BlackRapid RS-7 Camera Strap
If you read my review of the BlackRapid SnapR, then you already know how much I love BlackRapid straps. BlackRapid’s original R-Strap was created by a professional photographer named Ron Henry. His idea to turn a camera strap into a “sling” was ingenious. The RS-7 strap is one of seven available R-Straps from BlackRapid. The RS-7 is unique from their other single straps because it was designed as a modular system with an ergonomically curved pad. Though this review is specific to the RS-7, much of the review about the R-Strap system applies to all of their R-Straps.
- Very well built and durable
- Clear advantage in ease of use
- Very comfortable
- MODS can be daisy-chained
- Easily adjustable
- Bumpers can be a little tough to undo
Inevitably, the question, “why do I need to buy a strap when my camera already came with one?” will be asked. The answer is that OEM camera straps tend to be uncomfortable when worn for extended periods of time and aren’t usually secured very well when worn around the neck. Have you ever tried bending down to pick something up or tried to give someone a hug with the camera around your neck? It doesn’t work out that well, does it? From the perspective of a parent, having my camera around my neck makes me nervous. My toddlers require me to constantly bend down, pick them up, carry them, or run after them. Taking my camera and my kids to the park is a chore because I have to decide whether or not I want to be involved in their play (and safety) or taking their photos, but not both. The BlackRapid RS-7 changed all that.
DESIGN & BUILD
The R-Strap name is a bit of misnomer because they’re actually slings. They are meant to be worn over the shoulder. Due to the ergonomic curvature of the pad, it’s specifically meant to be worn over the left shoulder. At the end of the strap is what BlackRapid calls a ConnectR that works like a locking carabiner. The ConnectR attaches to your camera via a metal loop, called a FastenR, that screws into the tripod port of your camera or lens. After placing the R-Strap on, your camera actually hangs upside down on your right hip. When you want to take a photo, you simply grab your camera and glide it up the strap to eye level. When you’re done, you slide it back down the strap. There are also two “bumpers” on the strap that keep your camera from moving. The bumper located on the rear of the strap allows you to position the camera at its resting point, while the bumper on the front of the strap can be adjusted to keep the camera from shifting forward. The bumpers are intended to be adjusted on the fly to remain flexible to your needs. If you need to free up your hands, you can adjust them so that the camera cannot be shifted at all then move them back when you’re ready to shoot again. Adjusting them was fairly easy but I think having an easier to grip material on the clip would make it easier to open for quick adjustments.
The build quality on the RS-7 is top notch. The ballistic nylon material is durable yet attractive and the metal hardware appear to be very high quality. They really paid very close attention to all the details. Even the “R” logo looks very cool in my opinion and BlackRapid warranties all R-Straps for one year.
THE REAL WORLD
Some of the coolest gadgets and devices ever made were also some of the most useless. The RS-7 isn’t just cool, it’s functional. I love being able to take my kids to a park and take photos of them and the beautiful landscape around them. Before I invested in a DSLR, I was using my mobile phone for that task, which was convenient as heck, but didn’t usually result in terrific picture quality. The problem with my DSLR was the bulk. I had to carry it in a camera bag to the park then once I got to the park, I’d have to strap the camera around my neck. Interacting with my kids at this point was challenging. With the R-Strap, I am now able to leave my bag behind and just carry the camera to the park with me. If my youngest needs me to carry her, I can just bend down and pick her up without worry. When I want to take a photo, I can quickly adjust the strap to allow me to shoot, then secure it back again. It’s a liberating experience.
The RS-7 is made to work with all of BlackRapid’s MODS accessories. It has a built-in loop that allows accessories, like the JOEY, to securely attach to the strap.
JOEY – The JOEY is a storage pocket and comes in two versions, the JOEY J1 and the JOEY J2. They are exactly the same except that the J1 is small and the J2 is large. The J1 can fit up to an iPhone without a case and the J2 can fit up to an iPhone with a small case. The J2 fit my Motorola Droid X with a slim TPU case on it. It was a little tight at first but it loosened up a little bit after a few uses. The neat thing about the JOEY is that you can securely daisy-chain them to gain more pockets.
BRAD – The BRAD is an essential RS-7 MOD in my opinion. It’s basically another strap that attaches to the RS-7 that helps secure your camera even further. It sort of makes the strap look like a shoulder holster. The BRAD is ideal for active shooting and I recommend it for parents as well. The only slight downside is that it adds an extra step when putting the strap on or taking it off.
BUCK – The BUCK is a nifty little buckle cover for the RS-7. It securely covers the buckle so that thieves can’t just unbuckle your strap and run off with your camera. It also ensures that the buckle doesn’t accidentally get unbuckled while you’re wearing the RS-7.
BERT – The RS-7 is 60″ long from end to end. If you need extra length, you can get it with the BERT MOD. It adds an additional 15″.
BlackRapid R-Straps are easy to use, comfortable, and have superb build quality. The RS-7 and its MODS system offer a flexible alternative to the RS-4 and RS-5. The RS-7 isn’t the only strap I own, but it’s the only one I now use. It won’t make my shots turn out like Ron Henry’s, but it will give me all the advantages that his strap provides. Pay the man and get the RS-7. You’ll be glad you did.
* Review sample courtesy of BlackRapid Inc.