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Saturday, 29 November 2008


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Kinesis makes just what you have described:


Kinesis have quite a range of options along the lines of your description. http://www.kgear.com/h/
I've used their harness system as part of their rucksack (the journeyman) and can attest to the quality of the gear.

I'm surprised that in this day and age photo employers (like the papers and magazines) don't have some sort of duty to provide more ergonomic kit to their staff.

Years ago I adapted a pair of suspenders in the way you described for tripping around Europe. It worked pretty well to distribute the weight, and didn't look too goofy under a lightish field jacket.

Of course, this was with a Practica and three lenses, but still...

Mike, S Smith's email address listed on pbase is:

[email protected]

He's never answered email sent to that address. I've even gone so far as to try to contact PBase for a better contact method. I've put notices on forums, all sorts of things. Never a peep from the mysterious Smith.

Mike J.

Well I almost never use it, unless I am climbing around rocks. But my Nikon Vestrap has clips that connect to the camera and support it even better than suspenders would across both shoulders. (I don't use them, because I use the Upstrap) Sadly it mostly sits in a closet, becuase a photo vest is a bit much for casual shooting.


With regards to the UpStrap. I received one of the very first as a Xmas present. Actually, it was a late Xmas present as they weren't shipping in quantity until January. Like most everyone I was thrilled with it for the first couple of years. But in the last year or so it's become the SlipStrap. All I can figure is that the rubber has hardened, perhaps from ozone or something, and has lost its grip. It positively won't stay up on any sort of fabric. I'm wondering if others, particularly those who have had one for several years, have experienced the same thing.


That's funny; about neckstraps: I've completed the circle from the regular camera strap, to upstrap, optech and back to the regular strap.

The Upstrap gripped well, too well! Made it almost impossible to move my camera from my shoulder without lifting the strap itself.

The Optech strap was pretty nice, but it is too big and can get in the way. It was comfortable though, but it didn't quite grip enough. This was also caused a bit by wear and tear, not really a quality product. The gripping dots seem to have worn out a bit, and the fabric layers are coming apart. And it's not like I used it intensively for many years.
Also, the elasticity of the strap made my camera move a bit too much when walking.
It was the best neck strap though, but I don't carry my camera around my neck a lot.

I just hang the camera from my neck when taking a small break from shooting. I hang it on my shoulder(s) when moving.

So now I am back to the regular Canon strap. It has just the right amount of grip, so I don't have to worry about it sliding of my shoulder, but it is easy to move my camera, and I can wrap it around my hand/ arm when I want it out of the way.

How about the R-Strap !


If you're inclined to make one, check out this site;


Best Regards
AgFox (Not my real name bur it's how I feel)

Call or write, I have found their communication to be excellent.

[email protected]
OFFICE EST TF ORDERS: 1.877.872.7639
OFFICE EST OFFICE: 1.850.878.1088
OFFICE EST FAX: 850.878.2813
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I can't understand why 'UPstrap' doesn't manufacture a strap that can attach to cameras which use a retaining-lug attachment system. What, they think people don't use medium format cameras anymore? I presently use an Optech Super Pro strap for my Rollei 6XXX system, which isn't bad.

I cannot stress enough how important this issue is. I had what I thought might be a career ending injury this past spring (sordid details here: http://dougplummer.blogs.com/dispatches/2008/04/why-are-there-s.html) when I was disabled by a herniated neck disk. Bad office ergonomics--too much computer time--was the straw that broke my back, but I'd been putting heavier and heavier cameras (2 or more) around my neck for years.

I only use the Upstraps and only carry my 5D's on my shoulders now. The Upstrap is not so good around the neck--all day use gave me an ugly rash by the end of the day.

And I miss the good old days of my OM-2s, but I had to keep a half dozen on hand as they broke down all the time under pro use.

I'll second the comment on the Canon straps. The one I have uses some real nice grippy rubber on one side and I've never had to hunch my shoulder up to keep my camera from slipping off.

Over several years I've developed what I consider to be MY perfect street shooting/walkaround carrying style. I attach a arca-like quick plate to the bottom of my camera and it has a strap slot. So now with the Canon strap the camera hangs sideways and not vertical or perpendicular to the body. It hangs under my arm, protected just behind my elbow, with lens pointing backwards. When in crowded Bangkok people congestion my arm moves slightly to hold it behind me. Otherwise it tucks in nicely where I can always lightly feel it's presence under my right elbow.

When I want to shoot I grab it in my right hand, pass it to the left, and slip the strap down and with two quick turns of my wrist it is wrapped snugly around my forearm. My right hand hits the grip and I'm ready to shoot. Easy, fast and secure. No dangling in front, no swinging around when I lean forward. And I can run easily as it's always instantly grabbable in my right hand.

I used to do the cross body style but every time you shoot you have to remove it over the head - big hassle. Discussing the carry method seems on the surface like total silliness but on the contrary I bet that poor carrying has led to missing many shots. I know I used to skip taking a shot because I didn't want to fuss with getting my camera ready. Lowering that barrier is good.

According to this thread the overburdened photographer's name is Alex (or maybe Alan) Jackson, a.k.a. "Christmas Tree":

Following a few links from that thread eventually brings you to this page with contact information:

Also, there was an article about him at golfonline.com but it appears the article has been removed from the site. Fortunately the cached version is still on Google's servers:

Your book ”Lenses and the Light-Tight Box: Cameras and Camera Lenses” is available, for a price!

Try this link: http://tiny.cc/SINpH

Don't you wish they all when for these prices?

Bob Mc

I use the thinktank back pack with 2 lugs on the front. I attach a camera to each lug and the weight goes on to my shoulders via the padded packback. http://www.thinktankphoto.com/ttp_product_CmraSpprtStrp.php

When photographing you can either hide/try to be unobtrusive or go to the other extreme of being very visible.

Unless you are annoying people I find that having a tripod and being very upfront can mean that people relax and eventually ignore you. Creeping around and sneaking photos can freak people out.

People may also ask what you are about and that is ok indeed it might also give you photo opportunities.

It works for me.

I'll second that recommendation for the R-Strap. I've got one on my D200. By far the best camera strap I've ever used. I wish they made a smaller version--way to big for my shiny new Panasonic G1. I'll likely end up making one.

For a trip to Paris earlier this year I bought an Optech strap, which appealed to me because it has long webbing pieces on either side of the neoprene piece, with plastic snaps connecting them. This allows me to remove the neoprene segment and connect the two webbing pieces to create a nice wrist strap. I generally prefer carrying around with the camera attached to my strap, but there are times when you need both hands free. This gives me best of both worlds!

Some photos of the set-up here:


I use a strap that is technically for binoculars. It basically has a loop for each arm to go through and it centers the weight in the middle of your back.

This Amazon page has a good picture of how it works:


(I don't use the Bushnell shoulder harness, but it works exactly the same.)

BTW- Manhattan Portage makes one very comfy and sturdy shoulder strap pad for your camera bag...


I'm a big fan of Domke straps. They're regular camera straps with rubber interwoven with the cloth. Sounds weird, but they're perfect (for me). They also come with swivel hooks which prevent your strap from ever getting tangled. Some of the smaller Domke bags are wonderful too (F6 and F3, I think), but the F2 (little bit bigger) is too big.

Bob Mc,
That's seriously the silliest thing I ever saw. I'd sell *MY* copy for that much.


Mike J.

I second the recommendation of the Domke camera straps. I've got two of them and they work very well around the neck or over the shoulder. Never had any trouble with them slipping off and they've held up very well.

I love the small Domke bags, too. F-5XB (I think) is the model number.

Some of you might smirk at this, but I think that camera phones are brilliant. Since I always have my phone with me, I also happen to have a camera for unexpected moments. I'm managed to take a few interesting shots with the phone, and you can get pretty creative with them if you work around their technical limitations.

Mike, really "wow" for that book. More than 300 dollars! Maybe you could do a PDF version and sell it for a small amount of money. If it's out of print, the rights should have reverted to you to do whatever you want.

As to the straps, I use an Optech. Pro. :-) It's been around with me and the elasticity really helps. But...

The strap functions well if you're walking normally or stand waiting. The fact that the strap's hot during summer is neither here nor there, cause I think everything's hot during summer.

But if you're in more extreme field conditions, Optech's not good. For instance, if you have to climb over drystone walls or go through brush and thickets. The camera swings from your neck and it's in danger of hitting... everything, particularly with a longer lens attached.

I was entertaining the idea of buying a Y-strap (http://figitalrevolution.com/y-strap/), but it apparently doesn't function well with larger cameras. I could carry the Optech cross-shoulder, but then it's not long enough or fast enough...

Bag, I use a backpack. I put up with the fact that it's very slow for changing lenses because it's excellent for carrying gear. around.

Thanks for the explanation about the camera and strap on the cover of the book Mike. When I first got the book it stood out like a sore thumb and I wondered "why has he got the wrong strap on that camera?" - that's amateur thinking for you.
During a brief dalliance with Contax bodies (& Yashica lenses) I always removed the super smart Contax leather strap and kept it safe for resale time.
Anything that reminds us that work related injury is not a myth is a good idea: - after a change of job following 7 years computer maintenance I'm relieved that the joints in my mouse fingers don't ache regularly any more.

Cheers, Robin

I might be the only one to do this, but when I "travel light" on a photo taking session (which is my default), I graft the camera to my right hand. Sans shoulder/neck straps, only a hand strap.

I've tried multiple strap setups, but my shoulder/neck cry out within a half an hour, and have essentially resorted to simply holding the bloody thing at nearly all times. How anybody walks around with such an awkward and heavy lump of plastic/glass/metal strapped to their shoulder/neck is beyond me. Built like an ox, perhaps? Of course I just replaced one form of pain and future discomfort, with the temporary rendering of my right arm as unavailable.

These digital-light-tight-boxes with their electronic-lenses are pushing the boundaries of portability. They've become merely transportable.

whoops, it looks like there was a whole post about the D3 and carrying styles that I missed, which my comment addresses.

Quick-release spring clips, you said it.

Doug, I can sympathize with you. In January this year, my wife and I moved all the furniture off our wood floors and the next day I was in hell. I also had a pinched radial (?) nerve, which meant that I didn't have full arm strength for about three months.

I don't think I can blame the camera for that, though. I've almost always carried it in my hand (with a wrist strap), and I frankly don't carry around a lot of gear.

Neoprene straps like OpTech are nice and form fitting, but I find the camera bounces too much on a neoprene strap, and the various neoprene straps that I've owned have all started separating at some point, threatening failure. I replace the strap at the first sign of a problem.

With my Linhof 4x5" Technika, I write the date on the strap when I attach it, and I've been replacing them every year or two, sometimes transferring the old strap to a smaller camera, if it looks like it still has some life in it. I just put a Kevlar UpStrap on the Technika, which I like so far. We'll see if it makes it beyond two years.

Mike, your comments about neck pain hit close to home, and I'm one of those who commented in the other thread that I carry (and like) huge pro bodies.

But right now, I am more concerned about hand and wrist issues. I spend about half of my time in front of a computer, and it's causing lots of (for now) minor issues. The solution so far is to vary my pointing devices -- mouse, trackpad, Wacom tablet -- and take frequent breaks. But I can see all sorts of huge problems down the road.

I think for our next camera upgrade I'm going to get a couple of the 5-D Mark II bodies, and maybe a 50D. I think the lighter weight and smaller form-factor will be a huge gain, and might outweigh the lower performance (no pun intended.) Now that I'm pushing 50, the benefits of smaller and lighter gear start to look pretty good.

I have to agree with one of the comments above re the UpStrap.

At first I thought it was great (after initial skepticism). But now I find that the little nubs on the pad dig into my shoulder -- and what's worse, they are grippy enough to pull my shirt down to the point where the it will fall down my arm.

I'm back to my original Canon shoulder strap, which I use in conjunction with Canon's hand strap E-1. For schlepping the camera is on my shoulder. For shooting, I take off the shoulder strap and hold on with the hand strap.

I am thinking about the Domke padded straps as my next experiment. Film at 11 ...

"The extreme case is digital MF. There is no amateur market for it, not because of the cost (how much does a motorcycle, or RV, or golf club membership set you back?), but because it is so obviously unsuitable for amateur use."

That statement is rather over broad.

I do not own the motorcycle or the golf membership.I do not because neither intrests me, and i could not afford them, if i was interested.

Photography does interest me.

I would love to get a medium format digital back, etc..

I still on occasion use film in 120, and in the past did 4x5 and a tiny bit of 8x10.

I do not have a medium format digital back etc, for the same reason I do not have a D3 or Canon - whatever hi mp, I do not have the money to buy them, and will not in the foreseeable future. And yes, they would (exspecially the medium format, or scanning back) be totally appros for "what I do".

Ah, weight. What a pain.

I have reasonably awful neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome. Oh, and I recently had multi-level cervical disk fusion. For me, typing is a pain (and yet I do it anyway), and carrying anything over 5 kg is a strict no no. Is it any wonder that I have no use for "pro" equipment? I can barely carry my small 4/3's kit, let alone, say, a D700 and a set of PC lenses, 14-24 and whatever else I would want.

So, yeah, I want smaller. And smaller still. I really want a good DMD, which I think is what μ4/3 is likely to evolve into. I want a better camera phone, and, come to think of it, a better phone. Now all I need is a job to pay for it all ;-).

Mike, Why isn't your book available anymore? You had it printed by Lulu, so why not start selling them again since its print on demand? I'd buy one for the normal price ($20 or so) but I could never afford the prices they're asking for used copies!

I recommended looking at the Black Rapis R-strap in Mike's earlier sherpa post. It's worth a look if you have to schlep a large camera all day and/or have shoulder troubles.

Janne's remarks touch on a key gear difference between the amateur and pro. The amateur is usually a snap-shoooter (a.k.a. "street photographer"). Pros, regardless of skill, have to be geared and ready to tackle a variety of jobs. The amateur can come home with a card full of crap with no consequence. Not so of the pro. So, yes, their equipment must at least be reliable.

Personally, despite having a studio-full of gear I rarely walk around casually snapping with anything larger than a M8 or a Canon 450D these days. The more crap I'm carrying the worse my results. Once camera, one lens is ideal.

If you want a really comfortable strap for hauling around heavy gear , take a look at the Porta Brace stuff. I use the HB-10 Medium-Duty Suede Leather Shoulder Strap to lug around 30 pounds of stuff for hours at a time. If you don't mind looking like you are part of a film crew Porta Brace belts, straps and bags are really nice stuff. They make shoulder straps for broadcast TV cameras that are amazing.

The Porta Brace straps are pretty useless for wraping around your wrist , but for shoulder or around the neck they are great.

B&H is a good place to get them

Janne has apparently never encountered the gear-related one-upsmanship that is comically prevalent during photography workshops. There is indeed a substantial market among extremely affluent amateurs (dentists and ophthalmologists seem to figure prominently) for medium format digital. Seems like there's always someone lugging a massive bag of high-end megagucks glass and a 39+ megapixel back, yet taking the most obvious or insipid photographs imaginable. Meanwhile, a retired schoolteacher with a 6 megapixel second-hand Eos-10D and a single consumer zoom shows breathtaking images that shame the rest of us.

"Mike, Why isn't your book available anymore?"

Lulu changed its production protocols and the files I prepared for that book no longer work. It's true that I could learn the new upload protocols, re-do the book files into whatever form Lulu now needs, and re-establish the book as a salable product, but I think if I have to choose a project to not get done, I'd rather procrastinate over a newer, more original project. So that's what I'm doing now.


Mike J.

I'll also chime in, in favor of the Domke straps. My favorite is the Domke Gripper (I don't know if they still make it). It works in the same way as the Optex one that Adam mentioned above, but the dimensions are different. With the Domke, the part you remove is much larger, leaving a much smaller (and in my opinion, better) two pieces, which you clip together to make a wrist strap.

Before I got the Domke, I used to use the exact same method as your Olympus with the clips and rings.

Hate to jump on the R-strap bandwagon but... I'm jumping on the R strap bandwagon. I, like many of you, detest neck straps. Generally I've hung a domke shoulder bag at my side and just removed/replaced the camera when I wanted to use it (d70/d200/d3 over time). The handle cut from an extra-small dog leash and pulled through the right camera ring worked fine to secure the camera around my wrist when leaning over something.

Ordered the R strap and it's just the thing for my D3+50mm or D3+70-200! Definitely recommend checking out the website (blackrapid) and watching the little videos to get an idea of how it works--basically it smoothly slides along a shoulder strap and up to your eye. The shootout video is really dorky and doesn't actually demonstrate much, so I'd skip that one.

regarding "S Smith": I think his real name is Henri Cartier-Bresson. Dressing like an American sports photographer is one of his camouflages.

This is all a very weighty subject.
When we were all much younger and more able
to withstand our own stupidity, the physical weight of camera gear never seemed to be a bother. Two Nikon F3's with motor drives with long lenses attached all around the neck was not a bother. Now forty years alter such as weight was and is a problem.
I too ordered the upstrap and discovered two things. One because of my ongoing sensitivity
to various materials, the upstrap irritated my neck especially in the heat of the summer.
And the strap when it did sit on my shoulder clung too tightly to the material of my
shirt. Neither of which are the fault of the
product. The large strap is still on the camera case, the other strap gave to a friend.

And because of the weight factor I simply don't carry my cameras round my neck. They live in a small bag, with a handle. I can carry that, set it down when I required the
camera, and take the photo. There is a hand-strap on the camera through which I place my hand. Then I use the camera.

In my transition stage from Nikon to Pentax to Nikon, much preferred the Pentax for
the light weight and ease of use. Maybe I should go back to Pentax, although Pentax
isn't Pentax film anymore sadly. It's digital! Darn it!

"I just get ideas, I don't act on them"

Haha. Join the club.

No wait, I never got around to actually *making* the club...

I think you could find volunteers to do work like upgrading book files for Lulu. You could exchange a folio critique or summin.
I liked the Light-Tight Box.

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