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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.