Here is how to tell a real BlackRapid from a fake one
When we hear about fake products in the photography world, it’s usually memory cards. Cheap SD cards with fake SanDisk or Lexar labels being sold at well below market price. Sometimes, though, it’s even fake cameras and lenses. But there are a lot of other counterfeit accessories out there for cameras, too.
BlackRapid have recently taken to social media to warn potential customers about unethical retailers. It seems that some of them are bundling in low-quality unbranded components instead of the BlackRapid originals with their straps. Low-quality unbranded components that will void your warranty and potentially risk damage to your gear.
In their post to Facebook, BlackRapid showcases some side-by-side comparison images of original and fake components and writes…
It has recently come to our attention that some retailers are bundling our straps with non-BLACKRAPID branded parts and accessories. Our warranty specifically states that the use of any non-genuine parts or accessories from other brands could cause damage to the ConnectR or FastenR and voids the warranty.
However, depending on how these retailers choose to list these products, it may not always be obvious that customers are not receiving genuine BLACKRAPID parts. One of the biggest offenders is the non-genuine fastener, made to look like our patented FR-3 or FR-5 FastenR products. The inferior knock-off fasteners are prone to thread wear and/or breakage, which can cause the camera to drop, or the fastener can snap off and get stuck inside the camera’s tripod mount.
When you see the images side-by-side the differences are quite obvious. The genuine parts are emblazoned with BlackRapid’s noticeable “R” logo, and the finish is far cleaner. The originals are also far more durable than the fakes, too. But if you think you’re buying a BlackRapid strap from a supposedly reputable retailer, you’re naturally going to assume everything in the box is also BlackRapid.
A simple comparison will reveal the difference between an authentic BLACKRAPID part and a knock-off part (see below for images). For example, authentic BLACKRAPID parts will always be made of stainless steel and either embossed or laser engraved with the ‘R’ logo. An authentic BLACKRAPID FastenR will not scratch easily and will maintain its well-defined threading pattern with normal use. By contrast, the metal that is used for the knock-off fasteners tends to be cheap and easily scuffed or gouged; the threaded post often becomes worn and won’t screw into the camera body securely.
BlackRapid says that this happens most often to their FR-3 and FR-5 FastenR products. And given their cost it’s easy to see why unscrupulous retailers might switch them out for cheap knock-offs to try to squeeze a little more profit out of unsuspecting customers. But it’s illegal, and you need to know if you’ve been sold a fake.
If you are unsure if any of the BlackRapid parts you’ve purchased are genuine, the company invites you to email them for assistance.
I should point out, though, that just because an item isn’t made by BlackRapid does not necessarily mean it’s inferior or just plain crap. Companies like Custom SLR and Sun Sniper make very similar products that are very highly regarded.
Chances are, those companies will also have clauses in their warranty to warn against using 3rd party components, too. And while I’ve not heard of similar reports with Custom SLR, Sun Sniper or other companies with such products, it’s worth keeping an eye out for.
If in doubt, regardless of the brand you purchased, contact them with photos of the product to make sure you’ve got the real deal.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.