Ona Lima camera strap
$69 / £45 | www.onabags.com

Camera straps are not, on the face of it, the most exciting accessories in the world but they do inspire strong feelings on the part of many photographers. While most people stick with the strap that came in the box with their camera, for a lot of enthusiasts the quest for the 'perfect strap' is an ongoing and enjoyable diversion. And a mostly harmless one - after all, as far as camera accessories go, unlike lenses, tripods and flashguns, straps are generally on the cheaper end of the spectrum. 

The Ona Lima strap is available in three colors (field tan - shown here, 'smoke' and black) and comes attractively packaged, wrapped in tissue paper in a cardboard box. 

Like a lot of enthusiast photographers, I'm always on the lookout for pretty things to put on my camera or in my bag. I picked up the Ona Lima strap recently on a whim, at my local camera store. I'm not ashamed to admit the packaging was what initially got my attention. Each Lima strap comes packed in tissue paper inside a stout cardboard box about the size of a hardback book. The impression of considered elegance extends (fortunately) to the strap itself, which is constructed almost exclusively from waxed canvas and leather.

I say 'almost exclusively' because in a nod to comfort, the shoulder strap is filled with a layer of neoprene. This makes it immediately more comfortable than the unpadded straps that are typically bundled with cameras. Neoprene isn't the most attractive material on earth, but it's great at absorbing weight.

Key features:

  • Hand-made from waxed canvas and leather
  • Neoprene-padded neckline
  • Dual (2 x 2) length adjustment buckles
  • Designed for camera kits weighing up to four pounds (~2 kg)
  • Drop length: Adjustable from 19.5 inches - 23.5 inches (49.5 cm - 60 cm)
  • Total length: 63 inches (160 cm)

The Lima strap is designed for camera / lens combinations on the smaller, lighter side (Ona's website suggests four pounds, or roughly two kilos) and after trying it out with a Nikon D800 and 24-120mm F4 lens (total weight ~4 pounds) I think that's a sensible guideline. I certainly wouldn't fancy using it to support anything heavier around my scrawny neck. The Lima's padding is good enough that carrying this camera and lens combination is comfortable for a while, but the weight distribution is nowhere near as good as my luxurious (but comparatively unattractive) full neoprene Op-Tech strap. 

The Lima's leather straps have two sets of buckles each, which serve to adjust the 'drop' of the camera from 19.5 inches (49.5 cm)  to a maximum of 23.5 inches (60 cm). I'm not a huge fan of this aspect of the design since the (arguably unnecessary) extra adjustment point adds bulk to the strap which is a bit annoying when stuffing the camera into a bag. 19.5 inches (49.5 cm) is a little on the long side too, for a minimum length but a leather punch makes short work of adding some extra eyelets if you need to shorten the strap.  

In contrast, the Lima strap is a perfect companion for the Fujifilm X100S. The X100S is a pretty light camera at around 16 ounces (just under half a kilo) so anything with a little more padding than (for example) piano wire makes for a reasonably comfortable strap, but the difference in terms of perceived total weight between the Lima and the slim unpadded strap that came with the camera is noticeable. 

Let's be honest though - if you're interested in a strap like the Lima, comfort probably isn't your main priority. You're interested in it because it looks good. Really good. If you're a fan of leather, stitched canvas, straps and buckles (which you should be) and you appreciate fine workmanship (which you should do), you'll appreciate the Lima. At $69 it isn't exactly cheap, but it's a lot less expensive than some of the similar straps and cases out there which aim for the same sort of classic, handmade aesthetic.

The Lima is exceptionally well-constructed. Two sets of length adjustment buckles offer a maximum extension of 23.5 inches, although they do make the strap bulkier than it probably needs to be.

Note that the lowermost (black) leather strap visible in this image is not integral to the Lima. I salvaged these from a junk-shop Nikkormat.
These chrome studs attach the leather straps to the waxed canvas and neoprene-filled shoulder pad.

The only thing about the Lima that I'm not sold on is the double-buckle design of the strap ends. It's not immediately obvious until you actually attach the thing to a camera, but each of the straps has two buckles along its length, which are there to allow you to adjust how high you want the camera to hang on your chest. The overall effect is (and I apologize for the word I'm about to invent) rather 'buckley' and means that the strap takes up more space than it needs to. This is especially noticeable when the camera is set down or stowed in a camera bag.

I'm six foot (1.8 m) with a pretty normal-sized torso (I think) and with the two sets of buckles threaded for minimum strap length (19.5 inches/(49.5 cm), my camera sits exactly where I want it - just above my trouser belt. If I was much shorter, the camera would sit too low. If you find that the minimum 19.5-inch extension limiting, a $10 hole-punch will make short work of adding some extra eyelets into the upper of the two straps. Leather is very co-operative when it comes to things like that. 

Summing up:

Overall, I'm loving the Lima. In a practical sense it probably isn't objectively superior to similar accessories on the market but that's not the point. It looks great, it's exceptionally well constructed, and it matches the aesthetic of my carry-around camera.

I certainly wouldn't want to use it with anything heavier than a mid-sized DSLR (at which point something like the Op-Tech Utility Strap is much better at distributing weight), but for a typical entry-level DSLR or interchangeable lens camera the Lima is perfectly comfortable. Although I'm not sold on the two sets of adjustment buckles, it's not a major annoyance.

What we like:

  • Excellent build quality
  • Old-fashioned aesthetic without being too 'hipster'
  • Neoprene-filled shoulder pad aids comfort when carrying mid-sized cameras

What we don't like:

  • Dual adjustment buckle design adds bulk (for little obvious gain)
  • You'll need a leather punch if you want shorter than 19.5 inch 'drop' length.