We’ve covered a couple of the Sun Sniper products already, since we find photography and the outdoors frequently go together. But my review of the Sun Sniper Strap Surfer is based entirely on using it indoors. That may sound counter-intuitive to some, but it makes perfect sense to me. The hazards encountered outdoors are no match for Interbike 2012. Imagine 25,000+ attendees packed into two floors of a convention center, with cycling gear displays from 1,200 brands. Throw in some cycling celebrities, and it’s a photographer’s dream (or nightmare). Having a camera handy in a situation like this is important. Not only are we there to bring our readers photos of the newest gear, but it’s not every day that we run into Mario Cipollini, George Hincapie, Ned Overend, Dario Pegoretti, or Miguel Indurain. Since I enjoyed my review of the original Sun Sniper, I figured I could trust the Strap Surfer for a couple of days at the show. It didn’t let me down.
At first glance, the Strap Surfer isn’t even recognizable as a camera strap. There is a metal plate, a nylon strap with some hardware for adjusting length (which has a steel wire running through it) , and the stainless steel bearing connector that fits in your trip socket, snugging down with a little rubber gasket that works like a crush washer. It doesn’t even look like you could attach it to a messenger bag or backpack. But the plate is actually two pieces held together with those small and powerful magnets that are showing up in unlikely places. Pop them apart, and then you can thread a strap between the “S” shaped halves before snapping them back together. Then attach the connector to your camera, adjust the length, and you’re ready to go. Almost. On my first day, I found that the strap from my STM Velo messenger bag was rolling over in the sliding plate, which meant that my fast draw wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked. It could have been that the strap is a bit on the thin side, or that there wasn’t much tension on it, since my bag wasn’t weighed down with a laptop at the time, but performance was just ok.
Day two was much different. Thanks to some coconut water leaking in my messenger bag, I switched to a Pacsafe Ultimatesafe 32L backpack. (Look for a review on this innovative and highly secure backpack coming soon) Although the Strap Surfer is intended for a messenger bag, it worked very well mounted to one of the shoulder straps. All I had to do was drop my hand to my side, and my camera was right there. While I was worried that my camera would swing all over the place suspended from a short strap, it almost seemed to do the opposite. As I walked, it just hung straight down, making it easy to grasp without looking, and slid smoothly along the strap as I brought it up to eye level. Too easy.
The Sun Sniper Strap Surfer allowed me to conveniently get the shots I needed, and not surprisingly, started quite a few conversations. It amused me to see someone stop talking about their $10,000 bicycle to ask about my $88 camera strap. Once upon a time, other photography geeks would ask about my camera. Instead, it’s all about the strap now. They could see how well it worked for me, and wanted to know who made it, and where they could get one. The answer to both questions is sunsniper.com. Their website could use a little more polish, and the translation from German to English isn’t perfect, but the quality of their products more than makes up for that. I’m grateful for the opportunity to try out their gear, as it works, and makes my job that much easier.