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First test

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PRICE: £82&£75

BLACKRAPID.CO.UK

Blackrapid Delta& Nicole Elliott straps

Buy a new camera and you get a strap in the box, but you should put in a drawer and get something nicer and more practical, like one of these Blackrapid straps

STRAPS, WHETHER FOR a bag, tripod or camera, are very personal things. We’re all different shapes and have our own preferences, and there’s no single, one-size-fits-all, silver-bullet solution. Blackrapid is known for its across- the-body ‘pap’ straps or camera slings. The company’s founder, Ron Henry, recognised the need for an ergonomic solution for active photographers and came up with the sling concept. Since then, Blackrapid has become synonymous with sling straps and has continued to fine-tune its offerings. Let’s start with the brand’s Nicole Elliott camera sling. Nicole Elliott is

an American pro photographer and this strap – designed for women – is her concept. It’s still an across-the- chest strap with the usual Blackrapid camera fittings (which I’ll get to), but the difference is a large reversible shoulder pad that incorporates four small pockets: two at each end and one on each side. One’s zipped, the other has a pocket flap. Blackrapid suggests using the former for a spare battery and cards, and lens caps for the latter. When I tried the strap, a credit card, a tenner, some tissues, an inhaler and a filter (without its case) also found their way in.

The soft shoulder pad is about 20cm across, which means it straddles the shoulder joint, starting from collar bone and ending at the top of the arm – obviously this depends on the individual. My partner found it comfortable and she liked the spreading of the load across a wide area, especially with a heavier camera/lens pairing, when the benefit was more obvious. I tried it as well and, with respect to Nicole and Blackrapid, I think it works for blokes, too, and spreading the burden across the shoulder like this works well. I have a dodgy left shoulder and, as I’m right-handed, Nicole’s strap worked very nicely for me. So, ladies and gents, if having a strap sitting directly on the shoulder doesn’t agree with you, whether for medical or comfort reasons, this strap might suit. In terms of usage, it behaved just like other straps in the range. It’s quickly adjusted to suit and movable ‘bumpers’ or cam locks limit the camera’s travel on the strap. And of course when you see a shot, lifting the camera to the eye, switching it on as you do so, means you’re ready to shoot very quickly. It’s a great and fast way of working. I reckon some photographers stay away from this type of strap because they are worried the camera might just drop off, with either the tripod bush breaking or a failure in fittings. Or they’re just concerned with whacking the camera into something solid as they’re walking along or getting on a bus. Of course, you need to take some care, but that applies equally to a shoulder strap that can slip. Both straps here come with a FastenR5, the bit that screws into the tripod bush. It comes with a hard rubber grommet so you can tighten this very firmly knowing you won’t overstress the camera. The camera attaches to the strap via the ‘CaribineR’,

PROS Convenience, quality of fittings, practical, broad shoulder pad and pockets on the Nicole Elliott CONS Nothing need for a sling that can be personalised, the Delta is it. I enjoyed using both straps and can heartily recommend both. The Nicole Elliott is £82, so it’s not a cheap strap by any means, but quality and comfort make it worth every penny. As I've said, this is regardless of gender. However, if you have a Verdict

SPECS DeltaSling ›  Price £75 ›  In the box Swivel-locking CarabineR, Lockstar Breathe accessory, FastenR5 FR-5 (1/4-20) Breathe connector ›  Shoulder pad Straight – for left- or right-handed use ›  Front and back spring-loaded cam locks Yes ›  Length fromshoulder to opposite hip 81cm max (optional strap extender available) ›  Colours Black or black/coyote ›  Weight 162g NicoleElliott ›  Price £82 ›  In the box Swivel-locking CarabineR, Lockstar Breathe accessory, FastenR5 FR-5 (1/4-20) Breathe connector ›  Shoulder pad Suitable for left- or right-handed use, removable, reversible, washable ›  Shoulder piece size 191x597mm ›  Zipped pockets size 102x114mm ›  Lens pouches size 102x114mm ›  Front and back spring-loaded cam locks Yes, two ›  Strap length including shoulder piece 160cm fully extended

a mini version of what climbers use, and this is protected by the Lockstar cover, which can only click and lock into place when the CaribineR is secured. I’m happy with the camera on a sling and have used Blackrapid products for some while. Although I do catch myself sometimes subconsciously checking that nothing has worked loose, nothing ever has. The Delta is a nicely priced strap with the same attachments and sling features as the Nicole strap, but here the shoulder pad is traditional, about 7cm across. Across the shoulder pad there’s a series of webbing loops, and here you can attach accessories to suit your needs. For example, on a recent night shoot, I took an LED torch attached by a clip. In all others respects though, the Delta performs just like other Blackrapid straps. WC

›  Colours Black ›  Weight 180g

ABOVE RIGHT The CarabineR hooks on to the FastenR5, which is screwed into the camera's tripod bush. Once the CarabineR is secured, the Lockstar folds over to ensure it can’t be undone. Great design RIGHT The fittings used on Blackrapid are first rate: beautifully engineered

34 Photography News | Issue 85

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