I recently discovered a camera strap manufacturing company called BlackRapid through froknowsphoto.com, a great beginner photography resource. BlackRapid make straps that attach to the camera via the tripod mount as opposed to the two standard strap connection points at either side of the camera body. The real stroke of brilliance, however, is the way the camera slides up and down the strap instead of being held in place. This means that when you grab the camera and bring it up to your face, you don’t need to fuss with the strap at all — my strap would always snag around my neck and be a real annoyance. BlackRapid straps do not come cheap, though, and there was no way I could justify buying one as a hobbyist photographer. So I made my own.
A strap like mine could easily be made for under $10. Mine cost me around 3x that because I used almost all full-strength climbing gear to make it, both for the novelty and because if I ever find myself in dire need of the gear I used in this strap I can just take the strap apart and use the gear. You can read about the process below and see pictures of most steps at the bottom of this post.
What you will need
- 2 pieces of webbing (or any other strap material); one for the shoulder strap (at least 7′ long — I wish I had made mine 8′) and one for the underarm strap (can be much shorter).
- 2 small carabiners (or any alternative less expensive clips).
- 2 rappel rings (again, could have been less expensive rings found in a hardware store).
- 1 eye bolt and nut w/ the standard US tripod mount diameter/threading of 1/4×20.
- 1 or 2 rubber washers with 1/4″ inner diameter.
The mountI measured how far the eye bolt screwed into my camera (via the tripod mount) and hacksawed the eye bolt down to that length. It is important to measure from the nut when cutting. The nut should be screwed on to the eye bolt all the way to the top; it serves as the head of the bolt, providing friction against the rubber washers and in turn the camera body. Then I added a couple of rubber washers. I super glued the rubber washers together and then the top one to the nut to keep them in place.
The shoulder strapI wanted the strap to be adjustable but if you want to just tie the shoulder strap into a loop you could save some time and money. I tied the two rappel rings to one end of the shoulder strap webbing. In the images below you can see how the other end of the shoulder strap gets fed through the rings to make an adjustable system that locks off under load. Add a clip or carabiner to the shoulder strap, and it is already usable. I went a step further and added an underarm strap that keeps the shoulder strap from moving around when the camera is moved.
The underarm strapMy underarm strap is just more webbing tied into a small sling. The loop is tied around the shoulder strap on front and clips into the second carabiner where the two ends of the shoulder strap are joined by the rappel rings. Once I had the length of the shoulder strap and underarm strap where I wanted them, I used tape to mark where I wanted the underarm strap to be attached to the shoulder strap in front. I took the shoulder strap apart, tied an overhand knot around the underarm strap at the tape mark, and then reattached the shoulder strap to the rings.