Last week I wrote about how to carry your compact flash cards when shooting in the field. This week I figured it was about time I devoted some space to the subject of how to carry your camera. As you probably already know, I shoot most everything I can with the camera firmly mounted on a tripod, but when scouting out a composition I have to carry a camera somehow. And using a camera strap makes that a lot easier.
Most cameras actually come with a strap so you may be asking yourself why anyone would need a different one. Nikon provides a strap with the Nikon logo and camera model proudly emblazoned down its length with every DSLR they sell. But I'm not too thrilled with the idea of becoming a walking billboard for Nikon when I carry my camera. I like Nikon of course, but there are limits.
Straps included by camera manufacturers don't tend to be the most comfortable straps for extended use either. A good camera with a quality lens can weigh a fair bit. After a while, you may start to feel more like you're carrying a ball and chain around your neck than a camera if your strap isn't well made. Nikon straps are indeed well made, but I wouldn't call them ergonomic. They're just basic cloth camera straps, and you can do better.
But speaking of straps that aren't well made, a cheap strap can be a disaster waiting to happen. When you hang your camera around your neck and let go of it, it would be nice to know that it won't later accidentally fall to the ground. Some cheap straps may inadvertently allow this to happen if the couplings where they connect to your camera body fail during use. If you spent very much at all on your camera, you don't want to skimp on getting a good strap for it.
Over the years, by far the best camera strap I have come across is the Op/Tech Pro Strap. Its unique neoprene composition acts as a shock absorber to make carrying heavy gear much more comfortable than an ordinary strap does. End connectors attach with quick disconnect fasteners are available either as standard captive lock ends or as loop connectors for fastening to cameras in tight connection points. Both end styles attach quite securely. I have never heard of one failing.
By the way, if you're looking for a good strap for your laptop case, check out the UPstrap LT Strap. This strap doesn't have the springy weight-relieving construction of the Op/Tech, but it does have the best non-slip shoulder pad in existence. These things simply refuse to slip off your shoulder no matter what. Perfect for carrying your laptop on a trip through the airport or just to and from the office.
Both Op/Tech and UPstrap are highly recommended.