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Wednesday, 23 March 2016

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Mike, I dunno about a new neck, but I got a new ankle at Duke and it works just like I was born with it.

I play tenor saxophone and bassoon. These are heavy instruments that need support and when I was younger, I used a neck strap. As I have grown older, I have experimented with different straps including the shoulder harness. While a harness provides a lot of support, it limits your ability to move the instrument around, it stays in a single position. I prefer the type of strap that goes over the shoulder and across the body like a guitar strap. This spreads out the weight of the instrument but allows more freedom of movement. That's also the way I carry my camera, generally in a small bag that rides on my hip.

re: hand held camera support
Years 'n years ago, before I became a film/video cameraman, I found myself shooting sports stills. (Before the ultra-fast high-dollar long telephotos) A simple trick or tool I often used was a length of nylon cord, attached to a tripod screw. Once screwed into the camera base (or onto the lens if suitable threads were available), you stood on the cord & stretched it tight. Worked well, weighed nothing, compact & cheap to make.

Sorry, no experience with the binocular strap, but I love my RRS sling strap. I'm looking for a "sleeker" (less geeky) version for my A6000; the RRS handles a DSLR and large lens w/no problem, but is serious overkill for something small.

I have a desk job. No neck pain, but have had lower back pain for a long time. I found stretching exercises that helped a great deal. But I really need to be more diligent about getting up every 45 minutes. (I work in a building where I can do a nice loop up & down a couple tall flights of stairs in about 3 minutes so it's just a matter of remembering). My wife is a fitbit addict and is looking at the newest model because I think it has a reminder feature ... the devil will be in the details. (That's such an obvious feature, you'd think it would have been there already, but I guess it's kind of like cameras ... put all the features in on the first go around, and nobody will buy the upgrades).

I have not used a binocular harness but I have considered them. I also can no longer hang a camera around my neck and camera straps have always slid off my shoulder unless I hunch my shoulder which is not a good option either. What I do now is carry a very light backpack with comfortable shoulder straps, sometimes carrying only an extra camera battery that could easily fit in my pocket (of course an empty pack is like an empty closet, I tend to fill it up with more junk like extra lenses, filters, etc). I then hang my camera off the shoulder strap with a carabiner. One needs to have a backpack with loops or something similar to attach the carabiner. The pack should have a sternum strap to keep the weight a little balanced, if it does not one can purchase them online.

I've always disliked neck straps, and for many years I have used a hand strap, and the camera just dangles off the end of my arm, cradled in my surprisingly relaxed natural finger curl. And I use fairly heavy cameras. When I absolutely have to have a strap I use a Black Rapid shoulder strap with the AcraTech quick release (I use L brackets)
Black Rapid and others make camera harnesses for both shoulders.
There are also belt clip systems.
Re your neck, obviously the bending over , neck/head up position of pool stretched the muscles enough to alleviate pain.
Either get your doctor to write the first prescription for a prophylactic Pool table, OR Mount your keyboard low on the wall at the back of your desk, get the pool cue, assume the position and type with the tip of your cue.
When you pick up speed, we'll make a YouTube video, & get sponsored by Brunswick or McDermott
Simple stretching exercises can offer amazing pain relief.
Seriously, take a break simulate the motion for 5 minutes a few times a day, and see what happens.
I also lay on the floor on a rug and move 2 tennis balls in steps from the base of my spine up to my neck.
If you think about it both pool and my tennis ball thing provide the contra-position to the head slightly down computer viewing position. You could also mount your display higher.

I have a lightly-used binocular harness somewhere in my gear closet. Whether it works for you depends on a lot of variables, including your height, the camera's attachment points, and whether the bottom edge of the camera digs into your gut.

Before I moved to Panasonic, I had my DSLR on a camera sling strap to avoid the problem of it digging into your neck over the day. (I prefer the BosStrap design that uses the eyelet, leaving the tripod socket free.)

Wedding shooters I know swear by these things:

http://holdfastgear.com/

My first time carrying a camera around my neck on a hike I was miserable. I quickly adopted the purse method, strap on left shoulder camera on right hip. Now as I walk my hand is always on the camera to protect it, but also it can be quickly accessed since my hand is already there.

I have a vision. I see a pool table in your future.

I guess that you need to find a pool hall. Or find a physical therapist who can give you stretches/exercises that duplicate the pool posture.

Growing old ain't for sissies.

Years ago I bought a Cuban Hitch. If memory serves it worked, at least until parts became separated.

Yes Michael. I got a 'bino-suspenders' about twenty or so years ago for my camera+motordrive+heavy zoom in my aerial work from helicopters and haven't looked back. I can't remember where I got it from or what it cost but it's still going strong. The thing is, I need to sometimes get rid of the gear very quickly and two clicks is all it takes, apart from the comfort of not having it all on my neck of course. I don't use it for occasional street work; rather overkill really ...

Mike, I carry my X-E2 plus a prime on a shortish neck strap (an old Olympus single piece of webbing strap) cross-chest which keeps the weight off my neck. But I frequently put a clove hitch around my wrist with the strap and use it as a wrist strap, can carry it for hours that way. For the D800e I have a long widish neoprene Ape Case strap that lets the camera hang by my hip with the strap cross-chest. Again, weight is off the neck itself. BTW, I won't use one of those slings with a slider that screws into the tripod socket because I saw a picture in a preview forum of a D800 with a warped bottom plate from hanging off one. Plus I'm afraid it might just unscrew. Good luck!

I don't use a binocular strap, but I've been a fan of the sling-style straps made by Luma Labs for a long time. I use the Cinch model to carry my 1DX and it's comfortable all day and doesn't stress my neck at all. https://luma-labs.com/products/cinch-2

I have tried nearly every strap out there at some point tub nothing beats the BlackRapid line for comfort and speed of use. this is the one I use: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/661579-REG/Black_Rapid_RS7_1BB_RS_7_Camera_Strap.html

Back in the day, (this is very anecdotal and worth about as much) when I knew nothing about pool but a lot about beer, other than River City in Music Man, I happened to beat a very good pool player in a bar.
A "gentleman" came over and laid out 50 bucks on the table.
I told him there was "no way I was going to play for 50 bucks" (a princely sum in South Milwaukee in 1968).
Another patron of the arts came over and laid out the bet.
I won the break and proceeded to sink the 8 on the break. Being a novice, I thought I lost not realizing that I had automatically won.
The guy who bet me was inflamed and the other guy split the $50 with me.
See? Sometimes naivete wins out and photography is often like that. Break some rules and may pay off.
Mi dos pesos, Mike.

Dunno.

I've never used one, and in 40 years of shooting never hung a camera on my neck.

Get a Domke Gripper strap and hang your camera from your shoulder, lens towards your body just above and behind your hip. Easy to grab and more discreet.

Oh yeah. And no neck pain!

I remember seeing ads back in the seventies for a device called a Kuban Hitch. It was similar to a binocular strap, but made specifically for cameras. Unfortunately, I don't know if they're still being made, but you might try looking it up. It seemed like a good solution...

I too have had issues with camera carrying. Being a video editor, I am working on 2 screens 8-10 hours a day and leaning forward over my keyboard to peer closer at the tiny controls on screen. The result is mid back, neck and shoulder strain. I have not used a binocular strap because it seems to put the weight on the shoulders and still pull the spine forward. I did find a solution in the form of crossbody straps with a sliding buckle that you attach to the camera's tripod mount, like the blackrapid cross shot. The camera rests at your hip and you carry the weight across your whole torso, not neck. It's also nice because it gives fast access to the camera, as well as being easy to slide a bit behind you and have it stay put for when you need to move. Unlike the traditional strap which results in a camera bouncing off your chest with every step. There's also a company that makes one with a thick wire inside to prevent theft from people cutting the strap.

Have you considered an inversion table for your neck pain? I bought a Teeter Hangup 2 years ago and found it alleviated most of my back and neck pain. hanging upside down is not for everyone though and I would try one out before purchasing.

LOL the video link to Louis CK is fantastic - I'm a family physician (and 46) and it's all true. Thanks for the laugh - I'll use it for when a patient with sh$&&y ankle (or other ) needs a good laugh.

Don't use a strap. My favourite is to use Peak Design's Capture Camera Clip and attach it to my backpack straps (best) or my belt (when not carrying a backpack). No weight on the neck = no aggravation of neck pain!

See it in action:
Backpack strap: https://youtu.be/FJhWq1fa3co
Belt: https://youtu.be/DCb7bAVH-dQ

Holdfast makes one for hipsters at around $100. The binocular harness is about 12 dollars on B&H.

PS re my suggestion of wall mounting the keyboard at desk level and using the Pool Cue to type (in order to alleviate neck pain)
We could patent it like the Dvorak keyboard, I was thinking
The Mosconi Keyboard -- I'm shew Willy wouldn't mind.

I have a full chest mount/harness made by Cotton Carrier. It works very well, I did hard hiking in the Sierras with a d800 + 24-120/4 combo for example. I didn't mind the weight on my chest at all, it actually helped balance my center of mass when hiking with a backpack. It is heavy-duty though (you don't look subtle wearing it) and it's another thing to put on and shuffle around with your outdoor layers.

I don't use it as much since switching to m43; I have a Peak Designs shoulder clip that mounts on my backpacks for that. That works well up to about a kilogram, so if I'm going to be working with something bigger I'll switch back.

Mike, you might also consider a sling strap. Black Rapid makes a variety of straps that you wear cross-belt style. Puts the camera's weight on a shoulder, and attaches to the camera via the tripod socket. The camera hangs to the opposite side, ready to slide up the strap and shoot.

I don't know anything about binocular straps. I've been using an http://www.blackrapid.com/products/sport "R Strap" ever since they came on the market and cannot say enough good things about it. The strap comes with a fastener designed for the tripod mounting hole on the camera. Being a tripod shooter who uses arca-swiss plates & connectors, I bought a very small kirk arca-swiss clamp and attached it to that fastener. The connection to strap or tripod is always easy. fast, & secure.

I'm sure I've walked 500+ miles over the years with this setup. Not one complaint or mishap. YMMV, but I am a *very* satisfied customer.

My solution to sweaty neck syndrome is to use the Cotton Carrier Vest system, which also allows both hands to be free and keeps the camera accessible and weight close to my center of gravity (good for hiking and scrambling, compatible with backpacking harnesses). Now with the vest, which has a 6" x 8" solid attachment point in front, I get sweaty chest syndrome.

You might want to try one of the BlackRapid over the shoulder sling straps--no weight on your neck. B&H has them

I love the harness for 4/3 cameras. It is great for travel. The harness has two points to connect. On one I connect a Panasonic GM5 with an Olympus 12mm and on the second connection point I use an GM5 with a 45mm lens. Each hang on one side or the other. I sometimes ware a photo vest over this rig to protect and keep out of site the cameras. This also has an advantage in that it keeps your hands free when you are hiking. Also because I have such a light rig I open carry a Sony RX1 around my neck. I haven't found a better combination that is easy to carry and at the same time offers such great sharp glass.

I have used these periodically for binoculars. They certainly do the job of taking the load off your neck during a long day in the field. But the binoculars end up having to hang lower on your body than they do with a conventional strap, which may not be suitable for a camera, especially with a long lens. I found they were fine if all you were using was binoculars, but if you were juggling binoculars and a camera, or wearing a backpack or waist belt, they ended up being inconvenient.

If your neck pain was eased by pool playing why not devise a set of exercises that mimic playing? The equivalent of a golf driving range, a narrow board with a felted surface and catch net at the end and ramped tube to return balls, take a series of shots at varied degrees of stretch.

Yes, I use one anytime I'm using either my big Nikon D2x or an older motor-driven film camera. Can walk around all day (and by that, I mean walk from about 10am to 5 pm, meandering on a 20 km trail) and not feel any strain.

The one I use is an OP/TECH I got from Mountain Equipment Co-op, and features heavy-duty black plastic clips so that you can detach the camera from the harness without removing the harness. They also sell the clips separately so that you can equip more than one camera to hang from the harness.

I'm sure B&H sells one just like it, if you want Mike to get a cut (and we all want that!).

MIke, perhaps you want to look into Black Rapid straps? These are worn slung over the shoulder, but across the body (kind of like a Sam Browne belt), and the camera hangs on the side of your hip. You can simply swing the camera up to take a photo. Popular with PJ's who often use the Black Rapid system with a chest harness and two straps as they often work with two (big) pro bodies.

http://www.blackrapid.com/products/curve

I've tried 'em, but decided not to use them as I am always worried about bashing the camera into something when I am at the race track jumping over K-wall or going through a gate (which is cumbersome enough when you carry as much gear as I do).

Whatever you get, it should permit carrying the camera both directly in front, and lens down along your side. It should also give support while holding the camera to your eye, And find a good pool hall, preferably one with not too many sharks.

Interesting that you would raise this subject, as I have been drafting a forum comment in my head for the past week. I am just back from a month in the Southwest, visiting several of the more photogenic spots. Although there were two backpacks full of cameras and lenses in the RV, for 99.5% of the photography, I carried my Olympus EM-1, the Olympus 12-40 and Panasonic 35-100 and a spare battery. the camera was on a Peak design Capture clip on my belt, and/or a Peak design leash worn as a sling. The other lens was on a Go-wing holder on another Peak Leash. (the battery was in my pocket.) The slings were worn crisscrossed. No backpack, no neck strap, and at 72, no problems hiking a mile or more on Cedar mesa and in White Pockets. (The only problem was figuring out how to carry water and energy bars.) Highly recommended, and I think would work with heavier systems.

Alan

Alternative take on the Binocular Harness. My brother uses a Trekking Safari 12312 camera harness to carry a Canon 7D. Finds it very useful and comfortable.

Alan

I messed my neck and back up in a fall about 25 years ago. I can't use a traditional neck strap at all. I've tried a binocular harness and it helped with the neck but not the back. A Black Rapid straps helps, especially since I switch the camera from side to side fairly often. Now that I'm shooting mirrorless, I use a Spider Black Widow holster and a wrist strap. It's not great if I'm using a longer zoom but for my normal walk-around primes, it's very good.

Is the UpStrap not working for you?

If you must have something around your neck then a sling is the way to go. I'm also a fan of Black Rapid straps.

However, if you have only one mirrorless camera and one lens then you can sell a kidney for one of these

http://www.photoscarab.de/

I love mine. No weight on the shoulder or neck and no pesky straps in the way.

Gordon

I had a harness made for cameras, that didn't hurt my neck or shoulders. Had to be adjusted very precisely to be of any use, I remember, but it really did let me push out against the harness to hold it rather stably in position in front of my eye.

However, I had to readjust to go from vertical to horizontal, which wasn't so cool.

It's probably still here somewhere, but I haven't used it in years. Active stabilization, and my increasing ability to locate things to lean on, have made it seem less useful.

It may be that you have the same neck problem I had, Mike, and it responded in the same way.

Someone told be to sleep with a rolled up towel under my neck, experimenting with rolling it up to just the right diameter. My neck problem hasn't come back since I started doing that. Give it a try, it might work for you.

Or just get that pool table.

This thread's probably sleeping by now but here goes. The Peak Design Capture Clip's already been mentioned. As someone who's almost always wearing a backpack (of variable size) this device is absolutely the solution. It has some deficiencies - it's not always as easy to deploy and refit the camera as it might be - but even with a dinosaur DSLR on board it's a vast improvement over a dangler-strap.
The Cotton Carrier harness (I bought an early version) is a joke unless you like the para-military geek look.
Of course abandoning the use of FF DSLRs - make that DSLRs full-stop - is the primary solution. I switched to M43 a few years ago and rarely see a need to revert to the use of Nikon FF gear; my "investment" in these stage-weights makes me weep when I recall it.
I think a home extension suitable for housing a full-size snooker table is the long-term solution to neck problems.

Whilst also a happy user of a Black Rapid strap, another option is to take the weight off your neck/shoulder entirely. I use a SpiderPro belt and holster. Puts the weight on my hips instead. Can carry a full frame body plus f2.8 70-200 all day long.

martin

Play golf! Best game ever devised and terrific exercise - cardio or stretching - whether you walk or use a cart.

"Binocular Harness": Great name for a band.

@FrankB - I always had a problem with shoulder straps slipping off, too, until I tried UpStrap (http://www.upstrap-pro.com/). I use the "RF" model with my Micro 4/3 and film cameras and it works great.

Oddly enough, running is the most effective treatment for my Incurable Sh**ty Foot.

I have been using the OpTech brand harness for 20+ years. There are two major advantages over a neck strap. 1)It puts the weight on your shoulders instead of your neck, the weight is evenly split so the pressure point(s) are half. 2) when you bend over, the camera does not swing away from you, and potentially into some nearby object, lens first. In addition I use a homemade gadget that forces the camera's lens to point down. This helps to protect the lens from dirt, rain etc. and keeps the back of the camera from rubbing against buttons and zippers. I put the harness on first and then attach the camera with quick connectors. If a connector fails, the camera does not fall to the ground like it would with a neck strap.

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