Hard Graft is a small Austrian company specialising in beautiful leather products handmade in Italy - if you haven't had a scroll through their website, you're in for a treat (and possibly a soon-to-be empty bank account). We'd been admiring these camera hand straps from Hard Graft for quite some time now, and we finally decided to go ahead and order them online to distract ourselves from uni exams. The camera handle comes with quite a premium price tag, especially with the poor Australian Dollar right now (£49 = $105 AUD) but sometimes you just need to splurge on nice things.
Shipping was super speedy - just two business days later and the package was at our doorstep.
The subtle paper bag containing the strap is modest, but hints at the quality of the product inside.
The attention to detail in the packaging is lovely - a tissue-paper patterned with the Hard Graft logo is used to wrap the small canvas bag containing the camera strap. You can tell how much effort has gone into this item.
Inside the bag is the leather camera handle, and a little brochure containing the history of the company, maintenance advice, and details of the materials used.
The textures and quality of the materials used in the product really stand out. The love for care and craftsmanship is immediately noticeable here. The outside of the handle is a rich Tuscan vegetable tan leather, complemented with the dark-grey German wool felt lining inside. A branded logo and a small stitched Austrian flag create some nice detail on the handle. According to the included booklet, the leather of the handle gradually darkens with age, and the felt is waterproof.
Attaching the camera handle is as simple as looping the metal split ring onto your camera strap mount. The gauge of the connector ring is a little disappointing though - I'm sure it would have no troubles supporting a heavy full-frame camera set-up, but I really would have preferred a thicker gauge connector between the leather handle and the camera to inspire a little more confidence when dangling equipment from the end of the handle. However, with a little bit of effort, it would be possible to replace the included split ring with your own. (UPDATE: The split ring included on the handle failed while I was travelling, but luckily I managed to rescue the camera before it fell. I've replaced the split ring with a much thicker gauge connection, but this is a serious issue Hard Graft need to address. My camera set up was exactly what is shown below in the photo)
We just filmed a wedding with the Hard Graft handle attached (videos soon to come!), and our first impressions of the product have been very positive. One of the things you really notice when using the handle is the warmth of the German wool felt on your hand, like a winter's hug your hand deserves.
I've never really been a fan of camera straps, especially the stock straps which come standard with any DSLR. They're awkward to use around your shoulder, and let's be honest, does any photographer actually carry a heavy DSLR around their neck at events? Past events have become a case of wrapping the strap multiple times around my wrist to secure the camera. Changing to the Hard Graft handle was so good for this reason alone - no strap getting in the way of the camera controls or the lens, while still having a stable point of support for the camera. The fact that the camera handle only uses the strap mount located on the camera handle is also useful in freeing up the tripod mount (unlike some third-party camera straps, which use the tripod screw). The camera handle also looks great, and adds a premium aesthetic and feel to any camera set up.
For those photographers who carry multiple camera bodies on themselves at events, and constantly need to swap between them, this product probably isn't for you. The camera handle isn't intended to replace your Spider Camera handstrap or BlackRapid strap. This is a product for those photographers or videographers who don't necessarily require a camera strap when shooting, but would still like some sort of security when handling their camera, not to mention adding a touch of class to your photography setup.
Hard Graft's 'Hold Camera Handle' is a sturdy and beautifully handcrafted product. The £49 price tag may seem high for some, but it's worth it once you consider the craftsmanship, and how often you'll be using it. House of Cameo approves.
- Beautiful handcrafted product
- High-quality materials
- Split ring attachment too thin