We clearly have a backlog of neat photography gear we’ve been meaning to test out! And today’s products from Peak Design are super nifty. In fact, they’re trying to solve many of the problems that plague neck straps and hand straps. Problems that have bugged us for years, to the point where we pretty much gave up on straps all together. Have they succeeded? Let’s find out…
The story begins when the kind folks from Peak Design got in touch to see if we wanted to check out their Slide neck strap and Clutch hand strap. We get a lot of inquiries like this, and don’t have time to check out every single new gadget, but as soon as I took a look at what they were doing, my interest was piqued.
When you hit their Kickstarter page for these products, and see that they raised over $860,000, you know that they’re doing something special. And after watching their promo video, I was really hopeful that they had indeed made something as innovative as it seemed.
The neck straps showed up, and wound up sitting untouched on our desk for a while, pushed to the back of the to-do list. And that was a mistake. Because once we got these set up on our cameras, we wondered why our camera straps hadn’t always been like this.
First up, here’s a video where we’ll show you just what makes these straps different, how they work, and what we like about them.
Now let’s dive into the details…
The Problems With Neck and Hand Straps
We’ll start off with a confession. We haven’t even been using neck straps lately. Back when we shot weddings, Lauren used a hand strap, and I used a couple of neck straps because I shot with two cameras. I did try out a few different types of neck straps, but was never totally impressed, and so I stuck with a very simple neoprene one that I actually got for free when I bought a camera second hand.
These days our cameras mostly sit on the counter, ready to grab at a moment’s notice, or we carry them in a bag when we’re out and about, and pull them out when needed. But we had mostly given up on neckstraps, finding them too cumbersome for casual day-to-day use. When we needed them, they took too long to put on, and when we didn’t want them in the way, they took too long to take off.
Plus, when two people are using the same cameras, like Lauren and myself, you run into even more problems. I need my strap longer, she needs it shorter, and so we find ourselves constantly trying to adjust the length. That’s not a quick process with most straps, and requires a couple minutes of fiddling each time. So we usually just have the strap at an inconvenient length, and deal with it. (Or just don’t use a strap at all).
How the Slide Neck Strap Is Solving These Problems
So we had two big problems with straps: They took too long to put on and take off, and they took too long to adjust. The Slide neck strap attempts to solve both of these problems.
On and Off
When it comes to putting a strap on and taking it off, Peak Design has totally rethought the approach, and came up with a very innovative little feature called the anchor link. Basically you hook these little circle gadgets (called anchors) through the strap connectors on your camera body (which takes approximately five seconds). Then you pop anchors into the link ends of the neck strap. You hear a very satisfying “click” and then it’s on. You’re done. Go take a break, or better yet, go take some photos.
Oh, now you want to take it off? Press down on the circle and slide it out. Finished. The anchors stay on your camera (and I like to think of them as little floppy ears), but they aren’t in the way at all.
Long story short: You can put the strap on, or take it off, in about 5 seconds.
This completely changed our lives. Or, at the very least, it is saving us a ton of time…
When we don’t want the strap on, because we are shooting in the studio, or just using the camera around the house and don’t want the neck strap in the way, pop! Take it off. When we are heading out the door, pop! We snap it back on, and are gone. We can choose in an instant whether we want that strap or not, and that makes using the camera so much more flexible.
Because, in the end, a neck strap can indeed be a very useful accessory, when you want it. (And trying to shoot and wrangle a toddler at the same time is a good circumstance to be able to have your camera quickly away and your hands free at a moments notice!)
When it came to the length of the strap, the Slide has another innovative feature. It’s a quick-adjust mechanism that will let you change the length on the fly, in seconds. Open the latch, slide it up or down, to whatever length you want, and then close the latch. Done.
For a single shooter this is great. It means you can choose to use the strap over your shoulder, around your neck, or across your body, simply by changing the length. And you can make that decision at any given moment. Shorten the strap and put it around your body while you walk, then make it longer, and put it over your shoulder when you’re ready to start shooting and want it to move more freely.
The Slide also comes with a Arca-type plate that goes on the bottom of your camera, giving you another attachment point so you can quickly turn it into a sling-style system that can slide along your body as you pick up and put down the camera. This has become a really popular way of carrying a camera, and being able to use Slide in this way is great. Or you can kick it old-school, and connect it to the two top neck strap connectors, as we did in the video. And, of course, you can also swap between setups quickly with the anchor links.
For two shooters who swap cameras, like us, it means that we can each customize the setup and length to our body and preference, without whining when the other changes it from where we wanted it. Two seconds and it’s back to what we like and we’re back to shooting.
Material & Build Quality
As for the material of the Slide, it’s crafted from the same style of material that seat belts are made from, so it’s definitely strong and durable. I’ve tried seatbelt-style straps in the past, but found them too slippery. This one has a stiff section in the middle, which helps it to stay more firm on your shoulder, and it also has rubber tracks embedded on one side, so you can choose to have even more grip. If you want the strap to slide more (while using it in sling-style setup, for example), you can flip back to the side without grips. Handy.
We were really impressed with the build quality of the strap and connectors. Everything is solid and super high quality. It might seem a bit risky, trusting your expensive camera to connectors that come on and off at a push, but these are really well designed, and lock firmly. You won’t accidentally open these up. We haven’t ever worried for a moment that the strap wouldn’t hold.
So that’s all about Slide, the neck strap, and it really impressed us. Peak Design labels it as “the most versatile professional camera sling strap in the world” and I don’t think they’re exaggerating! We’ve loved the versatility, and how it quickly adapts to any situation we find ourselves in.
The cost is US$59.95, which is right in line with a lot of other sling straps for professional cameras. You get the neck strap, four anchors (that go on your cameras), and an Arca-Type baseplate so you can connect the strap to the bottom of your camera as well, giving you even more versatility.
You can grab the Slide direct from Peak Design here, (and bonus, they offer free and fast shipping just about anywhere in the world! Sweet!) Or you can find it on B&H (and many other major online camera retailers).
But what if you have your own neck strap that you love, but you just want to be able to put it on and take it off quickly? The Peak Design answer: Anchor links.
Peak Design also makes the anchor link attachments for any camera strap, so you can have the convenience of two-second attachment, but with the strap of your choice. We have the anchor links set up on all of our cameras now, and just put on whatever strap we want at the time. We sometimes use thinner straps for our smaller cameras, and then put on the Slide when we are going to be carrying them around for longer periods, or using a bigger camera. So. Many. Options.
A set of anchor links costs US$19.95, and you get four anchors (the circles that go on the camera), and two links that go onto a strap. So you’ll be able to set up two cameras to easily share one strap with this pack. Check it out from Peak Design here.
We found ourselves using Slide and the anchor links a lot, but these days hand straps aren’t as functional for us. But we took a good look at Clutch anyway, to see what it offers, in case this is something that would help you out.
And I’ll tell you right away that if you haven’t tried a hand strap, but often shoot portrait sessions or shoulder straps, it’s worth a look. Lauren used one exclusively, and loved it. It took the weight off of her wrist, making it much more comfortable to hold a heavy camera for long periods. She could also put the camera down very easily when she needed to help a bride adjust her veil, get a family in position, etc. She found neck straps hurt her back and shoulders, carrying the camera on them all day, so the hand strap was her go-to choice. We used a Canon leather hand strap that we had to rig up with a 3rd-party base plate that attached to the tripod mount of the camera, so it was a bit of a workaround to get it set up.
The Clutch from Peak Design has everything you need in one package, so that’s a good start. It connects to the tripod mount with an Arca-type baseplate, so you can use it on a tripod as well, which is handy. The baseplate has an anchor link connector making it quicker to remove – also handy.
The top connector is more of a standard strap material that hooks onto a metal clip. That takes a bit longer to attach than the anchor links, so it’s not going to come on and off as blazingly fast as the Slide neck strap. But it’s way quicker than how long it used to take to attach a hand strap, so at this point I think we were getting pretty spoiled with how quick anchor links make attaching things.
The hand strap itself is made of a sporty material, with a soft lining, and maybe wasn’t as supple as our old leather ones, but it had good support. I was concerned at first that it wouldn’t adjust down small enough (adjusting is done pulling down on a tab, way easier than the Canon one again). But Lauren tested it out and was able to get it tight enough for her small hands, so it seems good!
I didn’t use it for long periods, so I can’t speak to the comfort level for extended use. The bottom of the hand strap is loose because of how it attaches to the baseplate with the anchor link. Our Canon strap setup had a solid plastic connector that went all the way across, making it more fixed at the bottom of your hand. The Clutch might give your hand a bit more freedom, or it might not give quite as much support. Hard to say!
Overall I’m impressed with the Clutch, and will definitely give it a whirl next time I’m shooting a long session where I want my hand strap back! And the knowledge that it will only take a minute to put it on and take it off makes me so much more likely to actually use it.
The Clutch is US$39.95 and comes with the hand strap, two anchors, and the Arca-type plate. It works with or without battery grips. Get more details and grab it from Peak Design here.
We’ve seen a lot of fancy new camera straps hit the market over the years, but we haven’t seen one that was as carefully thought out as Slide. It is creatively attempting to solve so many gripes that we have with neck straps. Something as simple as being able to put it on and take it off in seconds may not seem like much, but then you actually start using it in your day to day life, and realize just how much time and frustration it saves, you’ll understand that this is something significant.
And being able to change up the length and setup of the strap on the fly, with almost no effort? I didn’t think it was possible, but these guys have done it, and done it well. If you’ve been looking for a strap that is versatile and easy to use, that really gets out of the way and lets you focus on shooting with your camera, in whatever way you find more comfortable at the moment, check these out.