What’s the first thing you look for in a camera strap? Comfort? Ease-of-use? Good looks? Or effectiveness when shooting? I put my money on the latter. There’s nothing so frustrating as a strap that gets in the way right at the moment when you want to get that shot, or a strap that you simply don’t trust. The Sniper-Strap Pro Steel & Bear is trustworthy and won’t get in your way. Compared to my own OpTech glide strap the Sniper Strap Pro is a Rolls-Royce.
Sun-Sniper is a European sister company of California Sunbounce. They are the manufacturers of the Sniper-Strap Pro I was sent for review. The strap itself comes in a nice cardboard box with an instruction manual and a guarantee slip. The Sniper-Strap Pro Steel & Bear comes with a genuine guarantee. I’ll talk about that later.
Unlike my OpTech glide strap, the Sniper-Strap Pro attaches to the camera’s tripod socket. The camera connector is made of stainless steel and the strap moves freely around hanging from a ball-bearing carabiner. The strap itself is made of ballistic nylon reinforced with a steel wire running through the strap’s core. Here the guarantee comes into play: if a thief succeeds at cutting your strap, Sun-Sniper will pay you back up to 400.00 Euros for the loss of the camera.
I would say that is a nice gesture compared to other strap manufacturers such as OpTech and LoewePro, but of course it wouldn’t compensate for a professional body-lens combination.
On one side of the strap there is a shock absorber; this is a kind of spring mechanism that absorbs shocks when you walk or run. The shoulder part has a double padding system. The strap itself runs inside the padding. The padded shoulder part is made of nylon too, but it folds over the strap and closes by means of velcro strips. It’s split along the length of the strap so that the length adjuster sits neatly in-between both parts. The padding is thick and the back of this part is made of anti-slip material.
The whole system makes for an incredibly comfortable fit. The quality of finish is simply unparalleled. All of this would be nice but sterile if the strap didn’t perform well in real-world usage. So, I went out and tried it for a whole day.
The first thing you’ll have to do — and for this purpose, the instruction manual comes with a separate bright yellow card — is screw the camera connector tightly in the camera’s tripod socket. The instructions on the yellow card insist that you screw in the connector until the rubber washer at the bottom of the connector is ‘obviously squeezed’. The rubber washer being about 1 mm thick, you can actually see when it gets ‘obviously squeezed’, so I followed the instructions carefully.
Apparently if you don’t, you risk the connector loosening from the camera with the camera falling on the floor; an unpleasant result I’m sure we all agree. The risk of your camera dropping because of the connector not firmly seated in the socket is not unique for the Sniper-Strap Pro; it’s inherent to the design of a glide strap that attaches to the tripod socket.
Some people also seem to think there is a risk with the camera bottom being damaged or cracking under the camera’s own weight. This might be a problem with a cheap dSLR made of plastic, but semi-professional and professional dSLRs and medium-format cameras all have a metal body (magnesium, aluminium, titanium even…) and the tripod socket on these cameras won’t break easily.
The next thing was to adjust the strap to my length. The idea is that the camera hangs just above your butt. The adjustment meant to open up the shoulder padding and adjusting the strap length. This might be a detail, but I’ve never had a strap that was so easy to adjust. You have to experience it to believe it.
When the strap length is adjusted, the strap is ready for use. “Putting it on” is very easy, even if you’re wearing a winter coat because the shoulder padding part is rather stiff — that’s the part that goes over your head and that’s where my OpTech usually becomes tangled first.
After having walked around with 4 kilos of camera and lens I still didn’t have a sore shoulder. To be honest: my OpTech doesn’t hurt after hours of walking either. Where the difference became apparent was with using the camera. With the OpTech, the strap gets in the way. It either falls in front of the lens or gets tangled and I can’t properly handle the camera. Nothing of the sort with the Sniper-Strap Pro. The camera was easy to handle, hanging right the way I expected it to for pickup (or ‘a draw’).
I also tried running with the Sniper-Strap Pro and that’s where things were less efficient. The camera tosses around against your backside, which hurts but also makes the camera twist. Running wasn’t a good idea as I never could grab the camera at its grip. Later I learned the company makes an accessory for this problem: the “Activity Clip” that is meant to attach to your waist belt and secure the camera so it won’t bounce when you run or climb.
After a day of trying out the Sniper-Strap Pro I must say I am quite happy with the product. The quality of the Sniper-Strap Pro Steel & Bear is without question of a very high standard, the strength as well. Comfort also goes without question. The only disadvantage is that you lose the tripod socket. The SNiper-Strap Pro Steel & Bear costs just under 58.00 Euros.