Camera gear you need: BlackRapid Review and Giveaway!

Giddy. Excited. Inspired. Motivated.

All might be feelings after plunking down several months of hard-earned cash (or credit, but hopefully not) on a piece of life-capturing electronic gadgetry. Your first (or second, or third, …) SLR camera. It is a sight to behold, or should at least help you capture some.

In the box you find what you expect: A camera body, perhaps a lens, battery, manual, and this worthless piece of nylon to tie it to your person to avoid both droppage and theft. Unfortunately, the designers seem to have forgotten both purposes by emblazoning the strap with the model (surely for advertising the re-sale value to would-be thieves) and designing it to maximize potential for camera swing and smack.

Queue to mind the picture of a foreign tourist with a $2000 DSLR walking around a National Monument. Their camera happily hanging around their neck, the lens sticking out as a vulnerable appendage. Any time they bend over, the camera swings out. If there was a kid that needed their nose wiped, it now needs to be bandaged as it was just accidentally obliterated by the camera-wielding parent.

Professional photographers say to carry a camera correctly, you hang it on your shoulder with the lens facing the small of your back. This puts the lens out of harms way. Unfortunately, it also takes more time to master than Photoshop. For normal people, the camera just keeps falling off the shoulder. If you put it over your head so it hangs across your body, the camera becomes so inaccessible that it might as well be left in the bag.

Enter BlackRapid. While cameras have been designed and redesigned over the last few scores, nobody seemed to think about the strap. The most prized version imaginable has been a retro hippie strap stolen from your parents’ old Minolta.

BlackRapid designed a strap which improves all of the above problems. The strap itself lies crosswise over the photographer’s body like a sling. The camera is mounted to the strap via its tripod mount. When not in use, the camera slides down to sit slightly behind the wearer’s hip; the lens moved safely to the small of the back. However, the camera remains instantly accessible: upon grabbing the camera it slides right up the strap to the eye, ready to shoot.

I originally bought Alyssa a BlackRapid about a year ago when we got a new camera. While I was nauseous about the price for a strap (around $80), the reviews on Amazon gave me enough impetus to give it a try. A week and a few outings later, all suspicion was gone. We were sold.

When we got our camera, it was to take with us on our little ‘adventures’. Hiking, climbing, skiing. With three kids and a dog the camera felt like a fifth child. Our kids got hit by it when we bent over, it wasn’t accessible when worn over the shoulder with a backpack or kid in a Beco. We honestly just started leaving the camera at home. All this got worse with a heavier lens and bigger camera body.

The BlackRapid made our camera both instantly accessible and as safe as it can be outside of your camera bag. When not in use, the camera can be locked on the strap behind your back. The width and padding of the strap help distribute the weight of a heavy lens to make it comfortable for multi-hour hikes. It remains accessible while wearing a backpack, and stays put while scrambling. In short, it made our camera investment much more usable.

In the end, it is a lot of money for a strap. But IMO, it is money well spent. After spending $1000+ on photography equipment, this is a fixed rate insurance policy which increases the likelihood that your camera will be available to capture the shot you bought it for.

P.S.: Recently we had a chance to try the BlackRapid Sport, which provides an underarm strap to keep the strap itself from sliding. While the sliding was somewhat controlled on our original strap due to its rubberized interior, the sport strap is a significant improvement for active endeavors. The under arm strap allows you to bend over without the strap sliding, as well as keeps the strap from slipping off your shoulder when you are wearing “slippery” gear, like a nylon jacket. Our only concern? There could be a chaffing problem under the arm on longer hikes or walks…depending on the wearer, their clothing, and the length of activity.

P.P.S.: It is also much more subtle without giant “EOS Please Steal Me” lettering going across your back.

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30 comments on “Camera gear you need: BlackRapid Review and Giveaway!
  1. Christmas isn’t complete without my precious family!

    I rarely take my SLR on outdoor adventures because of weight, bulk, and fear of damaging it. If I had one of these, I’d use it much more!

    • Jessica, funny you mention potato soup! Only cause I had a bad too-much-dehydrated-potato-soup experience on a backpacking trip years ago and I just cannot think of it the same anymore :(.

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