Let’s face it: as photographers, we enjoy beautiful things. We search for the next beautiful ray of light, the next killer location, and the next beautiful moment of emotion that our clients give us. We search for the beautiful things in life, and as we do that, we need to have our gear at the ready, with full confidence that it will serve us well and consistently. Confidence in our gear is tantamount, and it goes beyond just our cameras. It transitions into how we carry our gear, and one of my most crucial pieces of gear as a dual-camera wedding photographer are my camera straps. Over the past two years, I’ve tried a handful of different straps with varying success, but none made life easy. I was constantly readjusting them, or they’d rub my neck or shoulders uncomfortably, or they’d simply break from use. But then I found Matt Swaggart’s Holdfast Gear line, and I discovered the MoneyMaker. And the game changed.
Many times, form, fashion, and real-life useability do not work in tandem. You either have something fashionable that is utterly useless after a few rounds with it (if you’re lucky), or you’re stuck with a strap that makes you look like you’re in a B-roll of a Rambo movie, but it does its job decently. The Holdfast MoneyMaker, however, is sexy, incredibly intuitive, and above all, it WORKS. And if you’re a photographer who depends on your gear to get the job done with no hold-ups, there’s really no other choice but the Holdfast MoneyMaker.
I actually started this review back in December of 2014, not long after I received my MoneyMaker in Water Buffalo Tan. Time got away from me, I got busy, and honestly forgot about the different reviews I’d like to do regarding gear. (I plan to resolve this throughout 2016 and share my opinions on gear intermittently.) However, I think it was actually a good thing, because at this point, as a destination wedding photographer, I’ve traveled extensively over the past 13 months with these straps, and I believe I can now give a much stronger, real-world review of my experience.
Leather is timeless. It’s classic, and it’s always fashionable. Beyond that, it’s utilitarian. Holdfast’s MoneyMaker strap is the Mercedes of camera straps. It’s sleek, beautiful, and perfectly designed to execute its job. It is well constructed from top quality leather right here in the United States, and you can see the quality of the straps the moment you open the bag.
What I love most about the MoneyMaker is the comfort. I tried many other straps before investing into the Holdfast line, and I’ll be honest, I was a bit apprehensive spending my money on yet *another* camera strap system. However, the moment I tried on the MoneyMaker, I knew I’d found my straps. The water buffalo leather is so soft, and only grows more supple as you use it. The straps distribute the weight of my cameras evenly across my back, and even after photographing weddings for 16+ hours, I feel no pain. These straps are worth their weight in gold, simply because of that.
As I continued to use the straps, they broke in more and more, contouring to my body and making them even more of a joy to use. I opted for the portrait sliders, which provided a bit extra length to pull the cameras up. While these have been fantastic, they did give the occasional pinch, which was unfortunate, but certainly not a deal breaker. However, Holdfast has outdone itself and redesigned the sliders, making the buckles more streamlined, and alleviating the pinching all together. The new straps come standard now, so those of you picking up a new MoneyMaker, you’re good to go! And, if you own one already, you’re not out of luck. You can snag these new sliders if you’d like as well, like I did. They fit perfectly with the MoneyMakers previously purchased, and you’ll love them.
Safety of my gear is another big issue for me. Many of the straps I used before the MoneyMaker would loosen and stretch during a wedding day, leaving my cameras somewhat vulnerable, and me worrying about them falling when I should have been completely focused on the task at hand. With the MoneyMaker, the leather straps stay firmly in place thanks to the well made buckles, and the cameras are secured at two separate points, ensuring a fail-safe in case one of the latches were to come undone. Both are extremely well made, and I have the peace of mind that my cameras are safe at all times.
Along with everything else, the MoneyMaker is adaptable. Coming standard with D-rings on the shoulders in the front and back, the MoneyMaker is designed to carry whatever you need. Holdfast has a dizzying array of bags, camera pouches, and accessories you can utilize with the MoneyMaker to make it yours. One I plan to pick up this year is the Holdfast Sightseer, which is a fantastic bag that can hold up to three 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses right off the bat. It’s streamlined to keep you moving and capturing your shots without having to stop and fumble with your gear, and that’s precisely what I need when I’m shooting. Everything about the Holdfast system provides that.
While the MoneyMaker alone is fantastic, there are a few add-ons I would recommend investing in when you make the purchase. I highly recommend picking up a few extra Holdfast screws, especially if you use larger lenses, such as a 70-200mm or 200mm lens. These lenses are so heavy that choosing to latch the strap into the tripod mount on the lens, rather than the body, will allow better weight distribution, and save you wear and tear on your camera body. I like to keep things moving throughout a wedding day, so I opted to pick up some screws to leave in the tripod mounts of the lenses, so as not to waste time unscrewing them from the camera bodies. It’s been a time saver for me, and in wedding photography, every moment counts, which is why the MoneyMaker is perfect for the job.
Beyond the screws, I would also suggest investing in some of Holdfast’s leather cream to keep your MoneyMaker looking fantastic. This cream keeps the leather supple, and will extend the life of your straps. A little bit goes a very long way, and you don’t need use it often, so you’ll find the tin lasts quite a long time. It’s a great investment, and it will also work great on any other leather items you might have.
Bottom line, Holdfast has created a winner of a product in its MoneyMaker. I own many different Holdfast items, but it began with this product, and I firmly believe in their entire line. You can’t go wrong with them, and they stand behind their craftsmanship, which is fantastic. If you’re a dual-shooting photographer, I cannot say enough about the Holdfast system. If you haven’t heard of them, go check them out! And if you’ve been on the fence about diving in, debate no more. Bonus: if you’re vegan, you can join the party now, too, as Holdfast has designed the MoneyMaker in a non-leather material, called the Camera Swagg, which has all the same fantastic features in a lighter weight, synthetic material. Hands down, the Holdfast MoneyMaker has been the best investment I’ve made. You won’t regret picking one up for yourself!