Luma Loop Revised (Review) [Discontinued]

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Editor’s Note:  On November 9th, Luma Labs released a statement (now offline) 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.  In lieu, Luma Labs has created a new type of strap called the Cinch.  It may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly an interesting concept and I believe it will earn its fans.

Now, back to the original article:

Last year, we reviewed the Luma Loop, an alternative sling-style camera strap.  Though it had a few minor flaws, it grew to be one of our favorite alternative camera straps on the market.  In fact, this reviewer continued to use the review sample long after the review (at least until this review).  It is for this reason that earlier in the year, as we prepared for our Anniversary Competition, that we put in a request for Luma Labs to donate one as a prize.  Well, it turns out our friends at Luma Labs just released a revised their design and wanted to hear our thoughts.  Not only did they provide one as a prize, but they gave us one to check out as well.

I always admire a company that works to improve its current products.  The original Luma Loop was already a great product.  But every product is going to have a few shortcomings.  We had a few concerns of our own, but nothing earth shattering.  Need I remind you that this was my preferred strap to begin with.  But Luma Labs was listening – not just to our thoughts, but to the thoughts of others as well.  In the end, the revised design is an improvement on an already well-done design.

What Didn’t Change

Luma Loop Shoulder Pads Compared

The Revised edition (top) is very similar to the old version (bottom). After more than a year of use, the old shoulder pad is soft, comfortable and remains strong.

The concept behind the Luma Loop, old and new, is the same.  The Loop is a nice balance between portability (size and weight) and function.  Like the original, the revised Luma Loop continues to feature a shoulder pad made of a combination of natural leather and raw neoprene.  The shape of the shoulder pad serves well to fit and stay on your shoulder.  At first, the shoulder pad may seem a little stiff.  It will take a couple weeks of use to really break in the shoulder pad.  But after using the original for over a year, I can attest that the leather softens and adapts to the shape of your shoulder.

Also like the original, the revised Luma Loop still allows you to “click-in”.  Just in front (just  below) the shoulder pad is a strong plastic clasp that you can use to easily get into and out of the strap.  As I mentioned in my review of the original, I don’t find that I always use this.  But this is a nice feature in the winter when you need to put the strap on over a bulky, puffy jacket.  The strap’s adjustments are along your back when worn.  This is intentional, of course:  You don’t want the adjustment hardware getting in the way of your slide when drawing the camera to your eye.

Finally, the flexibility of the original Luma Loop has not changed.  The lanyard – the thin loop of strong and durable webbing that fastens to your camera – can easily be fastened to a number of points on your camera.  Using the PodMount screw, it is possible to fasten the Luma Loop to the tripod mount of your camera or your larger lenses.  Additionally, you can also fasten the lanyard to your tripod’s quick-plate, likely without hindering its use.  But my preferred fastening location remains the camera’s built-in fastening ring opposite the grip and shutter release.  If you have multiple cameras or multiple big lenses, you can acquire additional lanyards and easily switch between bodies without changing your strap.  The beauty of the Luma Loop is that it is so versatile.  The lanyard system is one of my favorite features.

Improvements

The Luma Loop Lanyard

The Luma Loop Lanyard. Note the button which is normally protected by the slide under normal use.

The most noticeable change over the old design is the slide and clasp mechanism.  The old design utilized a plastic clasp, the new design uses a sleek, custom designed metal quick-disconnect.  The plastic clasp of the old system was certainly plenty strong enough, but there were two potential problems.  First, for clumsy folk like myself – those of us who always have our hand on something (Pen, quick-release clasp, etc), I always had this fear that I would accidentally grab the clasp and let the camera drop.  Second, the camera quick-disconnect clasp was very similar in style and size to the clasp that held the strap together.  This caused temporary confusion when putting the strap on. The new slide and clasp mechanism is perhaps one of the best designs I’ve seen of any camera strap.  The slide itself is now machined metal (as opposed to plastic) which slides much more smoothly along the strap when in use.  The disconnect mechanism is a small round cylinder.  At first, it would appear as though there’s no way to disconnect from the strap.  But the quick-release button hides at the back of the mechanism between the cylinder and the slide.  When connected, the button is out of the way of my clumsy, grasping hand as well as out of sight from a shady observer.  Releasing the camera requires simple and smooth – but deliberate – action.  I don’t foresee any accidents happening with this new clasp.  Aesthetically, the new mechanism is far more appealing and much classier.

The other big change of the Luma Loop system is the adjustment mechanism.  The earlier design featured a block-and-tackle type adjustment.  You would release a friction lock and you would slide the block up and down the strap to get it to the desired size.  On the plus side, it was a truly one-size-fits-all solution.  On the negative side, you ended up with a section of strap that had not two, but three straps overlapping.  This added, in my opinion, some unnecessary bulk and it seemed a little over-engineered.  I didn’t make a serious issue of it at the time because I personally don’t feel there was anything fundamentally wrong with the design.  Luma Labs thought of a better solution however:  Simplify.  The new adjustment mechanism is a simple two-ring friction top with a friction locking clip.  The end of the strap now hangs freely, but it isn’t going anywhere.  If you have a small frame, you could shorten the strap significantly.  The excess – if it gets in your way – could simply be cut and the end fused back together with a heat gun or even a lighter.  No longer do we have a large friction clip, no longer do we have three straps overlapping.    In the end, simplicity ultimately wins out.

Luma Loop:  Clip and Lanyard Compared

As you can see, the revised design of the lanyard, clip and slide (bottom) is a significant improvement over the original design (top)

Though it seems like a minor tweak, the weave of the main strap is visibly different.  The strap appears slightly thicker and more coarse.  I suspect that the new strap will be more durable (not that the original wasn’t durable).  It seems to be smoother than the original strap which likely contributes to the smoother sliding of the lanyard.  Of course it would be difficult to truly test, and I expect the results would be a case of hair splitting.  For feel and general use, I prefer the weave of the new strap.

Final Thoughts

When I reviewed the previous iteration of the Luma Loop, I didn’t have much bad to say about it.  As it turns out, the only two criticisms I had for the previous revision were corrected in the most recent design:  The slide mechanism and the quick-connect device.  They even improved upon one aspect, the adjustment mechanism, that I didn’t focus on previously.  To that end, I no longer have a single bad thing to say about the Luma Loop system.

I will concede that the sling style system is not for everyone.  Some are simply not comfortable carrying the camera t their side.  Some have expressed concerns over a single fastening point – a concern that I do not share.  Obviously, the Luma Loop is not going to win you over.  But I feel a sling style system has added some freedom to my work, especially when compared to a traditional neck strap which simply isn’t as comfortable.  If you are interested in a sling style strap for your camera, I can confidently say that the Luma Loop is not going to disappoint.

With over a year using the original design and with the latest revisions in mind, I am happy to endorse the Luma Loop as a Shutter Photo Recommended Product.

The Luma Loop is available on the Luma Labs web site.  The Loop System (which includes a lanyard and the split ring adapter) is about $70 USD.  You can get extra lanyards for $15 USD and the PodMount for an additional $15 USD (note that neither of these are required in addition to the Luma Loop system).  Also available is an upgrade kit (if you happen to have the original Luma Loop) and an “Ambi” kit which is a DIY version that allows you to flip the pad for use on the opposite shoulder.

Things We Like

  • More durable clasp system
  • Simpler size adjustment
  • Lightweight (still)
  • Fastening Flexibility (still)
  • Comfortable and durable shoulder pad (still)

Things We Didn’t Like

(There’s nothing we didn’t like.)

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About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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