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A DIY Camera Sling

February 16, 2010

One of the more elusive, yet necessary, tools for photographers is the camera strap. These can vary from the the simple neck strap that comes with pretty much every camera (wrist straps for the point and shoots, neck straps for the heavier SLRs).

Neck straps are pretty much all you really need. The camera just lays there in front of you and you’re free to move your hands about but sometimes that camera can just get in the way. Enter the camera sling.

The sling allows for the camera to be placed at your hip instead of in front of you. This is particularly freeing. For a while I’ve been eyeing the Black Rapid R-Straps but haven’t been able to pull the trigger on buying one. Then came the Luma Loop, another, simpler camera strap.

The concept was simple, a camera strap around your torso, instead of your neck and a loose connector to let the camera slide back and forth on the strap, and then the quick release buckle so you can disconnect the camera in a snap.

An article popped up on Lifehacker about making your own camera sling shortly after the Luma Loop was released. It seemed simple enough. Buy a strap and few accessories and you’d have your own camera sling for a fraction of the cost. It was after this that I decided to make my own.

Introducing my DIY camera sling:

What I’ve done with this design is to make it attachable to the neck strap you’re given with your camera. I used the neck strap from my Nikon kit. It was perfectly comfortable and not as bulky as the padded ones everyone seems to want. I’m not carrying 50 lbs of equipment so I don’t really feel any strain carrying my camera. The neck strap simply loops into d-rings on the ends of the adjustable sling I created. I then looped the excess material back through the d-ring a few times and tied it off so it’s not in the way. On some slings there would be a buckle somewhere on the sling so it’s easy to get on and off. I didn’t want one for the sole purpose of preventing it from accidentally falling off. You never know when you space out and accidentally unbuckle it or a kid you’re holding gets interested in it and then your camera ends up on the ground. No thanks, no buckle for me; not there anyway.

The main sling is adjustable and is finished off with another d-ring. This d-ring has two purposes. First, it prevents the strap from slipping back out of the strap adjuster. Second, it provides a nice strong connection point for a pull-apart keyring (more on that later).

The connected to the sling is a swivel snap hook. This allows the camera to spin freely and not get twisted up. If somehow you get the camera twisted up enough the slider just starts twisting the sling strap and it will get stuck. I don’t anticipate that happening to many people but I like the feature.

In hindsight I would probably replace most of the pieces with metal instead of plastic, but hey, this is version pre-alpha, right?

The camera connector part has another d-ring, a parachute buckle for quick release and a thin rope to connect to your camera. I connect it directly to the camera’s strap mount but you can connect it to whatever you want on the camera. I use the mount on the right side of the camera in my setup. This makes the hand grip easily accessible when the camera is hanging to my side. This brings me to the pull-apart keyring.

My rig before this was my Nikon strap connected to a pull-apart keyring. The other part of the keyring was connected to my camera via a leather wrist strap that screwed into the tripod mount of my camera. It was extremely sturdy and I trusted it. That rig, for the price conscious, was about $1 altogether. I already had the wrist strap (you can connect to a strap mount as well) and just needed the keyring.

Well, for this rig, I placed the keyring on the loose end of the sling. This provides a secondary connection point for my camera. Why do I want this? I go on a lot of photo-walks and having the camera to my side is fine albeit for the fact that it swings around, a lot leaving me walking with one hand on my camera almost all the time. I’m not taking pictures every second so I like to secure my camera while I’m walking between shoots which is where the keyring comes in. When I’m done with my shoot, I bring the camera up and pop in the keyring and the camera hangs right in front of me. I don’t have to worry that my camera may accidentally swing into something like a tree or a brick wall, I can also see at a glance if anything is wrong, like a cap or a whole lens falling off, not that it happens much, but some people may worry.

Most of the items I used to make this sling you can pick up from your local fabric store. Just look in the belting section. The keyring you can pick up at most stores, even the gas station on the corner. Total cost for all the materials was in the $10-$15 range, not including the time to sew everything together. Oh, and don’t forget a match or a lighter for melting the freshly cut ends of your nylon strap so it doesn’t come undone.

Well, I hope someone finds this informative. If you have any questions let me know.

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