Like many things in life, camera straps aren’t all made equal. Which you choose is really dependent on how frequently you use your camera(s) and for how long. Most of the camera straps sold with a camera are fine for sporadic use, but if you’re shooting on a regular basis and for long periods of time, other criteria come into the mix. Comfort levels, the ability to hold more than one camera, other attachments and strong enough to lift an elephant… many times.
One of the newer camera strap makers to the market is HoldFast with rather cool looking leather dual straps which promise to not just be aimed at professional usage, but also look very cool into the bargain. Let’s check out the strap and see if it does more than just make you look like a modern-day camera gunslinger.
Dual strap designs aren’t just better for multiple cameras, it spreads the load across both shoulders. This can’t be underestimated, especially on wedding shoots where it’s more of a marathon than a sprint finish. On first impression, the Holdfast looks very cool with a dark tan leather design. Something that looks more at home on a ranch, rather than ’round a photographer’s torso. The two sides to the strap cross in an ‘X’ pattern to attach a camera on either side of the body, with the option of a third camera across your chest. There’s also a Safety Catch clip along with the main clasp at the end of each strap to give an extra level of security.
Sizes for the straps come in original (1 1/2″ wide) or skinny(1″ wide with shoulder pads) widths, with overall sizes in small, medium or large. There are also optional D ring loops if you need them.
Once the strap is on your body, you simply attach the HoldFast screws to the tripod mount of your cameras and then the Safety Catch for good measure. The attachments are metal and very substantial. They definitely give you the peace of mind that everything is attached securely. Attaching to the tripod mount also has the advantage that the lens always points down when at the side of your body, stopping accident knocks to the lens. As per the strap itself, all leather products become softer and more malleable over time, so initial stiffness can be easily worked through. In any case, the leather straps feel very heavy duty and feel like they can take the rigors of regular use. It’s also worth mentioning that you will have to keep the leather in good condition over time, especially if the straps get wet.
Premium versions are all leather made from Bridle Leather, Water Buffalo, Great American Bison, and Python being the most expensive. There’s also a high-grade nylon version if leather is not your thing. All available in a variety of colors. There’s even an option for a fully customized, handmade version which you can order through their website.
Clearly, this is a cool looking camera strap, but is it functional? At first I thought the dual strap approach would be restrictive, not allowing a camera to swing upwards to the eye as quickly as a single strap. No worries here — there is free range of movement as the camera has a single strap attached to it before going to the X configuration.
You can basically get into a good gunslinger rhythm with two cameras and everything feels locked solidly in place. The only caveat here is I’ve got stupid sloping shoulders rather than squared off versions, so I need more padding in this area, so the version with the shoulder pads just about worked for me. A small pocket for extra memory cards and the like would have been nice, but you can’t have everything.
How Does It Compare?
The BlackRapid Breathe Double Camera Harness is one of the main alternatives and has a front sternum and rear stabilizing straps, but made from nylon webbing. Locks are the Spring-Loaded bumper variety with the price coming in at $114.70. The setup is similar to the Holdfast with the harness approach but also benefits from wider shoulder pads like a rucksack, a needed feature when carrying multiple, heavyweight cameras. Plastic buckles and fasteners may not last as long as the metal versions on the Holdfast, but the BlackRapid should still give you years of use.
If price is your sole concern with a dual shoulder setup, then the BlackRapid is a good solution and may be better at spreading the load across your shoulders or at least padding them. Also, the The BlackRapid Breathe Double Camera Harness looks like something the Special Forces would wear, while the Holdfast is more traditional gunslinger.
|Holdfast Gear Money Maker||BlackRapid Breathe Double Camera Harness|
|Rear Stabilizing Straps||Yes||Yes|
|Locks||Speed clutch||Spring loaded bumpers|
|Camera connections||Holdfast clips||CR-3 ConnectR Locking Carabiner|
The Holdfast Gear Money Maker is clearly a premium product made from top grade materials. This brings with it a premium price tag, but you shouldn’t write off the strap as just a fashion accessory. This strap is solid in function and made to last. It’s heavy duty enough to be used on a daily basis and will give any photographer with one or more cameras peace of mind and comfort for long photo shoots.
A dual strap setup like this one may feel initially like a pair of old school braces, but the comfort and convenience factor is so much better than a straight single strap, especially for more than one camera. Spreading the load across both shoulders can’t be underestimated. So if the Holdfast is out of your price range, it’s definitely worth checking out some of the alternatives, especially if you suffer from back problems.
With proper care this strap could last you a lifetime and wouldn’t look out of place in a few decades time, still working as it should. If you want a nice balance between functionality, comfort and cool looks, that will last few years, you can’t go wrong with the Holdfast Gear Money Maker.
Leather can perish
Wider shoulder straps needed