The best camera straps do more than just prevent your camera from falling at your feet, although it’s important that they do that as well. A third party camera strap goes some way toward preventing theft, by not advertising the brand of camera you’re carrying to the world.
They need to be strong too, so they won’t snap when lightly tugged upon. The material they’re made out of matters, because you want to look good, and if lugging something heavy like a DSLR with a telephoto zoom you’ll want one wide enough that it doesn’t cut into your neck, and designed not to fold for the same reason. Sling straps, which go over the shoulder rather than around the neck, are popular for this reason. Wedding photographers may appreciate a harness that allows the carrying of two camera bodies and distributes their weight across the shoulders at the cost of looking ever so slightly like a heavily armed undercover police officer.
Finally, the way the strap attaches to your camera matters. Most bodies have two lugs near the top corners for a strap to attach, and usually this involves a kind of dexterity puzzle where you thread the thin end of the strap back on itself through a plastic clip. Having a spring-loaded metal clip on the end of the strap is another option, but the problem with al quick-release solutions is that they’re potentially quick for thieves to release too.
Best camera strap overall
It’s a funny thing to open the box for something as pedestrian as a camera strap and actually say, “hey, this is really nice”, but that’s what happened when we unboxed the Slide Lite. It’s the only strap on test that sells itself as being suitable for mirrorless cameras, but really all the straps on test here can be fitted to both mirrorless and DSLR bodies, as the fitting lugs and tripod screws are standard.
The Slide Lite can act as both a neck strap and sling strap. It connects to the camera body’s side strap lugs with clever quick-release connectors. A spare set of these is included in the packaging, along with a crying case, and a metal plate that screws into your camera or lens’ tripod mount with an (also included) hex key. Attach the spare quick-release clips to the metal plate and screw it in, and you can switch between neck strap and sling strap with ease, or use the same strap across two bodies.
There's a lot to like about this strap. From the material to the packaging to the way the length-adjustment clips work it feels premium, and you’d hope so for the price. The Slide Lite takes things up a level compared to the other straps on test. The only possible complaint is that it’s not particularly wide.
Best for security
The upmarket version of the sling strap from the company that claims to have invented it, this has almost all the same features as the Amazon Basics model below, but it's a bit nicer. Take the padded part of the strap - it’s longer, and has holes in it to allow air down to your shoulder below. It has a few more clips, allowing it to be taken off more easily, and the one that attaches the strap to the camera’s tripod port has a secondary locking mechanism that should make it even less likely to come undone unintentionally.
Made of black neoprene and strong black nylon straps (other colors are available as the Sport-X), the Black Rapid is ever so slightly longer than the Amazon Basics sling, meaning it’s easier to put over your head. Combine this with the extra size of the padded area and the much nicer clips, and it’s clear this is a cut above. Whether this is enough to justify the gulf in pricing between the two, is entirely up to you.
Best double camera strap
Sold as Ztowoto but branded Focus, and looking rather like two sling straps joined together, this harness allows the carrying of two camera bodies like a gunslinger. It’s ideal for working wedding or press photographers, meaning you can have a standard zoom and a telephoto available at all times without having to worry about changing lenses or getting straps tangled around your neck.
A clip fastens behind your back and another is optional at the front. The weight is carried on your shoulders while your cameras dangle at your sides, and is the closest thing to wearing a bra that ≈50% of the population will probably ever know. Unlike the finest lingerie, however, this is made of solid neoprene with padded shoulder straps and with secure hooks that attach to plates screwed into the tripod screw of your camera body or lens foot. Additional security comes in the form of straps that thread into the strap lug on your camera body, and everything is adjustable for a better fit. There's even a lens cleaning cloth included in the package.
Best leather strap
Looking rather like a belt, if belts had a padded section in the middle and overly complex ends, the MegaGear leather camera strap is just that: a leather strap. It’s nicely stitched around the edges, will fit on almost all camera models, and is extremely strong.
Those complicated ends look worse than they are. No guidance is provided in the packet, but you’ll soon work out that what you’re looking at are attachments for different kinds of lugs on the camera body. There are split rings to be threaded over your camera’s attachments, a leather tag with a hole in it, and the whole thing comes undone with a buckle on the strap so you can thread it through your camera’s strap attachment points. This last one is probably the best, and most secure, way of doing it, and forms a strong strap that doesn’t come off easily.
The thinner strap ends are attached to the wider main body of the strap using metal rings, and it's a perfectly comfortable strap to wear around your neck. We wish, however, that it was longer. There's a degree of adjustability built in due to the design of the thinner parts of the strap, but you won’t get much extra length out of it, and as such it’s better worn around the neck than over the shoulder.
Best budget option
A sling strap is designed to be worn across the body, and has a short padded area that takes the weight. Rather than attaching to the usual strap lugs on your camera body, it has a quarter-inch screw that screws into the tripod mount on your camera or your lens’s tripod foot, if it’s equipped with one. Using the tripod foot means you’re not putting as much strain on the camera’s lens mount, which while strong can fail if enough force is applied by a heavy lens.
A secondary strap attaches to one camera strap lug on the camera body to add an extra layer of security, and there's a zip-up pocket on the padded section that is just big enough for some memory cards (two SD-sized plastic holders are provided) and maybe a spare battery. Otherwise, it’s as basic as the name suggests, but strong and fairly well made. We liked the spring-loaded clip used to attach the strap to the plate that screws into the tripod thread, but were less keen on the thread itself, which slid around too much while being attached. It’s also comfortable to wear for long periods, supporting a telephoto zoom by its tripod foot well and making it easier to juggle two camera bodies.
Best for bino and camera users
About as basic as you can get, this is a strip of 3/8-inch foam material attached to thinner nylon ends with attachments for your camera. There's nothing else to it, even eschewing the multiple-attachment approach and even quick-release catches - though these are available separately.
That said, it’s certainly more comfortable to wear around your neck than some of the straps that come bundled with camera bodies. The thicker part has good stretch, and while it’s not really long enough to go over your shoulder, it can be worn around the neck for long periods.