Equipment Review: Get a Grip on your Gear

August 23, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

I have long been on a search for the perfect camera strap to support hefty professional cameras.  While the Canon straps that arrive in the camera box are strong and usable, they are also cumbersome and conspicuous.  While many pros shoot sans-strap, I like the slight support and assurance that a strap provides.  After extensive testing, the ARTISAN&ARTIST Silk Cord and the Spider Pro Hand Strap are my two top choices for a practical, comfortable and attractive camera strap for shooting.  

 

ARTISAN&ARTIST:  Silk Cord ACAM-307N

The Japanese company ARTISAN&ARTIST was founded in 1991 by a photographer and artist eager to create high quality accessories for Leica cameras.  Over the decades, the company has expanded to produce bags and straps for all camera systems.  The straps continue to be most popular for Leica and mirrorless cameras, which are lighter in weight than professional systems.  But, a new 10mm wide tape-style attachment (as compared to the 6mm tape attachments and the ring attachments) that debuted this spring provides more than enough strength to support large camera bodies and lenses.  The strap's materials are impressive:  100 percent silk cording, strong nylon tape attachments, and Italian leather connectors with extensive stitching.  (Check out this fascinating short video on the silk strap production!)  The result is absolutely beautiful, but also cool, smooth, flexible and totally versatile.  This is the unique strap that professional and advanced-amateur photographers have been waiting for!

 

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I enjoy using the A&A silk cord wrapped around my wrist three times.  It feels smooth and moves with me.  It doesn't block any controls or access ports, and allows me to quickly switch between the horizontal and vertical grip on the 1DXmark2.  I attached it to the two right-side hooks, but the cord could also be attached to the two top metal hooks.  When my camera is mounted on a tripod, I loop the silk cord into a loose knot and it easily stays out of the way.   I can't be certain that the wrist-wrap would catch the camera if I dropped it, but I believe it would slow the drop enough for me to catch the camera.  It also deters theft if I were shooting in a city environment.  Although the slim, unpadded cord isn't comfortable for carrying 10+ pounds of gear on the neck, it has proven invaluable to loop over my shoulder or neck for a few moments when I need an extra hand -- absolutely beating the alternative of placing the camera on the ground or on an unstable surface.  

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Spider Pro Hand Strap

I have been using the Spider Pro hand strap on my 1DXmark2, 5DSR and 5Dmark3 since I became hooked on their wonderful holster system many years ago (watch for a future review on this blog!)  It fits my slim hand perfectly, but easily adjusts larger.  The underside is padded and lined with velvet, while the outside is available in a variety of leather colors.  An additional leather strap to snap around the wrist in included with the strap, but is optional for use.  My favorite aspect of the hand strap is that it feels incredibly comfortable and secure.  It molds to my hand and holds it firmly to the camera body.  While my hand could slip out during a serious drop, it feels secure and gives me confidence when I am moving quickly on a photoshoot.    

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It's impossible to claim that either the A&A silk cord or the Spider hand strap is superior because they each have great strengths.  I swap them regularly depending on the type of assignment and location of a shoot.  Here's the bottom line:

A&A silk cord advantages:

  • streamlined and stylish!
  • top quality materials
  • sleek and pliable;  comfortable and adaptable for many shooting situations
  • doesn't block any ports or camera controls
  • allows use of horizontal or vertical shutter controls
  • allows for cross-body carrying for short amounts of time
  • can be easily used on a tripod
  • the cord feels cool to the touch

 

A&A silk cord disadvantages:

  • provides little support;  doesn't pull hand to the camera grip
  • the cord will cut into shoulder if heavy equipment is carried at length

 

Spider hand strap advantages:

  • provides wonderful support;  allows for hours of carry time without wrist or hand tiring
  • camera feels most secure in my hand
  • can be easily used on a tripod
  • very well made;  after four years of frequent use there is no sign of wear

 

Spider hand strap disadvantages:

  • accessing the card port is possible, but requires some manipulating
  • the hand strap cannot be used properly with the vertical grip
  • no cross body or shoulder carrying ability

 

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