Devoted to Security

©Betsy Finn

The crunch of a dropped camera lens or body can make your blood freeze. When you need to use multiple camera bodies and lenses, you have to keep your investment safely secured but still readily accessible. Rather than trying to fumble with multiple camera straps, or worse, holding your camera in hand, a safer bet is to rely on a product like the camera straps by HoldFast that I recently tested. These are hand-crafted from leather or vegan leather and use heavy-duty metal hardware. Though you might feel a bit like a horse when first trying on a MoneyMaker, just wait because once you attach your gear, you’ll understand why so many photographers are diehard fans. It’s built to take a beating, it’s durable, and it will keep your gear safely attached to your body while you’re on the move.

I evaluated both the Skinny MoneyMaker and the MoneyMaker Solo along with the Explorer Lens Quiver, which can be used as a standalone shoulder or waist bag or attached to any of the MoneyMakers.

©Betsy Finn
Photographer Jonathan Knight uses HoldFast gear in his work as a wedding and sports photographer. Here, he demonstrates how the straps rest over the shoulders and under the arms, taking weight off the neck to distribute it over the upper body.
©Betsy Finn
The strap slider lets you bring the camera up without detaching it and holds it securely when not in use.

When you place an order for the products, you’ll receive a link to the HoldFast YouTube channel for demos and how-tos. You’ll want to watch some of these because when the box arrives you may be a little confused about what goes where. The easiest way to learn how to use HoldFast gear is to ask a friend who already uses the product.

I asked wedding and sports photographer Jonathan Knight for his take since he uses HoldFast gear. Knight said that besides being a fashion statement that will have lots of photographers asking, Where’d you get that, the equipment is golden—perfect for having different cameras and lenses at the ready.

First on the list for my testing was getting the MoneyMaker sized properly. It took me some time to adjust everything. The MoneyMaker comes in three sizes based both on the user’s height and breadth. When sized correctly, the strap should fall 4 inches below your armpit to allow your cameras to hang high on the body. On my first fit attempt the strap slider grabbed my shirt and skin as I slid my camera up from the resting position, but the issue resolved when I readjusted the straps properly. After that, it was smooth sailing. Putting the MoneyMaker on is as easy as putting on a jacket. Plus, it acts like a posture aid, reminding you to stand tall.

©Betsy Finn
The Explorer Camera Quiver can be worn like a messenger bag or secured to a MoneyMaker. With both open and secure pockets, it can be used for quick grabs and tucking away a phone and keys.

The MoneyMaker Solo is similarly well-designed. You put it on, secure the small strap under your armpit, and you’re good to go. I was pleased with the fit of both styles and glad I opted for the Skinny MoneyMaker since the Original would have been bulky on my petite frame.

All MoneyMakers come with heavy-duty stainless steel parts, so they won’t rust, and they’re designed with three main components to ensure cameras stay secure. The Camera HoldFast screw has a locking mechanism in the threading to keep your camera secure, which you hook onto a sailboat clip attached to the strap. There’s also an optional safety strap you can use in case of a freak system failure. The sailboat clip is based on the clips that attach boat sails. How much weight can the MoneyMaker hold before breaking? They stopped testing after 150 pounds, so no need to worry about it supporting your 5- to 6-pound camera.

The Explorer Lens Quiver is a handy messenger bag that can be attached to the Money-Maker or used on its own with a shoulder strap or waist belt. It has several open pockets where you can stage the gear you want to grab quickly while shooting and zippered pockets for more security. I wish there were a way to close the quiver when you don’t need quick access because I’m the kind of person whose tote bag is forever dumping over in the car. During a photoshoot, though, the open pockets are perfect for grabbing a speedlight, lens, or whatever item you might need to have handy. The quiver is useful for stowing away my cell phone, wallet, and keys while I’m on location. Like the MoneyMaker, the Explorer Lens Quiver is sturdy, well-made, and good looking.

©Betsy Finn
The MoneyMaker Solo holds one camera on a cross-body strap slider.
©Betsy Finn
©Betsy Finn
©Betsy Finn

The raw side of the leather on these products tends to shed when new and will feel stiff until broken it in. If you’ve ever conditioned a leather baseball glove, you’ll know what I mean. Be prepared to spend a bit of time conditioning the leather for optimal performance and endurance.

The biggest question you’ll face when deciding which HoldFast gear is best for you is how many cameras do you want to use.

Depending on how many cameras you use when on duty, the various MoneyMakers can hold one to three camera bodies. There’s definitely something for everyone. Both the Original and the Skinny MoneyMaker are available in bridle leather (starting at $230), water buffalo (starting at $285), vegan (starting at $180), and limited-edition styles ($250 to $400). The MoneyMaker Solo comes in leather (starting at $175) and vegan (starting at $170) versions. The Explorer Lens Quiver is made in several colors and three waist belt lengths ($260 to $325). If you like the idea of attaching a lens bag but want something that closes, HoldFast Gear has other lens pouch add-ons. Visit holdfastgear.com to learn more. 

Betsy Finn is a portrait artist in Dexter, Michigan.