The Camera Bag: Ilott’s leather wrist and shoulder camera straps both elegant and practical


posted Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 5:15 PM EDT


Camera straps are as important for me for good photography as lens hoods, spare batteries and a camera bag. A good camera strap doesn't get in my way when I am shooting and it makes my work more comfortable. But I don't like the wide black nylon straps that come with most cameras and I'm always on the lookout for alternatives. Recently I happened upon a truly classic option -- fine leather wrist and shoulder straps from Miami-based Ilott Vintage. (Note: Ilott Vintage is the same company we reported on last year that restored old cameras and refinished them in gorgeous wood veneers.)

These "Made in the USA" straps are handcrafted of top-grade leather and fitted with solid metal hardware, clips and studs. The Ilott Vintage straps remind me of the nearly indestructible straps I used to have on my film cameras, and their craftsmanship is truly impressive. Made of top grade cowhide colored with a non-toxic, vegetable-based penetrating dye and sealed with a water-resistant top coat, they are finished by buffing with sheep wool to give them a mellow gloss, says Creative Director Andrew Bellamy. "They are built to be family heirlooms," he says.


And since today's cameras are now available in a variety of colors, Ilott makes straps in a few complementary hues that could match perfectly with, say, a white Olympus PEN E or a red Fuji XF1. But don’t be deceived by the trendy palette, these straps are designed to be tough and fully functional.

Personally I don’t like the ugly, black, logo-emblazoned nylon straps included with most cameras. When I got my first mirrorless model, a Panasonic Lumix GF-1, I was living in the Pacific Northwest and had developed the style of holding my camera in my hand rather than hanging it from my shoulder. But wrapping a nylon strap around my hand never worked; the strap always slipped in front of the lens as I walked. So I went strapless in Seattle for a while. The nylon strap just never felt very safe or secure, so I eventually ended up having a friend make me a custom leather wrist strap.

These Ilott Vintage straps are just what I had wanted for my GF-1. For cameras with eyelet lug mounts, they attach to the camera with split rings -- and for cameras without lugs, you can get a lug adapter for the tripod socket. Swivel snap hooks attach to the rings and keep the straps flat in your hand. "Classic Demi" wrist straps costs US$44 and come in yellow, white, brown and tan. Shoulder straps range from $178 (for a LeBron James-inspired MVP Deluxe limited edition) to $84.

To find out more about Ilott Vintage camera straps, go to: Through Friday, July 5, 2013, they are having a 20% off sale; IR readers should use promo code July 4.