I’ll be honest–we rarely dislike the neck and wrist straps we test here at MirrorLessons. I would guess that this is because most of the products we test have been around for a while, and have thus already been tweaked to near perfection. Very rarely do we get the chance to try products from up-and-coming accessory producers, but this was exactly what happened with DeadCameras, a small company from Portugal that only just started making leather camera straps last year.
History of the Company
DeadCameras is the brainchild of Ricardo Silva, an enthusiast photographer who loves using both film and mirrorless cameras. The first straps he made were tailored to his own needs but he soon sought the advice of important Portuguese photographers like Alfredo Cunha and Antònio Homem Cardoso to improve and perfect the design. The name “DeadCameras” came to him whilst thinking about his large collection of film cameras, and how many were claiming that “film is dead,” a statement with which he thoroughly disagrees.
The straps produced by DeadCameras are all handmade and produced to suit the individual needs of each client. Although they are based out of Portugual, they have a reseller in the UK called AfShoot. It was this reseller that supplied us with the demos we tested.
DeadCameras Straps: Our Impressions
For the purpose of this review, AfShoot sent us four different straps to test: the slim strap, wrist strap, shoulder strap and mini strap. Before I go through and describe our experience with each, let’s list the characteristics they have in common so I don’t end up repeating myself!
- made of beautiful high-quality leather whose edges have been hand burnished and smoothed for comfort
- the neck/shoulder straps all come with 16mm split rings to attach to your camera plus two soft leather discs to protect your camera from getting scratched (the wrist strap comes with one 14mm split ring and one leather disc)
- the split rings are very easy to pry open and attach to the lugs (a miracle!)
- all straps except the mini strap are available in different lengths
- the decorative dot on the two endings comes in four colours: black, blue, red and white (with the exception of the brown shoulder strap which comes with a black, mint green or “Fujifilm” green dot)
This was my preferred strap of the four, so much that I used it throughout the entire testing period with the Lumix LX100.
The nicest touch is the 9mm of soft leather padding along the middle section of the strap. Not only does the padding take up less space in your camera bag but it also cushions your neck during long photo walks. It’s so soft and malleable that sometimes I hardly even realise the camera is hanging around my neck. It is true that the padding sometimes has the tendency to bunch up a little but even so, it is never uncomfortable to wear and does not slide back and forth along the strap.
The soft padding also allows you to wrap the strap around your wrist and arm should you want to carry the camera around in your hand.
With this particular strap, I definitely advise that you attach the included leather discs as the split rings can easily scratch your camera. (I was careless enough not to attach them at first, and my poor LX100 has a few small battle scars to show for it.) If the discs do not fit over your camera’s lugs, simply make two small cuts on either side of the hole to enlarge it.
For the review, we were sent the 105mm version but there is also a 115cm version, which may be better for male users. The strap sits on my stomach when placed around my neck, and just above my hip when placed under my arm as a sling. (To get an idea of the length, have a look at the picture at the bottom of this article comparing the three models.) Both positions are comfortable if you have a smallish camera like the LX100.
The wrist strap was Mathieu’s favourite product, in part because he prefers using wrist straps to neck straps (especially with rangefinder cameras), and in part because the build quality is so high. To review the strap, he attached it to the Fujifilm X100T we just finished testing, and there is no question that the two are a match made in heaven.
Like the slim strap, the wrist strap is comfortable to wear. It may be a little stiff at first but will soften with time and use.
The strap is 21cm in length but DeadCameras will gladly adjust the length according to your needs. It also includes a rubber ‘O’ ring so you can adjust the strap to the width of your wrist. I feel that this is a feature that should be obligatory on every wrist strap as it lets photographers release their grip on the camera, providing more comfort.
As with the slim strap, it is important that you attach the leather disc so that your camera doesn’t get scratched by the split ring.
Shoulder Strap (black and brown)
The shoulder strap is the only model to come in two different colours–black and brown–and comes in three different lengths: 85mm, 105mm and 115mm. (We received the 85mm brown version for testing.) While the build quality is the same as the other straps, I find this strap a little more uncomfortable than the others when worn around the neck. The padding is much thicker and harder than that on the Slim Strap, so it can cause some irritation. For this reason, it is much more comfortable to use this strap over the shoulder as the name suggests.
If used over the shoulder, 85mm is a very good length for a woman my height (164cm or 5’4) as it sits nicely above my hip, but a man will certainly require a longer version. It can support cameras as heavy as a full-frame DSLR with a prime or zoom attached, so you can rest assured that your mirrorless will be safe.
Personally speaking, we aren’t very enthusiastic about shoulder straps in general because the camera is more vulnerable to being knocked around or even stolen if you aren’t careful. That said, two people can’t represent an entire population of photographers, and for those who prefer shoulder straps, this product is more than ideal.
Keep in mind that the brown leather discs that come with the brown strap are made of a tougher leather than the black leather discs. When trying to enlarge the hole with a knife so that the disc would fit over the X-T1’s large lugs, I accidentally cut myself. I didn’t have the same problem with the black version, which I was easily able to enlarge with a pair of scissors.
The brown shoulder strap is the only model to offer mint green and “Fujifilm” green as colours for the decorative dot on the two endings. The black version features a traditional red, black, blue or white dot.
The mini strap was the product that we liked the least, not for any lack in quality but for its practicality. Unlike the other straps mentioned here, it is the only one that has a fixed length of 90mm, so it can be uncomfortable to wear around the neck if you are extremely tall like Mathieu. I personally found it comfortable enough when worn over the shoulder, but if given the choice between it and the slim strap, I would always choose the latter for the reasons stated above.
On the up side, it is the only strap that doesn’t require leather discs to protect your camera, as the split ring goes deep into the strap.
Keep in mind that it is only good for small mirrorless cameras. The website states that the maximum weight would be a Leica M set-up (900 grams or less). This means that using an E-M1 or X-T1 with a professional zoom would be risky.
Update: Ricardo has told us that he will soon be expanding the offer to an extra size (110mm).
A new service that DeadCameras has only just recently started offering to their clients is the replacement of any parts that you lose. The products are so well-made that I find it hard to imagine that you could lose any parts, but it is still nice to see such dedication to their users!
You can purchase DeadCamera straps from AFShoot Shop!