When I got my D50 it came with the standard Nikon strap. This quickly got on my nerves, I either had the camera bouncing about on my chest but easy to use, or comfortably at my side but a pain to use. Naturally I began to look into sling straps.
After looking at the Black Rapid and Sun sniper I wasn’t overly keen on the tripod mount as it meant I couldn’t leave my quick release plate in place. After a few questions I went for the Op/Tech Utility sling and ordered from WEX Photograpic for about £35 delivered, which is also cheaper than both the other 2 alternatives. Update: This strap is currently £19.99 on WEX, this is almost half what I paid and is worth remembering when you read the rest of the review.
The strap it’s self is well made, a few loose thread ends but nothing overly concerning. The clips slide smoothly and have a good solid connection that inspire trust. The shoulder pad is made of neoprene so is good and grippy and doesn’t move around when loaded, it can move a bit when using the camera but if you set the bottom stop right it should go back into place when you lower the camera again.
As with all Op/Tech straps you can remove the strap from the pad and change to use it as a normal strap if you have the appropriate system connectors or swap out the pad for a different colour/design, though I don’t see this being a huge selling point unless you already have lots of Op/Tech stuff.
The main reason I went for this strap was rather than using a tripod mount it comes with 2 loops you put through the standard mounts leaving the tripod mount free for a tripod….
In use I soon found a big nagging issue, the strap was always in my face. This was especially problematic when shooting portrait where not only was it in my face it was also usually over the viewfinder. After several weeks I had enough and put the connector onto my QR plate (not recommended by any plate supplier by the way) and suddenly the issue was fixed. This shows exactly why the main sling straps use the tripod mount, it’s the right place for this style strap.
To properly fix this issue I ordered a Black Rapid FastenR-2. This is an older design but the 2 has a larger loop and I’m not sure if the Op/Tech connector will fit through the hole in the FastenR-3. This improves the usability 1000%, the whole process is just easier. While this fixes the issue, the camera can’t swivel like on the Black Rapid so I need to keep an eye on this to make sure the mount doesn’t unscrew it’s self.
While the utility sling is indeed a good quality product I feel it has a fairly large flaw. The need to buy a Black Rapid FastenR-2 has pushed the price up to more or less that of the basic Sun Sniper and RS-4. It only takes a few seconds to swap from strap to the QR plate and if you’re using a tripod this shouldn’t be a huge issue anyway as you have to set up the tripod anyway.
Would I buy it again? No, I’d get a Black Rapid RS-4 which also has a nice little pocket for some memory. They may cost a bit more but then they work properly. At least I now have a spare FastenR for when I do.