Sling your gear!

So what do you use to carry your camera when you’re out? The strap that came with your camera? A wrist strap rather than have your camera dangling round your neck? A sling that leaves both hands free and takes the strain off your neck? A monopod with your camera attached or a tripod? The simple answer is: use what you need to use. Bit simplified I know but if you take into consideration the ‘type’ of photo trip you’re on then that will often determine what you use. Let’s look at it in a bit more detail because the right decision will pay dividends.

I think the first consideration has to be; what do you intend to photograph and where? I’m not a great advocate of opportunistic photography but there comes a time when we all end up just grabbing the camera on the off-chance that we might see something worthwhile photographing – and I guess that’s certainly true of most photographers. Maybe you decide to go for a walk and take your camera ‘just in case’.

Anything beyond that requires a bit more thought because your choice of how you carry your camera will depend on the lens you’re using. If you decide to use a small/kit lens then it will add little weight to your camera. In such a case there’s nothing wrong with simply using the camera strap; either round your neck or on your shoulder. The great advantage of this is that it keeps both hands free. If you’re out on your own then you might use a simple wrist strap keeping your camera quite literally to hand rather than having it dangling round your neck. However, once you use longer and heavier lenses then the neck/wrist strap setup is impractical.

So when are you likely to use heavier and longer lenses? Generally speaking when you have a planned ‘shoot’. For example, you may decide that you’re going to photograph particular animal behaviour, say birds in flight or feeding behaviours etc. In cases like these you’ve probably already decided where and when you’re going and how long you’ll be there. In particular, what you’re going to shoot. Maybe you plan a short wander around an area where you know you’ll likely get the shot you want but you don’t want to lug around a heavy tripod. In this case a monopod is ideal; you can attach your camera/lens combo and carry it around resting on your shoulder. And it’ll give you much more stability and less camera ‘shake’. However, if your choice of location is going keep you in one spot (or you’re not planning to move around much), say in a hide, then tripods are the perfect solution AND they’ll improve image sharpness 100%.

But what if you do decide to go for that walk with specific photographic aims in mind? You want the best of all worlds: freedom to move where you want, hands free and no heavy gear hanging off your neck or a hard-legged monopod pressing down on your shoulder. This is where the sling comes in. A well padded shoulder sling with your camera attached and hanging by the opposite hip. Both hands free, no neck strain, no shoulder ache, immediate access to your camera and, if you choose the right sling, able to carry heavy gear with no penalties. In truth, if I’m moving around with heavy gear then, for me, the sling fits the bill perfectly.

If you’ve never used one before then do try them out and you’ll never go back to the neck strap again. But make sure you choose the right strap for the maximum weight of gear you intend to use.

What sling would I recommend? Try ‘Black Rapid’

Keep chasin’ the light my friends

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