Tag Archives: accessories

EddyCam Camera Strap Review

Ergonomics. Speed. Megapixels. Focal Length. Aperture. All considerations we photographers make when choosing a camera and lens. All very important considerations, of course.

Then out in the field or in our studio, we put our carefully chosen equipment to the task of helping us create the photographs we envisage, either by observation of the world around us or from the creative concepts within. You reach for your camera at that critical moment, as the juxtaposition of life becomes perfect or your model gets into their groove, yet is slips off your shoulder, you fumble, get a grip, raise it to your eye and that fleeting moment has disappeared and you’ve missed your picture.

EddyCam Edition 35mm in cognac brown camera strap with natural contrast seams, on my Leica M10-D, Leica brown leather protector case and Leica 50mm Noctilux ASPH. London, UK. July 18, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

If you’ve never worked as a photojournalist, wedding photographer, street photographer and so on, that may seem like a tad of poetic license, but anyone working in a genre which requires fast reactions, especially when working with multiple cameras, has been there. Especially in these genres of photography that involve a lot of moving around, often with two, sometimes even three cameras, for long periods of time. As mentioned, photojournalists, wedding photographers, street photographers, to name a few disciplines, will all know this feeling; cameras that slip off your shoulder not only become very frustrating, they do make you miss a picture. Sometimes as a journalist, you find yourself running (either towards a breaking story or away from an unfolding danger) and cameras which slip off the shoulder aren’t only frustrating, but will slow you down as you need to keep adjusting.

The thousands you spent and the days you agonised over camera and lens choice, don’t reach their potential as the camera slipped when you reached for it. Or as you’re running around a corner during a speedy walk about by a politician in a rush to get back to his office and away from his constituents, and the camera slips off your shoulder and pendulum actions itself into a brick wall (something I’ve personally ‘enjoyed’ doing, many years ago!). Or the tiredness setting in as the cameras on your shoulder or your neck become uncomfortable and you get sweaty, the fatigue and discomfort soaking up your creative energy and stamina for working.

EddyCam Edition 35mm in cognac brown camera strap with natural contrast seams, on my Leica M10-D, Leica brown leather protector case and Leica 50mm Noctilux ASPH. The leather end pieces and the nylon connection straps are sewn five times with special thread, which guarantees a high tensile strength. London, UK. July 18, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

All of this is down to one simple choice. Your camera strap. It’s the simple accessories we spend less time considering that can make our lives easier, more comfortable and fruitful, or frustrating, fatiguing and non-productive. Simple accessories like memory card wallets, battery holders, small bags for cables and adapters, and of course, camera straps.

I have to admit of never really looking at EddyCam before. I had noticed the company on my periphery, but as I had discovered UpStraps more than a decade ago, I wasn’t really interested in other camera straps. UpStraps gripped my shoulder like nothing before. Ugly, inelegant but absolutely practical, with a big chunk of rubber. Very uncomfortable on the bare neck though, but this had been my choice, along with my colleagues’, for a long, long time.

On assignment with the EddyCam Edition 35mm on my Leica M10-D. I hadn’t yet got the Edition 50mm Shoulder straps for my Lumix cameras yet and they’re still on UpStraps. Edmond Terakopian on assignment, covering the clapping for carers, in appreciation of the nurses, doctors and staff at the NHS during the COVID 19 pandemic lockdown. Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Fulham Road, London, UK. May 28, 2020. Photo: Jeff Moore

Purely through an exploration based on aesthetics, I started to have a look around online, for a new strap to compliment my Leica M10-D. I’d got a very elegant and practical Leica leather half case, in brown, and wanted to see if I could find a nice brown leather strap for it. The huge issue being that it had to be practical. It basically needed to stay put on my shoulder, be comfortable on my neck and the fashionista in me also wanted it to look good with my Leica combination. I had previously, years before, been through the fashionable and unpractical straps made by various purveyors of beautiful, yet unpractical straps. Google and YouTube then brought me to EddyCam.

Leica M10-D with 50mm Noctilux ASPH in a leather Leica half case and cognac Eddycam Edition 35mm leather camera strap. London, UK. June 29, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

When I saw the Edition 35mm cognac brown version, it seemed to tick all the boxes. Strangely, the first thing that immediately caught my eye and made me look at the strap as a serious contender, was the double X pattern stichting on the leather end pieces, which connect the main elk leather strap to the webbing. This was craftsmanship and manufacturing which was clearly made to last, and made for real use. There are so many beautiful straps with a couple of stitches or eyelet connectors, that make me wince in horror at the thought of them coming undone and my camera crashing to the ground whilst on assignment. This however, was properly designed, for heavy use in the field, by photographers who want to use their cameras as opposed to photograph their cameras on cafe tables.

I also liked the notion of an un-padded leather strap, which meant it would be soft, easily wrapped around the wrist and comfortable in use. The shape of it also showed that it should stay comfortably on the shoulder. The website stated “The patented lines, created together with orthopaedists, are so formed that you can easily carry it on your shoulder, around your neck or diagonally”.

The Edition 35mm In Use

I’m pleased to say, the orthopaedists clearly knew their stuff as did Edlef Wienen (Eddy), the brains behind the product. It came as no surprise when I later found out that Eddy is a very keen photographer of decades and also an avid hiker. I’ve found when something is conceived and created from passion and experience, it truly rises to a different level.

I have to admit to never having been aware of elk skin, so when I read the EddyCam straps are made from this, it did make me ponder. The company’s website states “Elk-skin is one of the thickest leathers there is – very sturdy and almost indestructible. At the same time, almost no other leather is as fine and soft as elk-skin”. It does seem a contradictory reality, but after receiving the Edition 35mm, it clearly is so. Extremely soft, but very tough too. The contrast stitching and two tones of leather, along with the high end webbing straps, which still remain malleable, even down to the coated and rounded stainless steel clips, just ooze quality.

Packed for my next assignment. Lumix S1 and S1R with Lumix S Pro 16-35 f4.0, 24-70mm f2.8 and 70-200mm f4.0 in a MindShift PhotoCross 15 backpack. Leica M10-D with a 50mm Noctilux ASPH and 35mm Summilux ASPH FLE in a ThinkTank Photo Retrospective 5 shoulder bag. All cameras on Eddycam straps. London, UK. June 10, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

One wonderful aspect of the strap is also a little bit of elasticity, which translates into more comfort when worn. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t bounce, but it gives it a little of suspension by stretching roughly an extra 2cm along it’s entire length. A Leica M10-D is a small camera, but it’s solid, so weigh’s more than one assumes. Add a Leica 50mm Noctilux ASPH and you’ve got some heft. I’ve found wearing this combination either around my neck or on my shoulder, has been supremely comfortable and crucially, non slip too. I’ve walked the streets for hours, when documenting the COVID 19 lockdown, or photographed clapping for carers outside a London hospital, working inside a church when services resumed and always found my camera stayed on my shoulder, remaining comfortable. When worn around my neck, against bare skin, it also always remained extremely comfortable.

It’s one thing making a beautiful and elegant strap; it’s a totally different thing making a strap which is practical and usable in real life scenarios. EddyCam has managed to combine both these things. In a career spanning 31 years, I’ve never found any strap which achieves both these qualities.

The Shoulder Range

I was so impressed by the Edition 35mm for my Leica, that I started looking further into the entire range. I wanted a strap for my Lumix S1 and S1R. When on assignment I’ll often work with two cameras. One with a Lumix S Pro 70-200mm and the other with either a Lumix S Pro 24-70mm or 16-35mm, depending on the assignment. My search led me to the Edition 50mm black on black Shoulder version.

EddyCam Edition 50mm, black on black Shoulder version camera strap, on my Lumix S1R and Lumix S Pro 70-200mm f2.8. London, UK. July 18, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The bigger and heavier S Series needed a slightly wider strap to spread the load more as well as a little padding. The materials on this edition differ slightly too; Finnish elk skin on the outside and Mongolian yak leather on the inside. The yak leather brings even more grip. As a result, it’s not as soft as the elk leather, but certainly not abrasive either, nor as uncomfortable as rubber against the skin, so whilst the S Series cameras usually reside hung on my shoulders, around the neck things didn’t become uncomfortable. One could also of course flip the strap over for a softer feel.

Hours spent on assignment, indoors, outdoors, worn on top of various materials of shirts and jackets, all resulted in one universal outcome; comfort and grip. The camera just stays put. The strap grips very well indeed, is extremely comfortable and just wide enough without being too wide, so easily packs away in a camera bag.

EddyCam Edition 50mm, black on black Shoulder version camera strap, on my Lumix S1R and Lumix S Pro 70-200mm f2.8. The leather end pieces and the nylon connection straps are sewn five times with special thread, which guarantees a high tensile strength. London, UK. July 18, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

I had one reservation before getting the 50mm shoulder version though. As the straps are ergonomically shaped, my worry was that it may not work with my camera mounted with a 70-200mm. With longer lenses, I often turn the camera so the prism is pointing inwards (always on my left side so the shutter isn’t accidentally pressed when it rests on my side). This way the longer lens points downwards rather than outwards, which makes moving around easier and the lens is less prone to bash into things or people. The yak underside has so much grip though, that to my joy, I found the strap works on either shoulder, regardless of the direction it’s facing (although a little better when carried properly as the ergonomic curve helps it rest better). Also, the benefit of having elk on the top side means that if you want to carry your camera diagonally across your body, you can twist the strap so the elk side is in contact with you, meaning you can comfortable slide the camera from your side, to your front and shoot. As before, there’s a tiny bit of elasticity in the strap; it’s much less than the Edition 35mm, but does move a tiny bit, around 1cm along it’s entire length, giving you a little bit of suspension. Lastly, the internal natural rubber padding, which is just right as it’s not too thick, makes the strap sit extremely comfortably, even with a heavier professional body and longer lens, even for extended periods of time.

I also got another strap from the shoulder range, an Edition 35mm black on black Shoulder version for my Lumix GX9. This is identical in size and shape to the Edition 35mm cognac brown version, but has the yak leather on the underside for that extra grip, but lacks the rubber padding of the wider Shoulder versions. I really liked using this version of the strap too and my observations on its performance are as above.

EddyCam Edition 35mm, black on black Shoulder version camera strap, on my Lumix GX9 and Leica DG Summilux 15mm lens. London, UK. July 18, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Value

We get the “free” included camera straps in the box with our cameras. Often with bright branding, that from a distance screams “photographer here”. Often with little comfort and very little grip. We also have a range of truly awful straps on the market from various manufacturers, which should be avoided at all costs. There are also several other manufacturers which make a range of straps extending from beautiful to practical. These qualities being mutually exclusive though.

EddyCam is the only manufacturer which I’ve used which has practical elegance, seemingly as an unspoken ethos. It goes further though. Absolutely comfortable, supremely grippy and phenomenally well made. Every aspect, from design, thoughtful choice of materials and production, means this is a first rate product. This is manufacturing at it’s best, realising the concept of design through practical experience and expertise in the field.

Looking at the market, the pricing is nearer the top end. The question is though, is it expensive, or is it good value for money? Having used these straps on assignment and personal work, for over two months, I’m absolutely certain that there isn’t a better camera strap for my needs. I’m also certain that these straps will last for decades. Through several camera changes, easily.

I used to use Nikon burgundy (with yellow stitching) wide camera straps back in the days of film. These were expensive, but lasted many camera changes and I still have them on my Nikon FM2 and F3, over 25 years after purchase. I’ve also used the same UpStraps for well over a decade. Comparing these two straps with my EddyCam straps, I’m absolutely certain the EddyCam straps are the best made and thus will easily outlast them.

When you make this realisation, the cost of the straps becomes extremely good value. In the heat of the moment though, when you reach for your camera and it slips from your shoulder, making you fumble and end up missing that picture, that’s when you will wish you bought that EddyCam.

Zacuto Striker & Z-Finder Review

Photographer and film maker Edmond Terakopian using a Canon 5D MkII, Zacuto Striker and Z-Finder Pro x2.5, Think Tank Photo Wired Up 10 bag, Zoom H4-n and Rode NTG-3 mic The wedding of Sheleen and Ben. August 28, 2010. Photo: Jeff Ascough

No one can deny the revolution that was started by Canon when it launched the 5D MkII. It certainly is a great stills camera but it was the quality of the video which stunned the world of video; everyone from the film student to the Hollywood studio.

There are some shortcomings of DSLRs for video though. The form factor being one. The image quality though is so stunning that most film makers are willing to make compromises in order to harness this unbelievable quality. To help overcome the form factor and make it easier to use the camera when handheld (or ‘run and gun’ to borrow a phrase by TV cameramen), several companies are making rigs to allow the camera to be held in a more conventional way, resembling the way a video camera is traditionally held. The two main companies making these rigs are Zacuto and Redrock Micro, with their ranges starting with minimalist hand held rigs, all the way to full on shoulder mounted and cinema rigs with follow focus units and balancing weights.

Part of the challenge for me was to find a rig that packed quite small yet gave maximum support. It needed to fit into my main work as a photojournalist yet feel at home on a short film set. After a lot of research and trying out equipment at trade shows, I had a long chat with Dave Beck at the Flash Centre and finally settled on the new Zacuto Striker as probably the ideal solution and a long term road test began in July.

Another shortcoming of these DSLRs is that the rear LCD screen is used when shooting video, making it awkward to check for focus on the fly or the checking of fine detail; these problems get even worse in bright conditions. The answer is to use a finder which attaches to the rear LCD. Zacuto are by far the leaders in this field. Their original Z-Finders required a frame to be stuck to the back of the camera and the finder attached to this. The new finders, the Z-Finder Jr and Z-Finder Pro, attach onto a frame which is held in place by a plate which screws into the tripod bush. I personally welcome this new adhesive free method as it overcomes many of the associated problems.

The Z-Finders

At £214.42 (inc VAT), the Z-Finder Jr is cheaper than the Z-Finder Pro which comes in x2.5 and x3 magnification versions, costing £326.75 (inc VAT). The main differences are the way the finder is held to the camera, with the Jr using a metal plate with a prong to clasp the eyepiece hood. This plate then needs either a tripod plate or a Gorilla Baseplate (not supplied) to attach itself to the camera. The Pro versions come with a Gorilla Baseplate which fits to the camera and then has two bushes for attaching the frame, with thumbscrews, to the back of the camera. The hood then snaps onto this frame. Whereas the Jr version is a more fiddly affair to attach and remove, the Pro versions simply snap on and off when needed. This is a huge feature in the field, especially when needing to switch to using the camera’s eyepiece for stills photography.

I found the Jr finder’s optics to be absolutely fine, but the Pro’s are better still and have a very neat focusing ring allowing you to tailor it perfectly to your eyesight. The Pro version also has an anti fogging eyepiece which is extremely useful.

Photographer and film maker Edmond Terakopian using a Canon 5D MkII, Zacuto Striker and Z-Finder Pro x2.5, Think Tank Photo Wired Up 10 bag, Zoom H4-n and Rode NTG-3 mic The wedding of Sheleen and Ben. August 28, 2010. Photo: Jeff Ascough

The Striker

I must admit that the first time I saw the prices for Zacuto gear I was shocked.  On the face of it (forgetting R&D for a moment), these rigs are just bits of hollow piping with a few locking mounts, a plate, handles and so on. What becomes immediately apparent though is just how solid these locking mounts are. The last thing you need is for your camera gear to loosen and wobble around or at worst crash to the floor whilst filming. Having seen less well manufactured rigs, it became obvious why Zacuto charges the way it does; it’s an extremely well engineered product.

Road Tests

I took this kit onto the filmset for a short film by Samuela Memmo (Sten & Stef Films) which we shot over four solid days. The filming was indoors, with some outdoor work, balcony shots looking down and even some shots inside a cramped car. The four days certainly gave the gear a proper workout. Although the majority of the shots were locked on a Gitzo tripod, the Striker really helped me use a second camera and do additional footage which enriched the film.

I didn’t once find a need to tighten any of the mounting clamps and the Striker worked perfectly. I wasn’t as happy with the Z-Finder Jr which had a tendency to move around when placed down in between shots. This led me to swap it out for the Z-Finder Pro x2.5.

There have been reports about the x3 magnifying the screen a little too much to the point that one can see pixels; these reports helped me in my choice of the x2.5 version which works perfectly. The mounting method is so much better than the Jr and this point alone is worth the extra money.

The next full-on outing for the setup was a wedding I filmed along with legendary wedding photographer Jeff Ascough. The compact nature of the rig meant that we could work very quickly and cover the entire day without issue. Shots were rock solid and the gear allowed for smooth working.

In Conclusion

On the Striker I changed the positioning of the downward handle, moving this from the side to directly under the camera; this makes things better balanced and even allows one handed operation.

The Canon 5D MkII opened my eyes to the possibilities of video; the Zacuto Striker and Z-Finder Pro have given me the ability to explore these possibilities even further. For any kind of hand held shooting, a rig is absolutely essential. My choice is definitely the Zacuto Striker.