makes the most sense when you are in a controlled environment like an event. Walking the streets, especially in a city, leaves a pretty good beacon behind you to anyone looking for a mark.
Using a Nikon D700 w/ 24-70 2.8 lens, we tried all three units for a day at least and this is what we found:
All 3 units did the main job of relieving shoulder and back stress by distributing the camera weight in a well distributed manner as opposed to straight vertical.
Grabbing for the camera, lifting it up to the eye and then either by dropping, or bringing your arm down, was comfortable with all 3.
The Sun Sniper, with a thicker padded shoulder strap, moved about more than we hoped. The weight of the camera should have kept the camera in place, but natural body movement in the day, kept shifting the placement on the shoulder.
Well made and the shock absorber system helped when dropping the camera to the side. And the wire embedded strap, comes with a $500 dollar or 400 Euro insurance policy, payable if someone slices though your strap to steal your gear.
Maybe when the double harness is used, the movement issues will be lessened.
The Camera Slinger, while not as refined in parts, did a great job and kept the camera a bit tighter to the body with the extra coverage on the shoulders, plus the slimmer profile allowed it to be kept under a jacket easier.
The Black Rapid system however, combined the best of both worlds. With a slim shoulder strap, 2 brakes for camera control, a complete line of accessories to customize it and go double camera, this is the one we felt most comfortable with.
Over the 3 we felt it had the most features that we needed, and a price that was reasonable of about $55.00
We do have to say though, that when keeping the strap on, and this goes for any of the them, you have to lay your gear on the side, because of the connection being in the bottom tripod socket. Didn’t love that part, but after an assignment, best to take it off, anyway.
CameraSlingers: about $120. (only sold as a double)
Sun Sniper: $55.00 ( there is a double on the way, and will also be a vertical drop)
Black Rapid : $55.00 ( double available for $130, and it also goes vertical like the Camera Slingers )
We do recommend that you try your camera on with all of these systems and see what fits you best. That diagonal run, may also be an issue for women, although Black Rapid is now addressing that with some new designs.
Bottom Line: For an event, the concept saves your back. For situations where the cameras do not to be one you all of the time, it’s a pass, and only because of the stability when you put it down.