Instead of copying the Black Rapid strap, Carry Speed took the sling strap and put their own stamp on it. Designed in Houston, Texas, it gets some good reviews on YouTube and is good value for money, so I was interested to see how it stood up against the Q Strap. The strap is available from their website, but if you’re outside Canada or the US, you’ll only be able to get it on eBay. It costs £17.95 with Express international postage costing about as much again, so factor that in if you’re a foreigner like me.
One thing Carry Speed has thought a lot about is the quality side of the strap. They point out the strengths of the connecting plate (the same type of plate as supplied with the Q strap), the fact that the carabiner can take up to 150 lbs in weight and the fact that it comes supplied with the ‘Uni strap’ (more about that later.)
Indeed, first impressions are good. The strap arrived without any wasteful packaging, just the strap, attached to a display card. I liked that as it meant I was paying for the strap and nothing else. The pad is made of a similar material to the Q Strap, but has a substantial waterproof backing. The pocket is a full length one, more than doubling the size of the one found on the Q strap.
The strap is really comfy, and sits nicely on the shoulder, but I did find that I either had to have the strap too long, else there wasn’t enough slack to bring the camera up for shooting.
In use the strap starts to let itself down. The connecting plate, although the same design as the one used by the Q Strap, does feel sturdier on the camera, however, getting it hooked and unhooked was a real pain. The hole on the plate just kept bashing against the hook, rather than sliding onto it. The twin bumpers are also more awkward to adjust, as is the strap, which really became an issue while trying to get it the right size for my son, and then re-adjust it for me. The other thing I realised is that there is an awful lot of strap to adjust, giving the impression it wasn’t designed for people with less than a 40 inch chest.
The real bonus was getting an under-arm strap and the ‘uni strap’. First the ‘uni strap’. This little gizmo loops onto the connecting plate and also hooks onto a trouser belt loop. This prevents the camera flopping around when you lean forward. It has a quick release clip for when you want to use the camera. In reality, it was annoying. Bring the camera up to shoot and this extra dangly bit just gets in the way. It does work to prevent the camera flopping around, and provides a little extra security, but I really didn’t think it was worth it.
So onto the under-arm strap. After all, this was the main reason for buying the strap. Boy was I disappointed. First gripe is that carry Speed really don’t design for slim people. This strap is so big I couldn’t get it tight enough. Ok, so I can jerry-rig it and fix that, but the second gripe is that the quick release buckle is right smack bang in the middle, so it sits nicely under the armpit, right where it shouldn’t be. It was so uncomfortable I had to take it of after a couple of minutes. Sure, I could jerry-rig that too, but it’s something Carry Speed really need to look at if it wants to gain a bigger market share.
I have to say I really, really wanted to like this strap, and in a way I do. The look of the strap is my favourite of the three, including the Black Rapid. The pad is comfy and I don’t feel the weight of the camera at all. But in use, it sucks. I can’t say it any fairer. They need to shorten the length of the strap, make the bumpers easier to open and adjust, change the design of the under-arm strap, and give up on the ‘uni strap’ as a gimmick, sort out the issues between the carabiner and the plate and then…..they’ll probably have the best sling strap on the market and be in a position to give Black Rapid a run for their money.
Is it a bad strap? Well, let me put it this way – if I had to choose between a nice luxury neck strap, or the CS-1, I’d choose the CS-1. Would I choose the CS-1 over the Q Strap? I so want to say yes, but the honest answer is no. The Q Strap is just a better strap. All that remains is to see how both of those stand up to the Black Rapid.
More info can be found at http://carryspeed.com