BlackRapid RS-5 Cargo R-Strap - Reviewed

Written by Kevin Cheng on . Posted in Accessories

BlackRapid RS-5 CargoThe strap is dead, long live the strap!  DigitalReviews managed to get their hands on a BlackRapid RS-5 Cargo strap, what does that mean to my photography?
For the longest time I have shunned the obligatory bundled neck strap that comes with a DSLR camera, opting in favour of a hand strap.  There are two main reasons why I avoid the bundled neck strap: firstly I am clearly advertising that I have a (reasonably) expensive camera; and secondly, ergonomically, they are a proverbial pain in the neck.

The Camdapter has been my strap of choice for the best part of almost two years.  But on a few recent occasions I finally accept that my usage pattern has changed and I need a camera strap that will free up both my hands quickly when required.

First Impressions
BlackRapid calls it the original camera sling.  The RS-5 Cargo R-Strap is a closed loop strap (in black naturally) with a shoulder pad full of storage compartments. There is a surprisingly amount of weight in the strap.  I do believe at some stage I read that it is made from ballistic nylon but for the life of me I cannot seem to find the information to back me up.on that.

FastenR-3The current batch of RS-5 comes with a FastenR-3 mount.  The FR-3 as it is referred to by BlackRapid, is a solid stainless steel screw attachment designed to pair with the quick attach and release system on the RS-5.  The underside of the FR-3 has rubber locking ridges to help secure the connection between the camera and the FR-3.

Overall I find the RS-5 to be a discreet affair with only a small "R" logo on the shoulder strap.  At first glance it could pass as a shoulder bag strap.

Setting Up
Getting the strap configured to the right length was a little tricky.  The instruction booklet made it look simple enough but in reality it took a little more effort than I first anticipated.  As is the case with anything adjustable, it pays to invest in the time to get it just right.  BlackRapid provides tips and instructional videos on their website which helps with the process.

The RS-5 attaches to the FR-3 via a locking carabiner ensuring that it is extremely unlikely to be detached by accident.

PouchIn Action

Typically my camera kit is a Canon EOS 7D coupled with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens and a circular polariser.  Together the total weight is around 1.6 kg.  With my inherent muscle tightness around my neck, the traditional neck strap makes me a chiropracter's dream cashcow.  The sling style of the RS-5 puts the weight of the camera at my side while the wide shoulder strap spreads the load nicely.

On my first outings with the BlackRapid strap, I had my mobile in the phone compartment, a credit card and a few dollars in cash stashed away in the shoulder strap compartments and wandered out travelling particularly light.  Having my phone fairly high up on my chest was ideal as I tend to miss calls.

It was simple to swivel the camera up from the hip level ready for action and letting it drop back down to resting position.  The guide along the strap was stable and smooth.

Other Features
Both the phone and main shoulder compartments of the RS-5 have neodymium magnets for silent operations.  BlackRapid has stated these magnets are safe for phone and storage cards although it is recommended to avoid magnetic media storage such as tapes.  On a personal note it has not affected the mag strips on my cards.

BlackRapid has designed the magnetic latches so they can moved up and down a small area to cater for size of various things one might put into the compartments.  I had expected that my Samsung Galaxy Nexus would not fit into the phone compartment but I was surprised to see it had no issues.  I did have to find a sweet spot with the magnets for the lid to close but that is well within design parameter.

Phone CompartmentGripes
This is not so much an issue with the BlackRapid design and more of a fault with my own equipment.  The FastenR-3 mount uses up my tripod mount socket which means I have to swap on demand.  On the other hand there are tripod plates with an additional mounting point which will eliminate this pain, but on the other hand you are still required to remove the FR-3 mount to use the tripod.

I found the BlackRapid RS-5 R-Strap exactly the solution I was looking for.  It was comfortable to wear, easy to use once it is set up for my use.  The plethora of compartments on the shoulder strap means I can, when I want to, carry absolutely nothing else.  Having my cash and credit card practically under my nose also means on those days I do not need to worry about a wallet, perfect for travelling.

The BlackRapid RS-5 R-Strap is available for USD$69.95 from BlackRapid.  It is also handy to note that they have straps specially ergonomically designed for the female photographers.  More details at their website.

DigitalReviews would like to thank BlackRapid for providing the RS-5 for review.  Stay tuned for more BlackRapid products reviews here.

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