Decoding Design

Black Rapid slings up smart camera straps

Posting in Design

Black Rapid turns the standard camera strap on its side, turns the camera upside down, and turns an annoyance into a tool.

I just bought a new camera. It's not a honking DSLR but it does have an interchangeable lens and is too large to stash in a pocket. I'm not used to carrying a camera around on my neck. My neck's not used to it, either.

The factory-issue strap is thin and uncomfortable, with rough webbing that jabs into the nape of my neck. I could upgrade to a fancier conventional strap, but then I'd still have the other problem: the camera body dangling in front of me. It's annoying.

But Core 77 included a product in its "End of Year or End of Days" gift guide that addresses both of those issues.

The Black Rapid camera strap was born of the frustration of Seattle photographer Ron Henry, whose neck ached from the weight of his cameras and who also found the front-dangling camera body a nuisance.

His design orients the strap across the body, and the camera connects to the strap via a locking swivel carabiner, which screws into the tripod socket (either the one at the base of the camera body or, if it has one, the socket at the base of your lens). To wear the holder, the user swings the strap over her head so that it rest on the shoulder opposite the hip where the camera rests.

The ergonomics of moving the camera, which is dangling upside down, up to the face to shoot look more natural. And gripping the camera body without negotiating around the strap also seems like a bonus. (I'll have to try it out to know.)

While Core 77 highlights the RS-4 model, Black Rapid offers the same idea in a number of iterations. Each has a padded shoulder strap and a small zippered cargo sack that can accommodate memory cards, a credit card and ID or other small items.

Other models include a version with a larger storage pack and another designed for photographers who need to move quickly and need the camera to stay in place. It uses a secondary strap that wraps under the arm to keep the strap stationary. The female-specific version has a strategically-placed curve in the strap that's meant to fit comfortably into a woman's cleavage (I kid you not, check out the saucy product photo).

For the multi-camera'ed scene chaser, there's a double-barreled version that holds one camera at each hip and uses a yoke like a backpack to keep it all in place.

Here's a video that shows just how the basic strap works:

Via: Core 77

Images: Black Rapid

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Mary Catherine O'Connor

Contributing Writer

Mary Catherine O'Connor has written for Outside, Fast Company, Wired.com, Smithsonian.com, Entrepreneur, Earth2Tech.com, Earth Island Journal and The Magazine. She is based in San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure