Photo Gear | How To Carry It All | Exploration
One aspect of photography that can be easily overlooked is how you carry your equipment with you. It is easy for this to be an afterthought because how you carry your equipment isn’t directly related to how you make a photograph. It may not have a direct impact on how you make your photographs, but it certainly impacts where, when, and if you make photographs.
If you don’t have equipment for carrying your camera and gear that suits your needs you simply won’t take as many photographs. Photography will be more difficult and it will be less enjoyable. Then you won’t want to do it. This is the opposite of what I want for you. I want you to make as many photographs as you want. So to this end I am going to talk a little about what I use to transport my camera gear.
Basic Camera Carry
Most often when you buy a camera they come with a camera strap you can use to carry your camera when you are walking around. This type of camera strap attaches to either side of the camera. You then loop the strap over your neck and the camera body hangs down in front of you.
This can be an acceptable way to carry a camera. But, I think it only works well with small and light weight cameras. I also think it only works well for short periods of time.
In my personal experience using this type of strap just doesn’t work well. Even more padded or more forgiving camera straps that you can buy separately are less than ideal. For me carrying my camera with a strap around my neck and the camera hanging in front of my chest was always uncomfortable. I often experienced neck pain and the strain and pressure on my neck often gave me headaches. Who is going to go out and create photos if they have to endure that every time?
Positioning Camera Straps
I’ve tried using standard style camera straps like those but just not putting them around my neck. I’ve tried to just drape it over one shoulder. That at least eliminates the neck pain, but it isn’t very secure. The camera strap can easily slide off your shoulder and then if you are anything like me your most prized possession falls to the ground.
I’ve tried to use the traditional style of camera straps where I have slung the camera strap over one shoulder and across my body so the camera rests against the opposite side of my body. This method can work ok, but it can be cumbersome. It also would likely require something a little more than just the standard camera strap that comes with the camera. The camera strap needs to be long enough to reach across your body and also allow for freedom of movement when using the camera.
How to Carry Multiple Cameras
However, once I had acquired more than one camera body I found that I preferred to carry more than one camera with me at a time. I like to have the ability to photograph multiple subjects at one time because I have a short attention span and get bored easily. I like to always have a subject available to photograph.
In order to have multiple cameras available I found myself trying to carry two camera bodies using two separate camera straps. I would do this using the cross body camera strap method. This meant that one camera strap had to lay on top of the other. The camera straps would cross over across my chest forming an “X” with one on top of the other. So, one camera would be more difficult to use because it would have restricted movement because the strap from the other camera would be holding down its strap.
Working this way meant for me deciding what subject I was my primary goal on any given trip and making sure the strap for that camera was on top. I want the camera I’m using for my primary subject on top because it will be the easiest to aces and move around and work with. Most of the time that meant the camera with my longest lens attached was on top because that would be my wildlife photography lens. When photographing wildlife a matter of moments can make all the difference and there is no time to be messing around with crisscrossed camera straps.
What I have found that works best for me right now are the Black Rapid Straps. I utilize the double strap version of the Black Rapid Straps. This option allows me to carry two cameras at once, but can also be used as single camera straps if I am only going to carry one camera.
The Black Rapid Straps are the most comfortable option I have used to date and I have been using them for a while now. Each individual camera strap connects to your camera by screwing into the tripod socket on the base of your camera. This is much better than the way traditional camera straps connect at the top. This allows the camera to hang down at your side facing down and your hand can rest right on the camera grip.
Then all you have to do is raise the camera up to take a photograph. The strap is set up so that the connection point for the camera slides along the length of the strap, instead of twisting the whole strap as you move the camera. There are also adjustable “brakes” that you can slide along the length of the camera strap to lock the camera in place at a given point on the strap.
Black Rapid Double
The double strap version works by connecting two separate straps together into one smoothly functioning unit. Each individual strap sits draped over one shoulder. Then there are connection points on each strap. One connection point reaches across your chest and connects the two straps. The other connection point reaches across your back and connects the two straps there. So the system forms the shape of an “H” on your chest and on your back. It does not create the cumbersome tangle of an “X” that I talked about previously.
Each camera body has its own completely free strap. And Each camera can move without restriction, unless you choose to apply the brakes. Both cameras hang low by your hip. The camera is right by your hand. Ready to go into action.
This configuration is also very comfortable. The weight of the cameras is evenly distributed over your shoulders and across your chest and back. Each strap is also padded where it hangs over your shoulders.
It is great to have a system that is great for carrying two cameras and equally as good when just using one. If I am not using two cameras on any given outing I can simply take the one camera body and leave whichever side of the double strap system is attached to it already on it. Each single side of the Black Rapid Straps double strap system works perfectly as a single camera strap that you can wear over your shoulder and across your body. It functions just the same in this configuration.
The Black Rapid Straps are the best thing I have found for myself. There are other options for carrying your cameras when out shooting. Some look like they have potential. Some might be the best option for other photographers who have different needs or styles than I do.
Carry an Extra Bag
Having small camera bag over shoulder to carry small cameras and equipment while carrying other large cameras is one way to maximize what I carry. Sometimes if I want to shoot a variety of different types of images while I am out I will set up my Black Rapid Strap with 2 camera bodies on them and then I will also carry a small camera bag over my shoulder that has my two small mirrorless cameras and GoPro cameras in it. Then I will take those out as needed.
One way I really like to create photography is by taking a camera with me when I run. This has been the biggest challenge to figure out how to make it happen. There are not any good traditional ways to carry a camera while running that I have found.
I’ve been able to make this work by adaptation. I added the mirrorless cameras to my collection of gear. The reason I wanted them was specifically for this reason. And then these smaller cameras can be paired with some running equipment to be able to carry them.
What I have been using to make this work is running gear that is traditionally used for long runs. I use running vest or packs to carry my camera. The tricky part about that is I have to search for packs that have a pocket that is large enough to fit my camera in. I have been able to find a few different packs that have worked for this so far.
This is not an ideal system but it has been working so far. But being able to carry my camera with me in this manner has opened up a whole new way to approach both running and photography for me.
I started writing this post in 2020. As of now these are still the gear options I use for carrying my camera. But I have just found some new gear to try out that I think I am going to love. So, there might be an update to the section regarding the tools I currently use to carry my cameras in the near future.
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