Most DSLR or mirrorless cameras are supplied with their own neck strap. This is initially a very useful addition to a camera purchase, but they are not always the most practical in the real world. There are plenty of other options available, and today we’ve gathered together the best sling camera straps.
But, why do most people ditch the free options in favor of a more expensive variety? Supplied camera straps are often not long enough or don’t provide sufficient support. On an all-day shoot with a few pounds of camera gear hanging around your neck, fatigue easily sets in. This is why most photographers swap to a more custom solution.
Sling camera straps are my personal favorite as they provide padding where it’s needed the most and are long enough to hold a camera at hip level. This is an important point as weight around your hips is easier to carry, grab hold of at a moments notice, and doesn’t pull on your neck.
This leaves the weight still distributed around a shoulder, but the camera is then easier to support with a hanging hand. Plus, you feel more like a gunslinger with the camera in this position.
1. BlackRapid Curve Breathe (Overall Winner)
The BlackRapid Curve Breathe has all the properties you would expect from a quality camera sling strap. It features a long and adjustable 65.7-inch length, breathable material, locking carabiner, cross body strap and plenty of padding where it’s needed.
The padded area of the strap spreads a load conveniently over one shoulder which is far more comfortably than a traditional straight strap. A CR-3 ConnectR Locking Carabiner attaches to the tripod mount of a camera, with a solid locking carabiner and nylon webbing.
Some have complained that the underarm strap part of the design doesn’t work too well, which I agree with. But, I simply don’t use this part of the design as the strap and padding work perfectly well on their own.
Apart from the slight deficiencies in the underarm strap, the BlackRapid Curve Breathe will provide you with years of solid support.
Camera slings such as the Peak Design Slide have a more traditional design on the surface. It features straight straps with some unique features.
The main straps are 1.8 inch in width, with a webbing like material and internal padding. The straps are smooth on one side and have a grippy surface on the reverse, with two aluminum quick pull adjusters that feel extremely solid in the hand.
The strap itself anchors the camera with a small tripod plate and the total length of the strap comes in at 57 inches. There are four included anchor connectors in the package, but I’m more concerned with the comfort and security of this sling than anything else.
There’s no denying the fantastic build quality of this sling camera strap. The materials feel extremely durable and this is a very reliable sling for light camera setups. However, it’s not quite wide enough for fully heavyweight cameras and lenses. The wider the strap area across shoulders, the better.
The Peak Design Slide does a fine job, but it just needs to have more strap width for every camera and lens scenario.
While some camera slings prefer to attach to a camera via the tripod mount, the OP/TECH USA Super Pro Strap has gone with the traditional lug attachments on a camera. Type B connectors have been included especially for medium format cameras.
The sling itself is adjustable from 36-45 inches, with a neoprene strap that is fully adjustable via locking slider mechanisms. For carting around a heavy medium format camera, the attachments are a wonderful solution, while a regular DSLR can also be attached with optional straps, which easily lock into place with the supplied buckles.
This sling is extremely comfy in use with a heavyweight camera and feels impressively sturdy. Weight is distributed nicely across the shoulder and generally stays in place with a non-slip grippy underside. This makes the OP/TECH USA Super Pro Strap a good solution for medium format cameras and other types, with the additional camera straps.
4. ONA The Oslo
Although I’m not the biggest fan of leather camera slings, some people swear by them. This is the reason for including ONA The Oslo. This particular model is a full-grain leather camera strap with a rather fetching antique cognac brown color.
The strap is double-sided for extra padding and can be easily adjusted with the included traditional buckles from 40 to 46 inches. This particular version is more suited to lightweight camera setups but still feels extremely secure with the steel keyring clasps that attach to the traditional camera lugs.
One advantage with a leather camera sling is that it becomes ever more pliable and flexible over time. Plus, you cannot fault the sumptuous quality of a well-made leather camera strap. But, will leather slings last in the long run when subjected to regular rain showers and harsh conditions?
However, as a high-quality camera sling for lightweight cameras and lenses, the ONA The Oslo is a very well-made product with a reasonable asking price.
5. Waka Camera Shoulder Strap (Budget Winner)
The Waka Camera Shoulder Strap shows that you don’t have to spend big bucks to get a quality camera sling. The Waka features Neoprene padding for shoulder support, with anti-slip padding and a storage pouch. The sling features stainless steel attachments, a metal quick plate, and an anti-theft safety tether.
The sling can be adjusted from 20.8 in to 31.5 inches in length and is easily adjustable with a quick front adjustment that hooks to the main padding via a three-point buckle. The tether is very useful for stopping a camera swinging about and provides a nice extra attachment point.
This camera sling is extremely comfortable on a long day’s shoot, with the strap being wide enough to spread a load. Heavy cameras hang down nicely, but lightweight set-ups don’t always have a lens down position. Another subjective point is the use of buckles for attachments, but in this case, after plenty of use, they are still as strong as ever.
Therefore, if you need a cost-effective solution in a camera sling design, the Waka is a great choice.
Measuring up the Best Sling Camera Straps
When it comes to choosing one of the best sling camera straps for your own needs, the wider the better is the usual course to follow. Spreading the weight of a camera and lens over as much surface area of a shoulder provides the most support over long periods. This point also helps if you have sloping shoulders, such as what I have, as narrow straps simply slide off.
There’s also the question of materials for both the padding and the main sling. Good old webbing is usually the first choice for sling material, while neoprene acts as great padding that is both breathable to an extent and slightly stretchy.
Leather slings, while feeling higher quality than most, don’t always have the strap width to support heavy camera setups. But, for lighter weight camera setups they can be an excellent choice.
With any of the options above, it’s a good idea to try one out in person as you will have to work with it for hours on end. If an impulse purchase sling feels uncomfortable and fatiguing over long periods, it doesn’t matter about the brand, when another solution out there can better fit your personal needs.