My Search for the Best Camera Strap
The Need to be in a Club
When I was first getting into photography I couldn’t wait to get the sort after Nikon strap with it’s bright yellow stand out design. Everyone would know I was a Nikon shooter through and through and all those Canon shooters better stay back as I was ready to unleash hellfire on them should they challenge me to a which is best Canon or Nikon…straps. It’s popularity by association, a little like saying your friends with the most popular guy/girl in school just for a little bit more street cred, because you know, everyone wants to be cool. The below photograph is about 10 years old. I no longer have this suit nor this weird group shot organisation hand.
What are your Digits?
My next milestone was to get a strap with my camera writing on. For those who don’t know you have to start spending some serious dollar before Nikon will consider printing the camera name on the strap. It’s a show of wealth, a show of absolute class and a little bit of hey my strap writing is of a higher class than your strap writing thus resulting in my camera being better than your camera. Of course all this thought is subconscious and I don’t actually think these things until looking back on my naivety.
I finally made it to the club eventually with a beautiful D800 strap and an also not too bad camera to go with it. I was overjoyed, I was part of the elite Nikon “writing on the strap” crew! So as any sane person would do, I put it in it’s box and then subsequently into the loft. You know, for safe keeping, I didn’t want to damage the strap! The real reason I put it in it’s box was because I finally realised how restrictive it was. I’d quite often almost choke myself or get my arm in to use it across my body only to realise I had to be cut out to be released. I’m a 6 foot 7 inch giant and I quite honestly think the strap may be all right for some people but when you’ve got arms longer than most buses you want something a little more flexible.
Tangled in my Strap
I had a brief time period where I used the Blackrapid RS-Sport strap which has a padded shoulder pad and a little strap clipped around your chest. I like to dress to the nines at my wedding and I’m afraid this strap was a little restrictive around a waistcoat and a tie combo often making you look like you’ve just been pulled through a hedge backwards as it distorts your tie and shirt into all sort of mess. I already don’t look like I know what I’m doing so I can’t have this reinforced by my ability have my tie and shirt straight.
Shooting in the Nude
I searched and searched for the best camera strap, surely people were having the same problem and wanted more flexibility. I found a beautiful new strap it was fully flexible and allowed me to move the cameras in every direction. Shooting through my legs or over my head were so simple with this strap. It’s self cleaning technology was really important to me as I’m a little gung ho diving on to floors, pushing my way through undergrowth and subjecting myself to the forever reappearing humble grain of sand. The only downside to this strap was I couldn’t just hang the camera from my neck, arm or hand. It had a bit of a design floor you see as it wasn’t actually a strap, it was nothing.
I shot unstrapped for probably 5 years of my photography life. It was liberating. People often asked “well what if you accidentally drop your camera?” Well if I accidentally dropped my camera then I would accidentally drop my camera. The same thing could happen when you’re taking your camera from your bag to your neck. Hell, a car could run over your bag whilst it was on the floor or a racoon could even steal a lens. Yes the elusive “what if” question was the reason no one else was shooting strap nude like me. Fear as per usual was making people overcompensate like with screen protectors, filters, reinforced camera shells and insurance to protect the insurance of your insurance. It’s hilarious really, people will put a screen protector on their phone or a filter on their camera lens but then balance on top of a precarious ladder with no protection or ride a bicycle without a helmet.
The Hold Fast Moneymaker Revolution
Whilst loving the unstrapped life I started to encounter a couple of problems. I’m a wedding photographer and often rely on multiple cameras and lens to capture my days. This requires a nice hefty bag and the ability to swap within an instant! While I had the perfect bag with just the amount of room I needed. I’d get back from my weddings with a huge strap imprint on my shoulders and standing a bit wonky feeling like I’d carried a small toddler around with me all day. There was also often times when I also needed a switch instantly. For example: I quite liked to switch between focal lengths as I walk backwards down the aisle swapping from wide to close.
My strapless solution definitely had it’s flaws and this is when the Hold Fast Moneymaker started to register on my radar. I’d seen one at a friends wedding way back in 2014. At first site it looked like a bit of showpiece rather than a practical piece. It probably didn’t help with the gentlemen who was wearing it looking like some punk revival hipster. I love items which work technically and are comfortable to use, appearance of a product is probably last on my list of needs when looking for a new item.
It took me until 2017 to finally look up some reviews for the Hold Fast Moneymaker. YouTube and Google provided some decent insight and I bit the bullet and ordered one in Water Buffalo Tan from Rigu. My idea was I’d try it out and then return it if it didn’t feel right. At this point I was shooting with a majority of telescopic lens (14-24mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm and the 35mm). Upon receiving the Moneymaker it was clear from the outset this was a beautiful item. Although my mind has since seen leather in a different light I was impressed with the quality of the material. I attached two cameras with my heaviest lens and flashes and felt almost no weight, expertly crunching a few lunges and experimenting with a few body positions I explored the practical side to this product.
I decided this could definitely help me so I decided to take it for it’s first spin at my next wedding. Leaving the fabric safety catches off I enjoyed a flowing use to the way I shot this day. I often found I only used 2 lens at a certain time and for this reason rarely found myself changing them. I dropped my bag at vantage points at every location making sure I could reach it if I needed a quick swap. I got home after the wedding feeling a little bit of “breaking in” pain. Nothing compared to what I had put up with in the past.
Through several engagement shoots, family shoots, pet shoots and more weddings I began to love the Hold Fast Moneymaker even more. Although one floor did surface. I like to get in some crazy positions and found it didn’t work well when I lay on floors or crouched in shallow water; almost dipping a lens into a stream once.
I’ve now completely switched my lens collection to almost exclusively primes after a revelation in the way I shoot in early 2018. The Hold Fast Moneymaker is almost a must for a Prime Wedding Shooter. My favourite setup is either my 35mm or 50mm on one and then a 105mm or 85mm on the other.
Things I love about my Hold Fast Moneymaker.
- I have to squeeze into tight spaces and through crowds a lot. With my bag tucked away I’m as thin as I am with my cameras in line with my legs. Letting people through or squeezing past is easy.
- If I’m in a precarious position I can tuck the lens of one of the cameras between my legs to hold it still from swinging around whilst I shoot with the other.
- I love the cowboy vibe I get from it. I can quick draw to capture anything. If someone enters a room or someone cracks a crazy dance move at a moments notice, I’m there!
- The ZERO pain I now feel related to hauling my equipment.
- The Hold Fast Accessory Clip Tripod Screw. This little screw stays tight for all of the day. I do constantly check it with not having the safety clips on and they’re rarely loose.
I’m now using the Hold Fast MoneyMaker in most of my photography jobs. When I aren’t using it I’m shooting strapless. For me at this moment in time the MoneyMaker is the strap which is helping me strive and develop as a photographer with limited restrictions. I’m sure there are alternative straps out there which I haven’t tried and could possibly become my new favourite in time. If there are I’d love to hear your thoughts. I just know the Hold Fast MoneyMaker is currently, based on my build and the way I shoot, the strap for me.
I hope you found this story helpful and almost satirically funny in some spaces. Please feel free to share it with a friend to help my work reach a larger audience.