“A camera in hand is 60% more likely to be used than one that’s slung by its strap, 85% more likely than one in a shoulder bag, and 98% more likely than one in a backpack.” — Matthew Piers
You could consider the above quote cheating, as I used it to introduce the venerable Gordy’s Camera Wrist Strap back in June. Like in June, the quote perfectly encapsulates the utility of camera straps.
However, in reality, wrist straps aren’t always the most logical choice for toting a camera to and fro. While a wrist strap does increase the chance of capturing the shot, sometimes you need two hands for other activities. For those times — and as Piers suggests — the next logical option is to use a shoulder sling.
And I love my Luma Labs Loop 3 shoulder sling.
The Loop 3 is Luma Labs’ latest iteration of its widely-loved sliding camera slings. The original Loop was extremely popular, but had to be removed from sale due to a patent infringement in 2011. After a few years away from the market, Luma Labs re-released the Loop as the Loop 3, and with it came a few major improvements to enhance the durability of the sling.
The latest Loop 3 is my camera strap of choice and I no longer have to endure neck pain after carrying a camera around my neck all day.
The Luma Labs Loop 3 shoulder sling is a simply designed shoulder sling ready to take on the rigours of travel and outdoor use. It’s not the most beautiful shoulder strap you could buy, but it sheds aesthetic qualities for durable, high quality materials which are sure to last a considerable amount of time.
The Loop 3’s shoulder pad is a highly tactile, custom leather known as “Lumalon”. The pad is extremely soft to the touch and has an exceptional level of tactility to it. As such, the pad grips to your shoulder (or your shirt) and stays securely in place without wearing away at your neck and shoulder. This Lumalon leather is stamped with the Luma Labs logo and exudes a unique kind of quality.
Luma Labs touts that all the materials of the Loop 3 are custom-made and made in the United States. To that end, the sturdy rivet and two attached rings don’t disappoint. The stitched Lumalon shoulder pad is connected to the Loop 3’s nylon strap via high quality rings and a rivet made specifically for the sling. These metal materials feel great, look great, and eliminate any worrying about the sling’s strength.
Like all nylon straps, the Loop 3’s nylon strap is ready for anything. There’s nothing truly special with the Loop 3’s nylon strap other than its size: The strap is 1/2” wide and a solid 1/16”-1/8” thick. This strap won’t pull apart unless you choose to cut it with a sharp knife.
The carbon fiber sliders are the heart and soul of the Loop 3’s design and utility. There are two sliders on the Loop 3’s nylon strap, allowing for adjustability and a comfortable fit on your backside, as well as a quick release for when you want to take a shot on the frontside.
Luma Labs describes the sliders perfectly on their product page:
We adapted the Cinch’s carbon slide adjusters; both front and back to let you lock your camera down instantly. On the move? A simple slide of the adjuster tightens the Loop down and raises the camera above your hip for maximum stability. Ready to take the shot? A quick pull is all it takes to free the camera for unrestricted motion.
The Loop 3 goes from securely-at-your-hip to ready-to-fire in under a second and provides the next best alternative to having a camera in your hand. It really is the perfect sling for a trip around the historic part of the city or for a pristine walk in the forest.
The Loop 3’s durable character is fully encapsulated in the aluminum, CNC-milled mount. The simple Luma logo is etched into the bottom of the aluminum mount and the flashy silver finish gives the mundane look of the Loop 3 a little more flair.
The mount’s large dial is easily screwed into the bottom of a camera’s tripod mount and can be screwed or unscrewed in less than three seconds. Securing the mount to the tripod threading is perfect execution; the camera’s wrist/neck strap rings remain available for use if you find yourself needing the camera in your hand, and I personally find the tripod mount of my cameras more secure than the smaller, flimsier metal of the wrist/neck strap rings.
The bottom-side of the mount is lined with a rubbery, synthetic material, ensuring the bottom of your camera can’t be scraped by the Loop 3’s metal mount.
The overall design of the Loop 3 is almost perfectly executed. The Lumalon shoulder pad is very comfortable when slung over your shoulder, and the nylon strap has yet to fray or show any abuse from the treacherous outdoors. Likewise, the carbon fiber sliders and the incredibly strong aluminum mount ensure maximum security for your camera at your hip and a simple slide away from being ready to shoot.
I’ve had the Loop 3 for a good six months now, and in that time, I’ve found a few great uses for the sling. I’m especially fond of the Loop 3 for any trips we go on or for any hikes we undertake. However, this strap isn’t for all types of use.
I used this shoulder sling exclusively on a trip a few months ago and I was nothing short of amazed. The strap fit to my shoulder comfortably and allowed my camera to be securely slung to my hip. I also had the Gordy’s Camera Strap attached to the camera, so I could quickly remove the Loop 3 from the camera and be more prepared when necessary. I couldn’t have been more pleased.
We traveled to Vancouver that weekend, and the Loop 3 was a great fit. We also did some hiking through some of the Pacific region’s beautiful forests and the Loop 3 fit the bill. When strolling the streets of a beautiful city, or when making a tough hike through the bush, the Loop 3 frees both hands and allows fast access to your camera.
However, I don’t find the Loop 3 to be an ideal shooting strap. If you prefer to shoot with two cameras, the Loop 3’s shoulder strap slings across your body and takes up both your arms. Further, I’ve had next to no success in combining the Loop 3 across my shoulder and a second camera with a neck strap around my neck. The straps get tangled more often than not and having both cameras at my disposal has been a pain.
As a result, I find the Loop 3 to be a one-camera, travel shoulder strap. If you’re looking for a professional strap which allows fast access to a second camera, the Loop 3 may not check the right boxes.
The more my photography hobby grows, the more I become absorbed in unique accessories. From beautiful bags, to aesthetically pleasing filters, to add-on power accessories, photography doesn’t stop at the camera or the lens. Camera straps are an entire market unto their own and each strap tends to have unique strengths and weaknesses.
Luma Labs’ Loop 3 is no different. The shoulder sling looks unassuming and won’t attract any extra attention, but you can be sure the sling will hold its own when venturing through a far-off city or through a tough terrain. The high-end aluminum mount adds the strap’s only flair and is incredibly durable to boot, just like the carbon fiber sliders and the unique Lumalon shoulder pad. From shoulder pad to mount, the Loop 3 exudes a premium feel.
If you’re looking for a strap for a purpose other than travel, the Loop 3 may not fit your needs. I’ve had difficulty conjoining a second camera with a neck strap to my workflow when using the Loop 3, so I often find myself leaving the Loop 3 behind when it’s time to work a dedicated shoot. The only way I’ve found to carry a second camera is to physically carry the second camera with a wrist strap. Obviously, this ruins the Loop 3’s ability to free both your hands when the camera isn’t in use.
The other question may be the Loop 3’s price. At $99, the Loop 3 isn’t cheap. Sure, it isn’t made from cheap materials and therefore can command a higher price. But the Loop 3’s nylon strap appears to be a standard nylon material, and although custom, the Lumalon shoulder pad doesn’t feel as premium as extremely high-end leather straps. I believe $99 is a small price to pay to have a great shoulder sling for my occasional travels, but professionals who use their camera for professional purposes may end up finding this too expensive for random carrying needs.
Despite the price, and despite my inability to find a proper way to carry a second camera, the Loop 3 has been a great addition to my camera kit. The Loop 3 is ideal for walk-around sightseeing and for hiking, looks unassuming and draws no attention, and fits my camera securely to my hip and ready to shoot at any minute. That was what I was looking for in a shoulder sling, and the Loop 3 fills those needs extremely well.