If you own a camera, chances are pretty high that you own a strap (on your camera) and a case to put your camera away in.
Here are some tips to get more out of your straps, cases, and wraps.
Now I just mentioned wraps. What are “wraps” you ask? I use one brand and there may be others, but the wrap I use is called the Always-On(R)
It fastens into the tripod mount hole on the bottom of my camera and then wraps around the camera and fastens with Velcro. I am never putting my camera back into a case because it is protected by the wrap. I can be comfortable having it hanging from my shoulder because it is not exposed or prone to damage. Yet it is extremely accessible to me to get a quick shot because all I have to do is pull the Velcro and unwrap it and in 2 seconds I am shooting. From fully stowed to shooting in 2 seconds! Now that is handy and I never miss a shot any more. I highly recommend the Always-On brand product. You can see more at their website at goalwayson.com .
You can also get these at B&H Photo Video that is the place where I buy all of my camera gear.
I use the XL version for my Canon G-series cameras. Smaller versions are available for the smaller point-and-shoot cameras. I recommend this wrap for any point-and-shoot camera with a retractable lens.
Moving on to straps. Your camera probably came with a strap of some kind. If it works for you then good. Keep it. If not, here is a suggestion.
For a dSLR I would recommend the Black Rapid camera slings. I have the RS-7 on my Canon dSLR now and although it takes some getting used to (5 minutes tops), it is by far the handiest strap I have ever used. Basically what it does is replace that strap that came with the camera that made the camera hang on your chest with the lens straight forward. This kind of neck strap is awful. It hangs all the weight of the camera and lens from around your neck. My neck hurt after using my dSLR and I started not wanting to carry the bulky thing out in public because a) I didn’t want to look like that guy with the camera sticking out of his chest and b) I didn’t want the neck ache afterward.
The RS-7 camera sling fixes that by attaching to the tripod mount of your camera, and providing a sling that puts the weight of the camera on your shoulders and not your neck. The camera then hangs by your side with the lens facing rearward. When ready to shoot, you simply bring up the camera and shoot. One advantage I immediately saw was that the camera lens hangs rear-facing and when walking it is less-prone to damage because it is not facing the direction you are moving. Picture yourself walking through the woods, branches and brush going by, with your lens facing rearward. It is protected. In the traditional strap your lens would be facing forward at mid-chest or stomach level, and prone to hit whatever you would be walking through.
The Black Rapid website at blackrapid.com has some good videos that show you how easy their sling system works. It is worth every penny (about $80).
The drawback to the RS-7 sling, and I can think of only one minor one, is that the sling connects to the tripod mount on your camera, so if you plan to use your tripod much, you will be taking the sling off to do it. But, in a way that is a good thing as I have had some shots ruined by the camera strap when using a tripod. In any case, it is a minor inconvenience at the most to remove the sling. A few twists of a thumbscrew and it is off.
For a point-and-shoot camera, I would say stick with your manufacturer strap if it works for you. However, there are some more comfortable straps out there. If your camera will be hanging from around your neck most of the time then I would look at getting the most comfortable strap you can find. I replaced my manufacturer’s strap on my Canon G-series camera with an Op/Tech brand strap that promised to make the camera feel 50% lighter. It does! Through a wider, more comfortable neck section it distributes the weight better and really relieves the neck strain I had with the manufacturer’s version. The model I used was called the “classic,” works just fine, and costs around $20.
Cases are going to be where your camera and accessories are stored almost all of the time when you’re not actively using them. You want one that is big enough but not too big that you won’t take it with you when you travel. I carry a dSLR with 3 lenses, and my point-and-shoot Canon G-series model whenever I am going out to shoot serious photos. I have an Ape Case-brand case (model #ACPRO1200) that holds all of that plus the accessories and I keep my cameras in there at all times. I’ve traveled to Hawaii with it and it stows under the seat as carry-on baggage. I can store all of my memory cards, batteries, filters, lenses, cameras, manuals, GPS, notepads, pens, and other accessories in this one case. It has a nice shoulder strap that lets me carry it with ease.
The inside is bright yellow that lets you see all of your accessories. There’s nothing worse than a camera bag that has black interior because guess what, most of your camera gear is also black, making it nearly impossible to see what you are trying to find. This case rectifies that with a bright interior and I have never had problems seeing inside my case even in low light or near darkness. I highly recommend the Ape Case. You can see more on their website at apecase.com or can buy them through B&H.
I’ve also used a Case Logic-brand case for my smaller camera when I want to only take it out and I don’t plan on using the big dSLR. This one is easier to carry because it is not so large. I’ve also taken this one on trips as it holds my Canon G-series camera and other point-and-shoot cameras, and is much easier to lug around than my big bag with the dSLR. My advice here is to find one that fits your smaller camera(s), holds your batteries and memory cards, and just fits these items. Don’t have a bag that is too large or else you will shy away from bringing it at all and as a consequence, you’ll miss some shots. And it’s all about getting the shots, right? Right.
Of course with cases and straps of any kind, you want rugged and durable while offering the best protection for your gear. The examples I’ve given here are all of that and more. My best advice overall is to get something that works for you by keeping in mind that it should be about practicality and having something that allows you more freedom to shoot and use your camera. If you keep that in mind, you won’t go wrong!