It’s a small thing. But I didn’t like the DSLR-style slot lugs when I first held the Leica SL in 2015. I still don’t, although the fact that they are no longer recessed on the SL2, as they were on the original model, is some comfort because the strap is slightly easier to thread.
Nevertheless, this is just my opinion and I know that many people prefer the added security of the slotted lug and that it is probably better for heavier cameras. I still feel more comfortable with the traditional camera lug, as we know from our M rangefinders in particular.
But, sadly, none of these straps would fit the SL. For my taste, Panasonic with the S1 and S1R did the right thing by sticking with the traditional lug as found on Leica’s M, Q and other models. If the old lug is strong enough to work with the Panasonics, presumably it is strong enough for the SLs.
Where to go for an SL strap that fits in with your rangefinder prejudices? For the past few months since the SL2 came into my life, I’ve been using the Leica-supplied strap which came in the box. As these things go, it isn’t bad and it does have a comfortable shoulder pad. However, as with all such straps, it tends to tangle and I am forever straightening it.
We now have a few alternatives from the Rock & Roll stable and the great panjandrum, Evris Papanikolas, has kindly sent three straps for review.
Back in SL days, I got my hands on one of Rock & Roll’s original straps for slot lug. They were a bit fiddly to attach but, once in place, worked well. I liked the link design straps since they help make the camera feel just a tad lighter and have a broad enough profile to avoid pressure on the neck.
Now, to celebrate the arrival of the SL2, the team at Rock & Roll has come up with an entirely new fastening mechanism that is both neater and easier to install. Two of the three examples follow the popular leather link design while the third is based on a double rope, a style which some other manufacturers have already adopted.
The SL and SL2 are both relatively heavy cameras at around 900g, but none of the Leica SL lenses is light. In fact, you have to go elsewhere — to Sigma — for the lightest full-frame automatic L lens, the excellent 45mm f/2.8 Contemporary. Most of the time, though, you need good support for an SL rig which, typically, will weigh over 1.5kg and, in most cases, nearer to 2kg. That means a strap broad enough to spread the load.
All three of these straps meet requirements and perform admirably. All fit the original SL as well as the SL2.
RnR SL2 Limited Edition
This is the original Rock & Roll which gave its name to the company. I’m a great admirer of the leather-linked design and I do like it in black. The triple red link inserts create a very distinctive impression, ideally suited to a Leica camera. It’s the red link to go with the red dot.
I know from past experience with this strap, both in the original SL version and in the M fixing, that it does an excellent job of spreading the weight. And the links imbue a certain springiness which, strange to say, has a subjective impact in lightening the load of the camera. The 28mm width is just right, in my view, avoiding too much bulk but ensuring a comfortable fit over the shoulder or around the neck.
All in all, this is a benchmark Leica SL strap, combining comfort, excellent workmanship and fine leather.
The review example of the Hendrix strap comes in cigar brown in a distressed leather which is reminiscent of the tradition brown cases and straps for early Leicas. It is functionally identical to the RnR, above, and has the same method of camera attachment.
I think the brown goes well with the SL or SL2 and offers a contrast which I find very attractive. It’s very much a case of you-pays-your-money-and-you-takes-your-choice — the quality and functionality are the same, it’s just a question of what colour and leather finish suits you.
Rock & Roll Snake Twins SL2
Rock & Roll were among the first strap manufacturers to use climbing rope for camera straps. It was first used by the company for the Komboloi wrist strap. The use of this strong but flexible material has become popular to complement small and medium cameras. Last week I reviewed two Rock & Roll straps based on a single rope and designed to be used with the M, Q and, even, the compacts in the range.
The SL, being considerably heavier, isn’t suited to a single rope strap. So Rock & Roll has introduced a doubled-up version, the Snake Twins, especially for the SL and SL2. The all-black review strap looks magnificent on the SL2 and, for those who habitually dislike manufacturers’ standard straps on principle, it provides a very compelling alternative. It’s also a bit cheaper than the leather straps.
The new fixing mechanism
The new end fixing is similar in concept to those on the straps we see on camera bags such as those from Billingham — a metal post with an adjustable leather tongue which threads through the camera’s slotted lug. There are two holes, giving an opportunity to lengthen the strap by a modest 30mm.
R&R’s older SL design used a series of slots on the end of the strap through which any spare leather could be threaded to avoid having a loose end (something which afflicts most original-equipment camera straps). It was effective, but a royal pain to install, somewhat akin to threading a needle.
Now we have a much simpler and very effective fixing mechanism which involves pushing one of the two adjustment holes over a small metal post and then pulling down to seat the post firmly in the slot accompanying the hole. This is a familiar mechanism seen on Billingham bags, although in miniature. There are two leather loops on the strap at either end and the strap must be threaded through them before fixing. I found this needed some patience. It helps to use pointed electricians’ pliers to grab and pull the end of the strap through the loops.
Once on, though, the strap fixing is very secure and I cannot imagine it coming loose and jettisoning the camera. The only a drawback is if you intend to change straps frequently to match the colour of your day’s outfit. I prefer to stick to the black strap.
It’s a hard call. I find all three comfortable and very practical. The workmanship is excellent and all of them exude quality. I could live with any of them. On balance, though, I prefer the leather link straps over the rope design, if only for cosmetic reasons. And the choice between the black/red and brown is simply a matter of personal preference. Both look great and do the same job, but I’ve chosen the black with the three red link inserts. It’s just right for the SL2.
- RocknRoll in black/red leather: €130 for 100cm, €150 for 125cm.
- Hendrix in cigar brown: As above
- Snake Twins, €75 for the standard 100cm length, €95 for 125cm
An advantage of Rock & Roll straps is that they can be made in custom lengths to suit almost anyone. The standard strap measures 100cm and there is an alternative 125cm length for an extra €20. You can choose custom lengths — from 90cm to 150cm at an extra cost of €20 or €30, depending on choice. If you are ordering from within the European Union, 19% VAT will be added to the above prices.
All images supplied by Rock & Roll straps