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Review: Black Rapid RS4 Strap

I was skeptical about this one – I have to admit it. I already have a camera strap that I really like. It has great padding and little pockets where I can keep a couple of extra memory cards – so why do I need the Black Rapid SR4? But I’m game. I said I’d try it out, and write up a review if I liked it. If not, I’d just send it back. Well – I was wrong… this thing is great!

First off, it has a pocket. So what? My old one has two pockets. Well – the pockets on my other strap are just the right size for my memory cards. Which is great – if that’s the only thing you plan to put in there. They’re too small to fit anything else. The Black Rapid has one slightly larger pocket with a small zipper – it’ll fit a couple of memory cards– or you can do what I did. I usually use a tripod – so my camera has a quick-release bracket screwed into the bottom. Rather than risk losing the bracket, I put it in the pocket – along with its easy-to-lose screw, and my allen wrench. When I want to switch back to my tripod mount, I know exactly where those small parts are. No fishing around in the bottom of my camera bag trying to find them. That may not seem like a big deal, but if you are primarily a tripod-shooter, it means a lot. The pocket was just large enough to fit a spare memory card in there too. Nice!
The other thing that was pretty important to me was the ease with which I could attach or remove the Black Rapid. When I’m shooting wide-angle landscapes I almost always use a tripod – and I nearly always use it for close-up and detail work as well. But the Black Rapid strap screws into the tripod mount on the bottom of the camera. It is meant specifically for those who hand-hold their cameras. Since the tripod quick-release needs to be securely screwed into the base of my camera, I’m not likely to remove it unless there’s a darn good reason to do so. I guess I just found my reason.

It took me less than 10 seconds to remove my bracket, and attach the Black Rapid strap firmly to my camera. The swiveling clip makes it easy to screw in, and a rubber gasket provides a strong grip while also protecting the base of the camera. It’s secure enough that I felt completely comfortable letting go of the camera to let it hang at my waist.
Now, the idea here is to be able to carry the camera comfortably while leaving your hands free – and to be able to grab the camera at a moment’s notice and pull it up to shooting position. At first, I thought the shoulder pad would slip off my shoulder and I’d end up fiddling with it all the time. That didn’t happen. In fact, the shoulder pad stayed right where I put it. If it did slip, it would take nothing beyond a quick tug to set it right again – but the little clip slides so smoothly that I didn’t have any problems at all.
The strap is also easy to adjust. A couple of locking clips keep the camera from sliding beyond the range you’re comfortable with, and the strap adjusts to fit any body type. The shoulder pad is comfortable, and its position helps balance the weight of a heavy lens.

I didn’t think I’d be interested in keeping the Black Rapid – but I’ll be using it regularly… whenever I’m not using a tripod. It’s perfect for photographing the kids playing soccer, for shooting a wedding, for detail photography when you are using a flash, for bird and wildlife photography with a long lens, or for shooting in-studio. I’m looking forward to having both hands free when I need them!

15 replies
  1. Puiu Cristian
    Puiu Cristian says:

    I have something simmilar, but with a different bracket
    click

    It’s great because you can put the tripot bracket under the strap bracket, so you don’t have to unscrew it everytime you want to use the tripod.

    But yea, a grat strap, I couldn’t go back to the “normal” neck strap.

    Reply
  2. Terry
    Terry says:

    I have Arcaswiss plates on all my cameras and lenses and found taking those off to screw the strap connector on and then do the reverse when finished a drawback. So I connected an Arcaswiss clamp to the strap screw and now it takes a couple of seconds to change from tripod mount to strap and visa versa :-)

    Reply
  3. Marylou
    Marylou says:

    A HUGE warning about the Blackrapid system. I have had my RS-7 and Connect r-2 for at least 2 years and very happy with the way it works.

    That is, until a week ago. I was on a boat, sailing down the Mekong (working photo holiday), going up the stairs. The connector dis-engaged (shame on me for not constantly checking the screw-in connection), my Canon 60D with 100-400 Canon lens, power battery grip, and 32gb Sandisk Ultra Pro SD card bounced down the stairs, through the opening in the rail, into the river!!!! Only the 2nd day of the trip, thank goodness I carry a back-up camera body (older Canon model) but the lens and the images I would have taken as the trip continued are gone forever. I will be doing my best to get as much renumeration from my travel insurance as possible so I can replace the equipment but this is a HUGE lesson ……

    I’ve written to Blackrapid, of course knowing there is no guarantee, but to advise them and see if there is any newer product in their line which would have kept this from happening.

    WARNING: If you decide to use this strap (again, I love the concept of the strap) check your connection to the camera CONSTANTLY!!!!!!

    Reply
    • Varina Patel
      Varina Patel says:

      Wow, Marylou! What a terrible situation! I’m so sorry to hear about your equipment! Thanks very much for sharing your story. Hopefully, others will check their connections – and Black Rapid will correct the problem. It sounds like the strap needs a locking mechanism so that the screw can’t came loose.

      Reply
  4. Marylou
    Marylou says:

    An interesting and, frankly, amazing follow-up…. I sent a detailed email to Blackrapid indicating I knew it wasn’t guaranteed but they needed to know of the problem. Within an hour I received an email back. They were horrified at what had happened and have asked that I send along photos of the strap attachment and also a list of what I lost so they could “help with the replacement” !!!!!!!! I’m very impressed.

    Perhaps I won’t be out as much as I thought …. I’ll keep you posted!

    Reply
    • Varina Patel
      Varina Patel says:

      I’m so happy to hear that BlackRapid is trying to help resolve the problem! I love a company that stands by their product even when it fails. I really hope they come up with a permanent fix – and fast! Thanks so much for keeping us posted! We really appreciate it – and I know that others who are reading this post will want to know how this turns out!

      Reply
  5. Gryphon
    Gryphon says:

    I have been using the RS4 for some time now. It really makes carrying a camera around for hours a easy task. One rule I always follow is to check all connections are tight and secured when I first put on the strap and midday if I am out for a whole day. Rather safe than sorry.

    Reply
  6. Richie
    Richie says:

    Hi,

    just curios. Are you still using it? And what is the other strap you mentioned?

    I’m just asking because right now I use the strap that came with the camera but this is sometimes really a pain in the neck.

    Reply
  7. Richie
    Richie says:

    Thanks, is it the Tamrac Reflex E?
    And how do linke that one?
    I already had a look at that one and also at Optech. How does it compare to the Canon Strap.

    Reply
    • Richie
      Richie says:

      Guess I found something interesting.
      Optech made a sling that does not block the quick release plate and that also can be easily converted to a neck strap.

      optechusa.com/utility-strap-sling.html

      Reply

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