Acru's "Bulge" Leather Neck Strap
Want to make your camera looks more stylish? Get a leather strap! Well, that's one way to do it. Now, I’m not one of those hipster photographers but I do love leather straps. A photographer can be stylish too you know. However, a good leather strap is so hard to find. Seriously they are. And they’re also not that comfortable even though they’re expensive brands such as Cub and Co, and Gordy Strap. The cheaper ones make you think about the built and how long will they hold your camera for until the strap breaks. And then there's Arcu.
- Super comfortable
- "Cushion" option for neck support
- Soft out of the box
- No irritation
- Great built quality and design
- All metal parts are covered
- Quite pricy but worth it
- Fixed length (they do have length options though)
- Only in Japan. No overseas shipping
I accidentally found the name of this Japanese handmade leather craftsman shop on a blog, while I was looking for camera shopping places for my visit to Osaka, Japan, in 2015. Acru, is located in Osaka's well-known shopping district called Dotonburi (it's the street with the iconic giant crab sign and Glico Man). The photos of the straps on the blog are very appealing. The optional “neck cushion” on the strap is something I’ve never seen before. I gotta try out it. I gotta find this shop! It was my ultimate mission on this trip.
When I got to Dotonburi, the hunt was on. It wasn't hard to find with Google Map. Enter “Acru” in the destination and just follow the map. The hard thing is that the shop is very small. I actually walked passed it... then I saw a little blackboard in front of the shop with the name and an arrow pointing towards this narrow-looking shop with “Acru” above the door. Yes! I finally made it! The shop is very crafty and cozy. The staff were really nice. There were more choices to the straps than what I saw on the blog. There were wider ones for medium-format cameras and there were slimmer ones for small compact or mirrorless cameras. I chose the “Bulge” which is suitable for medium-sized cameras such as DSLR and bigger mirrorless cameras. And of course to added the “cushion” option (I'll talk about it later) which was 2,160 yen addition. The total for this strap was about 11,880 yen, tax included. When I got home and put it on my Canon 5D Mark III, and hang the camera on my neck... oh man it felt sooo good.
Let's talk about the design first. The design is quite unique. The strap is a fixed length strap which mean you can't adjust the length. However, Acru lets you choose the most suitable length according to your body type and/or how you wish to hang our camera. Right on the chest, below the chest, or hang it across your body. I chose the standard length of 110cm, as I'm an average Asian male size. The camera hangs just below my chest. You ask to try the different sizes at the shop.
Everything is just looks so crafty. The stitches are very neat. I like how they use different tones/colors of leather on each side, and still be able to keep the strap quite thin.
At the looping ends of the strap, nylon tape is stitched to the inner part to make looping the strap through much smoother. A unique buckle locking method is neatly covered by a sheet of leather that snaps onto the main strap. This is so that no metal parts are visible and will not be able to scratch your camera.
The neck part is widen to add more support and comfort to your neck. Now, the reason that I bought this strap, the additional “cushion”. I don't know what material is used as the cushion because it's covered with a thin sheet of leather that is nicely and stitched along neck part at just about the right thickness, and softness. It just feel so damn good on your neck.
I've used this strap with my Canon 5D III for nearly a year now. The leather is already soft out of the box and now it's even softer. My old leather strap took 2 years for it to be a little softer.
The construction is very strong. I haven't seen any sign that strap could potentially rip apart anytime soon (or even a lifetime). I've tested out if it could handle a camera attached with 70-200mm f2.8, a speedlite, and a battery grip. Yep, no problem. I was quite worried about the thin leather layer of the cushion would wear off from friction and sweat. However, it still looks good.
I often hang the camera off my shoulder to the side. Especially on wedding shoots with two cameras on each side. Previously with my old leather straps, sometimes the camera would just slide off my shoulder because the inner part is worn out and it's just too smooth to grip on. With Acru's strap, I have no problem thus far. Maybe it's the cushion part that adds more grip.
Now, what about comparing to those sling-style straps? Well, to be honest it come to your preference. I've used one of those sling straps before and they're great for work. However, the look just isn't for me. They just look too "Hey I'm a pro photographer!" type of strap. And they're not faster when it comes to grabbing the camera up to your face. Hold Fast's "Money Maker" looks awesome though. But again, it's too much for me.
I'm very pleased with the strap. Now I have two of them. So if you want style + quality + comfort, get this strap and you won't regret it. The only real bad side is that you can only find these straps in Japan at Acru's shop in Osaka, or other local camera stores. From my understanding, they don't do overseas shipping even though the have an online store http://acru-shop.net/. So yeah, you might have to go to Japan... Vacation time!