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Carry Speed CS-PRO Mark II Camera Sling Strap Review



Review by Ron Risman. October, 2012


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Carry Speed CS-PRO II Camera Sling Strap System

Straps are something that most consumers and even some professional photographers take for granted. Each camera comes with a strap, and on the surface each of these straps do their job - allowing you to conveniently and more safely hang your camera around your neck, which takes the weight off your hand & wrist and reduces the risk of the camera falling to the ground. For most casual shooters this is often all you'll ever need - but for more serious photographers or professionals you'll find that these straps are uncomfortable since they force your neck to support 2 or 3 lbs of camera all day. The number one complaint that I hear from photographers that shoot weddings is neck and shoulder pain, and a big reason for this is due to strap design.

While straps are greatly needed for photographers, you'll rarely see a videographer with a strap on their cameras. That's because straps are typically not tripod or rig friendly. Personally, I removed the straps from all my cameras four years ago when I started shooting video with my DSLR. Why? Because straps get in the way of or caught on microphones, monitors, cables, loupes, shoulder rigs, and follow focus units. Also, during shoots I need the ability to quickly move my camera from one support device to another (Tripod, Monopod, Slider, Steadicam) and I don't have time to sit there and remove a strap or work around them when they get in the way.

For me, it has never been a matter of not liking straps. There are many days I wish I had a strap on my cameras, so that I could keep one camera handy, while I shoot with a second camera - but I had yet to find a strap that was video friendly. With that said, there is a special design feature of the Carry Speed strap system that got me interested me in testing and reviewing it The Carry Speed CS-PRO II is, to the best of my knowledge, the first camera strap system that is both photo & video friendly. What I mean by that is that their strap system is designed to connect to the camera using a specially designed offset plate that attaches and stays attached to the bottom of your DSLR. This offset plate was designed to leave plenty of room to attach your tripod's quick release plate. This, combined with the ability to quickly disconnect the strap from the plate, meant I could now go from shooting stills hand-held (with strap) to a tripod to shoot video (without strap) without having to spend valuable time un-looping a traditional strap or remounting a quick release plate to the bottom of the camera.

The Carry Speed CS-PRO II strap goes well beyond traditional straps as well as other sling-style straps. Unlike a traditional strap that is worn around your neck, the CS-PRO II is designed to be worn across your body in sling bag fashion. This design for a sling strap isn't new. There are other companies on the market that make premium strap systems that are worn in the same manner, but one of the key features that set the Carry Speed CS-PRO II strap apart from the others is the design of their CS3 mounting plate & ball-head style connecting system. The plate itself mounts flat against the bottom of your camera using the camera's tripod socket. The mounting plate then allows you to attach your tripods quick-release plate using one of three 1/4-20" threads. On the top corners of this plate are two round holes that accept the included stainless steel mini ball head. The ball head allows a secure connection to the strap, yet offers complete 360 degree rotation to make access to the camera quick & easy. The plate design is also compatible with DSLR vertical / power grips, which can't be said for other sling style strap systems on the market.

By offsetting the stainless steel connector allows the camera to lay flat against the side of your body, instead of at a slight angle as is the case with other strap systems. This design reduces camera bounce against your body and makes it more comfortable to carry for longer periods. The patent-pending ball-head design also protects the finish of your camera by guaranteeing that no part of the attachment clasp of the strap system can ever rub against the body of your camera.

Comfort

Before I forget I want to mention the padded shoulder strap. This thing is big and comfortable. The larger size of the neoprene shoulder pad allows the weight of the camera to be spread out over a larger portion of your shoulder and neck, thus reducing fatigue. The backing of the shoulder pad is made of rubber to help prevent slipping and the constant re-adjustment that is often needed with camera straps. Carry Speed has also made it a simple to adjust the length of the strap. Just pull down on the D-ring on the front side of the strap to make the strap smaller or slide it back up to get more range of motion.



Safety Features

Carry Speed has paid particular attention to product safety. The strap features an upgraded 3-button buckle to guarantee it won't come unclasped by accident and the strap connects to the camera plate with a screw-on collar that surrounds the stainless steel ball head. A rubber gasket above the collar ensures that the clasp can't accidentally loosen during use. The CS-PRO II strap also includes an extra short strap they call the "Uni Strap." This strap can be attached to the tripod mount on heavier lenses in order to support both the camera and the lens for added safety. This design also keeps the lens and camera level when placing it down against your body - instead of the lens hanging closer to the ground. You can also use this uni-strap as a wrist strap for shorter shoots when you may not need the all-day support of the sling itself. For DSLR use I'm not sure the wrist strap would be ideal, but for compact cameras you might find it convenient to have the wrist strap option.

In actual use I found the strap very comfortable to wear and believe that this is an ideal strap solution for anyone who wants or needs to keep their camera accessible while out shooting (rather than in a case). IF you're a wedding or event photographer and often come home with a stiff neck or sore shoulders from carrying your camera around your neck, you'll find this to be a great solution to relieve much, if not all, of the stress of carrying your camera. If you often move between hand-held shooting and tripod shooting you'll also appreciate the ability to mount your tripod's quick release plate directly to the strap's camera plate.

There are a few things to keep in mind that could ultimately determine whether you'll enjoy this strap to it's fullest. Depending on the layout of our camera, it's possible that the steel plate included with the strap could block access to your camera's battery compartment. In this scenario you would have to unscrew the plate from the camera any time you wanted to change batteries. If you have a quick release plate attached over the strap's plate, this will mean having to unscrew both plates to access the battery compartment. I tested the strap with the Canon 5D Mark II and Mark III and the plate did NOT interfere with access to the battery compartment, and I am sure that it was designed with many of the more popular camera models in mind. However I have read a couple of comments from users around the web that did state that the plate interfered with the battery compartment on their camera.

Since the real reason I wanted to review the strap was to see how well I could go from "photo mode" using the strap to "video mode" where I would need to remove the strap and mount the camera quickly onto one of my tripods or other video support devices. I have standardized on using Manfrotto's 577 quick release plate system, so all of my gear has a 577 rapid connect adapter attached to it; my Steadicam Merlin; Konova Slider; Manfrotto 561BHDV-1 monopod; and my Manfrotto tripods. By standardizing on a single plate system I am able to keep a matching Manfrotto 501PL quick-release plate on each of my camera's for easy exchange between any of my gear. So.... in testing this system I mounted a Manfrotto 501PL quick release plate on top of the C3 Carry Speed plate, then went and slid the camera onto my Manfrotto monopod that features a 701-style video head. While the small ball head protruding from the bottom of the plate did make it a tight fit, I was able to slide it on without much problem. It was a different story when I went to slide it onto my 501HDV video head. Because this video head is wider than the 701-style head on the monopod the ball head prevented the camera from sliding onto the video head.

One other inconvenience with the mini ball-head design is that when you place your camera down on a table or in a case, it no longer sits flat because the ball head protrudes out under the camera. This didn't prevent the camera from fitting in my Lowepro bag, but I ended up placing my camera into the bag on it's side, instead of having it sit and wobble over the little ball head.

Introducing the New FS-PRO

There is still good news for those of you who use a mounting system similar to the Manfrotto 577 or Giottos MH621 or would like to be able to put their camera flat on a table or in their case. Carry Speed has just introduced another version of the strap, called the FS-PRO. The FS-PRO offers all of the advantages of the CS-PRO Mark II Sling that I have reviewed here, but it features a more advanced mounting plate system where the ball head will pivot out of the way, making the entire base plate perfectly flat. This should make it compatible with virtually all quick release plate systems on the market. The folding ball head of the FS-PRO also makes it easier to pack away your camera since the plate will sit flat with the ball head out of the way. Another new feature found in the FS-PRO is the plate is now Arca-Swiss compatible. This means you won't need to mount an additional quick-release plate to it if you use an Arca Swiss compatible head. If you are not using an Arca-Swiss compatible tripod head, fear not, as the FS-PRO features 6 mounting holes for your quick-release plate.

Due to a stupid mistake that I made while reviewing the CS-PRO MK II, Carry Speed will be sending me out the FS-PRO to review. In case you're wondering what my stupid mistake was let me share this with you. Unlike Mitt Romney, who admittingly drove 12 hours with his dog on the roof of his car (in a carrier), I placed the complete CS-PRO MK II sling strap package on the roof of my car, forgot that I had placed it there, then drove 3.5 hours to Vermont. My intention was to supplement this review with a video review, so that I could show you the product in action. Due to my neglect I lost the strap before getting a chance to take pictures of it, create a video overview, and to take some measurements. This is why I didn't have illustrations for this review or even dimensions of the included plate. I will however add a full video review of the new FS-PRO Sling System to this page once the product arrives.

In the end, I loved the CS-PRO MKII Camera Sling but would have had a difficult time integrating it into my work flow due to the position of the fixed mini-ball head interfering with the Manfrotto mount that I use. So I am so looking forward to trying out the new FS-PRO as it's pivoting ball-head should allow full compatibility with all tripod mounts, making it the ultimate way strap system for both photographers and hybrid photo & video shooters like me. Stay tuned as the video review of the FS-PRO will be coming in the next week or two.

Get More Information

* When considering the purchase of either of these straps please check the manufacturer's page for pricing. As of the date of this review (October 4, 2012) Carry Speed is offering introductory prices on their straps, making them less expensive than if purchased from other retailers such as Amazon and B&H Photo. I have also included links to Amazon's pages as I don't know when the introductory pricing may end.

Other Purchase Options

Dislosure

The Carry Speed CS-PRO MK II Sling strap was sent to use to test & review by Carry Speed. Our reviews are based on what we discover during our time with the product and are never swayed by who sent us the gear to review. While we are very thankful to have manufacturers willing to send us products to review, we know that it is our readers that keep our site going. Our goal is to make the information in our reviews helpful to our readers by reporting the positives and negatives that we uncover during our time with a product. Cameratown makes money from ads that appear on any of the pages throughout our site as well as from affiliate links like the Amazon links above. If you plan to purchase a product from retailers such as Amazon or B&H Photo please consider using our links as we'll receive a small percentage of the sale that will go toward helping us continue bringing you reviews on the latest photo & video gear.

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