A few months ago, on a day where my shoulders were particularly sore, I made a hasty bag purchase at a photography trade show. Although I had been in the market for a new camera bag, I hadn’t researched any Billingham bags before forking over the dough. You know, sometimes things just feel right (not to be confused with the “my money is burning a hole in my pocket” feeling). For too long I’d been carrying around a Canon bag that just couldn’t hold all of my gear. No disrespect to my old bag, we’ve been through some stuff. I really just needed a bag that didn’t scream, “Look at me! I’m holding thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment!” My options were clear: get a bag that was a little more incognito or grow a foot and pick up krav maga.
Billingham bags are made in the UK and the owners have an interesting story: they used to make fishing bags but switched to camera bags when they saw photographers using them. The website is not very easy to navigate and there are no pictures of their products. Searching this website made me want to pull my hair out. They should work on this.
One of the things I love about this bag is its stylish and practical design. The black and brown are low key enough that I don’t feel like I’m on display despite its size. I can easily fit two camera bodies, 3 lenses, a flash, and miscellaneous accessories inside and can use in a casual or formal professional setting. Bonus: I don’t have to hide any Canon logos for fear that I might get mugged on the way home from an exhausting 10 hour wedding. What sold me on this bag though, was the shoulder strap, designed so that the camera bag sits flush against your hip, which takes some of the weight off your shoulder. The second this bad boy was resting on my shoulder, I knew it was fate.
Another awesome feature, this bag is waterproof. Not often do I find myself shooting in the pouring rain, but it’s nice to know I have that option. I’m sure the thought of water damage is a source of anxiety for many photographers so much so that photographers will turn into engineers while trying to fashion some sort of protective shield. I’m just saying, this bag encourages photographers to focus their efforts elsewhere.
One major drawback I’ve noticed is that while the bag is on your hip and you’re actually shooting, it’s difficult to pull things out or put things back quickly. It’s difficult to get in and out of this bag in general, with all of its buckles. Most of the time I’ll need to use one hand to hold the bag open, despite Billingham’s attention to this particular problem. The bag is designed so you can fold the top fabric behind the dividers keeping your equipment accessible. A solid attempt but still needs work.
Perhaps my favorite feature is the ability to add attachments. Very smart. Keeps people coming back for more bag. This bag can grow with the photographer. Which is great for me because as much as I love shopping for camera bags, I also hate shopping for camera bags.
Possible deal breaker: the canvas is very dust prone. This might be in part due to the fact that my studio apartment is in an old factory building. Dust is inevitable. This is a very serious concern as a photographer.
Final assessment? A for effort, but B+ for execution. It’s gonna take a much lower score than that to keep me from loading up on those different attachments…