If you’re like me (which, admittedly, you likely aren’t—most people are less neurotic about this sort of thing) you are not easily satisfied with camera straps. Crumplers and Black Rapids are popular, but they can be expensive and/or ugly. My BR is comfy and durable, but also a little bulky so it doesn’t stash well.
I’ve been pretty content with the Nikon strap included with my camera because over the years it has lost its factory stiffness and it does the job. My only serious complaint was that I wanted to be able to remove it easily, and I fixed that years ago with a bit of cheap hardware and a power drill (I’ll explain that later).
Still, it shares issues with many straps including the following:
- Flimsy end straps that, while adjustable, are easily twisted
- Flimsy end straps that, while light, are easily snipped (this has never happened to me personally, but I gather this is a common, sound fear among travelers)
This morning a friend showed me this sexy hand strap and I browsed their other stuff to find the equally sexy neck strap. I can’t even pretend to be able to afford that sort of thing so I thought about crafting something myself. Camera straps can seem complicated, but that’s mostly because they’re made to adjust to any reasonable length. If you’re making something just for yourself you can sidestep that ugly business.
I rummaged through some odds and ends in a drawer and came up with a canvas belt from American Eagle I bought a few months ago at a liquidation store for twenty-five cents. The camouflage was ugly, but its texture, structure and weight were perfect. Leather would be nice, but fabric is far easier to work with. So how to make an awesome strap from this? Easy!
1) Pull out the stitching that holds the buckle. Be mindful not to damage the stitching that keeps all the fabric together.
2) Figure out the correct length:
- The right length will vary based on how the strap is affixed to your camera. Refer to both 5a) and 5b) before making the call.
- This is definitely a measure-twice-cut-once situation, but as long as you have your current strap to compare it to you should be all set.
- You can cut it later to shorten it or add a bit of leather to lengthen it, but it is best to get it right the first time.
3) Cut out holes for grommets. For this you need to look at the grommets you’re using and gauge what size the holes should be. Make sure your grommets are deep enough for the thickness of the fabric.
4) Choose which side of the belt will face out, and set the clean side of the grommets to match. When it all looks good, hammer them into place.
5a) If you’re going to attach the ends to the eyelets on your camera, you can be creative about how that goes down. Key rings are an obvious choice, but if you’re the crafty sort of person who would fashion small leather hoops or some such, the strap would look far better.
5b) If, like me, you want to be able to clip your strap on and off easily, you’ll want to make a threaded eyelet that can screw into your tripod mount. Here’s what’s up:
- Black Rapid sells them, but they’re really easy to make. I made mine from 1/4” flat thumb screws and rubber washers. The BR fasteners are about $20 each, and I made four of them four under $5.
- The only tools you need are a power drill for the eyelet and a hacksaw to cut down the length.
- If you want to clip the strap on an off, use a small carabiner to attach the strap to the eyelet.
- If you would rather screw the strap on and off, use a key ring. Note, though, that with a carabiner you can easily switch between the threaded eyelet and one of the built-in eyelets (see 1st image below.)
That’s it. You’re done!
I liked the plain canvas side better than the camo, but if I change my mind I can flip it with ease. The strap is sturdy and comfortable, and the fabric provides enough friction to hang on my right shoulder without slipping. I figure that the multi-layer canvas is thick enough to withstand a knife, scissors, wire cutters,etc. If a thief comes after me with anything bigger than that, I’d probably just give it to them.