Best Camera Shoulder Straps

Updated October 2021
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Buying guide for Best camera shoulder straps

When preparing for a day of travel and photography, many photographers primarily think about the types of photos they will be shooting. But after carrying the gear for even just a half-hour or so, the photographers may wish they’d spent more time thinking about the physical effort involved.

Hand-carrying a weighty DSLR-style camera can become tiring after a while. Having the camera in your hand also can hinder your ability to participate in other activities. You could carry the camera inside a camera bag, but it then won’t be available to grab for a quick shot.

For a hands-free way to carry your camera, while still having it ready to shoot, get a camera shoulder strap. The strap supports the weight of the camera across your shoulders and neck, leaving your hands free for other activities.

Shoulder straps are available in a variety of designs and types of fabrics. When you understand how these straps work, you’ll be able to find the perfect camera shoulder strap that fits your needs and budget.

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Some manufacturers use the term cross-body strap to refer to a camera shoulder strap.

Key considerations

Photographers will want a camera shoulder strap that is comfortable and that also provides long-lasting performance. They need to be able to trust that it will support the equipment without risking a broken camera.

Strap width

The width of the camera strap plays a key role in how much comfort it will provide. A narrow strap digs into the skin more than a wider strap, which distributes the weight of the camera more efficiently.

When selecting a shoulder strap, the camera strap should be at least 1.5 inches wide. For an even more comfortable feel while using it, look for a strap that’s at least 2 inches in width.

Strap material

Leather is the highest-quality material to use in a camera strap. It has plenty of flex, a benefit that almost goes without saying. Cheaper straps will use nylon or cotton, which offer plenty of durability for most photographers, even though these fabrics are not as durable as leather.

Adjustable strap length

Many camera shoulder straps offer the option of adjusting the length of the strap. This is an important feature, as it allows people of different heights to use the shoulder strap comfortably.

Additionally, by adjusting the strap’s length, the photographer can carry the camera down near the hip, at the upper part of the chest, or somewhere in between. Having options for the length of the strap creates the maximum level of comfort.

Some shoulder straps also can switch back and forth between serving as a neck strap and a shoulder strap, thanks to the adjustable length.

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Caution
Never exceed the recommended weight limit on the camera shoulder strap you’re using. The strap might fail, causing the camera to fall to the ground.
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Features

Padding: The strap likely will have padding on it, especially near the neck and shoulder areas. This is helpful for those who must carry the camera for long periods of time. Two common paddings, especially for leather straps, are wool felt and fleece. With a nylon fabric strap, the manufacturer may place a strip of foam inside the strap in the neck and shoulder areas for cushioning.

Colors: The majority of shoulder camera straps will be black, but various shades of brown are available in leather straps. Fabric straps might be almost any color if you’re willing to shop around, and some have a design pattern on them.

Buckles: The clasps that connect the ends of the strap to the eyelets on the camera need to consist of high-quality metal or durable plastic. A simple clip design is common, although some use a quick-release system that allows users to pop the camera loose from the buckle immediately. This facilitates shooting with the camera in hand without the strap being in the way.

If you must carry two cameras at the same time, you may want to carry one with a shoulder strap and one with a holster that fits around your waist.

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Camera shoulder strap prices

Inexpensive: These camera straps cost $5 to $12. They typically are narrow strips of fabric and may not offer much in the way of style. Nylon, cotton, and plastic are the most common materials in this price range.

Mid-range: Camera straps in this category cost $12 to $25. They may include some leather. Some may even offer stylish design patterns that you’ll appreciate.

Expensive: The costliest shoulder camera straps range from $25 to $100. These have padded, wide strips of fabric to deliver the most comfort — important when carrying heavy gear. They primarily consist of higher-quality materials like leather and metal.

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Did You Know?
Some shoulder straps may connect to the camera in an odd place, possibly limiting your access to buttons on the back.
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Other types of camera straps

Some types of camera straps may fit your needs better than shoulder straps. Before choosing a strap of any kind, be certain that it works with your camera. A wrist strap is not adequate or safe to use with a DSLR, for example.

  • Hand strap: These connect to the camera at an eyelet and at the tripod mount. They fit tight to the camera, leaving only enough room to slide your fingers between the strap and the camera body. A hand strap makes it easier to grip the camera while holding it to shoot a photo, but it doesn’t really help you support the weight of the camera comfortably.
  • Harness: A harness uses multiple straps to support the weight of the camera. It fits over the shoulders with two clips that connect to the eyelets on both ends of the camera, and it has a chest strap. For those photographers carrying gear with huge lenses, the harness helps you carry it comfortably. However, it can be difficult to quickly raise the camera for a spontaneous shot with a harness.
  • Neck strap: These models attach to the eyelets on both ends of the camera body. The strap rests on the back of the neck, supporting the weight of the camera, which will hang in the middle of the torso. A neck strap doesn’t distribute the weight, though, so it can be uncomfortable to use with a heavy camera setup.
  • Wrist strap: This is a simple loop that fits around the wrist of one hand. The wrist strap connects to only one eyelet on the camera. Wrist straps are convenient, but they are not able to support much weight, so they only work with small cameras, rather than with DSLRs.
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Check the strap for loose threads and worn or torn fabric every third or fourth time you use the camera.

FAQ

Q. What are the main advantages of a shoulder camera strap?

A. By using a shoulder strap, you can distribute the weight of the camera across the shoulder and back of the neck, allowing you to carry it comfortably. It also gives you quick access to the camera’s controls when you need to shoot a spontaneous photo.

Q. Are there disadvantages to using a shoulder strap with a camera?

A. If you are moving quite a bit with the camera, you may find that it bounces around uncontrollably against your chest, abdomen, or hip as you move. You may need to try to hold the camera in place with one hand while moving to keep it from bouncing around.

Q. Should I choose a camera shoulder strap that’s the same brand as my camera?

A. You certainly can. In fact, some straps display the brand name of the camera prominently. However, if you shoot photos in areas where crime could be a problem, having a strap that clearly shows you are holding an expensive camera may not be the best choice. Universal-fit shoulder straps work with multiple models of cameras and will not have brand names on them.

Q. How can I trust that I’ve attached the camera to the strap properly?

A. After attaching the camera strap, test its ability to hold the weight of the camera. Stand over a couch or bed, so the camera is only a few inches over the soft landing spot. Place the strap over your shoulder and neck, allowing the strap to support the full weight of the camera.
 

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