As of today, I think I have a very large collection of camera bags, which includes backpack, shoulder/messenger bag, roller bag, pouches and many others. But, I am looking for the perfect camera. Dont think there will ever be one but I think I am getting close! Or at least it is what photographers will say to get approval from our partners to purchase more camera bags!
From camera back packs to shoulder or messenger bags, there are heaps of options for photographers. When I first started more than a decade ago, nearly all camera bags looks ugly but still expensive. There are a few like Billingham and Domke that looks discreet and does not shout “ Camera bags!!”.
But today, cool looking camera bags are everywhere, they do cost a fortune! I have tried so many bags along the way, probably owned 30+ bags at least and my office looks like a camera bag store.
My favourite bags were the Billingham Hadley One, Ona Bowery full leather, Ona Berlin Black Leather and few others. I even converted a Saint Laurent Messenger bag to a camera bag, it looks amazing but I was worried that the bag would not hold the weight of my camera gears well as it wasn’t build for that purpose. And I thought that was it, my collection is complete (and the 30 other bags still in my cabinet, rarely used).
That is till I found this Barbershop Camera Bag (Bob Cut Blue Canvas Leather model) . I actually saw and considered this bag before going for the England made and high quality Billingham bags. The reason for me to choose a highly reputable company because of the recommendation of countless photographers and the material is amazingly durable, high quality and lasts a lifetime. It is something that would outlive your digital cameras but may go alongside your timeless Leica’s. I have watched and read so many reviews about this bag and to be honest, there isn’t much around. But I decided to go ahead anyways because I do love the blue navy colours ( my favourite colour if you haven’t noticed!).
When I first received the bag, I was so happy with it. As advertised, the build quality and look is as expected, only the insert feels and looks cheap. Don’t really know why they can’t provide a better quality insert. Probably because they are not professional photographers and don’t understand why the velcro dividers needs to hold well between the gears!. Besides that, everything else feels amazing. But somehow, the Billingham Hadley One fabric or material feels better and more durable than this. This feels more canvas’..sy and more prone to getting stains on it, or at least it is how I feel.
It is the Je ne sais quoi…
The more I looked and use the bag, the more I love it. I guess its the overall look and feel less of a camera bag, more like a designer bag and the interior of the bag does have amazing details and quality to it. It is Italian made after all.
Would I recommend it, Yes of course, but only if you have owned other bags. You would not appreciate this bag as much if you haven’t gone through so many others. If you are buying your first camera bag, this would not be the one for you. I do have different camera bags for different shoots even after owning this. Or I do carry multiple camera bags when I need to store more gears on the move. If I were to travel to rugged terrain, my Lowepro pro tactic 350 or Billingham would definitely be a better choice. On a wedding day, I would use my Think Tank Roller Advantage to reduce the weight on my back.
If you can afford it and love stylish camera bag, there isn’t a better one. Yes, there is the ONA, Wotancraft, Filson (no longer produce them), Kelly More, and so many others that I could not remember now, but those are either heavy (full leather) or extremely expensive that doesn’t even look as good as this. I guess its also personal preference. All does the same thing, carry your camera gears and look stylish. I am not sponsored by Barbershop bags, this is just my personal opinion about this bag and I highly recommend it.
And just to provide you some additional options on other camera messenger bags, my top ten list (not in order) of photographers messenger or shoulder bag that is stylish and cool if price isn’t an issue :
1) Barbershop Messenger Bag ( Bob Cut ) - Stylish, high quality Italian made but pricey and not as durable as Billingham.
2) Billingham Hadley - All Billingham bags are made to last a lifetime. And it looks good, made in England and have good second hand value if you choose to sell it later.
3) Filson Messenger Bag - Limited Edited Harvey : Looks amazing and unique. Love the design and durable look. Not cheap, can’t get new as its all sold out (I should have bought one of these when it was still in stock), but does not have the classy or elegant look. More like a war, street photographer look.
4) Domke Messenger bags - So many different versions of this, the canvas and subtle camera bag look makes this timeless and durable as well. It is discreet but not as stylish as all of the above bags. Its nicely kept in my cabinet collecting dust as the moment. Still love it, but can’t find the reason to take this out.
5) ONA - Berlin Leather Bag - I also own the Bowery as well. Both is amazingly build, high quality and looks exceptionally stylish ( probably due to the leather ). But, even without any camera gears in it, it weights like 1.5kg, even the leather straps are heavy! Love everything about this but the weight!. If I were to carry only 1 small mirrorless camera and lens, this may be my choice.
6) Wotancraft Camera Bags - They do have some pretty cool vintage styled leather and canvas look. But it is pricey for something that looks so rugged! I am sure it lasts a lifetime too but because quite a new brand, it does not carry as much brand recognition as Billingham or some others.
7) Oberworth Camera Bags - Another nice bag, gosh, we are spoilt by choices. I didn’t go for this because it just does not stand out as much as the few of my favourites. If I didn’t have so many choices and just go for the build quality, this could also be it, but somehow, I felt its just something missing for me.
8) Hawkes Mill Camera Bag - Looks and build well, but I somehow feel the design isn’t as elegant as it should be. I do not own this bag, but after much research, it just didn’t attract me somehow. For me, its just another expensive camera bag. Its personal preference and may be the look that some would like, just not me. I know Steve Huff loves it :)
9 ) BlackForest Camera Bag - This is a slightly cheaper version of the high quality messenger bags like all of the above, not bad looking but to be honest, this bag have a common camera bag looks and from my research, I think the quality isn’t at par with ONA or the few above as well.
10) Fogg Camera Bags- As described, it is a specialised bag and not for everyone. Designed wise, I feel its a bit weird, but of course, its just personal preference. Kinda look a bit robotic somehow! haha.
This 10 bags are not top 10 in order, just random. After all these and my experience with some of them, I chose the Barbershop Camera bag :).
Hope this would help you decide which to purchase and the quest to get your perfect bag, although there are no such thing as a perfect camera bag, but I am sure one of these would come close to it. I am still searching for mine :).