Ronald Dean Henry a professional photographer working in a photojournalistic style, founded BlackRapid in the fall of 2006. Ronald saw a need for a better method of shooting and developed the R-Strap to keep his camera safe while providing fast and easy access. Click here for the BlackRapid website
I started using the R-Strap in early 2008 and have found it to be the best camera strap system for my heavy Canon MarkII with the 70-200mm F2.8 lens attached. As a working photojournalist, like many others, I carry two cameras. The R-Strap holds my long lens and I use an UpStrap (review of that strap here) for my other Canon Mark II with the 16-35mm lens attached.
I had developed a pinched nerve in my cervical spine (C-5, C-6 disk is herniated and painful) and I needed a way to get the weight off of my right shoulder. The R-Strap, which is worn across the chest was a godsend. I still carry my lighter wide lens combination on my left shoulder but may at some point try the new Couple-R system shown below.
Well, after more than an year's experience with the R-Strap, I must say that I wholeheartedly recommend it. It's not perfect (yet) but it's nearly there! Basically it's a strap system that keeps your camera ready at your side (hands free) and allows you to bring it up to your eye quickly. The strap stays in place on your shoulder, while your camera "rides up and down on a rail". If you are having a difficult time imagining how it works, take a moment to view the excellent videos on the BlackRapid website.
The following are the pros and cons of the R-Strap based on my experience:
Pros: Safe, secure, easy access to your camera, good weight distribution, and a "protected position" close to your body.
Cons: The attachment mechanism is bulky and makes it difficult to use the vertical grip and it hangs up when trying to put the camera into my Think Tank belt system. (I have fixed this myself see my attachment mechanism in the "fixes" section below, and see immediately below for Ron's modification that he has developed called the FastenR-2 (new attachment mechanism here). This is an issue that many people have commented on, and Ron at Black Rapid has responded with a solution!
I am anxious to try the new FastenR-2 , but I'm heading to Peru next week so it will have to wait until I get back, in early June (2009).
So currently, my Fix for the original R-Strap, bulky tripod attachment mechanism is to use super durable camera strapping material threaded to the bottom strap attachment on my Canon Mark II. I used a piece of Upstrap SLR-KEVLAR strap material which is highly abrasion resistant.
Photographer, President of the Sierra Club Photo Section and avid surfer Jonathan Fennell showed me how to use a "surfers leash knot" to secure the strap to my Canon Mark II. This set-up is not pretty, but it is secure, strong and will not come undone.
By connecting the R-Strap to the camera strap hole on the bottom of my Thrashed Canon MarkII. (see the story of my Thrashed Canon Mark II here) rather than to the tripod hole, the problem of not being able to use the vertical shutter release is solved and the camera is more "balanced" and hangs better. (see photo way at the top of this page).
The idea to use a strapping material
came from fellow photographer David duChemin. Here's what he said... "What
donít I like? With the strap mounted to the camera bottom via the fasten-R
hardware, itís nearly impossible to use a vertical grip. For me this is not
a problem. As I said, for years I have been mounting straps to the bottom
right strap point on the body, so I did the same here, clipping the R-Strap
to a piece of climber's cord Iíve threaded and knotted into a secure loop"
See David's "pimping the R-Strap"
See David's complete review here