I have juggled several SLR camera systems over the past 25 years -chronologically: Minolta, Pentax, Canon, Nikon, back to Canon and now Fujifilm. I have never had any substantial regrets after jumping from one religion to the next – with one exception. There is one very simple and inexpensive device that I have a great affinity for; one that is inexplicably only available for one brand and type of camera. There are second-rate and incompetent copies out there, but yet another design flaw seems to prevent the most of the photographic world from using one. More after the jump…
I’m talking about the E1 – not the camera, the strap. Leftover from their film camera era, the E1 strap wraps around the lower and upper lug points on the right side of Canon’s midrange (with a grip) and pro film/Digital SLRs. I first got mine in the early 90’s for my EOS 1n and A2e press kit. Why do I love thee so? Well unlike my other camera kits, I can let go of my E1-enhanced camera and not worry about a fall. If you have ever worked newspapers in a major city as I have, you will know that shoulder/neck straps do snap or slide off with an alarming frequency (or more realistically as a result of the abuse that the average photojournalist applies to it).
I often speak of Canon pro SLRs as being very ergonomic and well placed in my right hand. This is because I spent nearly a decade with a Canon camera as an extension of my arm. I can close my eyes and mimic the gestures my thumb and forefinger performed while operating the camera. I have never been so bonded to a camera as I was to my Canons – but that was due entirely to the fact that the E1 strap created a physical bond between the camera and I. My camera and merged…
I can’t even begin to count the occurrences where if my hand wasn’t softly and comfortably clamped to my camera, I would have been scrambling to pick up the pieces off the pavement. I often demonstrated the usefulness of the strap by gripping the camera vertically with my hand atop, and simply letting go – fingers outstretched for effect. With the E1 comfortably cinched, I had a worry-free link to the tool of my trade.
Before everyone points me to the ones made by Nikon (AH-4) and others, I should point out that the bottom attachment point is not to the upper and lower lug, but to just the top lug, the tripod socket. or in the case of the AH-4; both. From what I gather, there are no other current or recent digital SLRs made by anyone aside from Canon that has a vertical attachment point. I once owned a Mamiya 7II and was painfully frustrated as it did have the lower lug I am fixated upon – but it was on the wrong side of the camera!
All is not without hope, as this article was prompted by my introduction to the Camdapters. Essentially they are just like the many other hand straps that loop through the upper lug point and thread into the tripod socket. Its outstanding feature that may warrant a Packcamera review, is that the baseplate conforms to tripod quick-release systems. This sidesteps the issue of blocked tripod sockets and warrants the added bulk. I am very fond of the Bogen/Manfrotto – essentially a RC-2 plate with a lip that prevents twisting. The Plus version of the Manfrotto Camdapter plate has a similar retention lip.
No, the E1 has no equal, it stands in a class of its own and if it weren’t for the stubborn status-quo practices of other SLR designers, we would all have a lovely and comfortable death-grip on our expensive bits of machinery.