Product Review – Black Rapid RS-7 Camera Strap

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Sometimes I’m convinced that the worst piece of equipment in photography is the camera strap that comes with your camera. Not only is it a marginally functional piece of equipment, you get the same strap no matter how expensive your camera might be. If you purchase a brand new DSLR for $600 you get a $5 strap. If you purchase a brand new DSLR for $2,500 you get a $5 strap.

So what’s wrong with them? The strap is designed to hang around the photographer’s neck. When you walk, unless you hold onto your camera with your hand, the camera bangs against your chest or abdomen, depending on how you have the strap adjusted. When you bend forward the camera swings forward, away from your body, threatening to impact against the closest immovable object. The biggest complaint, though, is that it’s flat uncomfortable. Especially if you’re carrying something like a Nikon D7000 with a 70-200mm lens mounted to the camera body.

I refuse to “wear” the strap that comes with a camera but I do wrap it around my wrist while holding the camera in my hand. That way the strap at least provides a small amount of security. The only problem is that either the strap becomes too tight to be comfortable or too loose to provide that tiny bit of security. You would think that somebody could design a comfortable camera strap that held the camera securely, kept it from banging against your body as you walked, was easy to keep the camera close to your body especially when bending forward and kept the camera within easy reach. Well, somebody did.

Enter the Black Rapid RS-7 Camera Strap . I know a couple of photographers that have this strap, love it and swear by it. I know at least one photographer who doesn’t have it and isn’t willing to try it because he thinks it would be too easy for the camera to come loose from the strap and fall on the ground. (I’ll get to that point a little later in the review.) Okay, there were two people raving about it and one thinking something bad might happen. I decided to give it a try.

Let’s first tackle the issue that one person didn’t like. Instead of attaching to the built-in “rings” on the sides of the camera body like most straps, the RS-7 attaches with a screw type FastenR-3 that screws into the tripod socket on the bottom of your camera, battery grip or lens.

The photographer I know who doesn’t like it is concerned that the fastener will work loose. I’ve used the strap numerous times and the fastener hasn’t loosened any at all. Yes, to be honest, I do double check it from time to time, but there haven’t been any issues.

The strap connects to the fastener using a locking swivel hook to connect it securely to the strap. When using the strap for the first time, once it’s connected to the camera it’s time to adjust the strap. Instead of me trying to explain the steps to complete the adjustments, watch this short video on the Black Rapid web site.

When adjusted to fit, the camera hangs at the photographer’s hip within easy reach. To use the camera think of a Wild West gunfighter reaching for his pistol. It’s that easy and that quick.

I have used the strap in the studio, at indoor events using an on camera flash, at crowded outdoor events like art festivals and while shooting wildlife outdoors. In each case the Black Rapid strap performed better than any strap I’ve ever used.

What I liked about it:

It’s unbelievably comfortable. I can’t imagine any other strap being as comfortable as the Black Rapid. I spent over four hours one day carrying a Canon 5D Mark II with battery grip and using a 70-200 f/2.8 lens and carrying the camera was as easy and comfortable at the end of the event as it was at the beginning.

It’s cool looking. Okay, it’s just a camera strap but it looks different and I get a lot of questions about it.

It’s simple to adjust. I once read a “review” post on saying that it was very difficult to get adjusted to where it fit properly and no one told them about the video I mentioned above. My experience – I purposely adjusted and used it without watching the video just to see how difficult it was to adjust. Trying to be nice here, I had it adjusted, attached to the camera and was using it in less than five minutes from the time I opened the package. Oh, and there was a reference to the video in the package.

What I didn’t like about it:

Actually, nothing. I’ve tried to find something negative to say about it and I keep coming up empty. I don’t think this is a negative at all, but because the camera hangs at your side about hip level when you’re not using it, I advise that you keep your hand on your camera if you’re in a crowd or someone will bang into it for sure.

I did see where one person complained that it didn’t work very well for left-handed people if you wanted to wear the camera on your left hip instead of your right hip. Maybe so, but the last time I checked, my camera didn’t work left-handed either. The shutter release button is on the right side of the camera as is the grip for holding the camera.

The strap was provided by Black Rapid for me to try and review. When a product is given to me to use and review, I always try to use it as much as I can and in a number of different situations so I can give a fair review.

I also got a Black Rapid bumper or back window sticker for my car. I wonder how many people have looked at the sticker and wondered what new rock band was named Black Rapid.

Tiffany has the model of the strap that is made for women that she will review in the future. I’ll let her explain why there’s a special model for women.

I give this strap my highest recommendation, so if you’re looking for something to buy for the photographer in your life during the holidays or if you want a hint to give to someone buying for you, this is an excellent product from my perspective.

Photo Credits:
All photos provided by Black Rapid

*The Author received complimentary products in exchange for mentioning the Provider’s products and/or services on this website. Such compensation received did not and will never influence the content, topics or posts made on this website. We will only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement.

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  • Michael

    I saw a link to this article on Facebook and I left the following there as well as my comment: I just received mine today in
    the mail. I do not know how to describe what it does to you. If you
    look at the product image you get no idea. I have been sitting here
    trying to think how you can demonstrate it. If you look at the photo on their website, it
    looks like page 44 of the Sears catalog. What does it feel like? It
    feels like I want to go out right now, leave this office and shoot some
    pictures. I want to go climb on a mountain and take some photos. I have
    not used a camera strap for a long time. I hate them. I use a hand grip
    because it feels better. I feel more secure, more stable, more in
    control. BUT.. I have to wear a sling bag and every time I time I want
    to put the camera down, I have to get my hand out of the wrist strap and
    the camera into the bag. I am always worried about the transfer. Today I
    just screwed the adapter into bottom of the wrist and cringed as I let
    go of the camera and let it slide down the BlackRapid strap. When it did
    not hit the floor, I was amazed. I swung my arm down and grabbed the
    camera and came up shooting. Wow. I clicked the dial over to rapid fire
    and dropped the camera again and you guessed it, grabbed the camera and
    came up shooting rat tat tat tat tat. Man I was 5 years old again and
    the fastest camera slinger in the west. It is awesome. I walked around
    the office with the strap on and was shooting everyone. Um I work in a
    professional office so the sight of a man walking around with a camera
    strapped to his side and pretending he was Rambo did not go unnoticed.
    That is when I had the clarity of vision. BlackRapid needs to higher
    Sylvester Stallone hook a BlackRapid sports strap onto a D3 on top of
    some manic sized gun with rotating lenses and have him standing on top
    of a mountain with all of his muscles bulging and maybe that will give
    you an idea of what this strap is all about!

  • Steve Russell

    Michael, I absolutely loved your comment.  I’m still laughing as I type this.  I have to admit that my feelings about the strap are not unlike yours.  Have fun with your strap.

  • Jeff

    Does the fastener bother your hand any when shooting portraits?  Seems like it might get in the way.

  • Steve Russell

    Good question, Jeff.  Keep in mind that when I’m shooting portraits in my studio, I shoot tethered so I always have wires hanging on my camera.  I usually put the camera back on the tripod when I’m moving lights, changing backdrops, etc.  I have used the BlackRapid strap in the studio but still put the camera back on the tripod from time to time.  If I’m shooting outdoors or on location the advantages of the strap far outweigh any discomfort with the fastener.  To your question, I know it’s there but it doesn’t bother me anymore than the tripod mounting plate which I never take off of the camera.  Note that the standard fastener that comes with the strap won’t work with a tripod mounting plate but they do offer one that does.

  • Marylou

    A HUGE warning about the Blackrapid system.  I have had my RS-7 and Connect r-2 for at least 2 years and very happy with the way it works.

    That is, until a week ago. I was on a boat, sailing down the Mekong (working photo holiday), going up the stairs. The connector dis-engaged (shame on me for not constantly checking the screw-in connection), my Canon 60D with 100-400 Canon lens, power battery grip, and 32gb Sandisk Ultra Pro SD card bounced down the stairs, through the opening in the rail, into the river!!!!  Only the 2nd day of the trip, thank goodness I carry a back-up camera body (older Canon model) but the lens and the images I would have taken as the trip continued are gone forever.  I will be doing my best to get as much renumeration from my travel insurance as possible so I can replace the equipment but this is a HUGE lesson ……

    I’ve written to Blackrapid, of course knowing there is no guarantee, but to advise them and see if there is any newer product in their line which would have kept this from happening.

    WARNING:  If you decide to use this strap (again, I love the concept of the strap) check your connection to the camera CONSTANTLY!!!!!!

  • Marylou

    An interesting and, frankly, amazing follow-up…. I sent a detailed email to Blackrapid indicating I knew it wasn’t guaranteed but they needed to know of the problem. Within an hour I received an email back. They were horrified at what had happened and have asked that I send along photos of the strap attachment and also a list of what I lost so they could “help with the replacement” !!!!!!!! I’m very impressed.Perhaps I won’t be out as much as I thought …. I’ll keep you posted!

  • Hannu Hurme

    Perhaps it’s the way camera swings against my hip when using this strap. But the screw that keeps the clip locked constantly opens up on its own. I’ve had my camera fall to the ground once so far and no longer use this unless I know I need to carry it with me for many hours non stop.

  • David

    I am left handed and use this strap. It works just fine hanging on the left side. I love this strap!!