As children we’re told we can do anything we want. In America, when a child tells his aunt or uncle that they want to be a writer when they grow up the response is never, “well, have you thought about something with healthcare”? Similarly, when a child tells a teacher they want to be a firefighter the teacher doesn’t respond with facts and figures about municipal budget cuts. As children we’re told we can do anything we want.
Well after I stopped wiping boogers into a deep shag carpet at Aardvark elementary, but long before I figured out what I was actually going to do with my life I noticed a change in people. If I had to pinpoint it I would say the summer between high-school and college was probably the time I was first introduced to the “naysayer”.
The naysayer lurks in all of our lives. They are dressed as friend and identify as such, only showing their true nature when you really believe in something. If you’ve ever expressed a great idea then surely you’ve met the nay-sayer. He or she is that person who says “yeah, but”, “well, you can’t just”, or “if it were me. . .”
There’s thousands of flavors of naysayer in the world. In fact, that’s what helps to keep the status quo. It takes someone extraordinary to rise above this. If you hear “no, no, no” enough times you believe it; conditioning at it’s finest. When people rise above this conditioning that’s where you see something great.
I don’t know Andrea or Laura at all. We’ve never met, and aside from a few brief emails we’ve never spoken to one another. It’s hard to say for sure, but I imagine when they set out to create the finest leather camera strap they could that they were met with the naysayer.
The nay-sayer would likely say, “oh, but what about Tipton, or Luigi”, “doesn’t that Japanese company do fancy leather straps,” and on and on. In my head I imagine the team at Figosa grabbing their leather crafting tools and attacking the naysayer. Instead they set forth to create beautiful, simple, and functional camera straps.
For as long as I’ve been photographing I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect camera strap. The perfect strap should be strong, but lightweight. It should be lightweight, but comfortable. And possibly most important it should be stylish. Why lie, right?
The team at Figosa, which in Italian means “something cool”, set out recently to make straps that are not only functional, but serve the analog and mirrorless crowd well. Vintage style was important for Andrea and Laura when they set out to create straps for their own camera collection, and I think that they nailed the style well.
They generously sent me a 120cm Cognac colored strap with protectors for review, and I have to say, I really loved it and I’m a bit of a strap diva. Possibly the first and most important thing to note was their shipping. I have an address in this world that is only further complicated by the fact that it’s served by the United States Postal Service, and the Figosa package shipped from Italy and was tracked the entire way. The service was prompt and efficient; A+ Figosa.
The packaging the strap arrives in is simple and branded with the Figosa logo. It is simple enough, but thought out, and the strap is tied neatly with some leather lace. You’re thinking, “who cares about the packaging, lets do the damn thing”, so I’ll move right along.
The strap itself is made of a quality leather. In all honesty I’m a vegetarian so I don’t know a whole lot about leather, but I do know that the finish of the strap is nice, and since it comes from Italy and sounds cooler lets say it’s 100% Italian leather. The Figosa name is embossed on both ends of the strap which gives it a bit of identity without being overwhelming.
My choice of Cognac as a color to review was a good one. The color pairs nicely with either black or silver cameras and really offsets either nicely. The drink Cognac pairs nicely with my liver, but that’s for another review.
A minor beef to point out is that the strap lugs on Leica cameras are slightly oversized so the hole in the protector has to be stretched when installing. I’ll blame the folks at Leica for using larger lugs rather than Figosa. Either way, it’s really not too big of a deal, but makes it slightly hard to put on. While we’re beefing, and again I will blame Leica, but on a camera with a canted rewind crank there’s a bit of awkward contact. The protector slightly hangs over the rewind crank and while by no means is this a deal breaker it is something to take into account. For cameras with a standard crank (Nikon F, Canon AE, etc. . .) this is no problem. Again, shame on you Leica.
The hardware on the strap I would say is up to any task. It features a standard split ring to attach to your camera and a chrome D-ring which attaches that to the strap. All of this is held together by a single, stylish, rivet at each side. Part of the beauty of the strap is that it’s such a simple item. It’s non-adjustable, and the length of 120cm works nicely for a guy who’s about 5’11” if the police are asking, and I find that the non-adjustable nature of the strap is really kind of nice. I’ve found that on some straps, the Domke gripper for example, you’re left with all of this extra strap once you have the length set and I find the dangling of it to be annoying.
You’ll want to note that the Figosa strap is intended for vintage cameras and mirrorless. I think that’s important to point out because if you were to throw something huge on there, like say a Texas Leica, or a Pentax 67, or a 5DMKIII with a 70-200L your body would hate you in no time. The Figosa strap is thin, and doesn’t have a pad for your neck so if you do hang the equivalent of an Army tank off of it you will feel it. While it may not be comfortable with a large camera hanging from it I think it’s important to mention that the Figosa strap is probably strong enough to handle it without a problem. So, it’s really a matter of comfort.
If you weren’t sold yet this strap gets compliments. During a brief bit of shooting on the street the strap actually garnered two compliments. People, especially in Japan, seldom say anything to strangers, so I was taken by surprise that anyone noticed.
At less than $50 (USD) Figosa straps are a steal. They’re about half the price of the closest competition, handmade in Italy, and accent just about any camera. If you’re trying to find that last minute stocking stuffer or want to treat yourself to something nice this year go ahead and check out their Etsy shop or their website.
Tune in next month for part 2 of our long term review of the Figosa strap.
Tokyo Photographer, Cameron Kline contributed this review for the Film Shooters Collective.