NOTE AUG. 2011 - Two years later and I’m not sure where I’d be without these straps. I’ve been able to try out a few of Black Rapids newer straps – they are amazing. However, I keep coming back to the RS-7 and the RS DR-1. Does that mean that the newer straps such as the RS-Sport 2 and the RS DR-2 Slim Double Strap are useless? No way. They are great straps as well. But here’s the thing, my straps have become so commonplace and so integrated into my shooting style and life that I don’t ever see myself replacing these Black Rapid straps. They are amazing and have become like ‘family’ to me. I’d be lost without them and I’ll probably die wearing them
In Mid 2009 I picked up a Black Rapids RS-7 strap assuming that my life would stay the same. At the time I wasn’t really aware a camera strap could drastically effect the ease of shooting. This year about 3 months ago I was able to pick up and try out Black Rapids RS DR-1 double strap system and was equally surprised. All of Black Rapids straps are designed for ease of use… as they say, “Black Rapids R-strap will change the way you look at camera straps forever. Built for speed, it’s patent pending design allows the camera to hang upside down from its tripod socket and slide up the strap to shooting position in a split second. One try, and you’ll never go back!” I’m all about making things easier. I was eager to run both straps through the ringer and see what came out. So here we go.
The Look – Both the RS-7 and the RS DR-1 double strap are pretty decent looking. To be honestly, simplicity is key here since we aren’t trying to win any camera strap beauty contests. Both straps are constructed of black ballistic nylon and they look just fine. The point of a good camera strap is comfort and usage. It’s a good looking strap, but if you are in the designer camera strap market (who is really in that market?!), it will probably look pretty nondescript to you, which I personally think is an asset to all BlackRapid straps. Let’s move on.
Convenience – I’ve never used a camera strap system that is more convenient that these BlackRapid straps. You literally just reach down to your side and there are your cameras – ready to go. That’s the idea. A few notable things add to the convenience of the entire strap system:
- FasternR System: Basically these are little ‘screws‘ with loops on them that attach to the bottom of your cameras (click here & here). They come with this securing rubber washer that helps, well… secure the whole unit to the camera (which is a good thing, right?). I can honestly say that after consciously tightening these down, I’ve never thoughts twice about if they would slip or not. When I first got the system, I would nervously check all the time to see if they were still tight only to find that they hadn’t loosened a bit*. It’s obvious that BlackRapid has thought about the device that you want suspending your camera above the concrete – you want to be able to trust it. I do trust it.
- ConnectR System: This is basically a strong swiveling latch that connects the FasternR’s to the actual BlackRapid straps(click here). Now come on, it’s just a little latch thingy, right? Well, BlackRapid put some thought into these as well. First, the latches are on a swivel so the cameras never get tangled and you never really feel the cameras twisting on the straps. Secondly, the ConnectR’s that came with all BlackRapid straps have a smooth locking mechanism so that when the latches are rubbing against my clothes there is less likelihood that it will come loose or unlatched. Also, the ConnectR system allows the camera to slide up the strap rather than taking the whole thing with you.
- Adjustability: Every part of these straps is adjustable. This means the camera will, once adjusted, sit exactly where you want it and where is natural for you. One aspect of this that I found extremely handy was that BlackRapid installed ‘stops’ (see here) on the sliding straps. This means that your camera wont beyond certain points you set on the straps, which is nice for controlling camera location and effectively keeping the camera in a set location for quick access.
- MOD systems: Admittedly, I don’t use many of the MODs that BlackRapid offers(see them here), but I do believe that most photographers will find this helpful. The only MOD that I use is the BRAD which gives me more stability on the RS-7 strap. Many people will find this useful and some will not, but we can all agree that options are generally usually a good thing.
Comfort – What do you say here? Both the RS-7 and the RS DR-1 are incredibly comfortable. The padding isn’t so thick that it’s clumsy, but rather they are snug to the fit. With weight on the straps, you can really tell that they are produced to hug the body and stay put (the BRAD helps too). One thing I personally enjoy is the curvature of the shoulder straps and the thin padding which keeps them away from my neck so they don’t rub and annoy me. They are just comfortable straps- if they weren’t, I seriously wouldn’t use them.
One small note on comfort, you really need to spend some time adjusting the straps to how they fit you best. When I first purchased the RS-7 strap, I wasn’t used to the idea of a camera hanging upside down on my hip. I had to experiment with the most comfortable location for the camera to sit. Spending the time to do these things (adjust strap height, adjusting the ‘stops’, etc) will increase the comfort of your BlackRapid system.
Durability – These aren’t cheaply made straps. I’ve been using my RS-7 for well over a year now in some very extreme climates and have yet to see a single tear or rip or even a seam start to come apart. I’m just not really light on my gear and for a strap to show no signs of wear and tear after a year of extreme use is pretty amazing. Furthermore, all BlackRapid straps are made with ballistic nylon so I doubt they will start showing damage in the near future. They are tough.
I swear I spent a good hour trying to come up with a few things that I don’t like about BlackRapid straps. At the risk of sounding like a completely biased and non-in-depth reviewer, I could only come up with one thing that slightly annoyed me and is completely subjective… so here it is. After a year of heavy use with BlackRapid systems, the only thing that bugs me slightly is that I’ve filled up all my tripod mounts with fasteners. I find myself losing my FastenR’s and being annoyed when they are in the way on my camera bodies while I’m not using the straps. I see this as nothing more than a personal problem I have and something I might need to seek professional attention for.
The BlackRapid RS-7 and the RS DR-1 are mainstays in my camera bag. If I’m just out on the town I usually carry the RS-7 with a waist bag. If I’m somewhere I don’t want to take the time (or don’t have the time) to switch cameras or lenses, I’m going with the RS DR-1. Neither strap feels cumbersome, which is quit an obstacle to overcome for most double strap systems. All around I can’t recommend BlackRapid straps enough. I wouldn’t recommend something that I didn’t use… period.
MONEY= WHERE MOUTH IS
Because I love these straps so much, I’m willing to, in conjunction with BlackRapid, give away a Black Rapid RS-7 w/ BRAD with the full expectation that you will love it just as much as I do. If you are interested in joining this contest, do one of two things. First, you can re-tweet exactly the following:
RT to win an RS-7 strap w/ BRAD mod from @BlackRapid & @bhirschyphoto! http://bit.ly/4oLe1S http://bit.ly/cqAfz4
You can also enter a comment below and be automatically entered into the contest which ends November 16th at midnight CST.