From the invention of photography until this century, the camera strap has remained largely unchanged – a strip of some material (leather, cotton, nylon) connected to two points on your camera and worn around the neck, or over one shoulder if you’re trying to look less like a tourist. When digital photography exploded onto the scene, DSLR cameras became affordable enough for every one and their Uncle Bob to own. This upswing in DSLR sales was accompanied by a boom in photo accessory sales, and the boring old camera strap finally got some attention. The sling-style strap has become very popular, and several different iterations have come to market, including the Lens Loop.
The Lens Loop strap started as a DIY project by photographer and entrepreneur Vladim Gordin. He was unhappy with the design of the other sling straps on the market, and wanted something that could be worn under his backpack on a weeklong trip to Yosemite. He cut a seatbelt out of an old Chevy and fashioned a strap out of it. Not only was he happy with the final product, but other photographers started asking him to make them one as well. Gordin created a Kicktarter project for the strap, and it was so popular that it raised almost three times its initial $5,000 goal. The Lens Loop is now in regular production, and is available from LensLoop.com.
The strap is similar in construction and price point to the BosStrap (previously reviewed on Shutter Photo), which I happen to own and use regularly, so it will serve as a point of comparison for much of this review. Like the BosStrap, the Lens Loop uses nice wide seatbelt webbing (1-1/2″) to form the strap. There is no shoulder pad, but the wide webbing distributes the weight evenly over the whole shoulder resulting in a very comfortable wear. How comfortable, you ask? I took the Lens Loop out for an entire day of sightseeing and photography in New York City, and while my feet and legs were mighty tired after a day of pounding the pavement, my shoulder was perfectly happy. Another advantage to the LensLoop is that the strap is very thin, allowing it to be worn under bags and jackets without added bulk or rubbing. The hardware on the strap is very low profile brass, so there aren’t any large plastic buckles to snag on clothing or bags.
Setup is quick and painless, just screw the “Mikey Connector” into the tripod socket of your camera and clip the ring onto the strap. The clip is a spring loaded one-way type clip, so once your camera is connected there is little chance of accidentally disconnecting it. The downside to this is that removing the camera from the strap takes a little bit of effort, and my first few tries involved some fumbling with the clip. With practice, though, this process got easier. This probably isn’t an issue for most users, but I usually like having my camera unclipped and in hand while I’m shooting, especially if I’m doing a lot of crouching down (so that the camera doesn’t dangle near the ground), and then clipping it back into my strap when I’m done. The good news is that would-be thieves would also have a hard time unclipping your camera and running with it, and if you keep one arm resting on the camera (which is a pretty natural position) you won’t have to worry about it getting stolen in a crowd.
The Mikey Connector is a solid, milled piece of stainless steel, leaving no worries about it failing. The connector has a rubber washer that gets compressed against the bottom plate of the camera when you screw it in, ensuring that it won’t slip and come loose during use. I wasn’t sure at first how well it would work, but after checking and re-checking the connector it didn’t show any signs of slipping. The connector is also pretty low profile, so there were no issues with holding the camera normally (supported from the bottom). The down side to using the tripod socket for the connector is that you have to remove the connector to mount the camera on a tripod. There have also been some concerns voiced about trusting the weight of your camera and the force of any bumps or drops to the tripod socket. I personally don’t think that it’s an issue. Wedding pro’s have been using sling straps for years. I think the fact that we haven’t heard any stories about a wedding photographer having their pro bodies with big heavy f/2.8 zoom and flash attached get ripped off of their strap means that in just about any working situation the tripod socket is probably strong enough for the job.
[Editor’s Note: If you have concerns about the use of the tripod socket, or if you simply want to have easy access to your tripod, you can pick up a
cheap key ring (one that is strong enough to support your gear) to hook through the strap posts on your camera and then hook into the key ring instead of the Mikey Connector.]
The Lens Loop positions the camera down near your hip, hanging upside-down from the tripod socket. The camera body and lens hug your body, staying out of the way when not in use but very easy to grab, put up to your eye and shoot. The clip hardware slides easily up the webbing, but after wearing the strap for a while the webbing begins to rotate a bit which could lead to interference with operation. It’s not very hard to re-seat the strap in the correct position, but something like a small suede patch sewn in to the strap where it meets the shoulder would probably help it remain in place. Despite this small issue (which is also common of many similar systems), the Lens Loop is quick and easy to use, and won’t get in the way of your shooting. When not in use, the strap can be wrapped around the lens for storage, or unclipped and rolled up to take up minimal space in your camera bag.
Most camera equipment is similar to Ford’s Model T – “you can get it in any color you want as long as it’s black”. Not so with the Lens Loop: if you’re looking to bring some color to your photographic life, the Lens Loop is available in navy, burgundy, or olive along with the requisite black. The brass hardware has a slightly distressed “vintage” look to it, and with only a small logo that sits behind your shoulder, the system has a nice clean elegance to it.
The Lens Loop is a great sling-style strap at a very economical price ($35 USD at the time of this writing). It’s comfortable enough to carry a camera around with you all day, and elegant and low profile enough to go with (or under) any clothing or bags you’re wearing. It’s small and light, but very sturdy, and I have no qualms trusting my gear to it. This strap is a great choice for people who like to walk around without a camera bag but like to be able to drop their camera to the side when not in use. The fact that the Mikey Connector ties up the tripod socket means that any dedicated tripod users (especially landscape and sports photographers) should probably steer clear, but for most photographers it’s not too difficult to unscrew the connector for the occasional family portrait or long exposure shot. The nice clean design and choice of colors make this strap an attractive choice for every day use without looking like a “crazy photographer” (you know who you are.)
Bottom line, if you’re considering a sling-style strap, you should definitely consider the Lens Loop. The Lens Loop is available from the official Lens Loop website.
Things We Liked
- Durable seatbelt webbing and brass hardware.
- Wide webbing distributes camera weight better than conventional straps.
- Low profile construction makes for comfortable use under bags or jackets, and makes storage a breeze.
- The one-piece construction and rubber gasket of the Mikey Connector eliminate worries about failure.
Things We Didn’t Like
- The Mikey Connector ties up the tripod socket and must be removed before using the camera with a tripod.