My Perfect Camera Carrying SystemWith QD

My Perfect Camera Carrying SystemWith QD

With every camera comes a nice strap, often mentioning the name of the brand. Although the strap works nicely, there are much better solutions. In the last decade, I have found a solution that suits my own needs. Since I often get questions about it, I decided to write an article about it.

There are a few problems with the standard camera strap you receive with a camera. Once fitted, it sits often in the way, and it isn’t that comfortable. The latter is with every camera strap because you carry the weight around your neck. This isn’t a big deal when your camera weighs only a few hundred grams, but if it is over one kilogram, it will put a lot of strain on your neck.

That is when I tried the Op-Tech straps for a couple of reasons. First of all, the neoprene material is stretchable, which should relieve some of the shocks that occur when walking with the camera. But the neoprene part is also detachable, removing the strap almost completely. By connecting the remaining parts I could transform the strap into a hand strap.

The Op-Tech strap comes in parts. I removed the strap itself and used the connectors on the camera as a hand strap.

The Op-Tech Backpack Connectors

This system worked perfectly for many years and eventually, I used the neoprene part less and less. The hand strap was enough for my needs. Still, when walking for longer distances I wanted something to connect my camera. That’s when stumbled upon the accessory straps by Op-Tech. These Reporter/Backpack system connectors allowed me to connect the camera onto a backpack.

The Op-Tech Reporter/Backpack system connectors are a great invention. It allows you to connect the camera directly to the shoulderstraps, relieving your neck when carrying the camera.

The benefit of this system is the weight distribution. Although I carry my camera similar to a normal neck strap, the weight is supported by the shoulder straps of the backpack. At the same time, it offers a bit of counterweight. I found it to be an ideal solution, making it easy and convenient to carry a big DSLR camera, even with a long and heavy tele lens.

Open the parts I used as a hand strap, and connect it to the parts attached to the backpack and you're done.  Removing is just as easy.

Attaching and removing is easy. I fitted all of my backpacks with these connectors.

This is how it looks. You never feel the weight of the camera on your neck. And it's easy to use the camera without detaching it.

The only problem I had was a way to carry my cameras during weddings. I don’t use a backpack for those occasions, obviously. But I didn’t want to use two cameras with a complete Op-Tech neck strap. I did this once, and I told myself, never again. My solution for carrying a camera during weddings was the Spider Pro holster.

The Spider Pro Holster

One thing I want during weddings is speed. It has to be easy to switch between cameras without the hassle of straps. After an intensive search, I decided to go for the Spider Pro holster. It promised easy access to my cameras, no matter which lens I used.

The Spider Pro holster is a great way to carry one or two cameras. But you will feel the weight on your hips after a long day. I did remove the strap from my camera in this situation, to avoid the risk of getting stuck.

Switching cameras is easy. Placing a camera on a table for a while was no problem since the camera isn’t connected permanently to the system. I found it a great way to carry my cameras, although the weight on the hips can become heavy after a fourteen-hour wedding. Fortunately, there are always moments when I could lay one camera aside.

There was one issue that sometimes offered a problem. The hand strap from Op-Tech could get stuck sometimes. This gave enough trouble to remove the strap completely from one camera. This way I had only one camera without straps, dedicated for use with the Spider Pro, and with the strap connected for use with a backpack.

But I found a solution for this also. Thanks to the QD system that Really Right Stuff offered for their L-brackets.

The QD System

The QD system is used by NASA, law enforcement agents, and the military. It is a quick Detach system, hence the letters QD, with a low profile. There are no D-rings or other protruding components on the camera necessary. At least, when you use an L-bracket that has a QD connection hole.

I discovered the QD system thanks to Really Right Stuff. I also bought a sling to carry the camera if I'm not using a camera bag.

Once I used the QD system, I loved it. It is low profile, easy to use and my L-brackets are standard equiped with a QD slot.

The L-brackets by Really Right Stuff have the QD system incorporated. It’s nothing more than a hole in the L-bracket that fits the QD push button swivel. So I decided to attach the Op-Tech strap to a QD push button swivel, which is a sort of DIY solution. This way I could continue using the Op-Tech backpack connectors, while removing every single part of the strap from my camera.

A little DIY made it possible to use the QD system together with the Op-Tech backpack connectors. This way I have one system that can be used in all occassions.

Using the Op-Tech backpack connectors with the QD system. There is no need to disconnect the camera. But it can be done easily, if needed.

This way I can continue using the Op-Tech system I already used, without the problem of a dangling strap from my camera when I switch over to the Spider Pro holster. 

Recently I decided to change the Spider Pro holster for a carrying harness by The Leather Rebel, similar to the MoneyMaker by Holdfast Gear. The reason I decided to do so was the weight on the hips after a long day wedding photography. The QD system was one of the reasons to try the harness.

I asked The Leather Rebel if it was possible to change the normal D-ring and clip connection for a QD push button swivel. This way I could connect my camera easily, and remove it again without any problems. I have used it a few times now, and I love it. On the plus side, since there is no D-ring attached to the tripod mount, I don't need the additional security straps. The QD system can rotate freely, so there is no risk of unscrewing itself.

I changed the Spider Pro holster for a harness. On request the standard D-ring and clips were replaced by the QD connector. 

I no longer have any weight on my hips. The QD system allows me to disconnect the camera in an easy and quick way without any protruding connectors or elements that can get in the way. The QD system turns out to be a great solution.

A Complete Carrying System For All My Needs

By combining the Op-Tech backpack system connectors, parts of the regular Op-Tech strap, and the QD system, I have found a perfect way of carrying my camera without the need of adding or removing parts. 

There is only one thing that needs some attention. I encountered one issue with the connector after it was placed in the sand on a beach. Grains of sand can cause the system to malfunction. A bit of oil was enough to get it working again, but it shows it has to be maintained to keep it in good working order.

I have the QD system incorporated in every possible way I carry my equipment.

The QD system is finding its way into camera land, so I have noticed. For instance, BlackRapid straps now have a version with the QD system instead of the regular D-ring clips. Other manufacturers have also started to incorporate a QD attachment in their lens plates and camera plates. The system is still not well known in the Netherlands, but I expect it to become increasingly popular in the next years or so.

What carrying system do you use at this moment? Do you like it? Please let me know in the comments below.

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11 Comments
CHRIS HOLLINGSWORTH's picture

I'm going through the same maze of straps. Like you I added the OpTec clips for my backpack and also for a ThinkTank vest. I use their sling for a majority of my photography even with big lenses. I added the clips to the vest in order to have one sling under each arm to carry two cameras. However I think I couldn't look more geeky than I did and the cameras moved around too much since it wasn't across my body with the vest. I also used the Peak Design system and a few Think Tank belts and pouches for lenses etc. Although they were pretty practical to carry multiple lenses and cameras I never really used them as it was a bit overkill. But I love all the gadgets and bags etc. Long story shorter, I just ordered the Op/Tec double harness strap which is similar to the sling but has two clips so you can add another for your other side. So after testing and using all the strap systems, I decided I loved and missed the Op/Tec sling strap the most especially with the larger lenses and camera with battery grip. So with the double, I can have two camera setups for events and slim down to a single sling if I don't need two. Also, the sling worked the best for me as it slides up the strap which was easier than the Peak Design which the whole strap needs to slide over my coat etc. Also, I gained a lot of confidence in the Op/Tec clips for security and will use both clips which secures the camera for hiking and moving around a lot. But I can unclip one side and easily grip my camera and take pics then let go easily to use my hands. Thanks for your article as I do use my L brackets and they do have the quick disconnects which I have never tried yet. Ugh....More money and more gadgets I guess in my quest for my perfect setup. Lol. :P

Juan Isaias Perez's picture

I use only 2 straps: Black Rapid sport breath (an over the shoulder sling) and a Black Rapid wrists breath. Both have a Kirk QD connector. Have a Kirk plate permanently attached to my camera that has the QD port and Arca-Swiss lips. I can switch in flash from tripod to strap. All very light and very simple.

Jon Kellett's picture

Finding the right solution is damn hard!

I carry two bodies with lenses attached (200-600 and 24-105) plus accessories in a Lowepro Protactic AW450 II.

I use a Peak Design Capture clip clone to attach the 24-105 to my left shoulder strap and that's nice and secure, whilst still easy to access. The problem is the 200-600. Using a PD sling is fine for 30-60 mins, but after that or if you're on uneven terrain it's very suboptimal.

Last month I went up a local volcano (https://goo.gl/maps/gRbQV4Ry7S4NeApZ8 for the curious) and had to keep the 200-600 in my bag unless in use, just to keep it safe. The sling would have allowed too much movement.

I'm wondering if the Spider Camera Holster would work with mounting the lens or if a PD Propad would be better. Anybody have any ideas?

Paulus van Aken's picture

I have seen all kinds of special straps over the decades, from very tiny cord-like straps in te 60 s and the first wider straps ( by Asahi, if I'm not mistaken) early 70s, but I never ever have had the urge to use something like this.
I carry my camera's mostly not on the neck, but on the shoulder, and however heavy they night have been, never had a problem with that.
Only time I was looking for a solution, was when I bought the Sigma 150-600, when that one is attached, carrying becomes a littlebit of a problem.
A problem I have not round a real solution for, so I carry the combination in my hand.....

CHRIS HOLLINGSWORTH's picture

I used the Op/Tech sling and hooked the tripod mount on my back pocket jeans. I still do this with my 100-500 canon. Otherwise I haven't found an easier way to do it either. :)

Colin Robertson's picture

I recently bought a QD connector thing to use with my RRS L bracket too. It's great. Previously I would use the loop on the L-bracket to attach one Peak Design strap connector and the other would be on the left side of my camera. I didn't love having those dangly bits always on, but the bigger (literal) pain point was how much the RRS L bracket dug into my side in this configuration. If I was going to shoot handheld with the strap, I would take the L-bracket off, and attach a PD plate with a PD connector. This is a great setup, especially for how it keeps the camera secure at your hip when not in use, but obviously a pain in the ass.

Now I'm thinking to try a black rapid strap so that I can slide the camera up the strap (as opposed to the whole strap sliding along with the camera), so that I can be wearing a jacket or backpack and still have my camera be free to raise to my eye.

Question to the author—how secure and comfortable is the camera when attached to your backpack like that? I would imagine it would flop around against your chest as you hike...?

Nando Harmsen's picture

Regarding hiking, a camera on your chest will be 'flop around.' This system won'r prevent this. It is secure enough, but I always hold it with one hand while hiking, just to keep it from flopping around :)

John Dewberry's picture

I've wondered for years why gear makers haven't started using the QD system. Super cheap and well established.

Anne Hodson's picture

I was ready to go with the QD system, but then I read some reviews from people who had them disconnect when they didn't want them to. Has anybody had this issue? I'm wondering if there are slight differences in the different brands and one needs to match the QD connector with the same brand as the camera plate, like RRS to RRS, or Kirk to Kirk.

Nando Harmsen's picture

I think it's important to keep the connection clean. If sand or similar creeps in, I can understand it won't work properly. I hope this never happens to me ;)
But I'm going to search for those reviews. I'm curious about it.

Jeff S's picture

This is a great article. I have been on this exact same journey for years. I too came around eventually to the QD system and adapting various straps to it. I also use SpiderPro for weddings. I have a few thoughts: 1. With your leather straps, instead of the oval shaped QD swivel, get a Magpul Paraclip to attach to the leather, and then clip it to a RRS D-ring style QD. This does 2 things: First, it prevents the QD from binding when the camera wants to swivel but it is under weight. There is a lateral movement you are adding to the system as the Paraclip moves through the "D" shape, that wasn't possible with the oval mount. Second, because the RRS QD D-ring has a sunken button, and because the Paraclip physically cannot touch that button, you are eliminating one more point of failure (the possibility that the leather depresses the button with the oval swivel). If your leather straps are already riveted, you can drill them out and replace them with Chicago screws (look up "Holdfast moneymaker QD swivel" on youtube and you'll see me do just that to a brand new Holdfast harness). 2. I see you have a Shimoda! My favorite way to carry the camera with this pack is to use a combination of QD and the SpiderPro Backpacker Kit. Remove the little pad below the clip on the SpiderPro, and it will fit perfectly on the Shimoda right above the zipper pocket. I like to use QD with this setup too, which is to keep a QD Swivel (RRS D-ring QD) attached to a coiled safety lanyard (made by N2 The Wild Gear Lanyards on ebay, size small). The lanyard w/ QD stows in the pocket when not in use, and connects easily to provide safety from falls (the short coiled lanyard is key to not allowing too much length here). To use both Spider and QD at the same time you will need to either add a pin from SpiderPro on the bottom of your L plate, or get a plate from ProMedia Gear, which has a QD socket and you can get an arm that attaches so you can attach a SpiderPro Pin to it (in a location that better mimicks the Spider plate). Finally, you will want a spare Spider clip attached to your pants belt when using this so that you can quickly transfer your camera to your waist when you are taking your pack off. There is nothing worse than having a camera attached to your backpack when you need to take it off. Anyways, I hope this provides some additional ideas. It's great to see others are on this same journey.