BlackRapid, a Seattle-based company founded in 2008 by event photographer Ron Henry, makes sophisticated camera straps and bags. Like many successful concerns, which developed from a need, the company was launched when Henry couldn’t find a versatile camera strap that allowed his DSLR to be readily available at a moment’s notice. The problem Henry found was the majority of camera straps on the market were cheap, around-the-head affairs that resulted in too much stress and fatigue on the back of his neck during long stints behind the lens. His solution? Use the shoulder to carry the weight, and add a dynamic strap, which allows the camera to hang down at the hip, but swing effortlessly up to the eye for instant accessibility.
FutureFilmmaking tested Black Rapid’s R-Strap Sport model with the “Brad” accessory. Brad* is a simple, under-the-arm strap, which keeps the Sport planted on the shoulder, prohibiting it from sliding off the arm and depositing your prized camera onto the pavement. The Sport features a very well made, curved and padded strap that follows the contours of the shooter’s shoulder. It has a mesh interior to provide a texture for gripping, and a dense nylon weave on the exterior. Rubber BlackRapid “R” and “Sport” logos are prominently displayed the front. Some may be put off by the overt branding, but if you’re not enamored, simply color it in with a black Sharpie for a more stealth look.
The slider-carabiner-fastener is a polished metal in a dark, pewter-like finish. It consists of a rectangular slider piece, a carabiner and a fastener. The fastener is made to attach into the tripod mount hole and has a rubber washer for securing a tight fit. Try not to lose this because Black Rapid will take you to the cleaners for a replacement…$13.95 (OUCH! …and we thought Apple’s power supplies were expensive ‐Ed.). The carabiner has a locking screwgate to prohibit accidental opening, and Black Rapid also includes a plastic carabiner cover for another level of security. Nice!
Adjusting the R-Strap Sport takes only moments to dial in, and you’re ready to rock. A lot of thought went into the contoured strap, and before long, you won’t even know its there – unless of course you’re carrying a super-heavy camera and lens. Even then, you’ll be very happy all that weight is riding on your shoulder instead of your neck. “Flying the camera” up to your eye is instantaneous, and you’ll never miss a shot due to having to battle with your strap.
All four of our evaluators stated they would endorse the R-Strap Sport for active and dynamic shooters. The Sport can support a wide range of camera setups from basic Micro Four Thirds to very heavy sports rigs with big zooms. The only caveat is you must revisit the 1/4-20 UNC thread fastener and carabiner attachment every so often to ensure you’re maintaining a solid connection. For heavier rigs, and even more redundant security, a Tether kit is available as an optional accessory for $22.95.
The Black Rapid R-Strap Sport comes in two sizes, Regular and Slim (for women or children) in either a left-handed or right-handed configuration. As of this writing, there is also a Camo flavored model available. For sports photographers who want two quick-draw cameras, you can either purchase the BlackRapid Double, or add another opposite-shoulder R-Strap Sport. The well-designed and executed R-Strap Sport received a 90% rating, which earned it a Power Award. Highly Recommended.
The Future: We’d like to see BlackRapid add some form of thin padding for the Brad, nothing that would add bulk. but something that would prevent rubbing in sweaty conditions. Stealthier branding via muted colors could also be a consideration, or moving the branding to the back with a simple slanted BlackRapid instead of “Sport.”
+ Innovative Design
+ Very Comfortable
+ Great Build Quality
+ Easy To Use
– “Brad” Can Be Irritating
– Must Recheck Connection Periodically To Avoid “Unscheduled Dismounts”
BlackRapid’s R-Strap Sport costs $73.95 and is available directly from BlackRapid or Amazon. Optional accessories for the Sport include the Bert for $9.95, the Stealth FastenR for $14.95, the Joey ($19.95) or Bryce ($21.95) pouches, and the ProtectR, a security strap add-on for $24.95.
* Names have been changed to protect the innocent