Jan 142013
 

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Barton 1972 Leather Straps – A User Review

by Philmon Yip – His site is HERE

You can order these straps from Barton1972.com

I have never once used the original straps that came with the cameras I own. I dislike their shamelessly emblazoned brand logos that scream ‘come steal my expensive camera’ to any would-be thieves. Also, I find fault with their often clunky design and pedestrian workmanship.

Most of all, I shudder at the thought of having the same strap as every other tourist on the boardwalk. Since I am already spending so much on the camera, it makes sense for me to invest a little in a well-made strap that is both durable and stylish. If you are anything like me, read on for my hands-on review of the Barton 1972 leather-straps.

The Barton 1972 leather straps are made in Hong Kong and I was first introduced to them through Steve Huff who was using the braided strap for his M9P. I was instantly intrigued as they looked absolutely fantastic and were priced very reasonably. When I got wind that they were available in locally, I got my grubby hands on the Braided Style in a rustic russet brown, the Sensuality in smokey camel and the Braidy wrist-strap in olive green.

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Materials: 8/10

I will start with the Braided Style and the Braidy wrist-strap since they are essentially the same thing but in different configurations. They are made using 100% leather and are surprisingly soft despite being slightly thicker due to the braiding. Both straps are extremely supple and feels great to the touch. These are definitely genuine leather and none of those cheap, faux-leather variants.

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The Sensuality, which is of a more conventional styling, also uses 100% leather. The strap’s deep, orangey brown is beautiful to behold and feels very luxurious and substantial. The underside is made of a rougher textured leather helps with the grip, which I found to be very useful.

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Hardware-wise, all three straps use simple split-rings to attach to the camera. There is nothing to fault but nothing to write home about either.

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Construction: 8/10

When I evaluate a product’s construction, I always look out for a few main things. Firstly, the quality and consistency of the stitching and seams. Next, if there are any breakable parts and the presence of stray threads or loose ends. And finally I would also look out for added considerations such as using higher quality thread such as nylon or polyester and if the stress points are identified and reinforced.

Overall, the Barton straps are well-constructed with neat and even stitching. The stress-point on the tip of the strap is reinforced with a repeated zigzag stitching pattern. There are no stray threads or loose ends and no breakable parts. The braiding on the braided straps is tight and consistent.

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To really improve their quality, they might consider investing in higher quality thread instead of the cotton ones that is currently in use. Cotton threads are prone to rotting in moisture and have considerably lower friction compared the nylon or polyester variants.

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Usage: 9/10

It must be said that these straps are very comfortable to use. The braided straps are slightly springy and would stretch out with a heavier load. The stretching is very minimal and more prominent with a heavier camera such as a DSLR. Strangely, that slight stretching and bounciness has the added benefit of lessening the load on my shoulders. It must be noted that the braided style strap is a shoulder strap, enabling you to cross-sling it. I would love to see them making some shorter braided style neck straps.

The braided wrist-strap really comes into its own when paired with the relatively hefty M6. I usually avoid using wrist-straps as I find that they limit my maneuverability in handling the camera. They are either so short that it prevents me from gripping the camera properly or too long that it just gets in the way.

Also, I tend to feel the wrist strap cutting into my bare skin after prolonged usage, especially with thinner designs such as the Gordy’s strap. However, the Braidy wrist-strap has none of those issues as it is just the right length for my hands. Its stretchy nature coupled with the larger surface area of the strap makes for a very pleasant and comfortable user-experience.

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Initially, I was afraid that the braided straps would stretch out permanently so I measured them when they were new to do a comparison. After a month of constant usage, the braided straps have surprisingly maintained their original length.

The Sensuality is similarly comfortable and easy to use. It has a neck-pad that helps to cushion the load. As it is very soft and flexible, so it hardly ever gets in the way of my shooting. Sometimes, thicker straps can be quite cumbersome as they flop around awkwardly due to its rigidity.

Thankfully, the Sensuality is very manageable and shooting with it has proven to be breeze.

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The Sensuality employs a weaving attachment method. Again, I was fearful that it might not hold but it turns out that the heavier the load, or the harder you tug on it – the tighter those weaves become. In other words, the attachment method is completely secure in addition to looking really exotic.

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Conclusion: 8.5/10

My verdict is that these straps are definitely worth buying.

The Barton straps are already making a very convincing argument for my money. However, there are always minor things to improve upon such as refining the stitching and seams to near perfection, using higher quality thread and perhaps using sturdier split-rings. If these adjustments could be implemented without affecting the prices, they would tremendously value-add to the straps.

As they stand, they are very capable straps that are both well-designed and well-made. It is not often that you find handsome-looking straps that are both durable and affordable. I would realistically rank them several rungs above the myriad of leather straps from Korea and China, and perhaps just one rung down from the premium offerings from A&A and Luigi. I genuinely appreciate the overcompensating quality of these high-end brands, but I find myself unwilling to shell out that much money for a 5% increase in quality.

I would far rather invest in a something that is a third of the price that offers 95% of the said quality and durability. For the price, the Barton straps just make complete sense to me.

If you are looking for a stylish leather strap to complement your camera that would not break the bank, the Barton straps are worth several looks. Their offerings are quite diverse, so I believe that you might just find something that would suit your style perfectly.

Philmon Yip

From Steve: Thanks Philmon for your report on my favorite straps! I LOVE Barton straps and own three braided straps as well as a hand strap and DSLR strap. All of them have been beautiful and functional and my thoughts are just about the same as yours. For anyone looking for a stylish but well made and comfortable strap then consider these Barton straps. Recommended.

 

  27 Responses to “Barton 1972 Leather Straps – A User Review by Philmon Yip”

  1. Camera porn at it’s finest :)

  2. You are a hard man to please!

    I have both the Braided strap and the Carrera, and would rate them 10/10

    Jan

  3. Love the Mamiya 7II. It’s by far my favorite camera!

  4. This rat-style M6 is extremely cool

  5. I have the Braidy in black on the E-M5 and one in brown on my EP2. I have only one problem with Barton 1972. Their web site is the worlds slowest.
    While I agree with your comments. I would have given a higher mark for construction and materials. The cut of the leather and the plaiting is flawlessly accurate, there are no widening, narrowing or thickness variation in the strips and plait. The ends are very neatly cross stitched (looks like a cotton or poly cotton blend, the best for leather) over good quality ends that hold stainless rings and have leather protection pads. 9+ is the mark I would have given. I agree with the springing seemingly reducing weight and the braidy does not chaff the neck at all, it is quite comfortable after all day use. I would like to see them offer a longer and a shorter neck strap as well.

  6. Well this article and the couple comments have sold me on a black Barton Braided strap for my M-E. I think the brown leather has a more rich look to it but I think the black will work better on my M-E with black lenses.

  7. Agree about the emblazoned straps provided with new cameras – never a good look.

    Another look which screams “cheap” is the leather strap which has not had its fraying edges burnished (there’s an example above). Burnishing is labour intensive but not too much so.

    Different locations sometimes require different straps – carrying an M9 in some parts of Paris (et alia) with nothing but a thin leather or fabric strap is an open invitation to the box-cutter wielding run, slash, and grab artist.

    Having said that, my thick ever-reliable Vickers machine gun leather accessories case strap (burnished, naturally..) has stood the test of time and low-life. And it doesn’t look quite as cute as those above.

  8. Have you tried ‘Leather Factory Roberu’ camera strap? Hand made in Japan. Very very high quality leather, canvas and they are so beautiful imho. For USA made I’d add Gordy…

  9. I’ve never seen a leica m8 like that. Why does it look this way?

  10. Hi guys, thanks for the kind words.
    Hopefully this little review is of some help to anyone in the market for a new strap!

    @Ashlin Wang:
    I think you might be referring to the black camera with the silver lens?
    That’s actually my buddy’s very worn, and very well-used M6 TTL with the 35 Summaron.
    It’s not an M8, hope that clears things up!

    @Aldy:
    Hi Aldy, the Roberu straps are definitely beautiful – but that beauty comes with a steep price-tag.
    Yes, Gordy’s are definitely good straps and I have several of them. Simple, effective and affordable!

    @JimD:
    Thank you for your comments! I am truly glad that you are happy with the construction.
    The reason I did not give it higher marks is because I am judging it alongside products from A&A, Luigi, Brady, Archival Clothing, Filson and several other brands that I am familiar with.
    The construction is undoubtedly good, but I feel that it can be more refined and more consistent throughout.
    I feel that if Barton is serious about competing on a higher level, their construction is something that need to step up, hence the lower mark.

    (:

  11. All film cameras! Amazing!

  12. Best straps are from Optech. Comfortable and lasts forever.

  13. Phillmon, great write-up – very much appreciated. Would the braided strap (neck/shoulder) work with a TLR camera? How much would it stretch under the weight of the camera? I am considering this combination, but find it uneasy to estimate the length …

  14. Love reading your site Steve. I just ordered an RX1, I have MS and have been gradually downsizing my
    cameras as my disability increases. Went from a D90 to a Nikon V1 and then to the Sony RX100.
    A great camera but felt it didn’t give me the image quality I remembered
    from my dslr days. After reading your and others reviews ordered the RX1. I am about to order the Gariz half case for it, but was wondering if in your opinion the Gariz gun shot strap was more comfortable than the Barton braided strap or vice versa. I live in a very hot climate, wear t shirts etc and can’t decide which would be more comfortable. Any suggestions would be appreciated from you and your readers.
    Thanks

  15. I gave a try to the Barton “Toy Strap” for my TLR

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/blaufeld66/7845208796/in/set-72157629489780252

    and found it a nice product for the low price they ask, so next I’ll buy a Braided for my M5.

  16. For less than $20 I purchased Gordy’s large wrist strap in all black. Each to his own!

  17. Becarefull the strap you are showing is not done on real leather is done on an Embossed Suede split. !! this is the worst part of the cowhide leather this is why you found it cheap ! they are very functional but the original Fuji X100 , Rolleiflex etc are done on true full grain leather.

    Greg

  18. I love it, People think if you put a different strap other than the original it is less likely to be stolen. Also a black camera is less noticable and better for street photography, bull, if I’m pointing a camera at someone they’re going to notice it.

  19. I was in Hong Kong a week ago and took the opportunity to track down the Annie Barton 1972 shop in Central. There I met the owner, Victor, who is a very enthusiastic photographer and camera owner, and he just loves his products, too. The shop has a very retro steampunk kind of fit out and is immaculate. I bought a Wotancraft watch strap from him, which is of excellent quality. Two thumbs up for Victor and Barton 1972.

  20. I bought a braided strap for my M9 a couple of months back. When photographing last weekend, I looked down only to see that the metal lug ring had come away from the strap, and the only thing holding my camera in was the piece of leather, there to stop the ring from scratching the camera body. Upon closer inspection, I can see that the ring has opened a bit, which allowed the strap to work its way through the ring and eventually come off.

    I contacted Barton 1972 about up this, and the admitted that it is a weakness in the lug ring. They are in the process of changing to a much stringer ring, however it isn’t in stock yet. I’ve asked them if I can get a replacement ring from them in the meantime, to which I’ve had no reply. I’d happily pay for a couple of replacements, as I love the strap.

  21. Barton Straps are extremely well made and reasonably priced I would rate them 10/10

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