Whether you realize it or not, there’s more to carrying and handling your DSLR camera than meets the eye. I mean, sure, we all know how to pick our cameras up and walk around with them, but what if a scenario arose where you needed to quickly point at something to grab the shot you’ve been waiting for all day? Would you be ready – I mean, would your camera be ready to do what it’s built to do? If you’ve got to fumble around with the feeling of having five hands, you’re most likely doing something wrong. It’s all about organization and accessibility when it comes to making magic. And that’s what I’m going to cover in this post – that accessibility that’ll surely make your photographic life much easier.
Carrying Your Camera
If you’re an avid amateur photographer, as I am, you’re surely used to carrying your camera around. Sometimes, I carry my camera from my car to a location just a short distance away, but on other occasions, I carry my camera all day long. Point, click, point, click. It goes on and on. And let me tell you, if I weren’t carrying the camera the way I do, I’d experience some serious fatigue.
I’d like to go over a few methods folks use for carrying their cameras. These methods span from the, ever so familiar, around the neck to the rarely seen super strap. Needless to say, when I first discovered this variety of local camera storage, my eyes were wide open.
I’m going to list a few camera carrying methods below and talk about the pros and cons of each.
1. Hanging Around the Neck – We’ve seen this everywhere. If a camera has a strap (mostly DSLR cameras), it’s bound to be bouncing off someone’s belly, hanging around their neck and dangling directly in front of them. It certainly gives them a certain image – that’s for sure. And if you’ve been taking photos for any length of time, you know what these types of folks are called – newbies. Not to say that they don’t get the job done. It’s just that terrible things might happen.
PROS: By carrying your camera this way, you have ultra access to it if you need it right away. Since it’s directly in front of you, you know it’s there and you can easily place your hands where they need to be to start taking pictures immediately.
CONS: If your camera is hanging directly in front of you, there’s a tendency for it to swing in all directions. By having your camera in such an unstable situation, you may end up in a scenario where something on it breaks. And since the lens is the piece of gear that’s protruding the furthest, it’ll likely be that or something attached to it. I know this from personal experience. I once cracked a lens hood when it hit the handlebars of an ATV I was riding at the time. I’m still annoyed at that one. Also, carrying your camera by having it hang in front of you for hours at a time is going to cause a lot of discomfort to your neck. And that discomfort grows and grows as the day wears on.
2. Hanging Over the Shoulder – The second style of carrying your camera is to hang it over one shoulder. This is quite popular because of its accessibility and comfort. It does have its drawbacks though and that’s what I’ll cover below. Just one thing to note here: if you would like to carry your camera by hanging it over one shoulder, you’ll need a strap that’s long enough. Short straps make using the camera nearly impossible in this position.
PROS: When you carry your camera by hanging the strap over one shoulder, you reduce the chance for fatigue. Since your neck isn’t involved, you won’t be pulled down into “ape” position after just a few hours. Also, if your strap is long enough, you’ve got some fairly decent accessibility when it comes to grabbing the camera quickly. Lastly, if you point your camera inward, you’re protecting your lens from any damage that might occur if you bump into something or if someone knocks into you.
CONS: I just mentioned that it’s better to have your lens pointing inward in an effort to protect it from getting bumped. The opposite is true if you’ve got your lens pointing outward. Having your camera point this way can be extremely detrimental for its health, should something hit it. Also, if you’re hanging the strap over your shoulder, rubber side down, accessibility suffers due to the strap tugging on your clothing. If you’ve got the strap shiny side down, the camera will surely slide off your shoulder. While accessibility will be enhanced, things will get mighty annoying after you have to catch the falling camera a number of times. Lastly, cameras that hang over shoulders are a thief’s dream. I can’t think of a better and more simple way of removing a camera from someone’s person.
3. Hanging Over the Shoulder and Head – Ah, the infamous bandolier style. This is obviously the most secure method of carrying a camera, but does it perform? Let’s find out.
PROS: If you have a long enough strap, this method of carrying your camera, like I mentioned above, is pretty much theft proof. Someone would have to grab the camera and attempt to pop the strap over your head. By the time they got around to doing this, you would be aware of the situation to stop them. Also, again, if your strap is really long, you can have some great accessibility to the camera, should you need it.
CONS: – Generally, folks don’t have straps long enough to allow them to actually carry the camera in this fashion and shoot at the same time. To deal with this, they need to pop the camera over their heads to get the accessibility they need. Due to this, a mixture of options may be in order, depending on the situation.
The Answer – I’ve seen them called, “quick neck shoulder straps” and “shoulder sling straps” and they are basically straps that go up and over the head, just like the previous method I mentioned above. This type of strap is different than the one you may receive with your camera though. It’s not meant to move. There’s actually a really nice example of this type of strap put out by Black Rapid called the Curve, or RS-7.
These straps attach to the bottom of your camera with a device that slides up and down a specific portion of the strap, overcoming the limitations I talked about earlier. You know, the short strap or the rubberized side of it getting caught up in your clothing. Since the strap doesn’t move at all, and it’s the mechanism that does, your camera has a wide margin of freedom, so you can take advantage of it when necessary.
If you’d like to see what others are saying about how best to carry your camera, take a look at these posts:
5 Ways to Carry a DSLR Camera on Outdoor Adventures
Fast Access to Your Camera
If there’s one thing that gets under my skin, it’s having the perfect shot in front of me and missing it because my equipment isn’t ready. And what I mean by “ready” is that my camera is stored someplace relatively far away, the camera isn’t turned on and that I’ve got the lens blocked by the lens cover. All three of these detriments can be avoided by the following helpful tips.
Wear the Camera – I understand. This is easier said than done. Unfortunately, if you want to get those shots you’re always missing, you’re going to need to have the camera on your body at all times. This is the way the pros do it. I’m sure we’ve seen those photographers who have their cameras attached to their hips (literally). Well, they are the ones who get the good pictures. It’s a trade off. Keeping the camera handy at all times equals great photos. Not having the camera handy equals many missed opportunities. For an example of this, please check out this post:
Leave the Camera On – If you turn your camera on and leave it for a few minutes, you’ll notice that it automatically goes into “sleep” mode, basically turning itself off, but keeping itself in a ready state. This is common to modern DSLR cameras. If you leave your camera on, you can quickly grab it and push the shutter button to wake it up again. Once you do that, it’ll be ready to shoot.
Keep the Lens Cover Off – Did you know that you can protect your lens with a lens hood, as opposed to a lens cap? And that the lens hood does a pretty good job at it? Sure, if you’re putting your camera away for long term storage, use a lens cap, but if you’ve got your camera sitting in your camera bag at the ready, the last thing you want to do is to have to fiddle with the lens cap. Instead, keep a lens hood on the camera and when you need to access it quickly for a fast moving shot, it’ll be as ready as ever.
I hope you enjoyed this quick post that showed some simple photography tips. If you did, please be sure to browse through some other posts by checking out my photography category. I write almost every day, so there’s sure to be something you enjoy.