So I met Harry Benz when I was in Toronto. My buddy Adam Marelli (probably the most knowledgeable guy about composition and photography) introduced me to him.
I shot Harry an email, and we met at a bar in Toronto in the evening, when I was teaching a workshop there. He came in, cool clear glasses, tall guy, with tons of enthusiasm.
I have never met anybody in my life so enthusiastic about camera straps and leather making. The man was a true artisan. He makes all of his straps by himself, and doesn’t skimp on quality. He put in all these tiny touches that I would have never noticed or appreciated; like how he uses water buffalo for leather (the toughest yet softest leather), while others use simple cow leather. Not only that, but he’s made the straps thicker around the “O” rings to prevent scratching of the camera, whereas other people just put in cheap pieces of leather.
He was also generous enough to make me an “a la carte” strap by measuring my neck and camera, and getting it to fit me. I got a nice brown leather tint, and two simple lines drawn through it. Classic, simple, and minimalist, my favorite style.
I’ve been through so many straps over the years. Honestly it’s the nicest leather strap I’ve ever used. As I’ve used it more, it has gotten even softer and more molded to my body, and it is even easy to switch from having it dangle around my neck (to wrapping it around my wrist).
Ultimately I’ve discovered I prefer neck straps over wrist straps. Why? It’s easier to drink a coffee and text on my phone when I have a neck strap, whereas a wrist strap can get in the way. Also when taking a piss, it’s annoying to always put away your camera in your bag (instead of just slinging it diagonally across your body, and facing the camera from your back). Don’t worry, I never get any “splatter” on the camera ;).
Anyways, my heart goes out to Harry. He is a hustling one man team, not making a huge profit on these straps. He barely has any time to market his straps, so I wanted to help a brother out. After all, what is more inspirational than seeing someone dedicate their entire soul, time, energy, and effort into creating a one of a kind artisinal product?
At the end of the day, a strap is just a strap to hold your camera. But it comes down to having something that suits you the best.
Luigi makes great straps too, but Harry’s straps are much more affordable, and feel more sturdy in my opinion.
Harry also has given me a wrist strap which is beautiful and minimalist to try out. Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to test it out yet, as I’ve been loving the neck strap so much.
At the end of the day, I would recommend his strap if you shoot with a Fuji, a Leica, or some other micro 4/3rd camera, and if you like leather (and want to look like a trendy hipster with all these other leather goods). Don’t get it if you have a big ass DSLR or any other heavy camera.
So support Harry and continue to let him live his dream of making the best possible camera strap, especially for us street photographers who are suckers for new accessories for our cameras. No but seriously, it’s a damn sexy strap. It’s comfortable, fashionable, and functional.
You can pick up a vintage brown “B” strap for $140. It’s not cheap, but trust me; it will probably be the last strap you ever will need to buy.
But if you’re strapped for cash, don’t buy it. Save your money and remember to buy books, not gear.