Nikon AH-4 Hand Grip Review

Walking along the streets of any city, it’s not uncommon to see dSLR owners with that distinguishable branded camera strap around their neck. Personally I don’t think the allure towards it would be as great if it were a accessory that you had to buy separately but since it naturally come with your camera, some folks stick with it but lately I’ve had the itch to replace it.

On days when I’ve been out for 3 plus hours shooting, I’ve realized neck straps have this weird tendency of getting in the way and perhaps because I don’t necessarily sport it the way it’s intended to, there’s a discomfort on having it on.

You won’t see me with it around my neck or shoulder the way you would spot a tourist. In fact, to avoid dealing with it, I wrap it firmly around my wrist where I feel the camera is more secure and at my disposal. Tossing it would be an option but then you’d run the risk of accidentally loosing grip of the camera when actively shooting.

After a couple days, I gave up searching for a reasonably priced alternative strap. I came across several styles but eventually I realized the comfort of photographing never felt as seamless like when I used a hand strap on the Canon G11. So why not replicated that same experience for the dSLR?

Nikon Camera Strap

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Nikon Camera Strap

I bought the Nikon AH-4 Hand Grip. As it’s the case with any Nikon product, they’re well crafted and along with the reputable name comes a big price tag. The accessories runs for about $50 on Amazon, $80 on B&H yet I found it on Ebay for $21 and that included shipping. There’s also some aftermarket versions but if I can come by the authentic model for a fair-minded price, I’ll go for it.

Having used it extensively for 2 weeks, here’s my informal observations on it:

Pros:
  • Terrific ergonomics, nicely cushioned and extremely comfortable. It’s one of those accessories you don’t realize how valuable it is until you’ve used it. There’s no fumbling, no expensive heavy camera dangling on your neck. Just flip and shoot all with one hand.
  • When I ordered it, I was fearful in that it wouldn’t fit on the D90 because I have the MB-D80 multi-power battery pack attached but that wasn’t a problem.
  • The bottom plate of the AH-4 screws into the tripod thread of your camera so there’s no need in taking the strap off when using a tripod.
Cons:
  • There’s restricted thumb movement.
  • I wouldn’t overuse it because it has potential to cause tendonitis especially when combined with a hefty lens like a 24-70mm.
  • I don’t switch lenses regularly despite shooting exclusively with primes but when I do, I found it tedious having to unbuckle the strap to swap every time.
  • The camera is essentially tied to your hand and that hand becomes unusable for much of anything else. In one instances, I found it bothersome when riding a crowded subway trying to keep my balance holding on to a pole with a single hand.
  • It would be great to find a way to attach a neck strap while still having the hand version attached.
  • In street photography, one of the most popular techniques employed is shooting from the hips which means holding your camera at hip level and photographing upwards without looking into the viewfinder. It’s a little difficult to do with this strap because your wrist can only flex so much unless you use a wide-angle lens like a 28mm.
  • Attaching the strap is not intuitive at all. In fact, I found it tedious, especially since it didn’t come with any instructions. I referenced YouTube videos and photographs to get a visual of how it’s suppose to look when attached but once it’s on, it’s all about adjusting to decide how tight or loose you want it.

Do you recommend the hand strap?

It would appear I don’t think highly of the product let alone recommend it since I’ve listed more cons than pros but that’s not the case. I’m been pleased using it and it surely piqued 2 people’s interest when they approached me in the subway inquiring on how the accessory worked.

Sometimes a product will come along that’s worth more than you pay for it and the Nikon hand strap is certainly one of them but the only reason I feel this way is because I paid $21 for a product that is normally $80. If $80 was the going price across the board, I would have opted for an aftermarket brand.