I don’t always endorse products online, but when I do, they kick ass.
The idea is simple, but like most things, the execution and success of this particular product is in the thought and details. The founders of Luma Labs, Greg Koenig and James Duncan Davidson have invested a phenomenal amount of thought, trial and error and sweat equity into this product and it shows.
Honestly, when my friends Duncan and Greg told me they were going to start a company that manufactures and sells camera straps I thought and perhaps even verbalized… “good luck with that”. But in the intervening time, I have been absolutely stunned at how essential a well designed camera strap has become. My initial thoughts were, “my camera comes with a strap already… why in the world would I buy another one”. But it seems that in the rush to develop newer and better cameras, companies like Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Fuji, Sony and Leica have completely forgotten that one of the most crucial interfaces between the human and the camera was in fact, the camera strap. This oversight has resulted in no thought or innovation by the camera manufacturers into what an indispensable component the camera strap is to those who spend *lots of time* with their cameras outside of perhaps, a studio.
I have been using camera straps from Luma Labs in various iterations since, oh… version zero point five or so and relied upon them to carry my cameras around the globe for about three years now. I’ve used Luma camera straps hanging out the open doors of helicopters, on embeds with the 3rd Special Forces Group and on the tipping and rolling conning tower of a strategic nuclear submarine heading out into open ocean at full speed as well as in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. These straps have carried my cameras up and down mountains in China, through the city streets in France, Germany, Argentina, Ireland, Scotland and England, not to mention all over North America and I can think of no other camera strap that would have been as comfortable, nor as reliable and safe for my gear as the camera straps made by Luma Labs.
For those of us who do spend lots of time with our cameras, we start to appreciate what an afterthought the standard camera strap is that typically ships with a multi-hundred or even multi-thousand dollar camera. Luma Labs looked at this problem and said “we can do better than that”. And in true innovative style, they designed a better product called the Luma Loop. The camera strap that emerged from this initial effort was an amazingly well designed device that functioned as a single point sling modeled after a rifle sling patented in the late 1800’s.
The Luma Loop itself was a marvel with high quality materials, laser etching, gorgeous webbing and spectacular engineering. Example: a push button on the D-ring that engaged a cam, allowing 4 ball bearings to retract, thus allowing the cap to release from the D-ring on the strap. It was beautiful to behold and worked like a charm and was sturdy enough that hanging my full body weight of 185 lbs from it would not unintentionally open it. Other companies solutions had cheap straps that cut into your neck or had cheap quality swivels that would rapidly wear and potentially, catastrophically send your high dollar digital SLR and lens to the ground.
So, it was with eager anticipation that I looked forward to the release of the revised Luma Loop only to be crushed when a competitor (who made the low quality straps) threatened lawsuit over simply absurd grounds that perpetuate abuse of the patent system. Its a sad story that is covered in some detail here and in greater detail here so there is no point in rehashing it on this post. The good news is that this threat hastened the development and release of the best camera strap on the market… The Cinch.
This is the *new* product from Luma Labs, the Cinch. Once you use it, you will never want to go back to a traditional camera strap again. Its perfect for both comfortably carrying your camera as well as moving around, walking or even running while keeping the camera stable and close to your body. The secret to the Cinch is a sliding pull tab that easily lets you adjust the length of the strap to loosen the strap for shooting or tighten the strap up to hold your camera close to your body for walking or for stability when shooting in low light.
The format of the Cinch is simple with attachment points on your standard camera strap mount, but also to the tripod mount at the bottom of the camera to naturally position the camera for access as well as stability when carrying it. Other companies that have a single attachment point at the bottom of the camera on just the tripod mount result in your camera hanging upside down at awkward angles, which for anyone who may need rapid access to their camera is a bit of a problem. The design of the Cinch is an evolution from the single point design and is intended to be worn across the chest while providing a stable position to rapidly retrieve your camera from. Incidentally, since you won’t carry a camera that is not comfortable, the Cinch has been extensively tested with a variety of body sizes on men and on women with varying chest sizes to optimize the design for comfort as well as camera stability and safety.
The Cinch can also be easily and quickly snugged up against the body to provide a stability point when shooting with longer or heavier lenses or in low light as shown here by Trent Nelson.
Quality materials are everywhere from the thick, yet soft strap materials, CNC machining of the hardware made from anodized, aerospace grade aluminum that is machined out of 6061-T6 aluminum stock, CNC milled, finished to remove any edges, then type II anodized for a long life and quality feel.
The quality of the Cinch extends to the sewing with double stitching and laser cut leather components. The strap absolutely reeks of quality and well thought out engineering.
The strap and neoprene pad combination distributes the load of even a substantial camera/lens combination such as the full sized Canon 1D body with a 70-200 f/2.8 lens, a stalwart combination for the photojournalist or sport shooter. When you order the strap, it can be configured for size and weight as well and its also ambidextrous. This strap not only is one of the most comfortable straps out there, it will not slip off your shoulder like many other camera straps when worn over just one shoulder like a traditional camera strap.
The PodMount that attaches to your tripod mount is also CNC machined and finished for a high quality feel and long life. Quality finish work here prolongs the life of the strap materials and the inclusion of a combination high density neoprene and cork gasket provides for firm, positive connection that will not back out, yet is easy on the fingers to tighten and loosen.
A couple of other points: The Cinch also has softer leather and materials that are close to your camera to eliminate the possibility of scratching your gear. I tend to be pretty hard on my equipment with cameras that get scratched and banged up, but you don’t want your camera strap adding to the injury. The hardware parts that will be closest to the camera are made of a polymer called acetal which is a non-hydroscopic polymer unlike nylon. This is important if you happen to use your camera in adverse weather conditions like rain. These triglide buckle components have a pull strength of about 100lbs and were designed by Grumman engineers back in the mid 60s. It turns out that they are the same 3/8″ triglides that were used by NASA on all their cameras, including the Hasselblad cameras that went to the Moon.
I should also note that as documented on the strap itself, the Cinch is *crafted* in Portland, Oregon. This means that all design, engineering, machining, sewing and assembly happens in Portland, Oregon, USA.
Another important feature of the Cinch is that it is discreet. While many camera straps are festooned with logos (Canon straps are quite obviously being *Canon* straps as are the yellow *Nikon* straps), the Cinch is discreet. Camera gear is expensive and getting more expensive all the time (the subject of another discussion). So, one of the things that most photographers who are serious about their gear do not want to do is bring attention to themselves. The Cinch, while being the best camera strap out there actually decreases ones visual “statement” and helps one to blend into environments a bit better than a “brighter” camera strap might.
Should you get a Cinch? Absolutely. What if you already have an aftermarket camera strap? I’ll guarantee you that this one will be more comfortable, more stable and be more functional that any other camera strap you own.