This is a review of Artisan & Artist’s ACAM-301 (Kumihimo) Round Silk Strap, and ACAM-310 Flat Silk Strap
FULL DISCLOSURE: I was approached by Canadian Artisan & Artist dealer, Digitec Trading who asked if I’d be interested in reviewing some Artisan & Artis. What follows is an honest review of what I received.
If you’d like to purchase one of these straps, or anything else for that matter, please consider using one of the affiliate links below. The price is the same for you, but a small percentage of the purchase price goes to me, which helps keep this site going. Thank you.
If there’s one thing you can say about photography, there’s no shortage of accessories available. Another thing you can say about photographers is a lot of them enjoy accessorizing their cameras.
You’re sure to find snarky comments online suggesting that if you’re more concerned about adding things to your camera than you are about making pictures with it, you’ve missed the point. What I think authors of this line of thinking have missed is, we’re free to enjoy our hobbies however the hell we want. If that means searching, obsessing, even agonizing over which strap, be it neck, wrist or sling we choose to affix to our cameras, so be it.
Any photographer considering one of Artisan & Artist’s Japanese Silk straps is sure to be doing some agonizing, as these straps can be expensive. There’s a reason their straps are so often attached to Leica’s in their product shots. I mean, what’s another couple hundred bucks on top of your $7,000 body?→ Artisan & Artist has taken notice of our relatively economical rangefinder-style cameras, and realized there’s probably a few more of them selling per quarter. Whether we all admit to it or not, fashion plays a part in our purchasing decisions, and Artisan & Artist have, rightfully so in my opinion, honed in on Fujifilm camera owners as those care enough about fashion and quality that they’re the next most likely customer for them.
I’d heard of Artisan & Artist straps in the early days of switching over to Fuji, and was interested in one of their green (what Artisan & Artist erroneously calls “Khaki”) braided silk straps, even going so far as to put it on my birthday wish list. At the time, I think these straps were actually more expensive. The going rate for a green strap was $180 USD. Some eBay sellers still haven’t received the price drop memo. I didn’t receive my coveted green strap on my birthday, and mostly settled on more affordable alternatives until this site lead to better options.
As luck would have it, Canada’s premiere distributor for Artisan & Artist gear, Digitec Trading reached out to me about trying some of their gear out. Naturally I agreed when they suggested Artisan & Artist as the first brand to review. So after a meet and greet, out I walked with two versions of their silk straps, the original round ACAM-301 in green of course, the newer, flatter ACAM-310 in two-tone black and red, and their more functional Easy Slider Strap, the ACAM-E25R also in red, which will be the subject of its own review.
Perhaps the best part about the look of these straps is there really isn’t much to them. There’s a braided cord, a couple of leather fasteners with some stitching, and metal split o-rings. Whether or not you like the overall looks of these straps will largely come down to your preferences on the braided aesthetic. Personally, I don’t care for it in leather, but I like it a lot in fabric.
The next biggest factor with minimalistic straps like these is colour. Whether you are someone who wants your camera to blend in with the rest of your person, or stand out as an accessory. Artisan & Artist offers colour to suit. Clearly the population is fairly evenly split as discrete solid black, and bold solid red are the best-selling colours in all A&A’s strap models.
I’m with the side of the population that leans away from attention-grabbing colours, and personally, I love green so that’s a big part of why I wanted one of these straps in the first place. The only way this round strap could match my Hadley small better is if the leather for the fasteners came in chocolate brown (hint, hint).
Speaking of those fasteners, they have a subtle amount of bling to them with the foil-stamped branding, but if even that amount of reflectivity isn’t your thing, the strap can be mounted with the silver facing in. They also feature a single line of stitching to further reinforce the fastener.
All in all, these straps can either look elegant and understated, as though they come from days gone by, or vivid and flashy.
When you hear “Japanese Silk,” you might conjure up the feeling of silk bed sheets or undergarments in your mind. Because of the braiding, the straps don’t feel quite that soft to the touch, but the silk gives them a much more comfortable feel than something like a leather braid would. They’re very much like rope, and the round strap even sounds like rope when you manipulate and squeeze them, but don’t feel at all like it when it comes to comfort.
Here’s a short clip of me squeezing the round silk strap. This sound surprised me at first, but I kind of like it. The sound here is heavily exaggerated. The rope-tightening sound is audible in a quiet room, but outdoors only the wearer might notice it.
The flat strap is even softer to the touch, and is missing that ropey sound entirely, so if that’s something that will bother you, consider going flat.
While these straps have received a ton of praise about their looks, the beauty of them truly is more than skin deep.
Size and Weight
At 40g, these straps are nice and light. Leather straps typically weigh in at around 60g or so. Every little bit counts, right? The “Long Type” is just 10g heavier.
When it comes to length, the standard length is perfect for someone about my size, which is 5 feet 9 inches or 175cm, and around 160 pounds or 72.5 kg. When the straps is around my neck, the camera falls to a position where dials can be adjusted, and with the camera raised, there’s just the right amount of slack to compose via the LCD.
Equally important, when I sling the strap over one shoulder and across my sternum, it’s beautifully snug so it does flop around. There is some slack, so those of you who are little larger should still be ok with the standard length, but larger folks will want to look at the “Long Type” is the sling position is important. It should also be noted, however, that while grabbing a quick shot with the strap in the sling position is possible, I find myself at end-range of length very quickly.
I’ve had these straps for only a couple months, so I can’t speak to life-long durability, but they’ve held up very well so far, showing no signs of wear. I’ve seen others in a burnt orange colour and white (silver) that do look worn, so bear that in mind when choosing your colour. Darker and earthy colours will look newer longer.
One final note about the fasteners, I’m not a fan of having to use patch leather protectors with my straps. The nice thing about the ACAM-301 is they’re totally unnecessary.
The most important part in strap function is how it feels in use. The weather in Toronto has been exceptionally hot and humid lately; perfect conditions to test out straps that boast high comfort and breathability as key features. Everything you’ve read about these straps’ wearability is true, if not undersold. With an X100 attached, I can wear these straps all day long, and I don’t end up with a sweat line across my chest.
As mentioned above, the flat strap feels softer than the round one. The flatness is meant to further enhance the long-lasting comfort of the strap. It hasn’t been necessary with smaller kits like an X100 or any other X-Series body with a small prime, but if you've got something like the XF 16-55mm f/2.8 mounted on your camera, the flat strap can make a difference, particularly when the camera is around your neck.
It’s a bit weird to be reviewing a product I previously wanted, but decided not to purchase in no small part because of the price, and then recommending its purchase to my readers. It helps a lot that the price of the round strap has come down considerably, particularly for my American friends, but it’s still not an impulse buy the way a $20 wrist strap might be.
What I can say is that now that I’ve had the opportunity to test these straps out for an extended period of time, that puts me in a much better spot to recommend them, and if this green silk strap were to vanish, I’d get myself another. It’s like having industrial strength function with ultra high comfort.
Round vs. Flat
Round or flat will depend in part on your colour preferences. Currently the flat version only comes in solid black, solid red, or the two tone black and red, which is exclusive to the flat strap. The flat strap is also a noteworthy step up in price. Unless you simple cannot choose between red and black, my recommendation would be to stick with round.