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A quality leather camera strap is a timeless photography accessory. If you’ve ever owned a perfectly worn-in leather jacket or pair of boots, you understand why for some photographers a leather camera strap is the only option. Leather is a durable and flexible material that softens as it ages and will last for decades. Many photographers find a leather strap to be more comfortable during a long day of shooting than the camera straps that come with their gear. A leather strap also offers a level of refinement, making it a great option when shooting during weddings or other high-profile black-tie events. Looking to upgrade? Here are some things to consider before making your purchase.
- Best simple leather camera strap: TETHER’s Leather Camera Strap
- Best leather harness for two cameras: HoldFast Gear Money Maker Water Buffalo Leather
- Best braided leather camera strap: Vi Vante Ultime Blackout; Black on Black Braided
- Best leather camera wrist strap: Ruth&Boaz Full Grain Leather Camera Strap
- Best budget leather camera strap: LeaTure Wide Camera Neck Shoulder Strap
Are leather camera straps really more comfortable?
Although every photographer has a different preference when it comes to strap comfort, a high-quality leather option is one of the best camera accessories that you can get for yourself. Some photographers might gawk at the price of a leather camera strap, but keep in mind that leather is a premium material and that is reflected in the overall price of strap.
Although a leather strap might feel stiff when it first arrives, give it a little time. The more you shoot with one, the more it will conform to the curves of your shoulders to create an incredibly comfortable shooting experience. Unlike straps made of other materials, these will actually start to look better as they age. Plus you can keep your strap looking nice by applying conditioner to it, just as you might with a pair of leather boots.
Ultimately a good camera strap should help feel good on your shoulders while carrying your photography gear around for a full day, but also keep your camera safe from accidental drops and falls.
Things to consider when shopping for a new strap
The most important considerations when shopping for a camera strap are the camera you intend to carry with the strap, the quality of leather, and your price range.
Leather camera harnesses are particularly popular with event photographers and photojournalists who need to carry two bodies when they shoot. A leather camera harness goes over both your shoulders and fits like a vest with no back. It’s a popular material for this style of camera strap because of the way it conforms to the curves of your body over time. A camera harness designed to carry two cameras will typically be more expensive than a strap designed to carry only one. But if you are lugging around two bodies to your shoots, we’re guessing you already understand that good camera gear is an investment.
There are also plenty of simple options designed to hold a single camera that come in a variety of colors, styles, and thicknesses. There are also small wrist straps that work best with compact cameras.
When shopping for a strap, pay attention to the quality of the leather. Full-grain or top-grain leather is typically considered top-of-the-line. This style of leather is taken from the top layer of the animal’s hide. It’s known for its strength and durability and is often used to create premium leather products. Genuine leather, meanwhile, is made from any layer of the hide and is a popular choice for making lower-cost leather goods. Finally, bonded material is made from a mixture of leather scraps and polyurethane. It’s a lot more flexible than full-grain and typically much cheaper.
Best simple leather strap: TETHER’s Leather Camera Strap
This adjustable genuine strap has a suede backing for extra comfort and is designed to work with DSLRs or mirrorless cameras. The metal rings that attach to your camera body are protected by a little leather flap to help prevent scratches to the exterior of your camera. Because it’s made of genuine leather, this strap will become more supple and comfortable as it ages. This is a quality strap that won’t break the bank.
Best leather harness for two cameras: HoldFast Gear Money Maker Water Buffalo Leather
HoldFast Gear has been making quality leather camera straps for a long time, and the HoldFast Money Maker is one of their most popular products. The X-style pattern across the back of this harness evenly distributes the weight of two large camera bodies for a comfortable day of shooting, no matter how long you’re on your feet. The strap is made of thick water buffalo hide and features rust-resistant stainless-steel hardware that attaches to the bottom of your cameras. For extra peace of mind, the HoldFast harness features two safety straps for keeping your cameras secure during your shoot.
Best braided leather camera strap: Vi Vante Ultime Blackout; Black on Black Braided
If you’ve got a luxurious camera, you might as well attach an equally luxurious strap to it. Vi Vante’s black braided Italian top-grain product is just the thing. Consider attaching this strap to your favorite vintage Leica. This 47-inch-long strap is hand-braided and features a flat interior for added comfort. The strap attaches to your camera body with two electroplated gunmetal mounting rings. If you enjoy the finer things in life, this is the strap for you.
Best leather camera wrist strap: Ruth&Boaz Full Grain Leather Camera Strap
A leather camera wrist strap can be a great low-cost option if you’re primarily shooting with a compact camera. This adjustable option is made of full-grain leather and connects to the camera via a closed loop. The wrist strap includes a protective leather O-ring strap to avoid scratching your camera. The strap is 0.79 inches wide, with an adjustable length of between 9.84 and 11.8 inches. The loop size for your wrist opens to a max of 5.9 inches. If you’re the kind of shooter who doesn’t like your camera to leave your hand, this is a comfortable and quality option.
Best budget leather camera strap: LeaTure Wide Camera Neck Shoulder Strap
This simple, affordable strap is made of genuine leather, but lacks some of the more advanced comfort and hardware features found in the other straps in this list. In many ways, this strap is like a leather version of the strap that likely came with your camera body. It connects to your camera lugs using nylon straps and secures with a small piece of plastic. It doesn’t have the refined look of some of the other straps in this list, but for under $20 it certainly isn’t a bad looking strap.
Q: How do you attach a strap to your camera?
Camera straps are either attached through the lugs on the sides of your camera or into the tripod plate on the bottom of your camera. Straps like HoldFast use metal anchoring devices to screw into the tripod plate, while many premium camera straps will use metal rings that look through the camera lugs. Lower-cost straps typically attach through a combination of nylon and plastic.
Q: How wide are camera straps?
Camera straps come in a variety of widths. Choosing the right width for you has a lot to do with your anatomy and the amount of camera equipment you’re carrying. If you’re shooting with a big DSLR camera, you’ll likely benefit from a wider strap to distribute weight across your shoulders. If you’re shooting with a more compact mirrorless setup, a thinner strap will do just fine.
Q: Are leather camera straps comfortable?
Although a premium leather strap may be stiff when you first buy it, over time it will conform to the shape of your body and the leather will soften. A quality material camera strap is a camera accessory that will be with you for a long time, and one of the few pieces of camera gear that gets better with age.
Our final thoughts
Like any piece of camera equipment, a quality leather camera strap is an investment. Spending a lot of money on a strap will likely pay off in the long run as the strap conforms to your body. A good leather strap will last a lot longer than one made of nylon and will certainly be more comfortable with the one that came stock with your camera body. Treat yourself to one today.