Harry Benz La Cravate
Last updated March 20, 2015
This is a full review of the La Cravate camera wrist strap by Harry Benz, who's based out of Toronto, Canada. We were lucky enough to be sent one, which we'll take a look at closely here.
The initial impressions are very good. Care was taken, from the custom (yet handmade) packaging - to the strap itself. Closer inspection of the strap reveals luxurious leather(work) at its finest...
Each strap comes in a kraft cardboard box that is bare, except for a placard on a string, held in place by a wax seal, affixed by Harry himself.
Inside, your strap is nestled on a soft bed of fluffy white. Placed neatly, the strap has a card - which reads, "Congratulations! You've got yourself a new strap for your camera. Looks quite smashing. Excellent choice. Now put it to good use and go take some photos."
The strap, removed from its box - gives a first impression of simple elegance and luxury. One of the first things you notice is that it's all leather, save for the ring that attaches it to your camera. It's not bulky at all.
The leather used for the strap exclusively is water buffalo - which is one of the most aggressive, toughest-hided creatures in the animal kingdom. It is far superior in quality to cowhide and therefore more expensive. It is stronger, tear-resistant, yet flexible and smooth. It has classic good looks and will break in handsomely with age. Unlike cow leather, water buffalo does not stretch and does not have a fleshy, suede-like underside. These characteristics make it the perfect choice for a wrist strap.
Indeed, the leather of this strap feels unlike any other strap you may have handled. Despite its reassuring thickness, it's amazingly supple... As it breaks in, it will only get softer. The lack of the usual suede underside will also be a new experience for most and really takes it up a notch. This is definitely unique in a vast sea of wrist straps available.
It is said that when it comes to design, making things complicated or cumbersome is easy. Simplicity, on the other hand, takes effort. Here are some general stats that apply to the straps.
One of Harry's biggest pet peeves are those ugly dog-eared protective flaps that most straps (like the Luigi/Leicatime straps) come with, to keep the metal rings from scratching the camera body. Rather than "covering up" the problem, he solved it by designing the connector pieces in a way that makes it impossible for the rings to touch the camera in the first place. The split rings are made of a high quality stainless steel with a tough spring rate; they snap back into place after insertion firmly. They won't work their way out of the camera's strap lugs, certainly.
The other "end" of the strap, or more appropriately, where it captures itself... Is a unique to the industry design element. Rather than using a buckle or other device or even being fixed in place, there is a tight-fitting slot cut into the end of the strap, which slides over the rest of the strap to adjust its length. Which, really, is a very important function for wrist straps. It's easily adjusted, yet stays in place during normal shooting and carrying. Lacking any hardware, it also won't mar your camera inadvertently. This is a stroke of genius.
The strap is 13mm (0.51") wide and has a thickness of about 4mm (5/32") at the point where the strap goes around one's wrist. It's available in several colors and lengths - and is made exclusively to order.
There are no shortcuts used, like rivets or staples and such. Each step is carefully crafted - pieces are glued together and then saddle-stitched by hand. Employing a two-needle saddle-stitch, it won't unravel if a stitch should break - and unlike machine stitching, won't create a neatly-perforated line that can tear under stress. It seems as if these come apart, you'll have bigger problems to worry about first.
As mentioned, the first thing you notice about the strap is the simplicity and cleanliness of its design. These are solid and elegant. Further examination reveals a luxurious leather that we haven't seen on any other strap on the market... As we mentioned earlier, due to the use of water buffalo hide - each side of the strap looks the same and despite its thickness, is soft and supple. They'll only get softer with use. This is especially important with a wrist strap, and it moved with our hand effortlessly and never got in the way. We look forward to breaking in this strap!
The end that captures the stainless steel split ring (which is truly stainless steel, and not cheap, chromed steel) tapers to a thickness which keeps the rings from contacting the camera body. As Harry mentions in his description, this is so much more elegant than the "dog-eared flaps" that you see on most straps... Which never look good to our eye, either. The hand stitching is super clean and very robust. Upon close examination, you can see the double-stitching employed. We expect this level of care and craftsmanship should keep anything from fraying or coming apart in its (or your) lifetime.
With this wrist strap, you can't go wrong - and with the options available, you can truly make it your own. We'd go so far as to say that this is probably the only wrist strap we'd use - and we're not wrist strap types!
If you're looking for a superior, high quality leather strap for your camera... We highly recommend Harry Benz camera straps!
You can pick up your own strap at the Harry Benz Shop for $80 CAD ($64 USD). It comes in russet, dark brown and black - in small, medium and large sizes. There will also be a La Cravate – The Skinny available soon; it's 10mm wide and perfect for P&S and 4/3 cameras and of course Leica's D-Lux and the T (Match Technical's lug adapter required). It will be the same price.