Camera Accessories in Style
Non-technical camera accessories can be sensible and stylish if they make unusable things useable or missing things available without causing the camera or the person carrying it to look dissonant. Accordingly, the following accessories should be seen not as a collateral by-catch but rather as “essentials”.
Camera accessories: Straps for Leicas
Neither the Leica M nor the Hasselblad X1D-50c comes with a decent carrying strap. Instead, the box contains a short, narrow nylon strap whose only redeeming feature is that it doesn’t have the camera manufacturer’s name printed on it in bright letters. But a camera strap, whether for the neck or wrist, is the more or less permanent connection between man and machine, which the former carries on his body for hours. Who wants to inflict cheap nylon thread on themselves, regardless of the question of style, which would only allow nylon in the form of garter belts in any case? When it comes to straps and belts, veritable confusion seems to be widespread in the product management of traditional camera manufacturers. I’m happy to help out.
Next to spare batteries, a second charger, and memory cards, a decent strap is the first additional investment a style-conscious photographer should look into. Fortunately, there are straps for every possible taste and in such a wide diversity that the right strap can be found for any outfit. It therefore follows that one strap alone is not enough!
Rock & Roll straps
After trying out many, many different straps on my Leica cameras, I finally settled on the Rock & Roll straps (https://rocknrollstraps.com), which are inspired by the guitar straps of the 1960s and 1970s. The workmanship is solid, the leather soft, and the special construction that gives the strap a kind of shock-absorbing function makes the camera appear lighter, which is especially beneficial for the digital Leica M. The straps are available in different colors and generally in two different widths and lengths and are delivered very quickly and attractively packaged.
I first saw the strap on Thorsten von Overgaard during our multiday street photography workshop in Munich. However, it took several months and various other straps before I settled on a Rock & Roll strap. Today, it is my everyday strap for the Leica M10.
Luigis camera accessories
For more great straps, check out Luigi from Rome (http://www.luigicases.com). Luigi is no unknown in the Leica scene, especially thanks to his camera cases. His straps are also made of such fine Italian leather that you could almost think he had personally rubbed the cow down daily with buttermilk. Luigi’s straps are more elegant than the Rock & Roll straps, but they are better suited for lighter cameras than the digital Leica M. My two analog (and thus considerably lighter-weight) Leicas therefore often sport Luigi’s straps.
Please do not be deterred by the website, which is by far one of the worst and ugliest websites in existence today. All communication runs through Luigi’s daughter Ginevra, since she is the only one conversant in English. The deliveries are consistently reliable – and I have ordered from Luigi frequently, most recently a Tazio Deluxe strap in black leather, fully lined in red suede and 2 cm wide with a special length of 145 cm – and the quality of his products is exquisite. Special requests are not a problem, by the way, as long as they fit on a cowhide. If it weren’t for that website …
Chief Mate camera straps
No overview of straps is worth its salt if it fails to mention the Chief Matestraps by neunzehn72. The robust leather straps have a clever quick release buckle that allows you to instantly switch between different models to match your outfit or go without a strap altogether. While the leather doesn’t become soft until it has been in use for a while, it appears to be designed to last for several generations. The strap, which I wear on my favorite camera, my Leica MP, is available in different colors and lengths (https://www.chief-mate.com).
Accessories by Angelo Pelle
One more worth mentioning is Angelo Pelle in Florence, who basically does the same things as Luigi, only with a better website (http://www.angelo-pelle.com).
However, in my opinion, the quality of his products does not come close to Luigi’s. I have a “Braided Neckstrap Nero,” but it is not as comfortable as a Rock & Roll strap, as finely crafted as Luigi’s straps, or as robust as a neunzehn72 strap.
The Arte di Mano products from Seoul are said to be very good, too, but I personally have no experience with them.
Camera accessories: Cases for a Leica
The Leica M cameras are on the ergonomic level of 1954, when the mortality rate in all levels of the population was significantly higher than today. Accordingly, there are some grips available in the aftermarket that are screwed beneath the base of the camera or attached to the flash shoe. These and other fancy accessories are meanwhile also offered directly by Leica. Personally, I find both to be of questionable attractiveness and have therefore been a satisfied user of Luigi’s camera cases (http://www.luigicases.com) for years now. These are tailor-made for the different Leica models (and other cameras) and can be configured according to the user’s own wishes
My personal favorite is the “Harmony” model in brown leather for silver cameras and in black leather for – don’t panic now – black cameras. Both boast red lining, contrast seams, and the hinged lid to protect the back display, in addition – and this is the most important feature—to the built-in wooden grip. It is barely visible but can be felt, and it gives the camera a much better grip. Just add the right strap and you’re done.
By the way, an analog Leica is carried most stylishly without a case. It is significantly lighter than its digital sister and also less sensitive, so an analog Leica can and should look like a Lenny Kravitz model after a car accident.
Camera accessories: Straps for the Hasselblad X1D-50c
Everything I have written above about straps for Leica cameras also applies to and works for the Hasselblad X1D-50c. While that camera is not significantly heavier, it is slightly larger than a Leica M, especially due to the lenses.
Accordingly, I think the strap can also be a bit more weighty. A Rock & Roll strap works well, but I personally decided on a Single Cross Strap Full Beard in tweed and dark brown leather by Barber Shop Bags from Bassano del Grappa in Italy (http://www.barbershopbags.com/en/single-cross-strap-full-beard-tweed-e-dark-brown-leather_bbs-fb-3.html).
I know ;-). I already used that strap on my Canon 5D Mark III and my Canon 5DS R. The highlight of the strap is its attachment by the camera’s tripod socket and the free movement of the camera on the strap, which allows it to be lifted very quickly from hip to eye level without moving the strap. This is demonstrated very well here: https://youtu.be/JgGHpYiAP94
The workmanship is excellent, the product is well thought-out, the ergonomics are outstanding, and the price is more than fair.
Camera accessories: UV filters for lenses
Once you are set to wear your camera in style, all you have to do is get rid of those annoying lens caps. Fortunately, the little buggers help you with that by getting lost without any effort on your part. If you are traveling, keeping an eye out for breathtaking landscapes and impressive portraits, and waiting for the “decisive moment,” that special instant Henri Cartier-Bresson spoke of, you should always carry your camera ready for use and opened. A forgotten lens cap on the lens has caused many such a special moment to pass by undocumented.
To avoid scratching the glass of the lens or subjecting it to a sandblasting at the beach, I recommend using a so-called UV filter, which will protect not only the lens but also the sensor from UV radiation that can negatively impact image quality. Although this is not strictly necessary for modern, high-quality lenses due to the protective layer that is already applied to the sensor, it certainly can’t hurt. We are more concerned with a mechanical protection of the lens so that we can wear it ready for use in all environments.
The quality of the filter glass and its coating is decisive to ensure that it doesn’t affect the image or the performance of the lens. Anyone who screws a €40 UV filter in front of a €5,000 lens is a cretin who would likely also eat caviar with a metal spoon: https://petapixel.com/2018/06/20/why-you-dont-put-a-cheap-filter-on-an-expensive-lens/
UV filters by Schneider Kreuznach & Breakthrough Photography
I can recommend the UV filters of Schneider Kreuznach B&W (https://schneiderkreuznach.com/de/fotooptik) and Breakthrough Photography (https://breakthrough.photography/collections/all) based on years of good experiences made on various different photo travels. The latter grant an astounding 25 years’ warranty on their products. Once applied to the lens, the filter can usually remain there. If it should break, which has never happened to me yet, or get scratched, it is easier to buy a new filter than to send a lens in for repair. In tropical or arctic regions, air may condense between the filter and the lens. If you don’t pay attention to that and forget to briefly remove the filter or give the air enough time to adjust to the temperature difference, your photos will get an Andrew Blake soft porn look—without any Instagram filter.
Camera accessories—what else is there?
There are countless ways to pimp or mod your camera – that is, to upgrade and modify it, so to speak. Style lies in originality, in authenticity, and is therefore inherent. What is still missing – and I am certain there will be a small sigh of relief among the readership of this brief treatise – is the subject of camera bags. Bags! I don’t know what Google has to say, but the keyword has been dropped for me now and I am ready. For bags!
However – and if you know me, you know I am a bag fetishist and therefore addicted and by law a victim, certifiably insane, and not responsible for what I write now – bags are a wide field full of landmines of tastelessness. Fortunately, nobody knows me here, since I write anonymously under a pseudonym.
But fear not, my worthy comrades-in-arms; you will find in me the prefect travel guide through the wonderful world of bags which, although reduced due to its unnecessary restriction to the special interest topic of camera bags, is nevertheless not small. Therefore, I must put you off until another day at this point, when the editors of the Fratuschi team permit me to write another, later blog article on the topic of BAGS!
In any case, we have come to an end here.
P.S.: If you stick out your tongue and use your stomach as a stabilizing element when taking pictures, like I do, it really doesn’t matter what your camera looks like.
Other articles on Fratuschi by this guest author:
- Hasselblad X1D: The First Mirrorless Medium-Format Camera
- Travel Photography in Style
- Leica M: The Essentials
- American Express Centurion: Personal Experience Report
- Centurion Card: Myth and Reality
About the author:
Audemar ended his modeling career far too early to take over as Chief Coordinator Writers Stuff. Or something like that… He is married to me but wants to remain anonymous and therefore writes under a pseudonym, which we won’t reveal…