DIY Sliding Camera Strap

Categories: DIY, How To, Photography
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Published on: 2012.11.01

Your DSLR came with a camera strap. But it was the uncomfortable kind that camera-makers always include in the box. So you bought a more comfortable strap with padding around the neck area and perhaps some elasticity. That’s better, right? And it’s probably enough if you’re a casual shooter who rarely wears the camera for long periods of time.

But if you regularly wear the camera on the strap for more than a few minutes, you’ve already noticed a few downsides to the whole design.

(12 images after the jump)

If you wear it around your neck, (1) your neck gets sore quickly, (2) the camera swings when you walk, and (3) the camera sways way out if you bend over.

If you don’t use a strap at all (a few people I know), you risk dropping it.

If you wear it over one shoulder, of course it can always slide off that shoulder. Might as well have no strap.

So long ago, I decided that the cross-torso carry (weight on one shoulder, camera resting on opposite hip) was by far the most comfortable. It solves the neck-pain issue. It solves the swinging and swaying issue. And the camera is still secure on the strap. There’s just one downside to this method — you can’t get the camera to your eye quite as fast, not as fast as with the other carry positions.

On Mont Real
(Copyright © 2012 by Micheline Goutier. Used With Permission.)

A few strap-makers have solved this issue; perhaps Black Rapid’s R-Strap is the most popular right now. The camera is attached to a ring that slides up and down the strap. This means you can still wear the strap in the most comfortable position, and you can slide it up to your eye in a split second.

But it costs $70. I’ve never spent more than $20 on a camera strap and I’m not about to start now. Fortunately, the local hardware store had everything I needed to make my own.

I already have a comfortable camera strap, so I saved money there. If not, I could have bought one for $10-15. Other materials used:

* quick link: $2.48
* eye bolt: $0.47
* wing nut: $0.30
* locking washer: (already had, probably about 1 cent)
* carabiner: $0.98

First, the quick link. It’s found on the aisle where the hardware store sells lengths of chain. I bought one that’s less than two inches long. The threads are about 1/4″ in diameter. It’s rated to hold 880 pounds. At $2.48, it was the most expensive piece of this project. (I could have saved a buck-fifty and used another carabiner for this part.)

Quick Link
(Copyright © 2012 by Wil C. Fry. All rights reserved.)

Remove your existing camera strap from the camera (or take the new one out of its package) and attach it to the quick link. That should form one big loop with no camera in the middle.

Quick Link With Camera Strap
(Copyright © 2012 by Wil C. Fry. All rights reserved.)

Next, get the eyebolt and a wing nut. My wing nut came in a package of four.

Eye Bolt, Nut Wing Nuts
(Copyright © 2012 by Wil C. Fry. All rights reserved.)

(The hex nut shown above isn’t used for this project, but I put it on the eyebolt to keep the washer from running away when it’s not in use.)

Run a wing nut backward up the eye bolt’s threads and add a locking washer. Screw the eye bolt into your camera’s tripod mount. (Most tripod mounts sold today use 1/4″-20 threads, so make sure you buy an eye bolt with the right thread size.) Then use the washer and wing nut to secure the bolt to the camera. In the photos below, I’m using the tripod mount on the bottom of a battery grip, which is identical to the one on the camera.

Eye Bolt and Battery Grip Eye Bolt and Battery Grip
(Copyright © 2012 by Wil C. Fry. All rights reserved.)

All that’s left is the carabiner. The one shown here cost 98 cents and is rated to hold 150 lbs.

(Copyright © 2012 by Wil C. Fry. All rights reserved.)

Snap it through the eye in the eye bolt and also through the camera strap. This will hold the weight of the camera easily, and allow you to slide the camera up and down the strap easily.

Hanging Around
(Copyright © 2012 by Wil C. Fry. All rights reserved.)

Now put the strap over your shoulder as always. The camera should hang at your hip. The carabiner should make it a cinch to slide the camera to your eye without adjusting the strap.

Preferred Position Halfway Up At The Eye
(Copyright © 2012 by Marline Fry. All rights reserved.)

The camera strap I’m wearing in the above images is a little too short for my torso; I plan to replace it with a longer one soon. So far, the total cost of this solution was less than $5. It’ll probably come to about $25 after I buy a new strap. About a third of the cost of a name brand solution.

(Update, 2013.12.17: Most days, I use a normal camera strap, just hung around my neck. But when going on an outing — like to the zoo, for example — I still prefer the sliding strap as shown here. One thing I plan to do is hacksaw the eyebolt down to a less protruding size.)

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