I have my eye on some alternatives to straps, which I’ll get to at the end of this post, but right now I need a pair of good, low key, comfortable, stylish straps that fit in with the slightly retro stylings of my lovely Fuji X-T1 cameras.
A lot of “I want”s in there, so what’s a guy to do? After much research, I went for two of this lovely classic-looking Cam-In leather strap via Amazon and, barring a couple of little niggles, I’m very happy with it.
The Cam-In leather strap
Cam-In are a China-based brand, where most of their products ship from. However this simple strap was in stock at Amazon’s UK warehouse and arrived the next day. First impressions were excellent: it arrives inside a matte black cardboard box with reflective logo, and inside you’ll find the strap all curled up with a little card info leaflet and a white paper envelope that holds the eyelet rings and the leather ring protectors.
The strap itself is fairly well-made, with decent leather and solid stitching where it counts. It’s quite thin and flexible, but doesn’t feel insubstantial. The colour of the leather strap seems to border on black on their website but my photos are more accurate: it’s more of a dark brown, and it becomes lighter with wear.
One side is smooth and mottled, the other is a little rougher but not overly grippy, and at each end where the leather joins the nylon is a triangle of dark red leather with a tiny embossed Cam-In logo that gives a lovely rich look and feel. The nylon straps themselves are a dark brown which goes well with both the leather and the black/graphite X-T1 body.
Attaching the strap
The first thing to note when attaching the strap is that the rings are a bit too thick for the X-T1 eyelet. Not to worry! Just keep hold of those metal triangle attachments that came with the camera and use those instead.
Then to avoid that annoying flap of loose strap-end after adjusting for length I attached the strap following this guide so the loose leftover strap tucks back down and is held in place, which looks far more professional.
Also, by extending the strap as far as possible it’s as long as my previous Thinktank straps, able to be slung across my chest with the camera sitting comfortably on my opposite hip. And as there’s no super grippy rubber on the strap, it slides easily across my back and makes for much easier use in a hurry (see below for my thoughts on Thinktank’s grippy straps).
What’s it like in use?
So far I like it a lot. The strap is wide enough to comfortably carry the weight of my largest lens, the Fuji 50-140mm f/2.8, without digging into my shoulder like cord-style straps would. The lack of grip means that I do need to very occasionally push it back up my shoulder, but as mentioned also makes it much easier to just keep one camera slung across my chest and slide it round and up to my eye to use, shouldering the other camera temporarily.
Durability-wise I’ve noticed that the edges of strap, which at first appear to be the sealed and polished edges of the strap leather, are in fact glued on to keep the leather edges protected, and with some use they start to flake off and expose the real leather edges. You can see some evidence of this on the edges of the strap in the picture below of it attached to my Graphite X-T1. However, so far the leather itself is still very much intact, so I don’t have a problem with this.
In terms of the look of the strap, it’s light and discrete so I fit in much better at family events and weddings without looking too much like I’m on day release from the Marines; it also fits nicely with the style of the X-T1, and with no prominent logos I’m now much less of a walking advertisement for my choice of camera brand! Let’s face it – camera brand logos on straps look awful, am I right?
On the other hand, I do still have issues with cameras tangling themselves around each other from time to time, and getting tied up in my own straps! But I’d have those problems no matter what. While I hunt for the perfect two-camera strapless system I’m happy to stick with these.
Alternatives I’ve considered
Optech USA: In the past when I was using a standard strap to carry my Nikon D700 with killer heavy lenses like the 70-200 f/2.8 all day, my shoulders were sore the day after so I got a thick, padded, elasticated Optech strap and I was amazed at the improved comfort. If you’re using a heavy camera, seriously check their straps out. But now I’ve moved over to the much lighter Fuji system those straps are overkill even with the 50-140 f/2.8 attached.
BlackRapid: The first alternative I considered was one of the BlackRapid dual-strap systems that screw into the tripod socket so the cameras are always hanging downwards in the perfect position to grab for a shot.
However, all those shoulder and cross-straps tend to bring an unwanted military feel to a stylish lounge suit (and I’ve already got lens pouches on my belt), plus I don’t trust myself to remember to check the screws haven’t worked their way out of the camera every once in a while. And, I’ll still have to stop my cameras from swinging wildly if I move faster than a gentle stroll.
ThinkTank: I’ve been using Thinktank’s straps until recently. They’re soft, light, and reasonably good looking, but they all have super-grippy rubber on both sides of the strap. I thought I’d love this as I’d never have to worry about them slipping off my shoulder, but in practice the grippy stuff was the bain of my life on shoots with two cameras: if I slung one camera across my chest then whenever I tried to bring that camera up to my eye, as the strap slid around my back the grippy stuff would pull on my waistcoat and shirt so I’d be constantly re-adjusting myself.
Spider Holster: This is what I’ve got my eye on for the future. I wear a Thinktank Speed Belt with a couple of lens pouches so I could get two Spider Holsters to add to the belt and it would let me ditch straps completely. And the X-T1s are already so small and light that carrying them strapless from my waist would work really well. I’m just not sure how much room would be left for a couple of lens pouches, plus it’s £100 per holster and I’ve not been able to find one to try on yet, so I’m biding my time over that one as it’s a lot to spend when you’re not sure.
Until then, the Cam-In leather strap is just right. I bought it from Amazon here.
I purchased these straps myself and have not received any incentives from Cam-In to write this review.
However, the links to certain stores such as Amazon may be affiliated. This means if you purchase something from that store after clicking my link, I get a small commission. However, I never ever allow my opinion to be influenced. If I don’t like something for any reason I will tell you, even if I got it for free or could earn a commission.