Betsy Finn, Cr.Photog., CPP
Being a female photographer has its disadvantages when carrying things over your shoulder. Before trying out Black Rapid's new Women's strap (RS WS-1), I would sling my "normal" strap over my head and shoulder with the strap crossing my body diagonally. This presented a few challenges. Aside from having to struggle to get my camera up from my hip to shooting position, I also struggled with the strap smashing me uncomfortably across the bustline.
The Black Rapid’s WS-1 strap has eliminated both of these problems for me. I can sling the camera to my side easily now, and the unique design of the WS-1 (compared to the RS4, for example) allows the strap to be worn comfortably without squishing my bust. If you take a peek at the image below, you'll see what I mean. There's a little curve on the padded part of the strap that guides the strap to fall comfortably around a woman's curves rather than traveling directly over them (which can cause discomfort!).
As an added bonus, if you are pregnant and need to find a strap that doesn't have your camera rest on your ever-growing belly, the WS-1 is great for that as well!
If you're not familiar with how the Black Rapid strap system works, basically, you have a strap worn over the shoulder, and the camera is free to slide up and down the strap so you can let it hang at your hip, or quickly pull it up to shooting position. The strap has a D ring that screws shut and attaches either to the included camera mount ring, or simply clips onto the ring of the mounting plate for your tripod. I chose the latter method, as it makes it easy to switch between tripod work and on-the-go shooting.
I did find one caveat: the unique curve that makes this strap what it is also restricts which shoulder you can wear your camera on. Meaning the strap will work if you want your camera to fall at your right hip, but not so well for left hip. Obviously most photographers will want the camera on their right side, but just in case you're one of the minority, this is your fair warning. It's not a flaw, just something to be aware of!
The Women's Black Rapid strap can be ordered directly from Black Rapid's website and retails for $59. A great deal if you ask me.