A few weeks ago Dave from 595Strapco popped over to Worcester bringing with him a pair of prototype Horween leather camera straps for me to play with. I’ve been trialling them since – especially the neck strap – and I think he might be onto something pretty decent with these designs.
I follow Dave on Instagram, and have done since sometime before he made me the Laverton strap I reviewed for him last time. I liked the Laverton strap but at the time it wasn’t unique for it to pull my attention away from the Footprint straps I was using at the time.
Watching Dave’s Instagram since then has been quite interesting. He posts photos of the straps he’s making but also documents some of his product development. What’s been of particular interest for me has been watching his process of finding some quick release clips.
Quick Release Clips
Since I’m constantly swapping from one camera to the next, quick release clips are are must for me. They just make life so much easier. They were in fact one of the big draws to the Footprint straps. Unfortunately the footprint clips haven’t ages particularly well – the rubber heat shrink has frayed and come away leaving the thin bare metal, which is ok, but is perhaps a little function-over-form in its appearance. The clips that Dave has settled on are much smarter. They’re chrome finished and much more chunky. Dave tells me they are used extensively within the equine industry, which apparently means they are strong and of a high quality – which has to be a good thing, it’s certainly reassuring!
What they lack when compared to the footprint strap is the ability to swivel. For me this is definitely something I miss, but whether or not this would be a big deal for anyone else would just come down to personal preference.
Beyond that though, my biggest concern about the clips would be for those who worry about every little mark on their camera. This isn’t relevant for all cameras, but cameras like Leicas where the strap lugs are slightly down the sides of the camera, there might be a possibility of the metal of the clips marking the camera. It’s not a concern for me, since I don’t really mind the odd scuff mark, but for those who do, some sort of protective strip or disk of leather to go with this strap might not go amiss.
When I asked Dave about this just before publishing the review, he said “I’m looking at adding camera protectors to the range, of course at present rubber O rings can be supplied but I’m looking at a more suitable option which can be utilised. In addition if people require something custom adding to a strap this can also be accommodated.”
The clips are one thing, but the interesting story here about the type of leather. Now, I didn’t know anything about leather before I met Dave the other day, and actually I must be honest I have forgotten most of what he said to me. Dave, as it turns out, knows a fair amount about leather – as you’d expect really, it’s at the core of his business.
What I do remember was the main points about the difference between the leather I’m used to with my Footprint straps, the leather Dave uses for his other straps, and the leather he’s used for the straps I’ve been playing with. What I am used to with my footprint straps is what he called traditional bridal leather which is finished on both side. It’s main feature seems to me to be that it’s very hard wearing, but with that comes quite significant stiffness. Some of this stiffness ages away, but some remains – my darker dyed Footprint is still quite stiff even after over a year of use.
The 595 Latherton strap I reviewed last time was made of a quite thick material that Dave informs me is a “premium English veg tan leather”. It was quite stiff when I got it, and whilst it has softened over time it still has a bit of a stiffness to it in the similar way the Footprint straps have – though less pronounced. Thats not to say this is a bad thing, its well finished and quite comfortable, its just quite a stiff material.
Dave’s new Horween strap is different. Apparently it’s made from a US made leather called Horween Chromexcel. Sounds like something a pharmaceutical company would churn out rather than a leather, but nonetheless that’s what it’s called.
Intrigued, I ended up googling this stuff and found this very interesting blog post on Horween’s website. It certainly sounds like pretty special stuff, though most of what that post talks about goes of my head. As such, I’m not really sure why or how, but in use this leather is quite different to the leather I’ve been used to.
The main difference being, that this stuff is anything but stiff, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. I’ve posted a few photos of it on my Instagram, and on more than one occasion it’s been commented how supple it looks. It is indeed very soft, in fact could almost be described as floppy when compared to the other straps I’ve used.
Whether you like it stiff or floppy is probably going to come down to personal taste, but I definitely think I am a floppy strap convert. The supple nature of the material just makes for a very comfortable to wear strap!
Design wise, I find the 595Strapco Horween strap a little bit more interesting than the Laverton too. The Laverton it held together with a couple of simple double headed rivets, whereas this new strap is stitched together with waxed polyester. In use there is no real difference, but aesthetically it’s very nice.
Additionally to the construction, I find the colour of the leather to also be very nice. I find some medium-dark brown leathers to somehow look cheap, but this is far from that.
Strength and Longevity
Of course, I’ve only had it for a few weeks so really I have no idea how it will hold up long term. But what’s surprised me so far is how strong it feels despite its suppleness. Ive certainly had no concerns hanging my Leica M-A or M9 off it, which should give you an idea of the confidence I have in it.
After all of this, what’s really impressive is the price. Have a look at some of the big brand strap websites and your paying at very least £70 for a neck strap like this. Dave is churning out the Horween neck strap at £40!
Overall, I’ve been very impressed! If like me you are constantly swapping cameras you’ll find the clips useful. The leather is genuinely one of the nicest I’ve ever felt and is very comfortable indeed to wear.
My only real concern is about the potential for the metal clips to mark cameras with low mounted strap lugs, but that’s going to come down to the individual and the camera it is to be used with as to whether or not it’s a deal breaker – and it sounds like Dave has a plan for those who might have issue anyway.
Ultimately I shall definitely be getting Dave to make me a Horween leather camera strap. The one I have been using has comfortably supplanted my Footprint straps for day-to-day use, and that is something I genuinely didn’t expect to happen!
If you would like to buy one of Dave’s Horween leather camera straps, they are now in production and you can find them on his website here. He’s also offering 20% off to readers of 35mmc with the code ’35mmc20′!!
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