Note: I bought this strap with my own money. I was not asked to write a review, and can assure you that my opinion of the product is honest. I don’t do a lot of product reviews, but this one I just had to tell you about.
I was in the market for a new strap for the Pentax MX that my Dad handed down to me, when my friend Nick introduced me to Lucida Straps. I’m a sucker for anything handmade, and when I saw how beautiful they looked I just had to get one. Nick told me he has four of them, so I guess that’s as good a recommendation as any.
Named after Roland Barthes’ essay on photography, Lucida Straps are based in Leon, Spain. Nick put me in touch with the guy that makes them via Instagram and I placed my order.
Felix has been working with leather for four years. He only uses full grain leather; sourced from the last tannery in Leon, established in 1887. Genaro, who runs the tannery, does all the work himself by hand – producing small batches of leather using only natural minerals and dyes. It’s so rare to buy a product nowadays and know exactly where it was made, who made it and how it was made. I love that.
There are a bunch of designs available to choose from on their website, but being a fussy bugger, I wanted a custom design that was clean and simple, with no-frills. Félix, who is a man of few words, was only too happy to help.
Having tried a bunch of straps over the years I already knew what the perfect strap for me looked like:
- 92cm long x 12mm wide
- No camera protection
- No shoulder pad
A couple of weeks went by before a little box dropped through the door, lovingly wrapped in brown paper and bound with string. I knew immediately what would be inside.
In my experience, craftsmen generally don’t care too much about branding and fancy packaging. Lucida clearly do and have put a lot of time and care into branding their products. The strap comes beautifully packaged, simple and elegant.
I’m not normally one to wax lyrical about the ‘unboxing experience’, but even I was won over by the simple brown box, hand stamped labels, storage pouch and personalised note that accompanied my strap. If I had one small complaint about the branding it would be that: ’From now on’, the company tagline, is a questionable choice of words but I suspect something has just got lost in translation so I will forgive them that. The tagline isn’t on the strap so it doesn’t bother me.
Picking the strap up for the first time, I was absolutely blown away by the quality. It’s certainly the nicest leather I’ve ever seen. Softness was something I was concerned about. Some leather straps are so stiff that when you lift the camera to your eye, the strap refuses to fall down and gets in the way of your right hand reaching all the controls. This was the main reason I didn’t want any of those protection flap things that go between the split-rings and your camera body. I needn’t have worried. It’s soft and supple straight out of the box and has a lovely matte natural finish. The strap freely rotates around the rings and falls away nicely in use. I really wasn’t expecting it to be like this out of the box, and had prepared myself for months of ‘wearing-in’ before it reached the heady heights of perfection. And I just know it’s only going to get better with age.
On the subject of protection for the camera, the strap is thick enough that the ring never actually contacts the camera body. Those little pads they put between the split-ring and body always seemed superfluous to me; I guess I proved myself right! The ends of the strap are turned over and pinned with hefty looking rivets. I cringe whenever I see a leather strap that has just a few stitches of cotton holding onto your camera – it seems like a weak point in the design. This, on the other hand, I suspect could support the weight of a baby elephant before it broke.
There is a small pad on the strap with the Lucida logo stamped onto it, and the phrase ‘Hecho A Mano’ – Spanish for ‘hand-made’. The pad can be slid up and down the strap to a point that suits you. It’s too small to be classed as a shoulder pad I think but Nick puts his at the top because he says it helps keep the camera on his shoulder. I just left mine where it was for now — near the ring. The logo is also stamped onto the strap itself, so if the pad bothered you, you could just cut it off and the strap would still be nicely branded.
The strap wasn’t what you would call ‘cheap’, coming in at 50 Euros for this simple design. Having said that, it’s a luxury handmade product, and I have definitely seen straps three times that price that are not of the same quality as this one.
After a full day’s shooting with the strap I found it to be perfectly comfortable. After taking almost every opportunity to play with, sniff and touch the strap, I did notice some of the dye transferred onto to my hands. It’s new so I guess that’s to be expected. The underside of the strap is left in it’s raw natural state so it shouldn’t transfer to your clothes, but it’s something to be aware of if you were planning on wearing a white shirt the first time you use it. You may also notice a few loose fibres falling from the inside of the strap while you wear it in.
Several weeks later, I am still over the moon with this strap, and I just know it’s only going to improve the more I use it. The quality and craftsmanship is superb, so much so that I expect it to outlast my remaining days on earth. It certainly feels like a strap for life, so I guess that makes it more than worth the price tag. I will be using Lucida Straps again, no question. Honestly, I really don’t think you should look any further if you want a quality leather strap, I know I won’t be.
You can order your own Lucida strap from their website or by contacting Felix via Instagram. Just be aware that Felix’s English isn’t so great – it’s a lot better than my Spanish though! He has a friend who helps him respond to messages so it may take a few days before you get a response.