I thought I would do a mini review of the Black Rapid RS-4 Camera Strap. I’ve had it for a while now, probably about a year and a half, and have had a love-hate relationship with it. Actually, that should be a hate-love relationship to be truthful.
Image from blackrapid.com
I started to use the strap on my Canon 500d where my usual lens was a Sigma 10-20mm. The strap and I did not get along very well together in that instance. Sure, it was easy to use, made carrying the camera convenient and I could pull it up to eye level with ease to start taking photos. However, the way the camera sat meant the back of the camera kept knocking against my body and 8 times out of 10 this resulted in my losing the eye cup from the back of the camera. It wasn’t too many outings before I had spent the same amount of money on replacement eyecups as the strap itself (around £50), and in the end I had to resort to either not using an eyecup or not using the strap. It was frustrating to say the least, but with the clarity of hindsight I blame the camera more than the strap on this downfall.
Me wearing the Black Rapid Strap
When I switched to the Canon 5d Mark II earlier this year my opinions on the strap changed. With the bigger, heavier camera and my default glass now being the 24-70mm the strap seemed to hold the camera a lot better. Gone were the eyecup issues as the new camera was better built, and I started to love the strap more and more. On trips where I’m walking around all day and know I won’t need a tripod and such I will happily just carry the camera using this strap and not bother with a bag. You can see a zipped section on the image above, and this handily fits in a replacement battery and memory card.
It’s sturdy, very quick and easy to use and it now comes with me on most trips.
Due to the way the strap is designed, it hooks onto the bottom of the camera either with the FastenR which screws into the tripod mount section of the camera, or – as is the case with me – straight onto the RC-2 plate which I always leave in place on the camera itself. This unfortunately means that you need to remove the strap when you are wishing to place the camera onto a tripod – as some of you will know, this was my downfall…
Back at the start of the year the strap was carrying my brand new 5d Mark II (36 hours old) and 24-70mm glass, so about £2,500 worth of gear. I had no fear of the strap giving way and letting my precious fall to the floor due to the sturdy design and quality manufacturing. Alas, there was a momentary window of non protection where I took the camera off the strap to place on the tripod – and this is when it fell from around chest level, landing (luckily) at my feet while 47 floors high. Strap – Good. Tripod – Good. Transition between the two in windy conditions after a few beers – Bad.
I haven’t yet thought of a suitable solution for having the camera hang in a balanced position and somehow having the strap still attached to the camera for that moment where I need to transfer it from the strap to the tripod to avoid such a scenario happening again. However, I would say that this was human error rather than the fault of the strap.
I’ve put the strap through it’s paces over the past 18 months and find it very durable. It’s been used on some Urbex trips to help people climb up walls, it’s been wrapped around cranes at high levels in windy conditions to keep the camera as still and safe as possible while taking long exposures, and so far it’s lived up well to all of this.
The only thing I’ve managed to break on the strap is the ConnectR-2 hook.
I decided to hook this onto various things and test it by putting a lot of pressure on it, such as this:
Yes, it’s being misused as the ConnectR is only hooked onto metal rather than it being completely threaded through and then the locking barrel put into place. I did a few of these scenarios adding a lot of body weight to it and, eventually, the hook gave way…
I was still able to use the strap with the broken ConnectR, though I wouldn’t recommend doing this if you are on an active jaunt. I did scramble up a few cliffs in this condition and it was okay, but with a lot of movement and a little bad luck you could see the camera coming out of it and tumbling to the ground – which is why you need a fully working ConnectR and to lock it with the barrel to keep it safe. You can buy a replacement ConnectR though so you don’t need to replace the whole strap should you manage to break it.
All in all I find the strap easy to use, comfortable and very well made. I would happily recommend it to anyone who is carrying their gear around on a daily basis.