Intro: My DIY Black Rapid R-Strap
This is my version of the Blackrapid R-Strap. There are some other instructables for this type of strap. Some aren’t really the idea, as they just feature a strap that moves, whereas in this type of the strap the strap should stay stationary, while the camera moves along it. I also didn’t want to have to do any sewing, sawing, etc. I found a similar homemade strap here: http://www.theworriedshrimp.com/2010/01/no-worries-camera-strap.html but that one required some sewing, and it used Le Hooks which need to be ordered from Europe.
Step 1: The Real Deal
Here’s a picture of the official strap. It connects to the tripod mount, and is worn across the shoulders like a messenger bag. The camera can quickly be brought up to your eye, and when not in use it hangs at your hip where you can protect it with your hand and it doesn’t bounce on your chest annoyingly.
I first thought about using rock-climbing gear, which is tough, holds a ton of weight, and which I had lying around. Everything was a bit too bulky though, so I scrapped that idea.
Step 2: The Strap
The first part is the actual strap. You can use a lot of different types, including an old camera or bag shoulder strap. The main requirement is that the end can be attached to a standard plastic buckle. If using an old strap, and you don’t want to sew, you can thread through the buckle and then use a couple of ladder locks to keep them on. I picked up this 1” x 60” webbing strap with attached buckle from REI for $1.93. I picked it up in store, so no shipping costs. It appears to not be available online at the moment, but I’m sure they sell many similar items:
Step 3: The Swivel
Next is the slide on the strap. I picked up these 1” Blackhawk Lok-Down swivels, which are designed to attach a gun to its strap. These have a screw down lock, so there is no way that it can accidentally open. These are $9.59, but you get two of them (same with the next part) so you can make two straps or sell one to a friend. One of these is $16 on blackrapid.com, and I’ve heard complaints of them bending. I trust the ones made for people with big guns, as manufacturers don’t want to piss them off. Make sure you get the nickel version, NOT the blued version. Gun blue is a type of polish that is used on guns and attachments, but which will leave oily deposits on you and your camera. You can get free shipping by finding this store/product through Google shopping:
Step 4: Tripod Mount
There are a couple of ways to attach the swivel to the camera. First, the method I don’t use. The official strap attaches to the tripod mount via a little screw in bolt, which is $14: http://www.blackrapid.com/product/hardware/fastenr3/
I’ve seen some people attach their strap to the ring on a tripod plate. DO NOT DO THIS! That ring is designed only to help you screw in the plate and is NOT designed to bear weight. They bend easily, and you don’t want that to happen when it’s supporting your camera. I purchased a ¼” x 2” eye bolt, neoprene washer, and wing nut for about $2 at my local hardware store. By using a wing nut, you can screw the bolt in most of the way, and then tighten down the wing nut. This prevents you from over tightening the eye bolt and breaking your tripod mount. The washer protects the bottom of your camera.
I was thinking about trying to find a nicer bolt or something that was a bit more elegant, but I don’t like using the tripod mount method, as the camera cannot be set flat when not in use. Maybe if I find a better solution I’ll try that method again. But here’s how I roll…
Step 5: Strap Lug Mount
I instead attach it to the strap lug on my camera. Some cameras have a ring attachment, which might give you a bit more play, buy my camera (Canon 7D) has the smaller strap connectors, so I needed something that would allow the camera to swing more freely. I picked up some Op-Tech Utility Loops, which just loop through the strap lug and then have a solid opening for the swivel to go through. I got a two pack (again) for $5.95 with free shipping from duracomsupply.com: http://www.duracomsupply.com/servlet/the-90/Optech-Strap-System-Utility/Detail
I also already had some Op-Tech Adapt-Its, so I left one of those on (as you can see in the picture), but that’s not necessary at all.
Step 6: Conclusion
Now, all you need is a shoulder pad. Or, you can try without and see if it’s comfortable enough. Mine isn’t in the picture, but I just grabbed one off of an old diaper bag, which velcro’s closed around the strap. You can try it out on both lugs of your camera, and see which way you prefer. I have it on the left hand side, as I prefer the way the camera hangs, and it doesn’t interfere with my right hand while shooting.
So there you have it. For about $18, I have a strap which I think rivals the $50+ version. Let me know what you think. Thanks!