A Closer Look
Possibly the most striking thing about Carry Speed's system is its robust construction. The strap itself is made of the same durable nylon found on other camera straps, but the similarities pretty much end there. The shoulder pad is made of soft and stretchy neoprene like you would find in a scuba suit. The length and stretchiness of the pad ensures that the weight of your camera is evenly distributed across your shoulder, allowing you to enjoy shooting with your DSLR or full-size camcorder for hours on end. The underside of the shoulder pad is mostly covered in textured rubber to keep the sling firmly planted on your shoulder while you walk, jog, climb, point, and shoot. The pad only required a few minor adjustments over the course of a full day of walking amongst a crowded convention floor and taking hundreds of pictures. A row of holes runs down the middle of the pad to encourage its stretchiness and to give the strap an immediately recognizable look. Carry Speed's block logo is stiched to the lower front of the pad with a plastic D-ring dangling just below it. I have yet to use the D-ring for anything in particular, but it's a nice addition that I'm sure will be appreciated by some.
Moving beyond the shoulder pad, we encounter a pair of heavy-duty snap buckles. These enable the user to swap out the FS-Slim strap for a larger one and also fill an important security need. Both buckles require two hands to open, making it extremely unlikely for a brazen theif or gravity to snatch away your camera without any serious effort involved. All of the seams surrounding this important junction between the strap and shoulder pad are heavily reinforced as an additional failsafe. However, a particular camera sling can be the best in the business at fighting gravity and still be worthless to the user if it cannot reign in the camera's momentum. An inherent problem with camera slings is that they leave your camera in a vulnerable position at your side, leaving it free to bounce around and pick up dings and scratches from nearby objects. This is where the FS-Slim's plastic 'bumper' comes into play. Just slide it down behind the receiver and clamp it in place to prevent any rearward movement of the camera. Carry Speed has a nifty method to counter forward movement as well. Just below the front buckle sits a sliding metal clip attached to a plastic D-ring via a tab. The purpose of this contraption is quite simple; to bring the camera up tighter to your side for situations when you wouldn't want it free to move. By shortening the length of the strap in front with the bumper acting on the camera at the rear, the camera has no choice but to get pulled up and into the crook of your arm. The buckle only acts in one direction, so when it comes time to take a shot, you can draw the camera in a smooth motion without ever knowing the buckle was there.
The business end of the sling holds what I personally think is the most impressive component of Carry Speed's system; the ball head receiver. It is essentially a threaded cylinder with a circular port machined into it to accept a steel ball head pin. With the ball head set in place, a collar threads down over the opening to lock it down. The entire assembly is machined from steel and a rubber o-ring slides into position behind the collar to discourage it from unthreading itself over time as you move. Unlike the carabiner attachments used by other manufacturers that have been known to break on occasion, I have absolutely no fears of this connector ever failing after seeing its form and function firsthand.
The FS-Slim is comprised of a three-part system: the shoulder pad, the sling, and Carry Speed's F-1 mounting plate. The mounting plate is machined out of steel and comes Arca-Swiss compatible right out of the box. If you don't have a tripod with the Arca-Swiss quick-release, you can use one of the six provided mounting holes for your existing tripod bracket. One end of the plate has a passthrough to use with a handgrip strap if you have one. The opposite end of the plate is home to Carry Speed's D-1 ball head, which sits on a 90° pivot. The offset mount is a simple but immensely appreciated design choice that gives the sling great ergonomics. Rather than resting haphazardly at your side, the camera sits flat against your leg, making it stable and very easy to draw. The 90° pivot comes in handy for when you want to rest the camera on a table or stow it in your bag.