1901 Fotografi HCB at a glance:
- Real leather shoulder/neck strap
- 115cm standard length
- 16mm wide
- Choice of 8 colours
All new cameras come with a perfectly functional strap, usually made of nylon and proudly emblazoned with the maker’s name and the model number. But what if you’d prefer something more stylish and discreet? The answer might be simple leather strap such as the 1901 Fotografi HCB.
Hand-made in Britain, and available in a choice of eight colours, it’s named in honour of arguably the greatest street photographer of all time – Henri Cartier Bresson.
1901 Fotografi HCB key features:
- Length: As standard, the strap is 115cm long, but custom lengths up to 165cm can be ordered for a £4 premium
- Attachment: The 11mm-wide leather end loops will fit most cameras, both vintage and modern. A pair of split rings is also supplied
- Classic colours: Choose between red, olive, black, tan, or three shades of brown. There’s also a ‘stereo black’ option that’s black on both sides
- Personal touch: For an extra £12, you can have your strap personalised with up to 12 characters
Of course, you might wonder why you’d spend money on another strap if you’ve already got one. But there are plenty of reasons, not necessarily just pragmatic. On a purely aesthetic level, nylon straps don’t exactly complement retro-styled cameras very well. More practically, you might prefer to avoid drawing attention to yourself on the street by sporting visible branding.
Also, the straps supplied with small cameras are often bulkier than necessary, perhaps with the maker having an eye towards use with larger lenses. Last but by no means least, if you buy a camera used rather than new, the chances of getting a fully functional strap are relatively slim – particularly with classic film models.
At 16mm wide, the HCB is the broader of 1901 Fotografi’s two shoulder/neck straps, alongside the 11mm-wide Eggleston. As a result, it’s well suited for use with most mirrorless cameras including larger SLR-style models, particularly when they’re fitted with moderately sized lenses. It’s also a perfect match for many 35mm film cameras, especially manual focus SLRs and rangefinders. But it’s probably not going to be the ideal choice for use with heftier optics such as a large telephoto zooms.
The length isn’t adjustable, but at 115cm, I find it perfect for slinging either over my shoulder or around my neck.
In terms of materials, the strap is constructed from high quality Italian or US bovine leather, produced using environmentally friendly vegetable or bark tanning. It’s held together with robust stainless-steel grommets, meaning there’s no plastic in sight. The 11mm end loops will fit directly onto many cameras, but a pair of split rings is supplied should you need them. For cameras with narrow strap lugs or small embedded eyelets, you can use 1901’s nylon loop connectors, which cost £15.45 per pair.
1901 Fotografi HCB: Our Verdict
I’m a big fan of 1901 Fotografi straps, having used them on my own cameras for five or six years now. With its simple, understated design, the HCB epitomises everything the firm does well. It looks great and thanks to the high-quality materials, it should last for years, too.
Some photographers prefer to carry their camera in their right hand secured by a wrist strap, particularly for street shooting. For these, 1901 Fotografi offers the ‘Maitani’ loop strap, named after the legendary Olympus camera designer.
It’s available in a choice of two lengths and eight colours, for £25.95 (small size) or £26.95 (regular).