The Wrong Strap

What if the whole world really is… wrong?

And when you find out: what then?

I did a quick image search on “camera wrist strap” – came back with hundreds of photos, as you might imagine. And in every one of the photos I saw: the wrist strap was attached to the upper right-handed side of the camera.

Right is Wrong
Right, but probably Wrong.

I’ve been shooting recently with the old film-based Leica CL, which like a few other cameras, such as the M5, only has strap lugs on the left side of the camera. When you hang the camera from a neck strap, it’s “sideways” – err, in “portrait format.”

As an experiment, I put a wrist strap on that left side – and for a manual-focus camera, it is much superior strap placement. So much so that I’m truly dumbfounded that it’s not a more common style of use (and that I never saw or tried it years back when I used an M5).

With a wrist strap on your left hand, you raise the camera into what’a really be the most-stable shoot-ready pose. There’s no moment of handing the stability and weight from right to left hands. Left-hand grip is faster, pure and simple.

For manual lenses, left-hand grip also gives you a chance to do some pre-focus even as you’re setting up, well-before you’ve raised the camera to eye level. Especially easy for lenses with a focus tab like most Leica glass or many small rangefinders like the Canonet, though it also works well on old manual Nikon and Canon FD SLR lenses.

But no need to take my word for the merits of the left-handed grip. Consider this guy:

Photography Made Difficult
W. Eugene Smith, 1954 (source credited to Jun Miki in the late, great Nippon Camera, April '55 Edition.
Check out this Tumblr!)

When It Fails

A lot of modern cameras are meant for one-handed operation. That hand is inevitably the right hand. And many newish cameras – so many – are now focus-by-wire, even when using the focus ring. For those cameras, focus-by-feel isn’t an option, and you may still need to hit the back focus button (if you have one: sternly looking at you, digital Leica CL). Sorry.

Big rangefinders, like the Bronica RF645, usually aren’t typically speed machines anyway. Cranking from infinity to one meter is more than a ninety-degree turn. Still, you can make it work with practice.

Have a wrist strap? Try switching it up.