Sunday, August 3, 2008

BlackRapid R-Strap RS-1

I've always been interested in the way bags/backpacks are designed, especially how they handle heavy loads. Maybe it's due to the fact that after I got sort of totally 'numb/paralysed' in my upper arms after walking 8km with a fullpack when I was in the army and got 2 months medical leave.

In backpacks like those used in backpacking trips, the idea is to transfer the load from the shoulder to your hip (so that the shoulders won't feel much weight.) I have the Osprey Aether 85, and it works perfect. I feel I'm carrying next to nothing even when the pack is almost full. For everyday backpacks, I'm quite surprised that the design of the carrying strap makes a difference as well. I have the Osprey Talon 22, and somehow the engineering magic that goes in the construction of the material of the strap plus the way they are angled over the shoulders really make a difference in how comfortable the whole package feels. I don't feel as comfortable, for example, with Deuter backpacks, which I've used for many years.

For the camera, there is a similar problem. For over 400 years, the usual way a person carries a camera is to sling it around the head and shoulder, resulting in a sore neck and uncomfortable posture. Some manufacturers try to mitigate the problem like padding the strap like OP/TECH's products. However for cameras, there's an additional problem: dangling straps that will get in the way of the cameraman, especially when shooting in the portrait format.

I've recently found a seemingly great alternative called the R-Strap and decided to buy it to try it out. It costs USD44 and the postage to Singapore costs USD10. I ordered it only on 22 July and received it in the mail 7 days later. Very quick!

Strap with the MB-D10 battery pack, which is normally attached to the Nikon D300 that is not shown because I'm using it now to take this picture

You can look at the videos on the website to see how it works. I field tested it two days ago, and it works great! The feeling of 'weightlessness' as compared with the other carrying devices that I have is evident because the camera is slung across the body. (Neck strapping the D300 with a battery pack and long lens is not feasible for any long period of time.) There are no more dangling straps (and the frustration that dangling straps cause is more than what I'm able to describe here), and the camera is able to get out of the way when the shoot's being done. It's shocking how no one has thought of a camera strap design like this before... great stuff!

October 2008 Update(!): If you are in Singapore, the RS-1 is now available from Cathay Photo. It costs SGD71.


Yueheng said...

Cameras have been around for 400 years?

jeffyen said...

Oh, not literally. I meant for a long time... haha

I wanted to stress that this single product just blows history away. It is truly a 'game changer', a shocking product. My breathing actually stopped when I tried it on.

The other shocking thing is that it's not rocket science to design something like this; as in there are no special materials. It's just a very simple way of putting a strap together. But this simple act of integrating various small things creates a whole new photographic experience, not just in the engineering sense, but also in the mental and psychological sense because the camera's gone when it's not wanted. (It slings to the cameraman's behind.)

Yueheng said...

Seems interesting. My father's an avid photographer. I will mention this to him. Thanks for the tip-off! :)

Anonymous said...

I just read about this yesterday... but it's kinda pricey :P