Black Rapid Double Strap RS DR-1 Review
In the beginning, photographers had one camera. Until the late 1920's, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone toting around two or more view cameras; it just wasn't economical. Besides, back then, clients gave time a little more consideration, what with glass plates, tintypes, and large film to develop. Fast forward to the 1950's and 60's where rangefinder cameras and medium format ruled the day. It made sense to have more than one camera, each for different focal lengths, client needs, film speeds, etc. Not everybody had two bodies, but those that did found their job easier with the inclusion of another body. Unfortunately for photogs of that day, they had to deal with choking on leather and/or more uncomfortable straps.
Let's take another time skip to the digital age/today where showing up with two cameras at a wedding means you're probably related to the family, but not the hired photographer. Ok, enough cheap shots at "Uncle Bob", but seriously, two cameras is a must for most situations (except vacation, where you should be relaxing). So besides juggling the manufacturer provided straps between two arms, a neck, or all of the above, what can a busy photographer do? The answer is sling it up with the R-Strap.
If you haven't heard of the R-Strap yet, don't worry, you're only about two years behind, and should probably watch this:
And now for a closer look at today's review, the RS DR-1:
Ok, so its cool looking, and Black Rapid has you convinced you can gun somebody down with your new strap, but what can it really offer you? For one thing, it completely eliminates strap burn. By placing the double strap over your shoulders and across your back and chest, weight is distributed more evenly and allows you to move more freely. With smaller gear, this isn't much of a big deal. But when you're photographing a baseball tournament with a 1D + 70-200 f/2.8 and a 50D + 300 f/2.8* on board, weight becomes an issue, FAST.
*The 300mm f/2.8 is strongly discouraged with R-Strap usage due to its excessive weight. I've tried it on multiple times with no troubles.
So we've covered running around and thinking that you look cool during a sports tournament, but what about an event that's a little more dressy, say a wedding? Well, the RS DR-1 comes in handy once again. By adjusting the length of the strap to just below a suit jacket opening, the R-Strap allows you to wear an open jacket over-top itself, and still shoot comfortably. I personally haven't tried it with a vest, but have heard through the grapevine that it’s a bit more of a hassle. Adjusting the position where the strap "catches" your camera is also a cinch, easily adapting to whatever equipment combinations you throw at it. The last wedding I posted on the 52 project, weeks 4&5, I was using the RS DR-1 interchangeably between 3 cameras: a 1D mark ii, a 5D mark ii, and a Hasselblad 500C, all very differently weighted cameras, with no hassle whatsoever.
For those that don't like reading as much, here's some key bullet points:
- Solid build materials on strap and mount rings
- Holds 2 DSLRs + long lens + flash easily
- There's little to know when it comes to using it. Got a tripod screw mount? You're set.
- Breaks down into 2 separate, functioning R-Straps
- Adapts easily to a variety of equipment combinations
- One size fits most*
*if your chest size exceeds 50" maybe event photography shouldn't be your gig.
- Tripod mount rings known to slip (Google "R-strap" "fail")
- Carbinger screw locks too tightly sometimes, need pliers to get open again
- It's not cheap, $130 for a well made strap, but come on
- Makes you a little more conspicuous when shooting an outdoor event
Bottom line, this strap is worth the money if you're always fumbling around with multiple camera bodies. It does what it advertises, and takes a beating as it's only a strap. It won't make you a cooler guy or a better photographer, but it may keep you more relaxed during a hectic event which could lead to a more successful day. More often than not, it'll keep gear where you need it, when you want it, and out of harms way. In this profession, that's the best we could hope for.