One of the problems when carrying a DSLR, is that occasionally you might want to go somewhere with your camera, where you want to take the minimum amount of bag to protect it, but not have a second strap around your neck / shoulders when you take your camera out to shoot.
Another problem, is that you might go somewhere that doesn’t allow you to carry even a small bag into a venue (some art galleries, for example), but you still want your camera on a strap.
Here’s a solution that ads a Blackrapid connector, on a slider that runs along the small bag’s shoulder strap, and which, when you detach the strap from the bag and join its ends together, turns it into effectively a standalone Blackrapid camera strap.
The donor equipment
In this case, the bag is a Lowepro Toploader 70AW. This is a bag that can take a full size pro body, with a medium sized lens like a 24-70 still attached.
Two key features of this bag, the first is that the zipper that closes it – it’s one continuous length, even though there’s two zips and a buckle in the middle. That’ll be important later. The second, the shoulder strap clips on at both ends, so can be removed.
For the dropper to connect the Blackrapid connector, I’m using a Blackrapid Backpack Strap as the donor for all the parts.
This has the advantage that it comes with all the bits you need – the BR connector, the safety catch to cover the thumbscrew (not shown in this pic), and importantly, the webbing has a loop sewn on the end.
The Backpack strap has two plastic carabiners on it (the updated version only has one). One is connected to the full length of the strap, the other, to a short loop (left and right images above, respectively).
The other parts you’ll need, are a nice smooth stainless steel d-shackle, wide enough to fit the bag’s strap, but narrow enough that it won’t be able to slide over the clips, and off the end, and a safety splitring.
- First Step, you need to cut through the eyelet of the plastic carabiner that’s connected to the long section of the strap. The sewn loop on the end of that strap is something we need to preserve.
- You need to cut the pull tag (next to the blackrapid logo left pic) off the end of the strap, so you can unthread the full length of the strap from the cleat (right pic).
- You need to cut the short strap and carabiner free of the cleat, so you have it as a separate piece.
Now, you’re ready to reassemble.
You’ll want to seal the cut end of the webbing with a bit of fire (I’ll leave it to you as to how to create that). The difficult part is getting it back through the cleat, which isn’t strictly designed for a double layer of webbing. It’s doable, just difficult. When you’re heat-sealing it, try to squash it flat, so it’ll feed through more easily. You could then double it over with glue / stitching so that it can’t possibly go back through.
Don’t forget to thread on the Blackrapid clip in the process.
The splitring is optional, but what it does, is prevent the pin in the shackle from turning, so that it can’t come loose.
Going back to the advantage of the Lowepro bag having a single zipper – once you connect your camera to the Blackrapid you can now put it in the bag while leaving it connected, and then close the bag behind it.
Not shown – The safety tether I use with any connection system. In this case, I attach it to the shackle, since the split ring means it isn’t capable of undoing.
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