$18 - Op/Tech Stabilizer Strap Review
In search of a camera carrying system that would allow me quick access to my camera while hiking, I came across the Peak Design Capture System and Op/Tech Stabilizer Strap. Each being very different, I took the stabilizers out on separate hikes to test their durability, functionality, quick access, and comfort over several hours of hiking. Here are my findings for the Op/Tech Stabilizer Strap:
The Op/Tech Stabilizer Strap is simply a neoprene strap with an opening for your lens to slide thru. The fully adjustable belt buckles around your body and adds stabilization to a camera that’s being supported by your camera’s neck strap. Skeptical at first, I wasn’t too sure how this product would hold up while wearing a hiking backpack and needing full arm movement. I tested this on a 6 mile hike (with a 3,350 feet gain) of Mt. Table in Washington, this involved hiking up steep talus and plenty of opportunities to lose my footing.
The stabilizer is constructed out of a Neoprene pad, nylon webbing and plastic tabs. It looks cheap, but unless you accidentally cut this with a knife or fall down against sharp rock, I can’t imagine this stabilizer actually breaking on you.
After you make multiple adjustments to get the camera to lay flat against your chest, the stabilizer works as intended, I experienced no swaying of the camera from side to side or up and down. If you plan on using using your built in flash tho, you may have to take it off since it’ll block some of the light. Also, this product adds no additional fall protection to your camera.
Access to Camera:
I’d have to say this is the downfall of the stabilizer. To pull it up and take a photo, you have to unstrap the belt, take your photo, and then rewrap the belt around yourself and try to re-buckle it. This might be ok for most photographers, but for outdoors photographers wearing a hiking pack, you have to try to re-slide the belt between your back and the backpack each time, it got really annoying.
After spending the first 20 minutes of my hike stopping all the time to readjust and find the best positioning, it didn’t feel too bad. After about an 45 minutes tho, the weight of the camera around my neck really started to hurt. I didn’t enjoy the hike until I figured out a way to take the camera strap around my neck and actually carabiner it to the top of my hiking pack. The stabilizer helps keep the camera in one place but in no way takes the weight off your neck, which can add some physical wear and tear on a long hike. So supporting the weight on my backpack really made the difference for me.
Overall, the product works as intended and created for. I think most photographers will find it handy if they need their hands free and don’t want their camera swinging around. Is it a great solution for those active outdoor and adventure photographers who are wearing a lot of gear? I can’t say it really is unless you modify it, but it is quicker than unpacking your bag each time. I’ll certainly pack this product in my camera bag, but it’ll mostly get used after my pack is off.