Friday, September 2, 2016

Peak Design SL-2 Review

After buying some new (and heavier) equipment, I really needed to find a system that I could use across the board with all of my photo gear. My much loved and comfortable 12 yo Calumet strap was also looking a little (or a lot) worn and wasn't very quickly interchangeable.

I like having strap that can be used as a shoulder sling, or as a neck strap. Many people recommended the Black Rapid and Peak Design systems. I looked into the former first. What I didn't like about the Black Rapid systems, was that they connect only to one point. I could probably figure out a way to add a second fastening point, but that would take away some of their sliding and adjusting capability. If a lens has a tripod collar with more than one mounting hole, it doesn't seem like a good idea to use just one for all of the stress of the connection.

So I looked into Peak Design. I like that they're a local San Francisco company. Initially, I was apprehensive about the "Anchor Link" system. They state that they're good for 200 lbs. (they're made of Dyneema cord) but they didn't instantly inspire confidence in me. However, they've been revised with a color coded method of showing wear and when they should be replaced, so I felt a little better about them. I've gotten over my worries, especially since I'm doing an unintentional inspection overtime I hook them onto a strap. They're also unobtrusive so they don't get in the way when not connected to a strap. Attaching them is easy and they run about $20 for four (SL-2 strap includes four plus mounting plates - read on).

After looping them to the strap hooks on one of my bodies, I pul the strap out of the box and find what I think to be a manufacturing defect. The  grip "stuff" appears to be on the outside of the strap. With the orientation of the adjustment buckles, it looked that way to me. I wrote to Peak Design asking them about this and included a photo. They got back to me quickly stating that this is how they were designed.

Peak Design SL-2 strap
"... the Slide was designed with the main feature being it gives maximum camera movement as a sling or neck strap. The grip on the outside is there too give you the option to have less movement."

OK, so I guess I can live with that. I tried turning the strap over to use the grip side, but one of the buckles dug into my chest a bit when wearing a t-shirt. Putting it in my bag for the first time, I folded it too tightly and put a kink in the middle of the strap where the padding is. The function isn't effected at all. It's not a deal breaker, but I would've preferred to have some kind of warning not to do that. I play with stuff, I break stuff. I do QA in addition to sales and marketing for the software company I work for. I find things that other people don't seem to notice or care about.
Connected to strap rings

I've had the strap and system for over a month. It works for me. I've attached anchors to both of my bodies, super tele lens strap rings and bought the PROdrive Screws to screw into tripod and collar mounts for when I want to carry. It works well for me, because they attached to straps quickly (no more threading), and are inexpensive  enough to buy for all of my gear.

The SL-2 strap works as a shoulder strap, sling or neck strap. It's made out of what looks like seat belt material (kind of cool) which seems very strong. It comes with 4 anchors and a small Arca-Swiss plate for more mounting options. I like that it doesn't use carabiner clips which could scratch up my equipment and be noisy. I am careful when putting the SL-2 in my camera bag, so the metal buckles don't hit my other gear. I'm going to look into their Clutch and Cuff straps as other options for when I'm on the go.

The system works, has unique features, is expandable, is priced well among with competitive landscape and they respond quickly to support email. They have other products such as their Everyday Messenger, which I think is worth considering if one is in need of it. They've also just launched a new product called the Range Pouch. I applaud the company for moving ahead and providing new products with differentiating features, rather than cranking out a product version that provides nothing new.

Hook it up and go shoot.

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