Classic Cases: British-made, high-quality leather camera straps
Paul Glendell’s Classic Cases are unusual in being British made from superb quality veg tanned leather. I’ve review several of them in the past, the most recent being his quick-off-the-mark design for the screenless Leica M-D. The cases are traditional, made from stiff, high-quality leather which can only improve with age. Similar cases were always popular among Leica owners and there are countless examples, mainly those in the traditional brown leather, still going strong after three-quarters of a century.
The range of straps from Classic Cases also falls into the same mould — exceptional craftsmanship, traditional quality and with that distinctive smell that comes from fine leather goods. Paul sent us five of his straps for review: Three neck designs and two of his braided wrist straps. I’ve been using them for the past few weeks and can now give you my opinion.
Braided Camera Strap
This is a flat woven strap and the review sample came in a rich brown colour but it is also available in a lighter brown and black.
The design is close braided with almost so see through. It lacks the springiness that some other braided straps exhibit. The camera is protected from the split rings by substantial leather sleeves which are effective and look great. However, the leather protector (which can be cut off if you don’t want it) makes attachment a bit fiddly, especially on those cameras such as the Panasonic GX8 which have wider lug surrounds and a smaller hole.
Fortunately the split rings are just right, nice and springy and easy to open with a finger nail. Downside of the substantial camera protectors is that they make the strap stick out from the camera and it can get in the way of the viewfinder quite easily. However, I suspect it is something you get used to and will become less of a problem as the Strap wears on.
This is a relatively short step (105cm) with no adjustment and is comfortable as a neckstrap but on the short side for those who prefer to carry the camera across the shoulder (Classic Cases can make the strap longer on request). It’s a 2cm wide strap with a very flat profile which helps spread the load of he camera and is perfectly comfortable to wear.
The Braided comes in black, rich brown or brown and costs £75.
Braided Wrist Strap
The Classic Cases braided wrist strap is one of the most attractive designs I’ve encountered. It is thinner and lighter than the braided straps you are used to, in particular those from Barton1972, and matches smaller cameras better in my opinion. I first tried the standard version which is 26cm long and comes with a leather adjustment loop to enable it to be pulled tighter on the wrist. The workmanship is exquisite, as with all Classic Cases products and it features a solid leather camera protector to stop the split-ring from damaging the body. Unlike the rather floppy, soft-leather versions on some straps (including Barton), this is a stiff attachment which will wear in well and not become shabby.
I found the 26cm design rather long for my liking. But then this is a matter of personal choice and I do have a very small wrist which makes the strap feel longer. The shorter, 20cm version was more to my liking but I missed the restraining loop of the longer design. This enables the strap to be adjusted to fit snugly around the wrist.
Unlike some competitors, both these braided wrist straps look good on smaller cameras such as the new Olympus PEN-F.
Both these wrist straps, 26 and 20mm, cost £32 and £27 respectively, an extremely reasonable price considering the quality. Both come in a light brown and a rich brown as well as black.
Padded Neck Strap with long shoulder pad.
I particularly like this design because of the extra long (57mm) and wide padded shoulder pad which makes it a very comfortable strap for any camera. It is made from high-quality veg tanned leather and comes in a 110cm length with a 10cm adjustment either way. A nice touch is that the shoulder pad is lined in a choice of red, green or blue pigskin. As with the braided strap, this model comes with anti-chafing pads to protect the camera from the split ring attachments.
Standard Neck Strap with short shoulder pad.
Similar to the above padded neck strap, this version has a shorter 18cm shoulder paid, also available in a choice of red, green or blue pigskin lining. It is the same 110cm length with a 10cm adjustment to range from 100cm to 120cm.
Both these padded straps cost £45, an extremely keen price which makes them exceptional value for money in these days of rising import costs.
The quality of all these Classic Case straps is top-notch and the prices are low in comparison with imported straps. This advantage can only grow following the devaluation of the pound. Paul tells me he hasn’t increased is prices in five years and the wrist straps and solid-leather neck straps have particularly attractive prices. Here is a chance to buy from a British manufacturer, save yourself a bit of money and enjoy even better quality.
Last week at the Leica Society meeting in London I discovered our vintage Leica expert, William Fagan, sporting a Classic Cases strap on his M240. William thinks it is best strap he has ever owned and spoke glowingly of Paul Glendell's helpfulness and quality of workmanship.
You can see the full range of Classic Case straps here. Click the tab for either neck straps or wrist straps.
Product shots by Paul Glendell. Lead picture and the shot of William Fagan by Mike Evans.
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