Text and photos: Charlene Winfred
The Domke 1" Gripper Strap with Swivel once saved me.
In 2013, not long after arriving in Mexico City, I'd made the mistake of getting into the Metrobus - as the name suggests, a rapid transit system on wheels instead of rails - at rush hour.
It was packed. I'd sardined into the bus with everyone else at the station, back against the doors, with both shoulder bag and camera (the good old X-Pro1) slung across my body to make sure they stayed with me. Arriving at the next station, the doors opened to disgorge the flood of departing bodies and take in a fresh wave of incoming ones. As they were closing, a guy who had been fighting his way to get out darted past, catching me full in a shoulder as he exited.
I started to tip over onto the platform, yelping.
A couple of arms shot out to help. One of them was grabbing for my shoulder but missed and caught the camera strap instead. It held and hauled, stopping my fall in its tracks.
"#^#&*^%#&^%&*" I'd thought as the doors closed where my neck had been before, half suspended by the strap and the good Samaritan hanging on to it. "It's going to snap."
But it didn't. Camera, strap and I were still attached to one another.
Tough strap for a tough camera
A few people have come across my beat up old X-Pro1 and read about the inadvertent torture testing it went through in the years I fell over all the time. I never mentioned the strap I used with it, that I still use today.
I bought this Domke Gripper strap in 2011, a year before I threw my lot in with Fuji and got the X-Pro1. So it started out attached to a Nikon.
In 2011, it cost AUD $23, which included shipping. The price hasn't gone up by much, so it's still incredible value for money.
I've always looked for straps that were tough and grippy without being bulky or flashy. I owned a couple of Domke bags at the time for all my working gear, and loved their unassuming, utilitarian design as much as their bomb-proof robustness. Domke camera straps are made the same way.
Webbing and Swivels: The webbing is made of specially woven strong-as-hell fibre, and its swivels, tougher-than-nail metal. It has borne the weight of an average sized falling human, and is still slinging.
Non-slip: It's slipperier now on smooth fabric, as the non-slip bits have worn over 5 years of use, but one of the things I really liked about this strap when I first got it, was how it was grippy without being sticky. On the underside of the strap, two rows of rubbery non-slip material are woven into the main webbing material, so it sat on my shoulder no matter what I wore, yet didn't pull at my clothing when I lifted the camera to shoot.
The swivel factor: Brilliant. This just does away with tangling. As a bonus, the main webbing can be removed from the camera during video filming to lessen bulk and flap factor, and the harness clipped to tripods / shoulder rigs for a little extra security.
Length: This is a strap long enough to hang from a tall person's shoulder. I wear it at maximum length so that the camera hangs within easy reach of my hand while walking, and so I can sling it across my body out of the way like a shoulder bag when I cycle / climb rocks / do stuff that requires both hands. It's also very handy for winding around my wrist when I'm actively shooting.
The 1" strap suits X-series cameras much better than it does the bulkier DSLRs. This single strap has been on every camera body I've used since 2011, including all of the X-series bodies: X-Pro1, X-E2, X-T1, X-T10, and now the X-Pro2.
It is simply designed, well made and discreet. Like the X-Pro2 it is now attached to, I forget it's there when I'm working as it stays out of the way. I value these qualities in my equipment, so for me, the Domke Gripper with swivel, is still the perfect camera strap.