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Neoprene digital camera strap group test Review

Neoprene digital camera strap group test Review - Camera straps are often overlooked when collecting your kit but it can be very important. Here, Matt Grayson puts three neoprene straps to the test.

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Category : Bags, Cases and Straps
Product : Tamrac Shock Absorber Neoprene Strap
Price : £12
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As well as having your camera ready to hand, it's also important to remain comfortable when you're taking pictures which is why the invention of the neoprene camera strap was a welcome one.
 
Neoprene digital camera strap group test
Lexar Professional Neoprene camera strap.
They initially started off quite expensive, usually costing just under double the price of a normal strap but those days should be gone as they become more popular. Neoprene straps are getting that way because of their comfort and ability to distribute weight across a larger area.
 
Neoprene, originally called duprene, was invented in 1930 by a company called DuPont. Its chemical inertness makes it useful for industrial use as well as being used as a base for adhesives and in noise isolation. Neoprene can also be found in drum practice pads, wheelchair positioning harnesses and has been used in high fashion clothing by designers such as Balenciaga and Vera Wang.
 
In this group test, I've brought together three straps to see which one offers the best performance, build quality and value for money.

Neoprene digital camera strap group test: Specification
Lexar Professional Camera Strap
  • Lightweight, strong and durable.
  • Non-slip material
  • Adjustable strap length
  • Quick release connector
  • $19.99
Tamrac Shock Absorber strap
  • Tough, stretchy rubber
  • Two neoprene memory card holders
  • Quick release buckles
  • £11.99
Jacobs Neoprene strap
  • Curved soft strap to ease that load
  • Comfortable day after day
  • Fits all strap loops
  • £14.99

Neoprene digital camera strap group test: Features
Somehow Lexar managed to improve on the basic design of a strap that has essentially remained the same since it was invented. It features a neck support area made of neoprene with small air pockets on the underside to add cushioning to the neck. The rest of the strap is made of canvas but has the benefit of small quick release connectors to get the camera off the strap without detaching it directly from the camera.
 
Neoprene digital camera strap group test
Tamrac is fitted with two neoprene pouches for storing accessories.
Tamrac have also included the connectors along with two small neoprene pouches for memory cards or batteries. There's more neoprene in the strap area than the Lexar meaning more buoyancy which in my experience does lead to more overall comfort but the Lexar isn't uncomfortable. Of course, more buoyancy could end up swinging the camera around and causing damage to you, itself or someone else.
 
Tamrac don't have as much neoprene in the neck area as the Jacobs strap but it's pipped to the post by only a few millimetres. Jacobs have also provided the shortest of the straps with the Tamrac following closely behind. Ironically the Lexar, despite having the least amount of neoprene, is the longest but they can all be adjusted in length and none should be too short.
 
Tamrac straps are straight in design while Jacobs have added a slight kink and Lexar have gone for a deeper curve. This is designed to go with the contour of your neck although on the straight strap there's no issue with comfort.

ePHOTOzine says: We like the pouches attached to the strap on the Tamrac, it's a good idea. Lexar are the ones that have pushed the boundaries although it comes at a price.

Winner: Lexar
Commendation: Tamrac

Neoprene digital camera strap group test: Build quality
Neoprene digital camera strap group test
Jacobs Neoprene strap.
Neoprene digital camera strap group test
Aircell technology comprises of air pockets to cushion the neck.
Each strap is well built and the leather that attaches the canvas to the neoprene is heavily stitched in the same way on each apart from the Tamrac which uses a D-ring type connection. Tamrac is also the thinnest strap at 38mm with Lexar providing the widest neck coverage at 69mm. Jacobs play piggy-in-the-middle with a width of 45mm.

Looking at individual areas of each strap, the Aircell pockets on the Lexar strap are made of a harder material than I'd expect and make it a little difficult to wear for a long number of hours. On the other hand, Jacobs have gone for a mottled and scratchy rubber finish to the underside which didn't sit all too comfortably after a while with a heavy DSLR attached.

Tamrac have used the same soft material on the outside as the underside and I think that's what's missing with the other two. It feels better on the skin although to be critical, I think they could've rounded off the edges to make them more welcoming to my delicate neck.

The small pouches on the Tamrac are also made of neoprene which means that although they look small, they can expand to fit larger items inside.

ePHOTOzine says: The simplicity of the Tamrac strap wins for us although the idea behind the Lexar is a good one. If they'd used the same material on the underside as the topside, it's be a lot more comfortable.

Winner: Tamrac
Commendation: Lexar

Neoprene digital camera strap group test: Value for money
Before the recession and sterling was worth something, the Lexar Professional strap was around half the listed price because it was bought from the USA site. This has now raised and the strap costs around £13.50 in Sterling using the Reuters currency converter. Bear in mind that this price could change daily as the exchange rates fluctuate and there may be some shipping costs.

Jacobs straps are more expensive than both the Lexar and Tamrac and I'm really surprised. I'd expect more for that price.

ePHOTOzine says: It's a good price from Tamrac as it offers the small pouches and quick release clips as an extra feature for your money.

Winner: Tamrac

Neoprene digital camera strap group test: Verdict
Neoprene digital camera strap group test
Tamrac Shock Absorber Neoprene strap wins the group test.
All three straps offered something that the others didn't so would you go for the features of the Lexar Professional, the pouches and value for money option in the Tamrac or the simplicity of the Jacobs own brand?

I'm surprised the retailer's own brand strap is the most expensive of the three as it offers less in the way of additional features. Sure it has the quick release clips but it lacks the pouches of the Tamrac or the aircell pockets of the Lexar.


As it's the cheapest, offers the buoyancy of the Jacobs and quick release connectors of the Lexar, I'd have to go with the Tamrac Shock Absorber N5055.

Neoprene digital camera strap group test: Plus points
Lexar Professional
Air cushion padding
Quick release clips
Broad neck area
Tamrac Shock Absorber
Soft underside
Best value for money
Extra pockets for accessories
Jacobs Neoprene
Simplicity
Good build for own brand
Curved design

Neoprene digital camera strap group test: Minus points

Lexar Professional
Scratchy material under
Little buoyancy
Tamrac Shock Absorber
Sharp edges can get irritating
Straight design
Jacobs Neoprene
Most expensive
Scratchy material under

Neoprene digital camera strap group test: Results
Lexar Professional
FEATURES

BUILD QUALITY

VALUE FOR MONEY

OVERALL

Tamrac Shock Absorber
FEATURES

BUILD QUALITY

VALUE FOR MONEY

OVERALL

Jacobs Neoprene
FEATURES

BUILD QUALITY

VALUE FOR MONEY

OVERALL


The Lexar Professional Strap costs $19.99 which is around £13.50 using Reuters currency converter. You can get more information here:
Lexar Professional strap

The Tamrac Shock Absorber Neoprene strap N5055 costs £11.99 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Tamrac Shock Absorber Neoprene strap N5055

Jacobs Neoprene strap costs £14.99 and is available from Jacobs stores or online here:
Jacobs Neoprene strap

I purposefully left out the ePHOTOzine neoprene strap in the name of fairness to the test but if you would like to see a cheaper alternative, take a look here:
ePHOTOzine Deluxe Neoprene strap

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Comments


23 Jun 2009 3:40AM
Interesting, but I am happy using the PENTAX strap which came with my *ist DL2, and acquire a Henry's 100 yr one at their recent show in MISSISSAUGA to use once the Pentax dies but they all look cool.

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