Blackrapid DR-1 Dual Camera Strap (mini-review)

2 07 2012

Well, this would be one of the most expensive camera straps on the market, ever. $130 – ok we can divide that by two effectively because it does hold two cameras. Prior to the offering of this product on the market, the only similar  strap that I’m aware of, was offered by Canon to their professional customers. Known as an Action Strap, this held two cameras vertically stacked, one against your chest and the second against your belly.

The Blackrapid DR-1 differs quite considerably. First of all, it’s extremely comfortable, due in no small part to the contoured (and lightly padded) parts which sit over each shoulder. The harness supports one body or lens (whatever you choose to attach to the FastenR connector) on each side of your body, and can be adjusted to place the hung camera/lens higher or lower.

I have no problem at all hanging a D3s body on each side, from the tripod fittings on the bases, and running with the whole outfit. It feels extremely secure, and at the same time, very comfortable. A sliding buckle on each side of the harness, allows the camera to be secured even while you’re using it, without any loose strap hanging down in the way.

I’ll often shoot with two bodies, each with a different lens attached. I don’t always have an assistant to pass different lens/body combinations as needed, so the DR-1 is invaluable under these circumstances, having the gear right there at your hands instead of having to go to a camera bag for it.  The Japanese summer is on its way and if I can get away from carrying a backpack, I will. And the DR-1 is going to help immensely.

My only qualms about the strap – it’s all a bit Chuck Norris. Very macho, black, military. A poser’s delight! Almost feel I need a gym membership to wear it :)…….if they had a collaboration with Paul Smith or Issey Miyake, I’d feel a lot happier! and they would open up a new market in Japan.

Edit: since I’ve been using it on different types of assignments, where I pack different gear for each job, there are a few more observations that I can make. If working with a tripod, the options are quite limited – BlackRapid do now make a FastenR which replaces the camera screw, in the Manfrotto rectangular quick release plate. But that is the sole option for tripod users. Otherwise I just have to unscrew the camera from the FastenR, and then mount it on the QR plate…..which defeats the object of both the Quick Release, and the strap. Also, the Manfrotto rectangular plate is largely found on their low range or entry level heads. My 029 head, an industry standard, uses a substantial hex plate. Where is the FastenR for this? or any other brand e.g. Arca-Swiss/RRS/Novoflex.

One useful point that I forgot to mention; each camera hangs on a karabiner type fastener, which is secured with a screw-gate. This does mean that you can unclip the camera from the harness within 5 or 6 seconds – less if you leave the screwgate open, i.e. just the spring of the karabiner clip is holding the gate closed.

I’m finally getting to grips with taking the whole thing off, and putting it on again, without getting it twisted, which is uncomfortable to say the least. My evaluation copy came with 4 ‘Brad’ pouches, none of which holds any kind of phone that is widely available in Japan. However they do hold a Moo business card holder, spare CF cards, and a small tube of sunscreen. I think 4 is slight overkill, you can’t really reach the pouches which hang on the rear of the harness.

 

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