OpTech Utility Camera Strap: Will We Fall in Love with the Neoprene?
The Utility Strap from OpTech:
“The Utility Strap from OpTech offers ideal comfort and versatility in a cross-chest design while keeping your tripod mount accessible. The unique neoprene pad comfortably conforms to the contours of your body distributing the weight evenly over a larger area. As the pad of the strap combines neoprene and elastic at its core, it absorbs the shock of your movements.”
Here we go guys, another exciting review from a very underrated piece of gear: The Camera Strap! Or is it sling? Either way here we go!
If you are anything like me, and sorry if you are, you appreciate something that is well designed and well built. While I tend to only use camera straps/slings while working long events and concerts, I definitely have a go-to which would be my BlackRapids Sport Sling. I’m only sharing this bit of information so you know where I am coming from. The Utility Strap and/or Sling from OpTech USA functions much the same way but with a few differences in the design language.
What looks to be a throwback to the days of 90s SLR’s is actually a modern-day, handmade quality piece of gear made right here in the good old US of A. The construction is comprised of a 1-inch width nylon webbing, a 2.5”x16” neoprene shoulder pad, (that’s right, neoprene), and 4 Uni-Loop quick-release buckles rated at 146lbs per clip. The strap/sling is actually rated at up to 15lbs and the whole ordeal is fully adjustable from 25”- 36” for the XL. And at just $35.99, it won’t break the bank.
I chose this style of strap/sling because it can easily connect/disconnect from my camera utilizing the dedicated strap mounts, leaving my much-needed tripod mount open. More important to me though is that I can use it comfortably while wearing a backpack. Being that the Uni-Loop connector can move freely up and down the front of the strap, I can carry a backpack without worrying about the camera being clamped and stuck at my side.
I’ve been using my heaviest camera rig, a Canon 5D MK iii and Canons EF 24-70mm 2.8 L USM lens weighing around 4 1/2 pounds because I wanted to see if the neoprene shoulder area was actually gonna benefit me during a long day of shooting other photographers in the city, or just get in my way and slow me down.
In the Field:
The pad that rests atop the shoulder is made of 9mm thick neoprene which I thought was a throwback to the later years of film photography. While at first, it seemed odd to me, I soon realized that a lot of high-end slings, straps, and bags that have padded sections also use neoprene. It’s usually built in the strap and hidden though. Being that neoprene is pretty abrasion resistant that maybe there isn’t a need to cover it up.
Aesthetics aside, it does seem to help with the load; absorbing bumps and dampening bounces as I run to my next shooting position. I also took it on some hikes and didn’t really feel it in my shoulder the next day. And though I didn’t trust the plastic Uni-Loop quick-release clips at first, I grew confident and trusted them the more time went on.
I only have two “gripes” about this strap from OpTech. First, and this is not a deal-breaker, is that the neoprene padding is kind of thick and when I wear a backpack, the padding makes it a little uncomfortable. The second thing, and the one that is important to me, is that there’s no underarm strap that keeps the neoprene padding located on top of my shoulder. Without this, the padding tends to slip backward and I am constantly having to adjust it back into position.
All-in-all, I would totally recommend the Utility Sling and/or Strap from Optech and I will definitely keep it around for future use. For more camera carry options or to check out the whole OpTech system, go on to http://www.optechusa.com.
Wanna see more camera gear we dig? Check out the review Sean Sewell did on the Nomatic McKinnon Camera Pack.