- Part 1: Intro, proof of concept, rough draft
- Part 2: Refinement
- Part 3: Peak Design slider
- Part 4: Adjustments, storage/transport, real world results
- Part 5: Questions and material options
Is this better than a Hold Fast Money Maker harness?
Dear goodness, not necessarily.
Have you noticed the amount of time and labor it took for me to get this done? (Yes, I could have hacked together a cheap harness, but then we would be comparing apples to oranges, wouldn’t we?)
If you don’t have the time to make your own harness, there isn’t anything wrong with paying someone else to get it done right. I’m pretty good at fixing computers, but it takes me forever to do plumbing (and I’m frustrated the whole time), plus I lack the experience to overcome plumbing issues, so I hire a plumber.
And time is money. If I made my living on photography, I would probably just get a Money Maker and move on, but I’m just a family photographer on a budget and willing to put in the time.
I chose good-enough leather from a local retail store, but if I wanted better leather belts, I would probably end up spending a lot of time, travel and money to get two of the same texture, color, length, etc. Hold Fast does all this labor for you.
Why doesn’t Hold Fast sell a cheaper harness? Maybe something with inexpensive leather used in $12 belts sold at Walmart? Goodness! Why should they? If it was your business, would you sell an inferior product with very, very low profit margin??? My parents owned a restaurant for over 30 years, and they would quickly say this is crazy talk.
So DIY works for me, but maybe you found two belts you like and then get two slides from Hold Fast. Nothing wrong with that. Maybe some custom belts with nice leather work — one with flowers, rainbows and unicorns and the other with Hell’s Angels. That would be something to see. Cue “Bad to the Bone” guitar riff.
One difference that I have found is that I did not put D-rings at the top of the straps. (Some people opt out of this option to avoid their hair getting tangled in them.) These are for a 3-camera setup or to clip the unused slider to when you are only using one camera, and an option like this would have been very handy when I sat down for lunch during one long event.
Will this replace my other straps?
Heck no! This is just another option, and I only carry two cameras out when I have to. One camera is all I want when I’m traveling, walking with family or hiking. Those times, I prefer them on my Peak Design SlideLITE because I can cinch them up and tuck the camera behind my back. Or if I am actively shooting without a strap, a Capture Clip on a Pro Pad on my belt or a Capture Clip on my backpack strap are the handy 2nd set of hands that I need.
Couldn’t I just use two belts and a carabiner or metal trigger snaps?
Well, technically, you could. Sounds uber simple, and I’ve seen the video, but:
- Without some length in the sliders, these belts would have to be extra loose in order for you could get the camera up to your eye, and, for me at least, loose belts did not feel secure and would be awkward to pull up to your eye.
- There are many kinds of trigger snaps, but unless you use the kind with screw locks like the ones Black Rapid use, I would be reluctant to use this without some kind of backup strap (like HardFast includes with their current straps). Murphy’s law and human nature would be happy to find you and make your very expensive camera meet the ground.
Other Material Options
Like all good do-it-yourselfers, you might have the materials and tools to make this a different way. Maybe you work with leather. Maybe you have other misc hardware. Here are a few considerations I encountered while researching.
Nylon webbing instead of leather belts
- I tried this with some scrap material that I had. It worked, but:
- It was more difficult to get on since it was less rigid than leather
- When not used, it was just a pile (since it was less rigid)
- I did not try it for long so I can’t say much else.
Two 1.5″ wide leather belts about 36″ men’s length
- Walmart has functional belts for as little as $12
- And I could have gone store to store to find the perfect leather
- But I opted for good-enough $30 Levi’s belts from Kohl’s
- About 36″ men’s length would have worked best for me, but I could only get 38″ in matching lengths and you can see that these are a little too long.
- I think 34″ might be doable for some, but your mileage may vary.
- I considered a narrower belt since I primarily shoot two lighter mirrorless cameras, but I opted for 1.5″ wide for better shoulder comfort.
- Too short and you might end up with straps uncomfortably under your arms.
- You might find it hard to find two matching that you like of the same length
- I’m no expert on leather, but I recommend doing some research, bending and working the leather in the store, and considering how the leather will age. I, personally, avoided anything sewn since these could get damaged. Faux leather might be ok, but I personally avoided any labelled “manmade” or didn’t say “genuine leather.”
**Update** I bought $12 36″ black work belts from Walmart to have more color options to hide the strap more on black clothes. Since I wouldn’t be using this harness often, they should be good enough.
Two 1.5″ D-rings
- You certainly could find cheaper D that have enough strength (my local hardware store had them for $1 each), but I was willing to pay a little more to avoid shiny chrome finish, issues with less durable surface, potential rusting and increased potential for failure (thinner and not welded).
- O-rings might work, too, but it seemed like they would wear out the leather faster.
Other belt joining methods
- The scrap leather that I used to tie the leather belts together in my functional test looked awesome, but was either too loose or too tight and kept needing to be retied. (Plus, they were putting dents in the leather.)
- You could sew the belts together like this.
- I didn’t want to buy a rivet kit and rivets, but if you already have these or are near a leather shop, this certainly would give a finished look.
- If you already use Black Rapid, Carry Speed or another product that attaches to a loop on the tripod socket, you could use bolt snaps or carabiners, but keep in mind that these have no backup if they fail which is why Hold Fast includes a backup tether.
- You could also use other webbing instead of seat belt webbing, but since the straps would rub against my hands often, I wanted something that would reduce abrasion. Leather would be another option.
- I used an elastic band because it would be light, durable enough, flexible and not harm the D-ring or gear, but I also tried or considered using:
- Leather (too bulky or not as effective)
- Metal quick links (too large and would clink with the D-rings too often)
- Plastic quick links (too large the closing piece was rather large and ugly. It would also clink)
- Nite Ize Gear Ties (would move too much)
- Plastic c-rings (would move too much)
I apologize for not giving direct link to some product pages as these links often change, and I am trying to avoid having bad links.