Late last year, I bought a used Canon DSLR. It was an excellent purchase, and I’ve had tons of fun using it to learn more about photography. The DSLR is a lot bigger and bulkier than my phone, but the photos I can shoot with the DSLR just look so much better than anything I’ve ever shot with a camera phone.
There is one thing that has annoyed me about my DSLR since day one—the camera strap. The strap is invaluable when I take my camera out with me—but it is way too bulky to fit in my pocket! The neck strap that comes with every DSLR quickly becomes uncomfortable, and when I’m shooting at home or on a tripod the strap just gets in the way!
My research quickly told me that a shoulder strap is the way to go, and there’s a huge selection to choose from!
I quickly figured out what to avoid
My first instinct was to look at the cheapest shoulder straps I could find. Camera straps are just fabric belts with hooks on the end. How bad could a cheap one be?
As it turns out, a cheap strap can be an extremely bad idea! I read several horror stories about the cheaply made hooks on some straps breaking and resulting in hundreds or thousands of dollars’ worth of camera gear crashing to the ground!
The Altura Quick-Release Shoulder Strap
I looked at quite a few camera straps, but my search kept bringing me back to the Altura Quick-Release Strap. The reviews are good, it has a lot of useful features, and it is only about $20. These are the features that interested me:
- Sturdy quick-release clip
- Steel bracket that attached to the tripod mount
- Pocket in the strap for SD cards and batteries
- Optional two-point connection to camera
The Altura shoulder strap comes with a steel connector plate that attaches to the bottom of your camera using a big, sturdy tripod screw. The plate has a hole on one end that fits the quick-release clip, and a slot at the other end that can fit a regular camera strap.
The strap comes with both the quick-release clip and a regular camera strap connector. If you’re very worried about your expensive and heavy camera and lens coming loose, you can attach the normal-style camera strap to the body, and attach the quick-release to the tripod plate. It would be amazingly difficult to accidentally separate the camera from the strap in this configuration!
I’m extremely pleased with the quality of the quick-release clip. It is made from sturdy metal, and the hooks on either side of the clip overlap by almost half an inch when closed. I don’t think my camera is ever going to come loose, and it would be impossible for me to accidentally clip on the camera incorrectly.
- Altura Quick-Release DSLR Shoulder Strap at Amazon
How I use the quick-release shoulder strap
I use my camera around the house most of the time. Around here, I always have somewhere to put the camera down, so the neck strap is just a nuisance. My new shoulder strap spends most of its time in my camera bag.
The heavy-duty bracket that came with the strap has found a permanent home on the bottom of my Canon DSLR. It doesn’t get in the way very often, and with it in place, it only takes me a few seconds to clip the strap back on and head out the door with my camera. This is extremely convenient!
The large bolt that attaches the bracket to the camera has a threaded hole in the bottom, and it can be connected directly to your tripod. When I read the product description, I thought this sounded scary. After using this bolt, though, I am very confident that it isn’t going to snap if I attach it to my tripod.
I don’t think I’d be likely to use this feature. The bracket on my tripod has a lot of surface area that comes in contact with the camera. At the very least, I’d worry that I’m losing some stability. Even worse, I’d worry about the plastic bracket on the tripod giving way.
It only takes a few seconds to disconnect the bracket, so I don’t think this is a big deal.
My only complaint
All the videos I’ve watched show people reaching across their bodies to lift up the camera with their left hand. I prefer to reach for the camera with my right hand. That means I have to attach the bracket facing in the opposite direction.
The battery door is blocked when you attach the bracket this way. It would be nice if this wasn’t the case, but it really doesn’t cause much trouble—it only takes a few extra seconds to loosen the bracket. It would be simple enough for the manufacturer to correct this problem—they just need to add a second slot for the tripod-mounting bolt.
I took my new shoulder strap to the Texas Pinball Festival last weekend. That was the first time I carried the camera with the strap for several hours, and it did an excellent job! I could almost completely forget that I was carrying my camera while playing pinball, but it was still sitting right there at my side ready to take photographs.
I don’t think I could play pinball with my camera on a neck strap!