Luma Loop Camera Sling Review
Editor's Note: On November 9th, Luma Labs released a statement that they were going to stop offering the Luma Loop. The problem, unfortunately, is that another vendor of a similar product filed for – and was granted – a patent for a sliding connection to a camera. Funny, that, as such devices existed well back to the civil war era. But in yet another embarrassing decision made by the US Patent office, they have yet again approved a patent for something that existed prior (just like a patent filed in 2002 for a swing – yes, a swing). Meanwhile, as the product is no longer available, I fear this article is dated. That's a shame, too, as this really was our favorite of the sling style straps. But we can't wait to see what Luma Labs's next product will be.
Like a few other manufacturers who have realized that the traditional camera strap isn't perfect for everyone, Luma Labs developed their own spin on the Camera Sling camera strap: The Luma Loop. A sling-type camera strap is designed to hang on one shoulder, across your chest so that it keeps the camera at your side. Now the Luma Loop isn't the first sling strap that we've seen (we've even reviewed other iterations here). But the Luma Loop has a few unique features that may make it appealing to consumers. For the purpose of our review, Luma Labs was kind enough to provide a Luma Loop for our review. In addition, they provided an additional detachable lanyard for convenience and a PodMount – essentially a bolt that screws into the tripod mount of your camera. Before I carry on with my review, I'd like to share a video prepared by Luma Labs. It's a brief introduction into the features of the Luma Loop – and, quite frankly, does a better job than I could describe with still shots and words:
Using the Luma Loop
For the past few weeks, I've been using the Luma Loop exclusively with my primary camera, a consumer grade Digital SLR. I used it on my lunch-break excursions, and I was able to use it on a half-day trip into the city. As you can see from the video, you have a number of fastening options. You can fasten it to any of the strap points your camera has. You can also fasten it to your tripod mount using a PodMount (not shown in the video), which is essentially a sturdy bolt that screws into the tripod mount. For the first few days, I used the PodMount and fastened the strap to the bottom of my camera. Personally, I was not very comfortable with this type of mounting. I use my tripod a lot, and this method seemed to get in the way. Of all the mounting options, this does allow the camera to hang in the most comfortable position. For some of you, this might be favorable. But for me, with my tripod usage, it was not ideal for me. I preferred to mount the lanyard to one of the strap mounts on my camera. At first, I tried it on the grip-side of my camera. The camera hung well at my side, easy to grab for a shot. But the mounting point made it difficult to flip the camera to frame up a vertical shot with the grip at the top, the lanyard was being dragged across the camera. The mounting option I eventually settled into and favored was to mount the loop opposite the grip. It wasn't as convenient to grab the camera, but it was certainly better for the many times I like to shoot vertical. It certainly comes down to preferences, and the unique fabric loop lanyard makes it easy to mount to your camera in a number of ways.
One of the things I liked most about the Luma Loop was it's relative lightweight design. The strap is certainly sturdy – it was load tested for about 250 pounds on the strap and on the loop (there is an additional video showing the tests). But the strap and the shoulder pad are flexible and lightweight. The shoulder pad itself is made of leather – real leather – with padding underneath made of neoprene. The nylon strap fastens to either end of the shoulder pad. In front, there is a quick release clip to aid in getting in and out of the strap. This is a welcome feature on the days I was wearing a coat. It was easier to clip it on rather than putting on over my head. Additionally, there is a quick release clip between the loop and the camera lanyard. The lanyard quick-release is a nice feature as well. It allowed me to easily set up my camera on the tripod without ever removing the Luma Loop. It would also be useful if you had more than one camera, you could quickly and easily switch between cameras (each with their own lanyard). I do question the feasibility of the quick release clips. If you were to accidentally grab the clip, you could potentially drop your camera to the ground – something that no photographer wants. Though I never had such problems with the Luma Loop, I have a backpack that has a similar clip and I have many times accidentally disconnected the clip. I would like to see an additional safety measure put into the quick release clip. For example, many child seats use similar clips except that there is an additional button – three in all – that needs to be pressed in order to release the other two buttons. This would be a welcome feature.
As is the case with this type of strap, the adjustment method is usually on the back of the strap because the loop has to slide up and down the front. With the adjustment buckle in the back, it made adjustment a little difficult to do while wearing the strap. I'm not sure there is a viable solution, however. Some systems have chosen to move the adjustment system into the shoulder pad, but then you lose the lightweight quality of the system. I prefer lightweight, so this minor nuisance is one I can live with. One thing to note is that the Luma Loop's adjustment system works like a block and tackle. The strap loops back on itself twice so that between the shoulder pad and the adjustment buckle, the strap is tripled up. I was curious, so I inqured. The purpose of this is so that the Luma Loop can truly be one-size fits all.
The sliding mechanism on the Luma Loop is actually the quick release clip for the lanyard. There's a slot in the back of the clip that the strap fits through. For structural reasons, the clip has a fairly wide girth – not too wide, but wide enough to hinder the movement of the lanyard up and down the strap. On occasion, I found the clip getting caught up on the strap. It wasn't hanging up enough to significantly slow my ability to get the camera to my eye. But it was enough to be annoying.
I really grew to appreciate the Luma Loop in my daily use. The sling type camera strap concept may not be ideal for everyone. But if you like the concept, the Luma Loop may be a viable option for you. The lightweight design and the multiple fastening options are appealing. It's shortcomings are few and easy to overlook. In fact, our only serious concern is the safety of the quick-release system. I'll admit some paranoia, but there are ways to make the quick release a little more secure and a little less accident prone.
Because of it's lightweight design, we feel that the Luma Loop is ideal for hobbyists. It's versatile enough to be used for nearly any type of photography. Mounted on the strap loops, it doesn't impede the use of a tripod. And the lanyard system allows you to use the same strap for more than one camera (additional lanyards can be purchased). But in the end, it all comes down to preference. The sling type system isn't for everyone, but if such a system is appealing, the Luma Loop is a contender.
At this time, the Luma Loop is not available at any of our favorite sources. However, you can order the Luma Loop online at Luma Lab's website. As of this writing, the Luma Loop itself sells for about $60. The Pod Mount costs an additional $10 and extra lanyards are available for $10 each. Visit the Luma Labs Website for further information and purchasing.
Things We Liked
- Lightweight compared to other sling systems
- Lanyard System – the ability to fasten to any carrying point on the camera
- Quick Release system for shoulder strap and for lanyard
- One size truly fits all
Things We Didn't Like
- Sliding mechanism was as smooth as we'd like
- Quick Releases should have an additional button or mechanism to prevent accidental releases