My camera collection has been growing steadily over the years, but it’s been expanding even faster during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Online shopping therapy keeps me sane while I’m cooped up at home, and with easy access to eBay and other auction sites my GAS – photographers jokingly call their addiction gear acquisition syndrome – has been running overtime. I think I’ve tripled the number of cameras in my collection in a year, mostly buying analog film cameras.
This GAS comes with a first-world problem: you need a good way to carry each of those cameras. But quality straps cost a lot of money, for good reason. If you’re using an expensive camera, the last thing you want is for it to plummet to its death when the strap’s cheap fabric tears or a plastic connector snaps. For example, I have a custom-made leather strap for my Leica M3. It’s made of strong leather, waxed thread, and metal connectors – perfectly sized to my height so the camera rests comfortably when worn cross-body. But as much as I like it, I don’t want to spend $50 on a strap like that for each and every one of my cameras.
Last year, I found this simple solution: the Peak Design strap system. Peak Design straps come with these solid, metal quick-connectors on their ends. To mount the strap to your camera, you use these connectors to securely lock in little plastic anchors that are attached with wire loops to your camera-body. When you want to shoot with a different camera, you can detach the strap from the anchors and easily swap it onto the next body. The advantage is obvious: instead of getting a new strap every time you acquire a new camera, you just grab a new pack of anchors. So rather than buying tons of straps, now I only need one!
Peak Design’s strap line-up features three different long strap designs and two types of short straps. While doing some desk research and looking at a lot of YouTube review videos, I’ve come to the conclusion that their larger Slide and Slide Lite straps both look very nice. But they are meant for far heavier cameras than those I’m buying a strap for. Right now I just need something to mainly carry smaller cameras like a rangefinder, medium folder, or TLR comfortably and safely. You use the Slide and Clutch straps for more substantial cameras, like DSLRs.
That’s why I picked up the versatile Peak Design Leash camera strap which can be configured as a sling, neck, or shoulder strap. And because the combination came highly recommended, I also picked up their Cuff wrist strap along with a few extra sets of Anchor links. Because the Peak Design Leash and Cuff use the same anchors, this set lets you switch between a long strap and a short strap on-the-go.
After about 6 months of use, I can definitely say that this was the right choice for me. The Anchor links aren’t super cheap, but when you’ve bought a few packs it still beats paying full-price on a quality strap for every camera. The use of seatbelt-style fabric with leather trim and aluminum hardware is a hallmark of both the Peak Design Leash and Cuff straps. In general, they feel like high-quality products with excellent craftsmanship. The adjusters are easy to slide up and down the strap with the tips of your fingers. The connectors are not very elegant, which may be an issue for those who prioritize aesthetics in their gear, but they feel solid and strong. And the anchors slide in easily yet securely, and won’t accidentally slip back out. It’s a system that someone has obviously put a lot of thought in,
In the field, the Leash works great as a cross-body sling strap – which is how I like to wear my cameras. It doesn’t glide as smoothly as true sling straps, like those in the Blackrapid series, but the smooth surface of the Leash strap does slip over your clothing easily. When I want a more stealthy or active shooting approach, I simply replace it with a Cuff on the right-hand side anchor of my camera and keep it in hand.
The Cuff’s fabric is comfortable around my wrist and doesn’t ever feel rough or abrasive when the loop is tightened. If you’re not actively using your Cuff you can use a magnet in the strap to hold the quick-connector and keep it from dangling. Switching straps is fast and easy, so I tend to keep both the Leash and Cuff in my photography bag and just drop in whatever cameras I’m planning on shooting that day.
I’ve now put anchors on basically every camera that I shoot regularly. But not all cameras are as easy to fit with anchors as others, which depends mainly on the size of the strap lugs on the body. On my Leica M3 the lugs are designed for metal rings, and it’s hard to push the anchor’s wire loops through the tiny lugholes. In fact, I needed to use one of those metal SIM-eject tools that come with your iPhone to push the wire loop through the lug. This feels a bit risky, as any damage to the wire means the anchor could break away from your camera. But it doesn’t seem to have had a bad influence on the anchors to be fitted this way.
Next up were my dad’s old Polaroid SX-70 and the Polaroid 670 AF box camera. They were actually extremely easy to fit anchors to, with big lugs and easily removable stock straps. This is the experience you want to have with your cameras, really – slip the wire through the lug, insert the plastic anchor into the loop and pull tight. I wish all my cameras worked like this!
Another instant camera in my collection is the modified Instax Wide camera. I don’t think anyone really uses a strap on their normal Instax cameras, as most are seen as casual fun-cams. But my modified Wide uses a heavy, professional Mamiya Press lens, which doubles the camera’s weight and makes it very front-heavy. Using the Leash on this camera definitely made it more comfortable to carry around.
Just like with the Leica, the Rolleiflex 2.8D is a bit harder to fit the anchors on. Rollei uses a proprietary strap design with scissor-lugs that fit into thin rectangular slots on each side of the TLR camera. The slots are thinner than the anchor’s wire, which means I forced the wire loop in with a SIM-eject tool again. Because of the lug shape, the anchors also slide around a bit while in use which can be distracting. Some kind of scissor-lug to eye-lug adapter would be preferable, but I don’t know of any for the Rolleiflex cameras.
My Zeiss Nettar 517/16 folding camera actually turned out not to have any lugs for the anchors at all. The idea of using the Leash on it was dead in the water, but I still had another option: the strap comes with a single tripod anchor mount. This screws into the screw hole on the bottom of the Nettar that you can attach an anchor to. The Pentax Auto 110 Super, on the other hand, has a single strap lug on the right-hand side that takes an anchor. I can’t use the Leash with either camera, because it needs two anchors, but the Cuff works perfectly on both.
On a lark, I also ended up trying the Leash on a far heavier camera. My Hasselblad 500 EL/M is a big, heavy medium-format studio camera that usually lives on a tripod. Just like the Rolleiflex, the Hasselblad uses proprietary lugs that make it hard to fit the Peak anchors. Instead, I used metal strap adapters from eBay that I could slip the anchors into. Normally, a wire loop through a rectangular slot like this would slip, making it uncomfortable to wear. But by pulling the loop tight on the adapter itself, instead of directly over the wires, you can actually make a very stable strap connector for the Leash.
It’s a bit wonky, but not impossible to carry the Hasselblad 500 EL/M like this. At the same time, it’s not very comfortable, mostly due to the weight. I suppose this is where Peak’s bigger Slide line of straps would definitely come into their own. I ended up moving the adapters to my Hasselblad 500 C/M model, which is a lot lighter than its bigger EL/M brother.
I’ve even fitted my iPhone XS with an anchor. Not directly, as the phone has no lugs, but with a Moment Walnut phone case that has a plastic eye for the anchor. During vacations, I often worry that accidentally dropping my phone would send it hurtling down the side of a building or a cliff. But with the Cuff mounted, I can safely shoot with my iPhone in any precarious location! The Moment case has another eye on the other side, so theoretically I could fit two anchors and use the Leash on it. But that does seem like overkill for now.
As you can see, I’m basically all-in on the Peak Design strap system. Six months down the line I’m still very happy with the result and use the straps regularly when I go out shooting. Not every camera is a perfect fit for the anchors, but I still manage to get them mounted one way or another. And almost every camera can use both the Peak Design Leash and the Cuff strap, which makes it a versatile combination. Though I suppose I won’t be carrying the Hasselblad from my wrist anytime soon. Either way, the system gets a glowing recommendation from me!