Is Your Camera Strap Tied Incorrectly? Here's How It Should Be Done so Your Camera Doesn't Break

Is Your Camera Strap Tied Incorrectly? Here's How It Should Be Done so Your Camera Doesn't Break

There’s a good chance that your camera neck strap is connected to your camera incorrectly. If so, your camera is in danger. Here’s how you should be doing it to stop your camera from falling to its doom.

Can you see the tail of your camera strap sticking out of the buckle and flapping loose? If so, it is at risk of coming undone and your camera falling. It’s the way most people connect their neck straps to their cameras, but there is a better, safer way to do it.

Two Lucky Escapes

Here are two real examples of people I know who have been caught out by having the strap tied incorrectly.

A while ago, a friend of mine borrowed her sister’s camera to visit one of the many magnificent castles along the coast here. What she hadn’t noticed was that the tail of the strap was slipping towards the buckle. It finally fell out and, subsequently, the camera bounced all the way down the stone steps. Luckily, it was an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk II, and they were built like tanks. The only damage it sustained was a slight dent in the side of the body.

The second incident happened to a newly employed camera salesman who was demonstrating to a customer a similar camera in a very upmarket department store. The first he knew about it was when the end of the strap slapped him around his face. As the camera hit the floor, there was a smashing sound. Groaning and trying to imagine what his boss would say, he picked the camera up and could see no damage to it. However, when he looked down, the ceramic floor tile was smashed. He got the sale!

Both of those people were very lucky, as it could have been much worse.

It's not that brand of camera that was at fault, it was the way the strap was tied. Over the years, I’ve come across a few people this has happened to with different brands of camera, and they have suffered greater or lesser amounts of damage. Nearly half of my workshop clients have had camera straps where the tails are almost falling out of the buckle. I have shown how to attach their straps properly so they don’t come undone.

How to Properly Attach Your Camera Strap

Step 1: Slide the buckle onto the strap. Most buckles have a bottom and a top, with indented sides on the bottom. That goes facing toward the underside of the strap.

The camera strap, sliding collar, and the top of the buckle

Step 2: Attach the sliding collar to the strap.

Step 3: Put the end of the strap through the D split ring on the camera. Some cameras have a different arrangement, such as a bar embedded into the camera body or extension straps that attach to the anchor points, but the same principle applies: thread it through.

Step 4: Slide the tail back up through the sliding collar.

Step 5: Take the tail beyond and past the buckle away from the camera’s body, but don’t thread it through yet.

Step 6: Reverse the direction of the tail and thread it through the buckle, starting at the far end from the camera. The tail will pass back through the buckle underneath and in the same direction as the strap in step one, i.e. towards the camera. You want at least an inch and a half of the tail.

Step 7: Pull the strap tight from either side of the buckle, adjusting the length of the strap accordingly.

Step 8: Slide the collar up to lock it, so the tail is tightly sandwiched between the two sides of the strap.

Step 9: Make sure there are no twists in the strap, and repeat on the other side.

With the strap connected in this way, and if the camera manufacturers have provided the correct-sized sliding collar, it will lock the three layers of the strap together. Even if it's an incorrectly sized collar – some are too loose and others too tight – when the camera is hanging around your neck, friction will still be applied on either side of the tail end, which will help stop it from coming loose. Furthermore, it is much neater, and the tail ends of the strap are not flapping loosely around.

Alternative to Neck Straps

Most photographers I meet are content with the straps provided with their cameras. However, I am not a fan of neck straps. Many years ago, I ended up with an injured neck after carrying a heavy DSLR and long lens around all day. So, ever since, I’ve experimented with a wide variety of carrying options.

With small camera and lens combinations like the OM-5 fitted with an OM System M.Zuiko 12-45mm f/4 PRO lens or one of the even smaller prime lenses, the neck strap is ideal. But even slightly larger cameras, like my OM System OM-1, need a different arrangement.

I started by buying an elastic neck strap. It was good, but it didn’t relieve the pressure on my neck's bones and muscles. I find a shoulder harness far more convenient and comfortable, not only for my neck, but it doesn't bounce as much when I am walking.

For a few years, I used the cheap copies of the Black Rapid Sport shoulder straps, usually found on Amazon. They worked amazingly well. However, I was never that confident with the connectors, so I always add a safety tether. Also, in the long-term, those cheap copies were a false economy. It didn't take long for them to become tatty.

BlackRapid Sport Breathe Camera Strap

But I am now trialing a Peak Design Leash strap, which I’ll review here in a few weeks after I have put it through its paces. As a spoiler, much of the time I don’t have a strap attached at all because I am using the camera on a tripod, and I found the strap to be an inconvenience, so the secure quick-release system works well for me.

The Peak Design Leash

When I am shooting weddings, I carry two cameras and then I’m using a double harness. On one side, the camera is fitted with a 12-40mm f/2.8 lens and the other has a 40-150mm f/4. It's a perfect combination for me.

I’ve tried various models of harnesses, but this unbranded one had comfortable thick straps, which help when I am carrying a couple of cameras for a whole day. Again, I have retro-fitted safety leads attached to stop the clasps from becoming accidentally undone; it has happened to me, and they have saved me from dropping a camera. With hindsight, I would have been better spending more on the Black Rapid Double Slim Breathe Camera Harness, which has more secure camera attachments.

Have you ever had a camera strap become unfastened from the buckle? If it fell, did it break? What do you find most convenient? It will be great to hear your experiences.

Ivor Rackham's picture

A professional photographer, website developer, and writer, Ivor lives in the North East of England. His main work is training others in photography. He has a special interest in supporting people with their mental well-being. In 2023 he accepted becoming a brand ambassador for the OM System.

Log in or register to post comments

I learned that method for attaching a camera strap in 1976 with my Minolta SR-T201...which I still use.

Yes, it's been around a long time. But it's amazing how many people don't do it that way. Thanks for the comment.

I've used the Peak Design strap for years. It's easy on, easy off and has never failed. I have a grip on my R5, so to make it easier to use in the portrait mode, I have the strap connected to the upper left camera lug and the lower right grip lug.

That's cool to know. I'm really enjoying using the Peak Design Leash and I might get a Slide or Slide Lite for use with bigger lenses.

I actually got that tip from someone here years ago. :-)

Thanks, mine was wrong but now it's right! Good and secure.

That's great. I feel like it was worthwhile writing the article now! Thanks for commenting.

My camera strap method has worked well for me. When I get a new camera, the strap gets completely ignored and stays in the box. ;) Imo, camera straps just get in the way, I'd much rather use a carry system like a Spyder Holster. I hate worrying about a camera swinging from my neck when I'm trying to be mobile.

I agree, Ryan, Holters are great for walking with. Peak Design do something similar called the Capture. It's great that there are so many different choices out there for us. Thanks fior taking the time to comment.

I use a black rapids sport but with a twist: I have a Kirk base plate with quick connect port. I use a quick connect to link the strap to this base plate. The base plate is never removed (and never missing when I need it) from my camera body. Press a button and pull and the whole strap is removed. This also keeps the strap super light without bulky ends and the camera is always ready for storage in small form without the strap. I have use this setup for about 3 years now with an R5 + 1.4x + 100-500 zoom.

That sounds a great combination, Juan.

"Have you ever had a camera strap become unfastened from the buckle?"

No. I have used neck straps continually for the past 16 years, and have never had one loosen or break. I haven't even had one wear out or fray to the point where replacement was necessary. Doggone things just last and last and last.

"What do you find most convenient?"

I prefer the traditional neck strap, and I use the ones that come with the camera body from the manufacturer. I have tried the Cotton Carrier and I have tried shoulder straps, but what is most comfortable to me for long hours of shooting is just the plain old neck strap and the camera and lens hanging from that around my neck. I feel less muscle fatigue this way, with the weight of the camera hanging from my neck, than I do if the weight is hanging from my shoulder(s). I think I am an outlier in this area, as almost everyone else seems to be more comfortable with the weight on their shoulder(s). I should note that this is only for my 100-400mm lens and smaller lenses ... I do NOT carry my big 600mm or 800mm lenses around my neck (except for very brief walks with the 600mm, like 5 minutes or less).

I have tried a 3rd party strap that had a spot to keep memory cards and a spare battery. I liked that as the little compartments were convenient. Don't know what happened to it, but I must have lost or misplaced it because I forgot all about it until just now reading this article. I really should get another strap like that one.

That's interesting, Tom. Yes, I think the majority of photographers I see use neck straps. I had thought that this was because it was the default option, but clearly not in every case. We all have to do what's right for us.

Memory card and battery pockets on a strap are a boon. I have a velcro-attached zip pocket that I can attach to my strap, or my belt, but having them as an integral part of the strap is a great idea. I don't think it would work with the design of the leash though.

Thanks once again for the great comment.

I have worked in a camera store for 26 years, and have seen some interesting strap attachment techniques, but by far my favorite is the knot tied in the end of the strap.

Ha ha. That made me laugh out loud. I used to teach sailing and we would tie figure-of-eight stopper knots at the end of sheets (ropes) to stop them from slipping through the fairleads, but I had never considered it for a camera strap. When I'm next at a photography show, I will do that with a bit of rope instead of a strap, just to see people's faces! Thanks for that. It made my day.

Right on! I do exactly the same, to have the ending of the strap inside the loop, and not dangling outside.

Thanks for the comment.

When I started, I used a neck strap. I followed the manual for fastening the strap (same as your technique).

Eventually I got a Black Rapid clone when that bandwagon got rolling. Enjoyed it, too. Especially with a 70-200 F/2.8. For me the big limitation was the attachment method. BR has a really bad design, too easy for it to unscrew, the clone I had used a larger pad so was hopefully less mechanically stressful and easier to see if it started to undo.

Now, I use Peak Design solutions. Not because I'm a fanboy, just because they have some good products - Expensive though. Nice to have the 200-600 on a shoulder strap and the 24-105 on a clip. Everything accessible and comfortable.

PD could use some more padding though.

The padding was one thing I was concerned about with the Leash, but it is just okay for my OM-1. It was a friend's birthday last week, and he has similar gear to me, so I bought him the Slide Lite, which is a bit wider. I might upgrade to one of those when I get my new telephoto lens in a couple of months. I have also considered making a padded sleeve to put over the leash. (When I say making it, I mean asking my wife to make it!)

I absolutely agree with what you say about the Black Rapid and the attachment unscrewing. I've used the larger plate as well, but I find they fall apart relatively quickly.

Thanks for commenting.

Binocular straps use the same design to attach straps. Keep that in mind too, if you're a wildlife photographer as well.

Good point!