Customer Reviews: Opteka MCH-25 Multi Camera Carrier Harness Holster System for DSLR Cameras
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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.
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on March 15, 2012
I was a bit skeptical when I read the review from "tinknave" who gave a one star for this product and insisted that the product was bad. For $30 I thought to take a chance before I could purchase the Cotton Carrier one which sells for $189. Reading the negative review, my expectations were quite low.

The item arrived a day before its scheduled date. It came in its own carry bag with all the attachments already in its place. I had to simply tighten the loops to fit my size. Did not even need the instruction paper that came with it.

*****The Quality*****
Great! I had my D7000 with the 80-400 lens having a combined weight of almost 4lbs. The harness held everything in its place without an issue. The fabric and the plastic holster are though and sturdy. After "tinknave's" review (and his persistent argument of poor quality) I meticulously checked the plastic quality and the stitches to be sure critical. I couldn't find any issues. From its make, I am guessing that it can easily take 10-15lbs without a problem on each holster.

I am not sure what "tinknave" purchased, however, this product is awesome. I am glad that I took the risk of purchasing the Opteka and saved myself $150 ($189-$29) from purchasing the Cotton Carrier. Makes me think that expensive may not always be better.
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on May 21, 2012
- Bought this the other day, I don't own but have coveted the Cotton Carrier for some time. Price of the latter has been the key obstacle.

- I was amazed at the overall quality when I opened it up. For less than forty bucks I wasn't expecting much, and it totally exceeded those expectations.

- Took quite some time to adjust fit. Still not sure it's optimal, would like the main plate to go more snugly against my chest. Will persevere. Agree with the other reviewer about fitment at the back of the neck, mine too is riding up and on a long event I would not be surprised if there'll be chafing on a bare neck.

- The "mini screwdriver" that comes with it is excellent in my opinion. I used one of the (two supplied) "keyrings" and attached it to one of the hooks on the vest for permanent placement. Would hate to have had that thing loose and not be able to remove the lugs from each camera. Agree with the other reviewer on Cotton's Allen key approach, but does it have a hole for similar mounting to keep it with you at all times?

- The lower part of the vest has a very handy pounch where you can store CF cards (or the mini screwdriver). It's small and flat, so don't expect to carry anything much thicker than a CF card.

- I bought another harness at the same time --- --- that's worth looking at if you're considering this item. I much prefer the fit, which is perfect. Advantage of the Cotton and this item is for things like cycling/hiking where the main body is kept nicely snug against your chest. I'm keeping both! Highly recommended.

I tested this item with:
- 7D and 24L no grip
- 5Dm2 and 70-200 2.8 IS with grip

I recall the Cotton video talking about a special lug if you're using a grip. I found no problems at all with the lugs supplied with this item, both are the same height and they handle gripped/ungripped equally well, whereby the cameras stay where they should be and hang at a decent angle. I'm sure alternate lugs are optimal, but again, I found no issues with the ones in this kit.

The 5Dm2 + 70-200 2.8 IS + grip results in a failry heavy weight, as you know, however I found it could comfortably hang on the side holster, no probs, in case I want to have the 400/5.6 in the main chest location.
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on April 9, 2012
I agree 100% with Mihale, the MCH-25 Carrier Holster is an excellent system at a very proper price. Similar web harness's are similarly priced from $29-55. For $189 one can buy a Lowepro Expedition backpack that will not only hold ALL of your photo gear but contain a weeks worth of lunches-and dull the teeth of any bear trying to chew into it!!!!!!

I too risked a purchase after comparing the two Camera Holster's side-by-side on line. When I received my Opteka Holster I reexamined them again on line with the Opteka in my hand, practically identical.
After using the carrier for the last week with various lite to hvy weight lenses just for testing, I definitely recommend the MCH-25 to anyone, going anywhere. My main reason for this purchase was to have a simple chest harness that would support my 70-200 and 150-500 mm teles and prevent them from banging into the Land Rover's doors and seats as I scramble around to get a pix.

Sad to say, but from the posture of the 'unhappy camper's' rant I feel he is acting ore like a 'shill' than an honest critquer.

Do not hesitate to try & test the carrier--there is a no hassle return policy.
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on December 28, 2012
I received this carrier as a Christmas gift and, while I have not yet taken it out for a shoot, I have checked it out to see if it meets my needs. With one exception, it does. It is well made and sturdy. I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II which is a pretty hefty piece of equipment. The carrier easily handles the weight and I feel that it can safely carry the camera. The safety strap which connects the carrier to the camera is a nice feature. You can get rid of your camera strap which is nice as I do not care for everyone to know that I have a $3,000 camera strapped around my neck.
On the flip side, let's face it: you are going to look like a cross between a camera geek and a SWAT Team member when wearing this. But having lugged a heavy camera around for hours, this carrier provides great relief. No more sore neck as it transfers the weight to your shoulders and back. You hardly know you are wearing it. The only major problem I have with this carrier is that you must use the attachment that screws on the bottom of your camera in order to hook it on the carrier. This means you must unscrew the carrier attachment and screw on your tripod connector if you shoot from a tripod. As I use a tripod extensively, this can be annoying. It would seem to be a very simple design problem for Opteka to solve. If anyone has come up with a homemade solution please let us know.
The connector problem is the only reason I gave this product 4 stars and not 5. Still, you can buy this carrier as you will be pleased.

UPDATE: January, 2013 I have now used this carrier extensively on a shoot to Key West and the Everglades. It worked very well and made a huge difference in my comfort level during long periods of toting my Canon. However, one consideration is that when hiking downhill or on stairs the camera is at an angle that makes it difficult to see where you are placing your feet. One solution is to use the second carrier hooked to your belt, but that presents a comfort problem of another kind. I did get some amusing looks from people seeing the unit, but many camera users were very interested in the functionality of the carrier. All in all I remain pleased with this product.

Update: March 1 2013 My initial review noted the problem of having to switch attachments when going from the holder to using a tripod. I have found a product that helps solve this problem: Metallic Base produced by Carry Speed camera strap series. I could not find a model number but the manufacturer's web site is [...]. I found the part at my local camera store. It takes a bit of manipulation, but you can now attach the Opteka slider that connects to the bottom of your camera to this piece and at the same time connect your tripod base plate to the carry Speed base. In order to get things to fit your camera may be a bit off-center but this is easily adjusted using your tripod controls. This fix is sturdy for both the harness and the tripod but I suggest you practice at home first as you will be manipulating the tripod a bit differently. I remain very pleased with this harness and will increase my rating to 4 1/2 stars (I would have given it 5 if Opteka had solved the attachment problem from the get go).
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on April 11, 2012
If it's too good to be true - it usually is. NOT HERE. I read the reviews before purchasing this camera carrier as I had been looking at Cotton Carrier for over 6 months. Cotton Carrier cost approx $185.00 and how on earth can something as cheap as the Opteka MCH-25 be worth a dime. One review said it was junk and a couple more said it was incredible. What to believe? For the price, I thought I would purchase the Opteka knowing that would be "junk" and send it back or just put it on a shelf. I CAN'T BELIEVE THE QUALITY. I got it early this morning and I can't take it off. Allows my Canon 5d Mark II, with Battery Grip and a 70-100 lens to rest comfortably on my chest. NO pressure on my neck. Heck, I may sleep with it on tonight. I am a semi-profession photographer and know quality when I find it. THIS IS IT. If you purchase you will ENJOY.
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on June 6, 2012
I don't know the Cotton Carrier so I cannot compare, but functionally-wise, this is going to help my neck a lot.
The knobs to be attached to the cameras are metal and seem to be just fine. I don't know if this is expected but I got 4 with my harness, together with four rings and two keys.
The rails in which these knobs are supposed to slide are made of hard plastic and seem to be resistant enough. I am somewhat weary of hanging much weight from a battery-grip-equipped camera, though; if the lens does not rest on your body, the weight and motion might induce lots of torque and wear the rails faster.
I still find it convenient even with my grip-equipped 7D when using a long lens: I attach a knob to the lens tripod ring and hang it from there. It is very convenient, whether attached on the chest or on the side.
I found that the angle at which the knob is best positioned on the camera depends on whether you wear the camera on the front or on the side. Don't forget either the provided key or some screwdriver if you want to change it.

The security strap that attaches to the camera I find marginally too short and the attachments proper are plastic. I am not absolutely sure how efficient they would be at stopping a free-falling 5lbs camera+lens (but I do not intend to try).

Now the good surprise is that the side attachment can be used on its own on any belt. Choose a comfortably broad belt and velcro the thing around it, and you can carry a camera right there without any weight on the shoulders.
While this is not convenient in all situations, I find it very efficient when only using a shoulder strap: the camera does not bounce around and the shoulder strap only provides the security. It works perfectly when attaching the knob to the lens and the shoulder strap to the battery grip.

Suggestion to Opteka: sell as a separate product the side mount and a thin, light shoulder strap for the security and I will be advertising it.

Updated after a two-days shoot in NYC - I used the full harness on one day and just the side on the other day and I confirm my impression: the safety lines are somewhat light but the ensemble is fully functional.
Only thing to think about when using only the side (not the full harness, i.e. not the way it was intended in the first place) is where to attach the safety line - I had a backpack so it was not a problem except you want to make sure that you untie the camera from the backpack before you drop the latter.
I still change my rating to 5 stars.


Two years later: I have nearly not used this since that earlier week-end in NYC. I find that it is less practical than a decent shoulder strap in most situations, although I still thought it would be good for motorcycling, climbing or skiing with a camera. I find I use my top-loader pro from Lowepro for these occasions.

I pop that star back out: the harness works as intended but I just don't need it.
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on June 7, 2012
I got my Opteka MCH-25 carrier today and I am just out of words to be able to tell what a fantastic buy this is! I am 5'8 and 270Lbs and was worried this thing would not fit. Rest your minds... it has room to spare! I love it! Thank you Opteka for saving me almost $150! My unit came assembled, all I had to do was adjust the straps to my size and voila! PERFECT! It does not look and does not feel like a $40 product, well made, no broken seams, connectors in place. I mean this is one of the best bargains I have ever bought! My 7D and T2i are happy in their new holster.
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on March 24, 2013
Okay, i've been going back and forth about whether or not to spend the 180+ bucks on the cotton carrier or on a good alternative. Don't get me wrong, in life you truly get what you pay for. HOWEVER... My decision to get the Opteka was the best investment yet. I just recently bought it and I immediately put it through the wringer! Put my large body Mk IV 1D with a heavy 70-200 lens on the chest harness, and went about my day. Removing it, placing it back... then repeating that process for hours. ROCK SOLID. No back fatigue, no slippage. Sturdy, and comfortable. Then I took it out for an evening of shooting an event. I was able to were a blazer over top of it without bulky clogs of vest showing through (huge plus). The netted mesh type design kept my back and sides cool. The front part did cause me to sweat more than normal but c'mon... i'm toting about 7-9 pounds of equipment strapped to my chest AND i'm working so no complaints there!

Because of the slight turn to secure the camera on the inner tab lock mechanism, I was able to bend over to tie my shoes, pick up and set up my lighting equipment hands free of the camera, without having to remove my camera from my person.

One thing i'm keeping my eye on however is the little plastic tab that locks the camera in place. It looks as though that could potentially wear sooner than later causing a premature ejection of a camera. PLEASE DON'T MISTAKE THAT FOR FLIMSY! It's solid! Normal wear will happen. With practice and perfecting the removal and placement of camera, It will withstand several seasons of intense work. And for the price... even if I had to replace it within a year, it would have paid for itself many times over. So even two $40 Opteka carriers are less expensive than one cotton carrier and performs just the same.

So I conclude... This carrier is sturdy, well built, will allow you to shoot with some level of swag without looking like a total camera geek and it is well worth the money! And I rarely write reviews so to get me speaking on a product is big! Don't hesitate! GET IT! It's a very good investment!
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on October 16, 2012
This product is great. I've only used it once and now I wouldn't want to head out without it. It distributes the weight nicely for my Canon 7d with the 70-200 lens attached (carried in front) with my backup Xti with the 17-55 lens attached. It definitely keeps the weight off my neck. I was taking a few nature photos and was not doing a lot of switching back and forth but enough to know it made doing so much more convenient. The quality is very good and I would highly recommend it. I was able to adjust the straps to make it fit me well (I am 5'2" and about 125 lbs).

I like the idea that if I wanted to use either the front holster or side holster alone it is just a matter of either removing the side holster or using just that holster on a belt.

Does anyone know if just the side holster is available as a stand alone product? My husband seldom carries more than one camera and would like just the holster to attach to his belt.
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