New gear and impressions: Peak Design's 'Leash' shoulder and 'Cuff' wrist strap
I’ve long admired Peak Design products because they offer an elegant and simple solution to the chore that is removing and replacing one’s camera strap, something I do a lot of working at DPReview.
The ‘secret sauce’ of the Peak Design system is what the company calls ‘Anchor Links,’ which are small loops of incredibly strong cord connected to a circular plastic anchor. The cord threads through a camera’s eyelet and the anchor attaches to a Peak Design shoulder or wrist strap.
The company’s Leash (camera strap) and Cuff (wrist strap) have been available for a while, but this update should offer some nice improvements to two already well-thought-out products.
- Both products have been re-worked for a more low profile design, and feature machine anodized aluminum hardware. The strap portion is still made out of ultra strong seatbelt-style nylon.
- The Anchor Links have also been redesigned: The cord portion has been reduced to half the thickness for easier threading through narrow eyelets, but still holds up to 200 lbs like the older anchors. The plastic portion of the anchor is now angled for easier connecting.
- A new aluminum anchor mount (included with leash) can be connected to a tripod socket allowing you to wear your camera more comfortably as a sling.
- The updated Leash gains a second length adjuster. The hardware for the adjuster is now made of aluminum instead of plastic, and the adjuster has a leather strip for easy access.
- The Cuff gains a new aluminum adjustment mechanism. There's also a built in magnet in the leather portion of the strap for storing as a bracelet when a camera is not attached.
- New color options: In addition to 'black on black', there is now an ‘ash’ color option which features tan leather accents and silver aluminum.
Impressions: the Leash
|The new and improved Leash, in use. To remove the strap, simply press on the circular portion of the anchor and slide it up.|
In my seven or so years writing about cameras, it brings a small tear to my eye to think about the cumulative hours spent fumbling to remove and replace camera straps. If only I'd started using Peak Design accessories sooner.
I've been using the updated version of the Leash for about a month now as my primary camera-reviewing strap and it's largely been a good experience. Peak Design sent several of their new Anchor Links along with the review samples and I've been able to keep them on the different cameras I've been juggling. The Leash ships with four of these little connectors, and an additional 4 will set you back $10.
|The old Anchor Links (left) and the newly-designed ones. Both have the same weight limit.|
As mentioned above, the Anchor Links have been redesigned to play nice with narrow eyelets. Still, I ran into several occasions in which I struggled to affix them to certain cameras. Ultimately with the help of a push pin, I found success.
Back to the strap itself: I'm quite fond of the width of the Leash. Thick straps tend to get in my way and irritate my neck. And the nylon material of the Leash seems reassuringly strong.
That said, in general I found the strap too slippery. Sometimes I like to bike with a camera slung around my back. I could not do this with the Leash because my camera kept sliding forward. Simply put, the Leash could definitely benefit from some sort of grip or padding.
It's nice to have two points of adjustment though (the previous version had one). However I can't help but feel like the leather strip connected to the buckle – meant for easy adjustments – is over-engineered. Grabbing the buckle alone seems like an adequate method of adjusting. Furthermore, the leather strip makes loosening the strap easy but tightening it is another story. You must brace the bottom of the Leash against your body with your free hand while pulling up on the leather strip with your other to make it budge.
After a fair trial, I do not think I would purchase a Leash to use on my personal camera. More likely: I will consider Frankenstein-ing my current leather strap to use Peak Design's Anchor Links and Strap Connectors for easy removable.
Impressions: the Cuff
I had less opportunity to try out the Cuff (I've been testing cameras too large to warrant a wrist strap), but I did spend a little time with it on a Ricoh GR as well as a Leica M6. And my impressions of it are almost entirely positive.
The leather portion of the Cuff hides a small magnet that can be moved up around. Why? So that when you are not using the Cuff, you can easily store it out of the way as a bracelet. The Cuff also features a new aluminum adjuster. It simply slides up and down, but works as intended.
|When not using the Cuff, it can be folded up and worn like a bracelet. This keeps it out of the way, but at hand, until it is needed again.|
One issue I did encounter while testing the Cuff is the nylon loop on the Anchor Links can feel too short, forcing you to grip the Anchor Connector along with the camera (see image below). Peak Design, if you are reading this, pretty please offer an Anchor Link with a longer cord.
Update: Peak Design informed us via email that our request for longer cord on the Anchor Links has been submitted to the design team. And not surprisingly, others have made similar requests in the past. With any luck, maybe this is something that will be offered in the near future!
|I wish the cord on the Anchor Links were longer to avoid getting in the way of gripping the camera.|
The Cuff may be a tad overkill for a camera as small and light as the Ricoh GR (shown above) but proved appropriate for shooting with a Leica M6 + 40mm Rokkor combo. It also looked darn nice attached to the latter.
Overall, as far as quick attaching strap systems go, I’ve yet to find one I like better. Both of these products are well-made and seem both reliable and durable. Though there are aspects of the Leash I still feel could be improved upon, the Cuff is one of the best-engineered and nicest-looking wrist straps I've used.
The original Leash and Cuff retailed for $20 and $35 respectably. The new versions are $30 and $40. For a decent camera strap, $40 does not strike me as outrageous, but $30 for a wrist strap is certainly on the pricey side. Ultimately, I think I could justify the latter purchase, because there really isn't any wrist strap quite like the updated Leash (especially the magnet bit). And the 'ash' color option sure looks fly. I'll probably skip the Leash though.
What I like about the system:
- Peak Design’s Anchor Links make it simple to remove and replace a strap
- The cord portion of the Anchor Links is now narrower than before for cameras with small eyelets
- New ‘Ash’ colorway is quite sharp-looking
What I didn’t like about the system:
- Metal hardware on a shoulder/wrist strap can scratch your camera
- The loop on Anchors Link is too short, gets in the way of gripping some cameras
|I am not a fan of the new easy-grip strap adjusters on the Leash. They make it easy to loosen to the strap but difficult to tighten it.|
What I like about the Leash:
- Narrow strap with mostly low-profile design stays out of the way when shooting
- Two strap adjustments points
What I didn’t like about the Leash:
- Leash has has no grip to stop it from sliding or padding for shoulder
- Leash quick adjusters feel over-engineered and have difficult time tightening the strap
|The Cuff in 'ash' has a classy look.|
What I like about the Cuff:
- Movable magnet in Cuff is a nice touch, makes it easy to store wrist strap as bracelet when not in use
- New strap adjuster is simple but effective way to tighten or loosen the Cuff
What I didn’t like about the Cuff:
- $30 is a tad pricey for a wrist strap
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