The 10 Best Camera Harnesses
Why You Need A Good Camera Harness
If you’re an avid photographer, you know how difficult it can be to keep your camera still when you need to use your hands for other things. Traditional camera straps simply dangle the thing around your neck, and however you choose to employ them they usually leave your expensive gear swinging in the wind. Setting the camera down somewhere is often no better an option, as it leaves it vulnerable to everything from sudden drops to theft.
Perhaps more than any other reason, protection for your cameras is the most important impetus behind the purchase and use of a good camera harness. These devices situate your gear securely, giving you both free range of motion and peace of mind. You’ll be able to use both of your hands however you please without worry or difficulty.
Often, event photographers will shoot with more than just one body on hand. A common setup among wedding shooters, for example, is to have one body with a wide angle zoom, and another with a telephoto zoom attached. That way, instead of having to stop and swap lenses when you want to capture something farther away or more tightly packed in close, all you have to do is grab that other body. Without a camera harness, handling two bodies at once is all but impossible.
Some camera harnesses allow you to mount your camera to your body in a shooting position, as well, especially if one of those cameras is an action cam. These harnesses can provide exceptional perspectives on all manner of activities, from skydiving to simply walking down the street.
Which Camera Harness Is Right For You
Determining which camera harness will serve you best has a lot to do with what kind of gear you use and what kind of shooter you are. If you find that you like to mix things up, using different cameras for different situations, then you can go so far as to buy multiple harnesses to ensure that you always have the right tool for a given task. More often than not, however, shooters invest in and get used to one particular system.
Whether you shoot with one or two bodies, DSLR shooters have two primary types of harness to choose from: holster and strap. Each style has its benefits and problems, and the choice will mostly come down to preference.
Strap style harnesses come with very small, very strong loops or rings that attach to the ¼-20 threaded female opening on the underside of the camera. If your camera has any threaded opening on the bottom, it’s that size. It’s been the standard for decades. These loops attach to carabiners on the bottom of a strap that can hang by your shoulder or at the ends of a vest that can hold multiple bodies. These provide the most flexibility in camera placement, and are ideal if your work has you wriggling through tight quarters or large crowds of people.
The downside to strap style harnesses is that they’re less secure than their holster counterparts. Because of that added flexibility, they suffer some of the dangers inherent with basic camera straps, in that you always have to be mindful of your camera’s position in order to protect it. Also, some carabiner designs can come undone more easily than others, even those with screw-lock mechanisms.
Holster style harnesses also have an attachment that screws into the ¼-20 threads underneath your camera, but instead of attaching to a carabiner, these elements are specifically shaped to slide into a corresponding slot on a vest or belt mount. These are the most stable options on the market, but they don’t offer much flexibility. Also, the proprietary holster slot designs make it much harder to jump from brand to brand.
Then, of course, there are the action camera harnesses, and these are all sturdy enough to protect those rugged little cameras. The most important considerations for this type of harness then, are comfort when attached, and potential camera positions.
Whatever you choose, give yourself time to get used to it before taking it out on a job. Nothing looks less professional than dropping your camera on the bride's foot.
Other Event Photography Essentials
If you’re out shooting anything that would require a harness, there’s a good chance somebody’s paying you to do so. As such, you want to ensure that your pictures come out as well-lit and attractive as possible. In addition to a good harness, there are some other materials that can make the difference between amateurish photography and shots that are truly worth their asking price.
For starters, you’re going to need a good flash. These units, more often called speedlites in the professional world, are incredibly versatile. At first, you might experience the kind of harsh, awful images you see whenever you turn on the flash with a cheap camera, but with a little practice, you can make a good flash your best friend.
The best indoor flash photography often results from bouncing the light off of another surface before it hits your subject. Unfortunately, there aren’t always conveniently placed (or colored) surfaces nearby. That’s why it’s smart to grab some kind of bounce attachment for your flash that can create softer light and really make your subjects look glamorous.
Once you’ve been shooting properly with a good flash for a while, you can use some of that event income to invest in some top-tier lenses. The easiest thing to do here is to get a fast, high-quality pair of zooms, one in the wide angle range, and the other in the telephoto range. Ideally, the longest end of the wide should come close to the shortest end of the telephoto, so there is little to no gap between them.
Finally, get yourself a good bag to carry it all around in. It doesn’t need to be something you keep on you throughout a given event, unless of course you’re somewhere that theft is a risk. More often than not, you’ll bring a bag full of gear, set up your essentials on your camera harness, and get shooting.