A camera strap should be the essence of simplicity: a strip of flexible material worn around the neck, holding gravity in abeyance, lest your assembly of polycarbonate, glass, and silicon crash expensively to earth like an obsolete Soyuz. How hard can that be?
Quite difficult it seems, once the marketing folks try to “differentiate” their straps with feature creep. Thus a humble bit of tack-work becomes a feature-packed, over-engineered flying buttress of buckles, pads, pouches, swivels, and trusses, designed to defy physics like Jane Russell’s Eighteen-Hour Bra. Sure, something like a Blackwater mercenary’s MOLLE gear was probably required when “camera” mean an anvil-heavy box of steel and glass, but our kit has slimmed down considerably in the mirrorless micro-4/3 and APS-C era. Even medium-format aficionados like myself have discovered the joys to be found in these smaller cameras, with their astounding image quality. And when your camera and lens together weigh barely a pound, you don’t need a horse collar to support them.
I had occasion to ponder this first-world problem upon the recent arrival of my Fujifilm X-T1, which I hope to review here anon. I disdain, sight unseen, the straps that come with cameras, for they are inevitably cheap, garish, and uncomfortable. I’ve not even deigned to unwrap the last half-dozen, and I was not about to start with the Fuji. That set me on a search for a suitable strap, with “simple” and “well made” as my chief criteria. I’d previously reviewed one such strap, the Lance, for Fraction Magazine. Though it has served me well and comfortably toting my X-Pro1, its filamentous camera-attachment threads have always given me irrational pause. With no disrespect to Lance, it was time to look afield.
Enter Gordy’s Straps. Some photographers of my acquaintance have spoken highly of Gordy’s wares, so I decided to give him a try. I ordered a 48-inch strap in russet, one of four available colors, with metal split-rings to attach to the camera’s lugs. You can choose any fixed length, as well as an adjustable version, and one of three non-interchangeable attachment methods. The ends of the straps are looped back onto themselves, glued and stapled into place to enclose the attachment hardware, and the joint is attractively finished and reinforced with a winding of waxed polyester cord available in 14 colors. These things are strong, and look like they could support far more weight than you’d care to have around your neck.
I’ve been using the strap for a couple of weeks, and I like it. For any camera+lens combo much heavier than the Fujis, like your average CaNikoSony DSLR, I’d want to have the optional neck pad, which must be ordered at original purchase since it can’t be retrofitted. For the welterweight Fuji, though, the pad would be overkill. I sometimes use it as a long wrist strap, and it’s perfect in that role, wound around my forearm with the camera in my hand. Worn around the neck, the 48” length on my 5’11” frame allows the camera to bounce against my steely abs in just the right spot. If you, however, displace less than my frigate-like bulk, you might get by with a shorter strap.
I haven’t mentioned the prices, which you can find for yourself on Gordy’s site. Compared to some of the leather straps I looked at, Gordy’s latigo leather isn’t as highly polished and precious, but it is well-finished and attractive. It reminds me of a well-broken-in bridle, more than a Coach wallet, as is proper for a piece of working kit. I suppose I should disclaim here that I bought mine at full price with my own allowance, and have no connection to Gordy except as a satisfied customer.
If you’re looking for a well-made and functional leather strap, you should look at Gordy’s Straps.