Can a camera strap really make a difference in the way we shoot or is it merely just a utilitarian accessory? That's what I'm asking myself at this very moment. When my eBay-sourced OM-1 arrived from Japan, it came with the original decades old rotting-vinyl smelling neck strap. It was a few inches too short and when wrapped around the wrist, the vinyl just didn't have the elasticity it used to.
When I went to Hong Kong this year I decided to spring for a quality strap. At first I wanted to get something local since the camera culture in Hong Kong rivals that of Japan's and found a company called Annie Barton 1972. Only problem was their studio was no longer public and their sales became internet-based. I figured the next best place to find a decent strap was to check out Camera Film Photo. I was heading there anyway to pick up some rolls for my month-long stay in the Philippines so I might as well make the most of the visit.
To my luck Vish was there and we wound up chatting for a decent amount of time. Film, lenses, the culture, you name it. When I told him I was looking for a strap he suggested Cura. Cura is a name I've heard before. I've seen it once before on Japan Camera Hunter's blog. Originating in the Kanto region, Cura straps are made of silk using the same centuries old weaving techniques that strapped together the armor of Samurai. The rings are stainless steel and have been polished to eliminate rough edges. The strap I have in particular isn't made of silk, though. Called the STS-100 or Silky Touch, It's made of wallet-friendly nylon, but the quality and feel is top notch. The gussets and bump pads are Italian leather. As the name suggests, it is smooth to the touch. Imagine the average seatbelt of a car, only not irritating to the skin and slimmed down in width. Only what you're imagining doesn't even come close to the supple texture of this strap. Made in Japan, man.
I've had the strap attached to my OM-1 for about a month now. The soft malleability of the nylon material was so good out of the box, no "break-in" period was necessary. At 105cm it's just long enough to wear across your torso like a sling, assuming you don't have a portly stature. Wearing it around the neck as intended works too. I'm a size 48 Euro when it comes to jackets and the camera sits just above my belt line. Speaking of cameras, if you have a big heavy DSLR or medium format this isn't the strap for you. If you are a 35mm shooter whether it be SLR or rangefinder aiming to complete the period look, this is the ideal strap. Mirrorless shooters are welcome as well. Going back to the question I had proposed, can a strap really make a difference? Perhaps the difference I was looking for was more for superficial reasons. A strap is a strap after all. But to make a camera more personal, there are only so many ways we can do that. While I was in Hong Kong, I noticed there was an emerging culture in customizing or personalizing Leica's to the owner's tastes, as though the camera itself were a blank canvas. It's almost obvious once you wrap your head around it. Photography is an art, a form of self expression. The way some people talk about cameras, gushing over genius works of industrial design and all around good looks people end up buying the same camera. I suppose it's one way of trying to be unique. I never thought of going so far as to paint my camera. I'd rather see the patina accumulate. Having a unique strap however, different story. It's like having flashy socks when wearing a suit. Nobody's gonna notice your efforts unless they're really paying attention. In addition to quality, Attention to detail is what Cura does well. They've got it in spades. I bought my strap from Camera Film Photo. You can always try your luck on eBay as well.
Soft, supple touch.
Made in Japan Quality
Could be a little longer
Made in Japan Price
Get this if
You're willing to shell out the cash because you definitely get what you pay for.