Monday, October 4, 2010

Black Rapid RS-5 camera strap

Images are provided by Black Rapid (

Some would think that a camera strap isn't too important. The manufacturer includes one with the camera and that should be good enough, right? And for some people, it is. When I started using a Canon 7D with a grip and had a 70-200 f/2.8 IS mounted when shooting multi hour events or walking the streets for hours on end, I would start to get neck and back pain. So I started looking into getting a new camera strap.

Thats when I came upon Black Rapid straps. They don't go around your neck, you wear them slung accross your chest with the camera hanging near your waist. When you need to shoot, the camera is near your hand, so its one quick motion to bring it up to your eye. Looked cool, alot of people like them. I was hesistant, as they range in prices from $40 to over $120.

Friend of mine was heading to our fave camera store at lunch time one day to buy a grip and battery for his D700. I tagged along and actually came out of the store with a new Black Rapid RS-5 strap. Its the one that has the flap that comes down to store memory cards, cell phone, battery, credit cards,... They didnt have the standard RS-4 in stock, just the RS-5, RS-7, Doubler and the RS-W1 for woman.

Here is an image of the flap compartment from the RS-5. This part of the strap goes over your shoulder:

I got home and tried it on, adjusted it (took me a while to find the right lenght and such) and I was not convinced. It just seemed awkward having this cross body strap to carry around my camera. I attached my 70-200. It held fine, but I was still thinking of this odd setup was worth $80.

I was going out with Reneau (same friend who I went to the camera shop with) to shoot some power / speed boat races that Sunday. Nothing too complicated, one of the sponsors wanted shots of the boat that had his name on it, and everywhere else there was a sign with his name. No prob. He got us VIP access (so we were at the water's edge) and also pit access.

--Side bar--it was the first time I ever had to sign a death waiver for a photoshoot. The pits are like organized chaos with teams putting their boats in the water and some taking them out with the help of 4 cranes. The boats would be going over your head...check out the shots a few blog posts below.

All that to say that I used the RS-5 for race day. I figured that if I didn't like it, I'd bring it back. I had with me my Lowepro Classified (shoulder bag) that I usually have, slung accross one side of my chest and the RS-5 going the other way. The bag had my 10-22 and 28-75 while my 70-200 was on the camera. I also had a monopod. We worked from 11am to about 5pm.

And here an image with a 70-200 attached. Notice how it handgs upside down

I got home, I had no neck pain, no backpain. The strap was comfortable, the swing motion to bring the camera up was easy to get used to. I was hesitant at first of having the camera hang there, but towards the end of the day, I was just letting it drop to the side. Once you find that sweet spot for the lenght of the strap, no more adjusting is needed. My strap goes a bit lower than what most people do as I had issues with holding the camera in portrait mode when the strap was shorter.

The other issue I had was with the tripod quick release plate. See, the Black Rapid strap screws into the tripod socket of your camera or your grip. But when using a monopod, I need to screw the mounting plate in that same hole. While the mounting plate has a D ring to fasten the it to the camera, no way am I connecting the R-strap to that D ring as I'm 99% sure its not a solid piece of metal and would not hold the weight of the 7D, grip and 70-200 for very long. I however saw a press release from Black Rapid on September 13th about a new FastenR-T1 Tripod Solution. Looks like a solution is around the corner. Seems that it will replace the D ring that comes with the mounting plate with a Black Rapid super solid D ring

To get around that, I had the RS-5 connected to the camera and I kept the mounting plate on the mount of my 70-200. When I used the monopod, I'd just quickly release the carabiner at the end of the strap, attached the monopod to the quick release that is on the lens, and voila!

I ran out of memory and was happy to have quick access to the cards in the strap flap. I found out that when your cell phone rings, it will be loud as its really close to your ear. I took note to adjust the volume nex time.

While I dont have an iPhone, it apparently does fit in the cell phone pouch, but nice and tight, not much room to spare.

Overall, I'm happy with the strap, its staying for sure. And turns out Reneau picked up a Black Rapid as well. I'll try and get some images of me wearing it up soon :)


  1. Awesome... i think I may need to go out and get myself one... Or two!

    I'm making a list of items I'm picking up over the next year. Need to set some photographic goals, and I'm doing it based on the amount I want to spend! :)

    Great Post Pierre, keep it up!

  2. Well, you can buy the doubler, which is a two strap thing that a friend of mine (aka Julie) uses on long shoots. You can take them apart to make singles. But the singles are not as comfortable as the actual single strap models.

    You can also merge two single straps to make a double strap.

    Another option is the Camera Slinger. Super comfortable, but its only a double strap. =)

  3. I love my RS-5, like you said no neck pain, no back pain after a day of long walk and shoots. Great gear i cant wait for the new Fasten R-T1 to be available.

  4. Hey Pierre! Nice review...
    I tried one out once, but only in the store and I was not convinced (like you did at first, I felt it was awkward). Maybe I need to give this strap another chance. :)

  5. Thanks Esther!
    It really depends on how you shoot. For events and long periods of time carrying the gear, it is a great tool. If you are doing mainly studio work and such, then I'd probably go strapless or maybe just a hand strap.