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Tie me up, tie me down
BlackRapid RS-7 Sling Camera Strap

April 16, 2012. Here is all you need to know about the BlackRapid RS-7 strap. But before we start with that, consider REI, the temple of dorkdom. Americans who don't want to look lke ugly Americans on vacation buy tons of dorky "outdoorsy" stuff at REI that, of course, instantly identifies them as ugly Americans (version 2.0): North Face jackets, oerformance fleece, nylon cargo pants, LoweAlpine backpacks, Camelback water containers. The BlackRapid strap is dorky, but it's not that bad. That's because it's black nylon. Black is associated with death metal and the private security for big corporations. People will be scared of you. Not unconscious-urination fear, but general: who's that guy from the Matrix? Is he with Chuck Norris?

1. BlackRapid makes a lot of sizes of sling straps that all do the same thing. The RS-7 is the sleekest. They also make a "girl" version of this with subtle flowers. I assume it is designed to somehow clear breasts (whose breasts? Eva Herzigova's? Dolly Parton's?). But for males lacking moobs, there is no easy way to compare.

2. You will look at this and wonder how the hell it costs $60 (mine was a Christmas present, so no worries there...). The basic idea is a screw eye in the camera bottom (in the tripod socket) attached to a hardware-style snap swivel that rides up and down a cross-chest strap. Although you could replicate a lot of this, the snap swivel has a lock (important), and you would have a hard time finding the stops that limit the camera's movement. Your version would be ugly, like the detritus of the custom webbing section of an army surplus store.

3. All BlackRapid straps are bulky. You will want to disconnect the strap to put the camera in your bag. You will then leave your strap somewhere, along with any of the little extra-cost Blackrapid gizmos you might have attached to the strap. Forget the gizmos. They are useless.

4. In practice, this strap works very well with relatively lightweight cameras (2 pounds and under) that have tripod sockets away from any card or battery doors (so a GA645 works well; a Fuji X-Pro1 does not). Also be careful with cameras whose tripod sockets are not capable of holding dynamic loads (Leica M8 and M9, both of which have the socket attached to the removable baseplate, not the camera). The strap basically holds the camera upside-down at your hip. I don't know how I would feel about hanging a really expensive camera from it, though people would do it all the time.

5. To tighten the screw-eye sufficiently, push the shaft of a Philips screwdriver through the "eye" and use it as a lever to torque the eye into the tripod socket. This is missing from the manual. Thumb and finger pressure won't work.

6. It is helpful to use the "R" on the screw eye to line up with a reference on the camera. That way, you can tell when it is unscrewing. If the screw eye ever works its way out completely, it's curtains for your camera.

7. You can also use Loctite Blue on the tripod thread part. This is the one that is removable. Loctite Red is really hard to deal with.

8. And because the screw eye has a rubber bushing that helps maintain friction, consider wetting it with hairspray before tightening the screw eye. Hairspray lubricates rubber but then gets to be very grippy. It's how you get rubber grips onto the ends of mountain bike handlebars.

9. If you think you will want to use a tripod or set the camera down on its bottom, forget about this strap. It's not easy to remove and securely replace without some care. BlackRapid should just make a tripod plate that has an eye for the strap.

10. If you have a very small, very light camera and are working your way through narrow spaces, a small, thin conventional strap (like the Domke baby Gripper) worn over one shoulder across the chest is much more secure. If you don't watch what you are doing, the BlackRapid will hit your belt, your pelvis, or things you are squeezing past.

That's all.