Tag Archives: accessory

EddyCam Camera Strap Review

Ergonomics. Speed. Megapixels. Focal Length. Aperture. All considerations we photographers make when choosing a camera and lens. All 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

I grant you that’s a tad poetic, but we’ve all been there. Especially in genres of photography that involve a lot of moving around, often with two, sometimes even three cameras, for long periods of time. 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. 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, years ago!). Or the tiredness setting in as the cameras on your shoulder or your neck become uncomfortable and you get sweaty, soaking up your creative energy and turning it into discomfort and fatigue.

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 things like memory card wallets, battery holders, small bags for cables and adapter, 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 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 in cafes.

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, the brains behind the product. It came as no surprise when I later found out that Edlef 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.

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 earlier 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 much 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 natural rubber padding, which is just right as it’s not too fat, 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. 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, 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 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. 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.

DSLR Video Viewing Accessories

Marshall V-LCD50-HDMI,

Zacuto Z-Finder EVF Pro

& Cineroid EVF4L

For all the advantages associated with shooting HD video on DSLR cameras, ergonomics isn’t one of them. While they provide visually rich and cinematic video, DSLRs just don’t have the right form factor for video, especially if you need to “run and gun”. The development of dedicated rigs by the likes of Zacuto and Redrock Micro has made up for some of this, but while they make it easier to use a DSLR without a tripod, they have never been perfect. The main reason is that the rear LCD of the camera is used for viewing, so it has to be placed in front of the user’s eye, ruining the balance and bringing the weight off the right shoulder to the centre, which in turn makes the whole setup a little unsteady for longer takes.

L-R: Zacuto Z-Finder EVF Pro, Cineroid EVF and the Marshall V-LCD50-HDMI, all mounted on a cage and a Canon 5D MkII. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Electronic viewfinders (EVFs) have been developed to compensate for this problem. A small LCD screen with a magnifier loupe that plugs into the HDMI port on a camera, they prove pretty versatile when coupled with a magic arm that can be placed anywhere. This allows the camera to be kept to the right where the rig and load bearing right arm are, and only mount the relatively lightweight EVF in front of the user’s eye.

Having tried this setup with the Zacuto Striker, I am now of the conclusion that you need a bigger rig when you’re shooting with an EVF, using a weighted shoulder section to hold the camera and viewfinder more comfortably. Using a lightweight rig with something like a Z-Finder Pro and standard or wide-angle lens worked, as the finder was part of the camera body and it formed a point of contact allowing for steadier shots. But an EVF is mounted away from the camera so does not add to stability in the same way. However, it does provide for much more intuitive handling, not to mention its uses for low-level work, where the finder can be mounted at a more comfortable height.

Side By Side

For this review I tested two popular EVFs; one from Cineroid, and the other from Zacuto. Physically, the two units are of similar dimensions (with the Cineroid being slightly longer and the Zacuto a little fatter), and both have HDMI passthrough (mini HDMI only on the Cineroid), which can handle additional viewing accessories, such as a Marshall monitor (reviewed below) to be plugged in for a focus puller or a director to use.

Both also have hinged magnifiers that allow them to be flipped out of the way for longer working distances and for use as a mini monitor. And each has a peaking feature that overlays sharp edges and is a superb focusing aid (with red lines an option on the Cineroid), along with zebra settings and a false colour mode, which are both used to judge exposure. The pixel-to-pixel feature on each is especially handy for EOS 7D and 1D Mk IV users as it allows for precise focus check during recording, while on a 5D Mk II it can be used for precise pre-focusing. Lastly, a monochrome feature helps with focusing and judging exposure, and anyone from a broadcast video camera background will welcome this. In addition, both units allow a number of their buttons to be programmed to use common functions needed by the user.

The Cineroid EVF has a built-in speaker and headphone jack, used only for playback, as DSLRs cannot be monitored during recording. For power, the unit comes with an NP-F compatible battery, but can also use official Sony NP-F batteries of differing sizes, and with the PA01 adapter, can be mains powered, or make use of the Canon LP-E6, the same battery found in the EOS 5D Mk II and 7D. It also has a very neat battery cover for smaller batteries.

The Zacuto is available in four identical EVF models with differing magnifier options. The Snap and Flip models come without the magnifier, being ideal for anyone who already has a Z-Finder, while the Z-Finder EVF and Z-Finder EVF Pro come with the Z-Finders included. The Snap model allows the magnifier to be snapped on and off whilst the Flip allows the Z-Finer to be flipped up or down. With the magnifier out the way, the EVF acts a small screen.

For power, it uses Canon’s LP-E6 batteries, which sits securely, but I wish it had a cover to help keep out the elements.

L-R: Zacuto Z-Finder EVF Pro, Cineroid EVF and the Marshall V-LCD50-HDMI, all mounted on a cage and a Canon 5D MkII. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Both these units work well, improving the filmmaking experience on a HDSLR, but there is one clear EVF winner. The Zacuto has a much sharper display with vibrant colours – it makes the picture jump out. Part of this is down to the superb Z-Finder magnifier, which allows quicker focusing and is more comfortable on the eyes. It’s also better built with superior accessories.

The Alternative

Another option is to use an external field monitor. Traditionally these come in seven-inch screen formats, but Marshall, the leader in this field, recently launched a five-inch version that is better suited to HDSLR filmmakers.

The V-LCD50-HDMI is small and light enough to be used like an EVF, and can be easily mounted onto a rig (a larger shoulder rig that is weighted would provide the best comfort and balance). The unit comes with a hood so it can even be used outdoors in bright light, although probably not as effectively as an EVF with an eyecup magnifier, but can be used with more accuracy from a distance.

Its feature set is rather impressive; a backlit LED screen delivers up a sharp and vivid picture, and it has a peaking feature that allows for precise and fast focusing by firstly turning the image monochrome and then drawing on red lines where the image is in focus. It’s a little odd to use at first, but proves to be a great tool once you get used to the system. The monitor also has the false colours feature for setting correct exposure that turns the image into a range of different colours; with pink and green showing correct exposure, various tones of red, over-exposure, and blues, under-exposure. The unit also has various colour temperature settings as well as markers.

The only connector is HDMI, so it is aimed firmly at the HDSLR market. For power, it uses four AA batteries, coming with a set of rechargeable AAs and charger. The Marshall is rather power hungry, so thankfully there is also a mains adapter for when shooting indoors. Along with a hood, the kit also comes with an HDMI cable and a ball head hotshoe mounting foot.

I used the unit while making a fundraising film for the Royal national Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore. We had an interview scene inside an operating theatre with a surgeon, and it allowed for a very quick set up, helping precisely set up lights and props within the frame. A huge bonus this screen has over an EVF is that a director or client can also see what is being filmed, which in certain circumstances is an absolute must.

But it has one major flaw – it’s power switch. Unlike other Marshall monitors, the five-inch version uses a rear-mounted rocker switch that can very easily be switched on by accident (when being stored, it’s essential to remove it’s batteries). I also feel that Marshall has missed a trick by not powering the unit using the Canon LP-E6 battery designed for the EOS 5D Mk II (SEE BELOW).

Despite these shortcomings, the Marshall V-LCD50-HDMI would still be my choice over an EVF.

Addendum

I have just been contacted by Marshall with some rather good news; they have recently (after this article was written) launched a set of battery adapters (Click the Optional Battery Adapters tab). This makes the 5″ Marshall V-LCD50-HDMI much more usable and leads me to recommend it even more highly.

An optional battery plate. Photo: ©Marshall USA