When I reviewed the Barton Braidy, a great wrist strap, I pointed out that I am not a fan of neck straps.
This week, however, I have had the opportunity to try out Barton’s Braided Style neck strap. The pretext was the arrival of the Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 Macro lens with its Channel-Tunnel sized hood. It’s a surprisingly large hood for a surprisingly small lens. As a result it adds quite a bit to to the bulk of the camera; so I thought that a full strap might be more secure than the wrist Braidy.
One of the main problems with neck straps is their tendency to get tangled. This results in frequent unravelling operations which put me in mind of sorting out the cable on a pair of earphones. It’s something you don’t want to do every time you pick up the camera.
The Barton Braided Style is the first strap I have found that doesn’t suffer from twisting. It can’t because the heavy braided leather square section is solid and untangleable.
I also have Leica’s popular bog-standard strap. While this is a vast improvement on the sort of universal strap that comes in the box with your DSLR or prosumer point-and-shoot, it still tangles. It does have good split-ring attachments with a clever way of protecting the camera. But it tangles and twists and I don’t like that.
With a fixed, non-adjustable length of 105 cm (41.3in) the Braided Style is very comfortable for over-the-shoulder slinging. It is a bit tight when worn cross-shoulder (as I prefer) but it still works well, enabling the camera to be brought up to the eye quickly. There is no shoulder pad because it isn’t needed, so the pad is not always slipping off the shoulder when you want to use the camera. The relatively short length of this strap could be a problem if you are well built and wish to sling it cross-shoulder. I am medium build and it works well for me. In fact, I’d say it is just right, especially when wearing non-bulky clothing.
Because of of the braided-leather construction there is a small amount of give which translates to a very useful springiness . This makes the strap very comfortable to wear, although I haven’t tried it with a big DSLR. A camera and lens in the 750g-1000g range is perfect for the Barton.
The Barton straps are best used on cameras with lugs, such as the Leica and the Fuji X-series. The keyring-style attachment isn’t compatible with cameras having slots for a flat strap. This includes many entry-level DSLRs. The strap has two leather flaps to separate the attachment rings from the camera body so there is no danger of metal-on-metal damage. The strap is also very secure; there are no adjustments, so nothing to come undone, and the attachment rings are heavy duty. This is one strap that won’t let your camera drop.
I bought the pitch black colour because the lustrous finish nicely complements the shiny black surface of the Fuji X-Pro. If you are adventurous, Barton also makes the strap in dark brown, dark blue, light brown, rosy red, dark purple and russet. I fancy a red one next time round; it would also look great on a black camera.
The Barton Braided Style strap is without doubt the best camera strap for a medium sized camera I have ever used. No wonder it is so popular among Leica owners. Indeed, the only place in London that stocks the range appears to be Leica specialist Red Dot Cameras in Old Street, where I got mine.
As camera straps go, this is expensive at £55 but it is built for keeps and will almost certainly improve with age, as do most leather products.