Chestnut Bridle Leather Money Maker Luxury Leather Multi Camera Strap by Hold Fast
Well, where do I start - I couldn’t be more impressed - simply cannot fault this one bit. What an amazingly well thought out, solid, comfortable and stylish bit of kit this is.
I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a dual camera harness for a long time now and was always put off by a number of factors - would they keep my gear safe, would they give me the confidence to let my cameras drop safe in the knowledge that they’re not gonna hit the floor and smash in to their component parts, at the same time, making me, the so called professional, look like a right tool. Then there’s the look of these things. Some make you look like a cop from an american 80’s film, packing heat - and that’s just not a cool look - even if you are wearing reflective Rayban Aviators. Then there’s the apparent promises that some manufacturers claim, yet when you look in to the fine detail, it really does make you wonder how they can say and make such promises. Would you seriously connect a camera with a multi thousand pound lens on to a plastic clip and expect it to all hang together? No, of course you wouldn’t. Then there’s the hip based solutions, that really, are for girls (sorry, but they are) - I’ve seen lasses wearing these and they look great, sit well, and probably do a great job. On a bloke, they look like ‘bum-bags’ - something outlawed in this country - but is still a practice carried out by bohemian men in the darker reaches of Europe - not sure about the rest of the planet - but, they make a man look ridiculous. My other issue with hip based camera holsters is that when you take the camera off the clip, it’s at risk of being dropped, it’s disconnected from anything apart from your hand holding it. I can’t say that anyone would be comfortable with that.
Then I stumbled across Hold Fast Gear. What a discovery!
Firstly, a bit about me, which I’m sure will ring true with many other photographers… I’m not getting any younger and a day out with two bodies can be extremely fatiguing, causing aches and pains the day after. If you use straps and want both cameras at hand, the straps get the way and make you look like a buck-toothed mongoose having a fight with some black snake, and they’re forever slipping around and sliding from your shoulder - you have to be aware of where they are and you spend a lot of your day pulling the straps up making sure they’re safe - doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a time waster and not something you want to have to think about. Even if you use one camera at a time and have an assistant to hold your second body, there’s still that faff of exchanging during which time there’s that risk that gravity might come along a bite you in the ass and send one of the bodies south to an early grave.
I chatted with Holdfast on FaceBook Messenger and asked a few key questions and I have to say, their responses where top notch. I also asked where in the UK would be the best place to purchase their products and they came back with rigu.co.uk (more about that later). There’s massive selection of straps/harnesses to choose from, I decided I liked the look of the Chestnut Leather. I’ll say at this point that these things are NOT cheap - they are hand made, the quality is just stunning and the build quality is second to none. Trust me on this, for a dual camera harness - look no further, I mean it. It’ll be money well spent, and you’ll think that the first time you wear it and use it properly on a job.
I got in touch with rigu.co.uk, again using FaceBook Messenger to confirm stock situation etc and after a couple of brief (but very helpful) chats, I ordered the harness. Arrived the next day.
Upon opening the package, my first thought was, blimey, this thing is heavy, that’s what I’m trying to avoid! It comes in a very trendy cream cotton bag with lace ties - but oh, the joy when you take this thing out of the bag and see it dangling there in all its glory. Shiny. That smell. The feel of it. It was over my head and on in seconds with two cameras dangling down quite happily. It’s also clearly designed to last, there’s definitely a bit of over-engineering going on, but I like that, I’d rather have something stronger than would ever been needed - the clip that attaches the camera mount to the strap itself it proper heavy metal, there is no way that’s gonna snap, ever. So easy to setup and attach the camera to (tripod mount) - it also (and this is what I mean about well thought out design) has a secondary strap that attaches to the cameras strap clip so that if the main support fails for whatever reason, your camera will be saved by the backup strap. How cool is that. You really do feel, almost instantly, that your gear is safe. Makes you smile. As for the weight - it’s lost on the way it sits on your shoulders and back - you hardly know you’ve got it on it’s that comfortable. They only thing you have to be aware of, but it is rather obvious, is to take care not to smack your bodies and/or lenses on door frames, you have to do a sort of sideways shuffle or, just reach down, grab your cameras and just push them behind your back.
Then you worry if you look like a tool. You do not. You look great. You don’t see hardly anything at the front apart from the straps around your shoulders, at the back, the cross design with those brilliantly oversized buckles and studs looks ace. You can wear a jacket or coat over the top of it and your cameras are just as easily accessible to use. Just brilliant. I should also say, Hold Fast do a slim version of the straps for ladies - the straps really are quite bulky on this one, but it just adds to the overall comfort factor it gives you.
Using your camera is a breeze, grab it, slide it towards your face and take a photo - the strap that attaches your camera to the harness is even long enough to turn your camera in to portrait mode, even with a grip - again, well thought out design. When you’re done, just lower your camera back down to your side and forget about it.
A final word about rigu.co.uk - they’re a very small company based in Cumbria and run by a top bloke called Andrew Bowness. Very helpful and let’s be honest, we’re all small, so let’s look after each other! Have a look at both of their websites at www.holdfastgear.com and rigu.co.uk.