Thursday, February 20, 2014

BlackRapid SnapR Review

In this post, we review the BlackRapid SnapR, a unique camera bag designed for enthusiast compacts and smaller mirrorless cameras.

BlackRapid revolutionized camera straps by creating an innovative strap that allows the photographer to quickly slide the camera to shooting position.  Their design was very successful and was widely copied.  With the rising popularity of mirrorless cameras, BlackRapid has designed a new camera bag also functions as a sling and wrist strap, the BlackRapid SnapR.

I like having a compact camera with me most of the time.  It enables me to capture fleeting scenes that I come across.  One problem is finding the best way to bring the camera with me.  For my slimmer cameras like the Fuji W3, I use a small camera case just slightly larger than a wallet.  For larger cameras like the Lumix LX5, Sony RX1, or Olympus E-M5, I had been putting them in a coat pocket.  However it doesn't offer much protection, and with my smaller coats, it is not so quick to take the camera out, plus I'm worried about dropping the camera.  At the same time, I don't want to bring my usual camera bag with me because it's far too big for a compact and defeats the purpose of having a small camera.  I sometimes wear the camera strap, though sometimes the camera gets in the way of doing things, and I also worry about the camera getting bumped or scratched.


The SnapR offers speed, protection, and convenience by combining a sling, camera bag, and wrist stap. Imagine a BlackRapid sling/strap.  However, instead of having the camera dangle unprotected at your side, the strap has a small integrated bag that opens at the side (like a mailbox), where you can store the camera while still attached to the strap.  Alternatively, the camera can also be detached from the strap to be connected to a wrist strap. 

If you're shooting actively, then you could use the camera with the wrist strap.  If the shooting pace has slowed down a bit but you still want to be able to shoot quickly, you can attach the camera to the strap, where it can either hang freely at your side or be kept inside its bag, ready to slide out for use.  When you're shooting infrequently, then the camera can remain in the bag, zippered up.  Except when you're switching from the wrist strap to the sling, the camera remains tethered, avoiding drops, and is always ready to shoot.

Here is BlackRapid's video of the SnapR:

The SnapR has three sizes: the 10, the 20 and the 35.  The 10 looks like a flap wallet and is made for slim cameras.  The 20 and 35 both look like a very small camcorder bag, about the size of a fanny pack.  The 20 looks appropriate for larger point-and-shoots or mirrorless cameras with pancake lenses.  The 35 would be for mirrorless cameras with small lenses (e.g. Olympus 17 1.8), or a NEX with 16-50.  It will not fit with a longer lenses like the Olympus 12-50.

Here are BlackRapid's specs for the SnapR 20 and 35:

• Fits cameras up to 5.2 x 3.2 x 2”  (133 x 83 x 51mm) 
• Exterior bag: 4.1 H x 6.3 W x 3.3” D (105 H x 160 W x 85mm D)
• Interior bag: 3.9 H x 5.3 W x 1.9” D (100 H x 135 W x 50mm D)
• Exterior pocket: 3.5 H x 4.9 W x 0.4” D (90 H x 125 W x 10mm D)

• Fits cameras up to 5.2 x 3.2 x 3.2” (133 x 83 x 83mm)
• Exterior bag: 4.1 H x 6.3 W x 4.5” D (105 H x 160 W x 115mm D)
• Interior bag: 3.9 H x 5.3 W x 3.4” D (100 H x 135 W x 87mm D)
• Exterior pocket: 3.5 H x 4.9 W x 0.4” D (90 H x 125 W x 10mm D)

I got the 35 so that I could use it with any of my smaller cameras.  Notwithstanding the specs, it will fit the E-M5 (depth: 41.9mm) with the Rokinon Fisheye (with built-in lens hood but without the lens cap, measuring 48mm), albeit snugly.  Other lenses I've tried: E-M5 with 45 1.8 (close fit), E-M5 with 25 1.8 (fits easily).

The SnapR looks very well made from ballistic nylon, and with good quality zippers that slide smoothly and easily.  One concern I had was that if the camera is being slid in and out of the bag, the camera might be scratched by the zippers.  However, the zippers' teeth face out, not into the opening, which reduces the chance of scratching the camera.

The zipper for the bag's opening has two zipper pulls connected to a single handle, for quicker opening. The zipper pulls for side pockets are rubber, with the Blackrapid "R" logo.

The bag's sides and the bottom are well padded.  However, the top has no padding.  The bottom of the bag has a rubberized anti-slip friction surface.  There are two straps on the side and there are two included velcro loops for attaching BlackRapid accessories.

The strap is made of ballistic nylon.  It is adjustable in length, and can be detached from the bag and closed to form a regular strap.  However, unlike the normal BlackRapid strap, the sliding connector is nonremovable.  The shoulder pad for the strap slides along the strap and can be removed from the strap.

Also included with the SnapR are:
  • a steel FastenR Hitch, which connects to the camera's tripod socket
  • a wrist strap
  • a short strap that connects from the FastenR to either the wrist strap or the buckle on the strap.


So far we've discussed the SnapR's components and design.  How does it work in the real world?  Quite well actually.  I'm a klutz and am often concerned about dropping my camera or bumping it, especially with smaller cameras that don't have a substantial grip.  With the SnapR, I can take out the camera and store it in the bag very quickly without ever worrying about it falling.  I can even do it with one hand (while my other hand is holding on to my kid :) ).  It's also convenient when I want to hold the camera from unusual angles (ok, I admit, for a selfie) and I don't need to be afraid about dropping the camera.

Although the SnapR includes a wrist strap I haven't been using it.  Instead I just attached a small wrist strap to my camera and it stays there.  When I want to use the wrist strap, I just wear that attached wrist strap and then I detach the tether.  I find this faster than having to take out the included SnapR wrist strap, wearing it, and switching the tether from the sling strap to the wrist strap.  Alternatively you could wear the SnapR wrist strap around your wrist all the time to make it faster to switch between wrist strap to the sling strap.

I also like the SnapR because of how easy it is to store and remove the camera.  When I'm shooting frequently, I generally don't close the zipper and use the bag like a holster.  The camera may slide in and out partly, but it doesn't slide out completely unless I lean forward (when I do, I can cover it with my hand temporarily).  YMMV (depending on the weight and size of your camera).  Even if it slides out, it doesn't drop because it's tethered.  When I'm shooting less frequently or when I need to be very active, I pull the zippers only up to the side so that I can pull the zippers down easily with the handle.

Because removing and storing the camera is so easy, I don't hesitate to keep the camera in the bag, protected from bumps and scratches.  For occasions when I want to use a smaller camera, the SnapR is the best carrying solution I've found thus far.

+ good protection for the camera while not shooting
+ quick to remove the camera
+ quick to store the camera
+ camera remains tethered and thus protected from falls
+ can be used with a wrist strap
+ strap can be detached from the bag to become a regular strap (if you don't need the bag)
+ good quality construction
+ the bag can hang from either your left or right side

- pricey
- strap connections to the bag don't swivel, so the strap can get twisted.
- side pockets too small to fit anything except thin objects (lens cap, memory cards, batteries, filters). If instead of two smaller pockets it had one bigger pocket (perhaps with slots for thin objects), it might have fit an external flash.
- no padding at the top
- I would have liked a small handle on top to hold the bag while I'm wearing the strap, and also to provide a little bit of protection if the bag falls upside-down.
- adjusting and tightening the wrist strap is not quick.
- not large enough to keep two enthusiast cameras.

We're not affiliated with BlackRapid and I wasn't paid to do this review.  I bought the SnapR with my own money for my own use.  If you buy from the links to Amazon above, we would receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  100% of these commissions are donated to Food for the Poor, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charity that serves the poorest people in the western hemisphere.


  1. didn't know you have got do you like it going from D600?

    1. Hi macman! I still have the D600 (for now). In the near future I will do a post about my thoughts on the EM5, and about mirrorless vs. DSLR general. Briefly, I think there is a significant difference in image quality between the D600 and EM5, especially for low light. However, imho for certain kinds of photography and certain kinds of users, image quality might not be the most important factor.

      Best regards,

  2. Hi Mic,
    Didn't know you pick up a m43. I am also looking for a compact camera to supplement my D600. I found myself taking less photos because I am not always willing to carry heavy camera and lenses. I am looking at Fuji X100s and some of the m43 offerings. Would be very interested to see your opinion on EM-5 vs D600. EM-5 is also on my list.


    1. Hi Xiaoli! I know what you mean about taking less photos, and that's something that I will discuss in the upcoming post. About the X100S vs. m43, I've only tried the EM5 (and RX1, which you didn't mention but which I really like). I haven't tried the X100S. If I were in your position I would first consider how you intend to use a compact camera - is one focal length enough for your compact? If the answer is no, then I would consider either an A7/A7R, an m43 camera (my preference would be the EM10 or EM1), or the X100S (with the 28mm and 50mm adapters). Personally I think the Fuji X-cameras are too large, and ditto with the Sony NEX unless you're fine with the 16-50.

      If one focal length is enough, then the next issue is whether 35mm is the focal length you want? If the answer to both questions is yes, the next question is how important is cost vs. image quality? If image quality is the priority then I would recommend the RX1, which has superb image quality (sharpness, tonality, bokeh, noise), as long as you are willing to take time to shoot. If image quality is not the overriding concern, then I guess my alternatives would be the X100 (for lowest cost), X100S (much improved over the X100), M43 with Panasonic 20 1.7 (for sharpness), or M43 with Olympus 17 1.8 (for AF speed).

      But yes I will be posting my thoughts on the E-M5 in a couple of weeks, after posting about one other camera that you might want to consider. ;)

      Best regards,

    2. That could lead to a very long discussion. :-)

      How good is good enough? What do you use your pictures for? How many do you print and how many do you show to others? If you print, how large?

      Answers to these questions would drastically change how good is good enough, which is a post I've always wanted to write, what do people do with the thousands of pictures they take? How are they shared? How often would you look back to the pictures you took one or two years back?

      What do you think? Shall we do a joint post and open the discussion with our readrs?

    3. Sounds like a good idea!

      Best regards,

    4. Thanks, Mic. That's a lot of useful suggestions. My initial thought was that I want something pocketable or almost pocketable with decent image quality so that I can bring it with me all the time. I am not looking to replace my D600 so full focal length coverage is not a must. For this reason, X100s and RX1 is just right (I didnot consider RX1 purely because of its price), m43 with pancake is ok but with with zoom lens maybe too big. I know that there will be some compromise (e.g. fixed focal length). I am thinking to shoot with D600 with 24-70mm fixed at 35mm for a little while before considering X100s.

    5. Hi Xiaoli. Shooting at 35mm exclusively sounds like a great idea to see if it is the right focal length for you. It seems people either prefer 28, 35, or 50. As for the RX1 price, the good thing is that it has come down significantly because of RX1 owners who want to upgrade to the Sony A7/A7R. At the same time, there are not a lot of people who think about getting an RX1 because of the price. You may want to check out our RX1 review, if you haven't yet. :)

      Best regards,

  3. That's an interesting post Mic, I was very interested in the SnapR before, but from the looks of it, I thought it wouldn't be easy to get the camera in and out, and you'd have to keep opening and closing the zipper each time you got it out. Is it like so?

    How would it be like with a larger combination of a camera and lens? Would it fit the EM5 with the 12-50 kit lens for example? And what about the EM1, which is very slightly taller and with a larger grip? If it fits, I will be buying one very soon.

    1. Thanks Mohammad and sorry I'm not yet done with "other" post ;). It kept getting longer and longer, and i kept doing more test shots lol.

      About the snapr you dont have to close the zipper. The camera can be kept in the bag like a holster without closing the zipper and it wont slide out unless you lean forward a lot. If you're just walking or something it stays there even without closing the zipper. I should clarify this in the post.

      Re the em1 it would fit. The extra height is not a problem unless you want it to face down (in which case it would be tight). The grip wont be a problem either. But the 12-50 wont. The snapr is quite small. It would only work with a small lens like the 17 1.8 or the pancake zoom. I'm not even sure if the 25 1.4 or 45 1.8 would fit though it's possible. I will get the fisheye soon and hopefully it fits. I will clarify the post re the specs about what can fit.

      Best regards,

  4. Hi Mic,
    I ordered this bag together with my Fuji X100s order. Love the bag. I think it is very easy in use. Prefer to use it when rainy or dusty. Lately I have just removed the bag and I am using the belt hangin cross over, and keep the camera in my hoody. Then I wear my coat over it, providing some stealth. That's what I did on my latest trip to Paris, worked out fine, easy of use.
    Use the bag to put some other stuff in and goes in my backpack (for) now.

    1. Hi Ozmanguday! Glad that the snapr works well with your x100s! (And thanks for letting us know it fits)
      About wearing your hoodie over the camera yes that works well when weather is cool enough to wear a hoodie. Thanks for sharing that idea!

      Best regards,

    2. You are welcome!
      Yes the X100s fits with hood on, but fits better without (but still fits well with hood on). In any case I have filter on my lens so I just put it in without hood if I dont use the camera much. Actually I do not want to use filters, and stopped using filters on my lenses, just for the X100s I felt like to put on one, because I can stuff it in my pocket, bag, hoody, without having to worry to get it scratched up.


    3. Thanks again, mate!

      Best regards,


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