I don't like camera straps. They hurt my neck and I inevitably manage to become tangled in them just when the most opportune photographic moment presents itself. A year or so ago, I got myself a Black Rapid strap system, and that was a huge improvement. It is the only strap I'll use - when I need a strap. While tangling is thankfully reduced with a Black Rapid, and neck strain is also reduced (it slings across your shoulder instead of hanging just from your neck), there is still some amount of strain and clutter - especially on longer adventures or when carrying a pack and other accessories. I'm always searching for the perfect camera-carrying solution.
Each year we lead a workshop for photographers in Italy. It is a great opportunity for me to test equipment. We are out all day, every day, carrying cameras and gear up and down cobblestones streets, to the tops of bell towers, to the bottom of secret dungeons, and through crowded plazas and narrow alleys. I need reliable, light weight, versatile gear that makes my travel photography more enjoyable, reliable, accessible, and secure.
I was recently sent a Peak Designs Capture camera clip system. It is a brand new company with an innovative design in camera carrying systems. It is comprised of a base plate that attaches to a belt or strap. A quick-release plate attaches to the camera via the tripod mounting hole and allows the camera to attach to the base plate at any rotation angle. It locks in to place and quickly releases with a single button push. The camera plate is Arca-Swiss compatible if you have a head with that system, but also has a standard tripod mounting hole so it can still be attached to any tripod with the base plate attached.
Below is a quick summary of my experience after 2 weeks of daily use with it:
- Low profile
- Easy quick-release system
- Locking mechanism
- Attaches to most any belt or pack strap
- Base plate is Arca-Swiss quick-release compatible
- Base plate has a standard 1/4" tripod mounting hole
- Square camera base plate allows attaching at any 90 degree angle
Pros based on my experience:
- Very easy attach and detach after brief break-in period
- Completely secure once attached
- Main clip attaches securely to a belt or pack strap and doesn't budge once tightened. I attached it to the waistbelt of my camera backpack.
- Takes all weight off shoulders for comfortable all-day carrying.
- High quality design and build
- Low profile design keeps camera close to your body
Cons, or needs improvement:
- The Double-locking thumbscrew worked its way loose and disappeared. However, I didn't notice it until the end of the trip because I never used it anyway. The standard (red button) lock was more than secure for normal use.
- Camera base plate is not totally flat (to accomodate the locking mechanism) so it doesn't mate perfectly flat against some tripod attachments (like my Gorilla Pod). This makes it slightly easier for the weight of the camera to twist it loose when used vertically - and on the left.
- Base plate has hand-strap attachment loops, but their close proximity to the base of the camera could prevent some straps from actually attaching.
(update: After talking with the manufacturer, they were very helpful and understanding of my suggestions for improvement. The owner mentioned that the locking thumbscrew does have a retaining spring to help keep it from loosening itself, but I could have inadventertently backed it out a little too far - which is highly possible)
Overall Impression: Thumbs up
Taking the camera weight off your neck and shoulders, and freeing yourself from camera-strap hell is very liberating. There are a few products on the market for attaching the camera to waist-belts, but few offer the versatility, low-profile, and smoothness-in-use that the Peak Designs system does. When traveling, I always use a camera backpack with a waist belt - and that relieves 80-90% of the shoulder and back strain that a non-belted pack creates. Attaching the camera to the waist belt as well keeps almost all the weight on your hips, which is the preferred way to carry heavier loads for longer periods (I learned this in my days of back-pack camping).
After a couple days of use, I could mount and un-mount my camera from the clip without looking at it - and with one hand. It seems to get even better with use as the edges of the plate and receiver become slightly worn and smoothed - allowing for silkier attach and detach. I always felt safer with my camera attached securely to my belt. There was nothing dangling to get tangled or allow my camera to Tarzan in to a wall whilst I scaled rocks and privacy barriers. I also felt my camera was more secure when squeezing my way through crowded streets.
With an Arca-Swiss compatible tripod head, you can go quickly from belt to hand-held to tripod. I don't currently have a compatible head, so that will be my next purchase - as I'm keeping the Peak Designs Capture Camera Clip system attached!Resources: