Black Rapid RS-7 Strap (blackrapid.com)
Review date: November 4, 2011
Camera used: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens used: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 & Canon 50mm f/1.4
Purchase price: $59 at Samy’s Camera in Santa Ana, CA
Photography: Mike G.
Silly guy in the photos: Me
If you photograph events, you sympathize with my sore shoulders. The Canon strap that comes standard with all Canon cameras is far from accommodating for photographers who spend more than four hours continuously shooting. This is where the Black Rapid RS-7 strap shines. It seems silly that it took me this long to finally purchase a camera an aftermarket strap. Like many of you, I held on to the Canon strap with the old, “If it ain’t broke why fix it” attitude. Don’t be like me, there are much better products out there waiting!
After spending the past week in Las Vegas photographing the SEMA Show, I felt like it was time to share my thoughts on the RS-7. On average, I spent 4-7 hours each day with my camera at my side. This is a long time to carry even the slightest of weight around. Anything I can get my hands on to make this time easier on my body, I am all for.
Setting up the RS-7 takes a few minutes choosing where you want your camera to hang. As you can see from the photographs, I chose to have the camera hang at hip level behind me just a touch. I found this to be perfect for walking around. I no longer had an expensive camera flopping around at my side with the lens sticking straight out and bumping into people as I passed. The camera hugged my side well with the lens pointed down toward my rear. If I ended up in a busy area I kept my hand over the body for bump protection.
Holding the camera secured to the strap is the FastenR. It simply screws into your tripod mount where the strap caribiner grabs the loop and locks in place. If you are worried about your camera dangling off the tripod mount, don’t. I find this more secure than the strap loops on the sides of the camera body. Having the camera facing down also keeps the weight of heavy lenses off the body lens mount. The FastenR screws down extremely tight and after four long days never moved a pinch. The caribiner has a slide lock that restricts it from opening unexpectedly.
The bumpers are a must have for photographers on the move. They slide into place anywhere you choose, keeping the camera from movement. During breaks from shooting, I slid both together keeping the camera locked at my side. The bumpers allow you to remain agile without worry of your camera smacking into something. Great for outdoor photographers when hiking or busy wedding photographers. The rear bumper also lets the strap fall back into place if it comes loose from your shoulder during action.
The ergonomics of the strap are top notch. The RS-7 features a slight curve that allows the padded section to follow the natural contours of your body. This is notfound on their RS-4 or RS-5 strap. The RS-7 is compatible with the Black Rapid MODS pouches (RS-4 and RS-5 are not). You can strap your cell phone, memory cards and a bunch of other stuff to the strap if need be via the MODS. You can also attach the BRAD strap that runs under your armpit securing the strap super tight against your body for fast moving action sports photographers (link). I had a tough choice deciding which strap to buy. The RS-4 doesn’t offer the ergo curve but comes with a small built-in memory card zipper pouch I really liked. The RS-5 doesn’t offer the ergo curve but has a large built-in pouch for storing all sorts of goodies. The RS-7 offers the ergo curve and the ability to use MODS but does not feature built-in storage. This is of course what makes each strap stand apart from its brothers. I chose the ergo curve feature above storage needs. I can always add pouches later if I find myself needing them. In a perfect world, I would love to see the RS-7 strap with a small built-in compact flash pouch like the RS-4.
The strap is very comfortable and distributed the weight across my shoulder very well. My shoulder never felt tired or sore. For those who want to quickly release the strap without pulling it over your head, the RS-7 features a quick release in the back which is also how you apply the MODS pouches. Although the quick release is a great feature, I was concerned about thieves sneaking up behind me releasing the strap and stealing my camera. Apparently, Black Rapid is concerned about this as well. They offer an accessory called BUCK as a remedy. It’s a velcro cover for the quick release clasp that gives would be thieves one extra step before your camera is gone from your side. Want a cheap option? Duct tape. The strap is made of super tough ballistic nylon and the metal components are stainless steel. Both will assure a rugged long life.
Another nice feature having a strap that holds on to your opposite shoulder is not worrying about what I call, “camera shoulder drop”. You know, that uneasy feeling as the stock strap slides off your shoulder one inch at a time. At SEMA, I spend as much time shooting as I do talking and shaking hands. This means I need to have both of my hands free without worrying about what my camera is doing. The RS-7 kept me confidently hands-free throughout each day.
The shooting motion of using this strap sells itself. The strap loop slides its way up the strap as you raise the camera to your eye, then slides back down as you place the camera back at your side. Easy! Quick! Gone are the days of having the stock strap get in the way of shooting or having to fumble around getting my camera back on my shoulder. If you carry two cameras, the stock strap is even more of a pain in the butt. For dual shooters, check out the RS DR-1 Double Strap (link). I really hope my friend Jason is reading this I think I just made his day. The strap does tend to move off perfect shoulder placement at times during action. This is why it is important to have the rear bumper in place so the strap slides back into place when the camera is placed at your side (watch the video here). You may find it pulling on your shirt a little so slight readjustments may be needed from time to time.
I should have grabbed a photo, but I also wanted to point out that I was wearing this strap with and without a backpack during the week. The backpack straps never got in the way of the strap. I ran the strap under the backpack, which actually helped keep the strap in perfect shoulder placement at all times.
One concern I have is using the strap and then quickly attaching the camera to my tripod. Black Rapid does offer the FastenR T1 that allows you to attach the the camera to a standard quick release plate. This of course will not work with all quick release plates. This doesn’t worry me much because on days I shoot with a tripod I don’t tend to use or need a strap. Considering how easily the strap frees itself from the camera body, I can simply unscrew the strap and attach my quick release plate. I noted this because I can see this being a problem for some photographers.
I highly recommend this product. At $59, you aren’t breaking the bank. The true test will be wearing one and discovering if this strap is comfortable on your body. You should be able to find these at your local camera specific shop behind the counter. My shop allowed me to try on all three straps with my camera, so bring yours with you. I can honestly say I don’t see a reason to ever return to using a stock camera strap.
Thanks for reading my review. Please feel free to leave feedback/questions! If you have this strap I would love to know how its treating you. If you want to share this review on your website/blog/forum, please link your post back to this page. Thank you!
A great option for photographers on the move.