I’ve been a hand-strap shooter for as long as I can remember. I hate using neck straps, for I never hang my camera around my neck nor do I like wrapping that long strap around my wrist. When I first saw the Nikon AH-4 in a Yodobashi in Japan, I bought it and never looked back. To this day I’ve never seen another shooter using one, and I guess it’s that unpopularity that convinced Nikon to finally discontinue it.
The AH-4 was a great strap, genuine leather and a bespoke nylon strap that was wider at the base than at the top of the camera. But it had a fatal flaw: the metal at the base would rust, and pulling the strap on and off would slide the strap along the rust, eventually shredding it and making it more and more difficult to use. I’m on my fourth or fifth one, each lasting two or three years before I simply couldn’t use it anymore.
And so the hunt began for a new strap that’d replace the AH-4, which was rapidly skyrocketing in price. Most of the available straps attached in only two places, which made me feel like I wasn’t securely connected to the camera. Finally I found the JJC HS-PRO1M, which had two points on the camera and a snap-on wrist strap as well. This more or less equaled the 3-point connection offered by the AH-4, in a slightly different manner.
The AH-4 was one strap, connected at the top of the camera, around the back of the hand, through the plate screwed to the camera base, and back to the grip. Slide your hand through the strap, grab the loose end, pull to tighten, and secure on the velcro patch. It was adjustable on the fly, but the leather grip itself could slide around on the strap and sometimes you’d need to re-align it so it was in the right place on your hand. Once attached, there was no way it was coming off, short of deliberate attempts to remove it.
The HS-PRO1P has two straps, and you adjust it to fit once and from then it doesn’t change. Slide your hand through the large strap, and clip the smaller one on. Instead of a three-point connection to the camera, you’re connected by two points and then the strap itself is connected to your wrist by two more. It’s less sophisticated, but feels nearly as secure as the Nikon AH-4. It doesn’t use real leather, or custom made straps, but it also doesn’t have that sometimes fiddly attachment process.
For all intents and purposes it’s a more modern, slightly cheaper strap that does more or less the same job. As long as the two snaps hold out, it should continue functioning as I need it to. My only worry is the snaps disconnecting during use, but that won’t immediately release the whole strap – just the double security of two straps at the same time. I fully expect to have enough time to re-attach the second strap before the camera is flung into the void, or whatever.
Ultimately I would be hard pressed to choose between the two, if price and availability were equal. As it is, the AH-4 is twice as expensive, if you can even find one, and ebay prices are shooting north of $250 which is… Well it’s double plus unworth that price, to me. For $35, the HS-PRO1P is a far better investment. And it feels good, the strap is a very soft faux-leather-like material that I appreciate.
Final verdict: if you want a hand strap, you could do worse than the JJC HS-PRO1P.