Top critical review
174 people found this helpful
a close clone of the cotton carrier but needs improvement
on May 18, 2012
As others have noted, tinknave's review is excessively negative, and several people are happy with this product. As I already own the original Cotton Carrier I thought a side-by-side comparison would help end any speculation (no one else seems to have done this), so I bought the Opteka just for that.
The Opteka is a close clone of the Cotton Carrier (even down to the shape of some panels) but there are differences.
Firstly, the camera mount system. The Cotton Carrier bolt (on the camera) has a circular profile with opposite EDGES trimmed straight. The locking mechanism relies on the trimmed edges sliding between the two edges of the mount (on the harness), whereas when turned 90 degrees the untrimmed curved edges are too big to fit past. The Opteka bolt has a fully circular profile with a channel cut in the bottom, and slides OVER a stud rising from the carrier. The bolt is turned 90 degrees with the stud trapped inside the channel at the centre of the bolt.
The metal channel and plastic stud are only 1-2mm deep and the channel has sharp edges. Under REPEATED use where the user is not careful to properly align the channel for insertion/extraction to the carrier, I can see wear eroding the stud which MAY lead to failure of the locking mechanism. The Cotton Carrier is substantially more resistent to the effects of wear by design. I suspect Opteka have changed the design to avoid infriging Cotton's patent.
Also, the bolt screw on the Opteka has a very large flat-blade-screwdriver type of mount (with key provided) and a rather thin rubber washer. The Cotton uses a hex key (less likely to wear) and the rubber washer is designed to compress (less likely to come loose).
Secondly, the straps going over the shoulders into the velcro mount on the back panel of the Opteka have 6 inches of velcro whereas the Cotton has 9 inches. The straps' overall length is identical. This means the Opteka straps cannot be tightened as much as the Cotton for people of smaller build. I myself (5' 11", 150lbs) have the Cotton's straps tightened using those last 3 inches. Because of this, the Opteka's back panel which should sit between my shoulder blades actually touches the nape of my neck, and the shoulder straps rub the side of my neck. Larger people would probably not have any problem, but this is not ergonomic for me.
Thirdly, the hip mount for the 2nd camera is 50% larger on the Opteka and in my opinion unnecessarily so as this has no benefit for camera carrying. When sitting down it digs into my hip rather more than the Cotton.
Fabric on both carriers appears identical, and construction of the Opteka is of the same quality as the Cotton (tinknave is simply wrong about that). There is very slightly more padding under the chest panel on the Cotton.
In my opinion I believe that with a bit more attention to detail, the Opteka would be a very good product and would eat Cotton's market share, particularly since Cotton's price seems opportunistically high. However, the design of the locking mechanism is questionable and the inability to comfortably fit smaller builds is disappointing.