Black Rapid are probably the market leader when it comes to camera sling straps. They certainly have the brand reputation, but with that comes a price to match. The RS-4 costs around £50 in the UK, and can be found at Jacobs, Jessops and various online retailers.
The strap comes nicely packaged in a box and has a handy elastic band to wrap around the strap when storing in your camera bag. I found that a nice touch. The RS-4 has a small zip pocket like the Q strap and will fit a couple of memory cards. It comes with two sliding bumpers, a ConnectR-2 carabiner that is very much like the one supplied with the Q strap, and the fastenR-3 connector, a small round connecter that screws firmly into the camera’s tripod socket.
The strap is a thick seatbelt type material that sits somewhere between the Q strap and the CS-1. The pad is nicely padded and is made from a rip-stop material that gives it a different look to the other two straps Adjusting the strap is much easier than the other two straps and the bumpers slide up and down the strap smoothly and are also easy to adjust.
The strap is comfy, like the other two and sits nicely on the shoulder. The camera sits nicely on the hip, though I did find that the camera tended to spin round thus proving the point the other manufacturers make about the flat connecting plate allowing the camera to sit more naturally at the hip. It doesn’t sound like a big thing, but it was really irritating.
I did find the strap had an occasional tendency to fight you when bringing the camera into shooting position. Like the CS-1, you need the strap a little longer than your want in order to get the proper amount of slack. It didn’t seem to be a problem on the Q strap though.
The bumpers worked well. The BRAD arm strap hadn’t arrived in time to test it, so I tried Black Rapid’s method of using the bottom bumper to push the strap back into position and it worked fine without being irritating. The top bumper slid down to lock the camera in position, preventing the camera from lolling about when leaning forward.
All in all, the RS-4 is a great strap and I really liked it. They could learn from the competitors connectors, but the strap is great. The only down side is the cost. The quality is great. The design is great, in use it is very good, but is it worth £50? That’s a question to be settled on another day.