Panasonic’s new S1, the counterpart to the Leica SL, is not a light camera. But then neither is the SL. When you need to carry the porkier type of camera, though, it pays dividends to use a strap which has a bit of a spring in its step.
The superbly crafted linked leather straps from Rock n’ Roll do a magnificent job of lightening the load of any camera. The ingenious way in which the individual leather links are joined ensures that the entire strap acts like a well-damped spring. Evris Papanikolas of Rock n’ Roll sent me a selection of his linked straps, including the one shown in the photograph which is originally designed for the Leica M10 – hence the trademark red section against the jet-black mainstream. I’ve been using them over the past three years on a wide variety of cameras and have never found them wanting.
Give and take
Putting a spring in your strap is no new things. Give and take is a well-rehearsed artifice which serves to (subjectively) lighten a load. Call it an illusion, but it works for me. For instance, I am a great fan of Tom Bihn’s bags which originate in Seattle. Tom is well known in the tech world and his travel gear and messenger bags have something of a cult following. But Tom’s greatest accessory is the Absolute Shoulder Strap which sells for a relatively modest $30. It fits most Tom Bihn bags, including my favourite day messenger, the Ristretto, and my carry-on luggage, the Empire Builder. The elasticated shoulder pad on this strap is wide and giving; it allows any bag to sway gently up and down in order to avoid the jolts that always come with holding a heavy bag. Many is the time I’ve said a silent prayer to Tom as I’ve struggled through airports with the Empire Builder, loaded with computers, cameras and travel gubbins.
Rock n’ Roll straps adopt the same principle, although rather than using an elasticated insert, the entire length of the strap is stretchable thanks to the design of the individual links.
I have to say that they have a more elegant looking solution than Tom Bihn. The workmanship is superb and this strap complements the S1 perfectly. Of course, its use depends on the traditional strap lugs which are part of Panasonic’s design choice. I much prefer them to the DSLR-style metal slot as used on the SL. For that, you need a special Rock n’ Roll strap which threads through the slot. It isn’t as neat, nor as attractive as the split-ring strap you can use on the Panasonic.
While this strap isn’t suited to smaller cameras such as the CL or D-Lux 7 because it is just too bulky, it works well on the M and even the Q. On the S1 it is absolutely perfect and totally transforms the experience of toting such a heavy camera (XXXg). In the picture the S1 is wearing a Leica 50mm Noctilux, adding up to a total of xxxg. The combo definitely feels less because of the design of the strap.
Choice and cost
The Rock n’ Roll leather linked straps typically cost €120 for the 100cm length or €130 for the 125cm version, which is preferable if you are intending to carry a camera cross-shoulder. Whichever you choose, they are a joy to behold and a delight to handle. And if you fancy a more