Don’t fear the FUD

One of the most-viewed posts on Enthusiast Photographer is about my solution to the dilemma of using the Black Rapid Strap with the Arca-Swiss plate system, in my case my RRS-L-bracket on my Nikon D90.

For those of you who haven’t seen what I’m using, here it is:

A phone-cam picture of Black-Rapid/Arca-Swiss bliss…
Note that I’ve added a safety strap in case of some kind of strap/clamp failure (somewhat unlikely) or in the event I’m a forgetful doofus (somewhat likely).

Note I’ve attached my “safety strap” to the D-ring. That is the most likely of the very unlikely failure points on the strap.

On the various forums I frequent, there is invariably a mention of a series of e-mails Bosstail (a Black Rapid competitor) has on their website from Nikon and Canon support regarding the use of the tripod mount for attaching the strap. Predictably enough, they are negative on the idea.

Personally, I think that information from Bosstrap is disingenuous – Given the popularity of these types of straps, you’d think there would be an official word from Nikon/Canon, etc. on this matter, especially if there was risk to the equipment. As best I can tell, there is no official word or warning from Nikon or Canon on their website or in their user manuals referring to the use of straps in the tripod mount.

No – I’m not an engineer, but I don’t think the forces applied to the mount are significant compared to use with a tripod plate/clamp/head setup. It seems to me that a 70-300 lens (with no foot) mounted on a tripod would put significantly more stress on the mount than the lens hanging down on a Black Rapid or similar strap. I don’t think that is the common use case anyway – the biggest lens I’m using when mount to the BR strap to the tripod mount is my 18-200. When I’m running around with my 80-200, I’m using the mount on the foot for the strap, which I’d think would have the same benefit on the strap as it does on the tripod – more balance and less stress.


The massive 80-200 set and ready to go. I put the knob on the right side of the lens to keep it out of the way.

Unless I see an official warning from the camera OEM’s, I’m not going to worry about it. A copy/paste of e-mails (that might be legit, but sound more like CYA than policy) and 2nd-hand statements from “Nikon staff” aren’t very compelling arguments. Additionally, it seems like Black Rapid and similar guys would be opening themselves up to lawsuits if their design inflicted damage on the camera.

Lastly, on FredMiranda and Photograhy-on-the-Net (POTN) (and others) I’ve seen many, many comments from working pros who have been using these straps with big lenses and flashes for multiple years and reported no issues with damage to the camera base.

Net: I think Bosstrap is being a little shady and using FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) to drive sales. Show documented, engineering-based proof or publicly official statements from the camera manufacturers, not anonymous e-mails from some pimply-faced Nikon support tech trying to keep his job and nebulous “Nikon staff”. If you can’t do that, innovate, engineer, market and compete fairly. FUD is a sign of the weak who can’t compete with a better solution.

I’d really like to see something official from Nikon/Canon on their site and in their user guides. I think my use of the Arca-clamp on the L-bracket further mitigates any concerns by spreading the weight and stress beyond just the screw-point of the tripod mount, but I doubt it makes any real-world difference. I strongly doubt there is an issue for anyone using the Black Rapid FastnR in their tripod mount (the standard way if your tripod mount doesn’t live on your camera).

I do wish Nikon and Canon would declare one way or the other. In the meantime, I love my Black Rapid RS-7!

(I did a quick check on Black-Rapid’s site – no mention of the Arca-Swiss-compatible solution they alluded to at CES…)

12 thoughts on “Don’t fear the FUD

  1. I love my Black Rapid strap and followed your posting when I switched from a Manfrotto quick release plate to the Arca Swiss plates. I have a D7000 with an MB-D11 grip. What’s your feeling about attaching the Black Rapid to the bottom of the grip when the grip is attached to the bottom of the camera? I have no fears when I attach the strap to the camera when I’m not using the grip. However I’m finding that I’m using my grip more and more now and am a bit worried about damaging the contacts between the grip and the camera with the strap attached to the bottom of the grip. Any thoughts? Thanks in advance.

    • Liz – First – thanks for following Enthusiast Photographer!

      I think Nikon and Canon have excellent engineering and quality standards, so the grip should have to meet all the same criteria, load and tests as the camera itself.

      I haven’t held an MB-D11, but it seems like the contacts are spring-tensioned – I doubt there is enough movement to hurt anything if the grip is firmly attached.

      Please understand that I’m not an engineer (and this is exactly why I think Nikon, Canon, et. al. should come out and make definitive statements about these straps and engineer for their use), so I can only give my opinion. I work with a lot of engineers, though, and what I’ve learned from them over many years leads me to think it would be fine. If you’re using an L-plate with the grip and the strap, I think that would distribute the force a bit, too. A body+grip+80-200+flash might give me a little pause attached to the body mount, but that is why they have the foot :).

  2. Pingback: Black Rapid + Arca Solution | Enthusiast Photographer

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, and thanks very much for stopping by Enthusiast Photographer!

      The Black Rapid/Arca post is one of the most-visited on the site. I actually talked to the Black Rapid guys at CES about it in January, and they say they have something coming. I hope they give me a chance to look at it!

      Thanks again!

  3. Great work on this, i have bin using manfrotto for about 5 months quick realease plates with my rs5 and the only reason i use manfrotto is cause of the blackrapid i got but now that i found your article on the setup im going to arcaswiss it looks far stronger and i can tell you that once the weight is evenly spread to the bottom and sides it should be fine, the RC quick release has nothing that wide across the body i combine my canon wrist strap under the plate and it works just fine, on my 70-200 i use another plate on the color the right way to do it, one must never put that much weight on the mount at all I was doing that before but stopped asap. now i got a really right stuff and wanted to see how to make this work on my blackrapid thanks for this for sure. I be getting the parts one by one, cause i got to get the clamp for my RRS head 55 model. I will also write about my experiences as well on my site. feel free to hit me a email if you will like to see my domain ill like right back to here as well. thanks again.

    • Hi – thanks for visiting Enthusiast Photographer!

      I think the Manfrotto system is fine for a lot of people – I wouldn’t say it lacks the ability to support weight, but just isn’t very flexible when it comes to things like L-brackets and Black Rapid and similar slings. Arca-Swiss is terrific, and I’m really enjoying the flexibility it gives me, but I’d say these mounts are pretty darn strong – I wouldn’t hang your 70-200 on your tripod unless you’re using the foot plate (the stability wouldn’t be good anyway), but beyond that I think they can take a lot. As I said, I’m not an engineer, so be conservative with your own equipment, but I really wish Nikon/Canon, etc. would step up and say something.

      You’ll love the RRS BH-55!

  4. For people who don’t use a tripod a lot (or hardly ever) and have the strap screwed directly into the camera body, what kind of safety tether would you recommend? I’ve found the BR Tether Kit, which seems as though it would work, but haven’t been able to find out who actually sells this kit. Does anyone have any experience with this kit? I have a Nikon D5200 with a Nikkor 18-300 mm lens (quite heavy).

    I’ve also heard that sometimes it’s the lens that comes away from the body (while the body remains firmly attached to the strap). This particular Nikkor lens doesn’t have a tripod mount on it so the full weight of the camera + lens is hanging from the one lug that’s screwed into the tripod mount on the camera body. This makes me nervous. All suggestions would be welcome (as well as where to find a lanyard/strap/tether perhaps in Canada).

    • Vera – thanks for visiting Enthusiast Photographer!

      I’ve seen people do different things. I think putting some gaffer tape (which is a lot more expensive than duck tape, but so worth it!) around the carbiner is a good idea. I’ve seen folks put a zip tie between the carbiner and the D-ring. I’m pretty sure the same strap I’m using could be attached at the normal strap rings and then looped at the D-ring (where I have it on my setup). Those things should protect you from the failures/forgetfulness issues. I haven’t seen the BR tether – will have to check it out.

      The D5200 should have no problem supporting the weight of the 18-300. It isn’t a metal body like the D7100 or the “pro” body D700/D300s/D800/D3/D4, etc. but should be fine supporting the weight for normal shooting. If you fell on it, you run a risk, but I don’t think regular shooting, even on a tripod, is going to affect the body at all. I prefer the tripod mount for my longer lenses mainly for balance (both on the strap and on the tripod), but it is my belief that Nikon has tested lenses at these weights and they aren’t an issue on the tripod or the strap.

      99% of lenses that fall from the body weren’t mounted correctly by the owner. They may think they did it, or even think they heard the “click” but it is almost always a failure to lock the lens fully when mounting. My advice there is to be firm when mounting the lens. Don’t Hulk it, but don’t be dainty either. 🙂

      I’ve heard from a lot of folks who use my “rig” who don’t mount to a tripod, mainly due to how much faster and easier it is than the screw-in mounting. It isn’t exactly cheap, but I just completed a bunch of travel (again) and used the rig extensively. I love it every time I use it! 🙂

      Thanks again for coming by, and please feel free to ask any questions!

      • Thank you for your response. I suspect it’s human error most of the time too. I’ve found a “cord” in the meantime that I’ve used as a safety tether – it’s not pretty but it will keep the camera from hitting the ground.

        As for your rig, I have a Manfrotto tripod – is there a similar option to try with this gear? Thanks again.

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