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Thursday, 11 July 2013


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Now, somebody has to experiment with NeverWet on camera bags. And perhaps on cameras, given their iPhone demo.

Tripod criteria: 1)Low weight, 2)good stability, 3)low price. You can have any two but never all three.

I am on let's call it pension restrictions (no complaining, as the restrictions do not apply to something I value very highly - time), and (it follows) I am not spending that time horse riding or golfing, but still I bought a black Billingham Hadley small, with as an extra (!) the inserts of a Hadley Digital. Did indeed cost me a fortune intitially, but will last me out however healthily I might live, fits my gear comfortably and safely, doesn't even whisper when I stealthily open it to take a photo in a crowded bus and doesn't shout CAMERA at all. It not only will save me money in the somewhat longer run, but also time: no more endless checking of this bag or that on the internet. It is truly the bag to end all bags (and bagaholism as well).

Good to see some resistance to the slam-the-overpriced-snob-appeal-bag reactions to the Billinghams. Some might think of them as Veblen goods, but until you've put a few bags to good hard use, it may be hard to understand the incredible elegance (as in usability) of this simple design.

I am as cheap as they come, but I learned a long time ago that the best value quite often comes from an item near the top end of the cost chain. To that end, I have a philosophy of owning few things, but having those things be the best in their category. I don't trade up. I start there. One LF camera, one MF camera, one digital camera, one stereo camera, one phone cam. One bag for each kit. Big tripod, little tripod. Done.

I've had my share of photo bags over the years, from the original Lowe Pro to my current Think Tanks; incl. a few self-made solution based upon Timbuk2 messenger bags. Well, I even used simnple plastic tote bags from my last groceries shopping. And I own a Billingham [445, IIRC].

Yes, the Billingham looks good, it still doesn't cry out 'Hey, expensive photo gear inside!', not least because many people use them as travel bags for clothing and such. It is also brilliantly made, with loads of practical solutions. The touch and feel outside and inside is wonderful.

Unfortunately the thing is very heavy and the dividers, good as they feel, aren't very durable [the padding inside the very sturdy cotton outer shell breaks down rather quickly].

Think Tanks are - with all the differences - the closest any camera bag ever came to a sensible Billingham contender. Both are very well made, both are unassuming, both are highly practical. While I use the Think Tanks on a daily basis, the Billingham is the only other camera bag I still own, the rest [e.g. Crumpler, Lowe] have been sold, given away, or thrown out.

I have 5 billinghams ranging between 7 and 30 years old (the 30 year old one was the only bought new) - eBay can bring you a good deal on a hardly used.bag.
The most used are a couple of Hadley pros-neither of which are overlarge and fly as "personal items " (briefcase) on top of a carryon roller.
One holds 2 Epson Rd1 bodies 5 lenses and a Hass Xpan+3 lenses + other bits.
The other a Speed Graphic +3 lenses ( including an Aero Ektar) 4 grafmatics + bits.
Very adaptable, tough as old boots, waterproof.
Tried a Domke 803 - not the same thing at all- now carries a trio of vivitar 283 flashes and stuff to go with..
None of this is for working from-just carrying -i prefer a vest, Billingham as well-far better and less obvious than Domke!

RE. Update: B&H tripod offer.

Mike, you may not have taken your lead from the upcoming B&H offer, but perhaps they took their lead from you...

This is true, I have four Billingham bags of different sizes, depending on the kit I'm using and they are exellent, strong and waterproof bags, which age like an old pair of Levis.

They ARE based on traditional English hunting bags, are a quality product and as they have not changed with fashion, they are easily refurbished with new inserts etc.

And no I do not have shares in the company.

The Artist and Artisan is another expensive bag. I have one as well as a Billingham. I wonder if anyone has long term experience with one of them. http://www.artisanandartist.com/bags/index.htm

They are beautifully made. I also have one of their silk straps for my OM D. It too is a little piece of art.

OK - You've old me one bag. Enough, already.

Night before last I was up until 1 in the morning looking at bags online. Yesterday I was in WalMart and happened to walk past the camera section. To my surprise they had about five messenger-style bags (I resist the urge to say Think Tank knockoffs), including the Lowepro Event Messenger 100, which I broke down and bought for my m4/3 kit. Once I gave up on the internal dividers and tossed them all it's a nice fit for a GX1 or G5 and two lenses, which is what I usually throw in the car. Much better looking and better laid out than the garage-sale special I've been using. There's a decently laid out area for battery, SD cards and a few small items. Only thing I see lacking is an accessible place for business cards.

This is my first NEW bag in maybe 30 years, and I blame TOP. I got my two Domkes back in the 1980s and at least one of them was used. They look to be around a good many more years, though they have not been used hard since I quit news photography in 1990. I still used them when I go full-on photographer with flashes, extra body and all the rest, but they are too large for daily use with m4/3. Everything since then has been thrift store or garage sale. Until yesterday.

I think I'm safe on the Billinghams, though you make a good case, because I can't see a guy as cheap as me buying something like that sight unseen, and it is very unlikely I'll run across a Billingham in the Plainview, Texas, WalMart.

I can fully endorse the Lowepro Messenger Event 150 - but hopefully in mica colour scheme rather than black. I use it when I want to carry my two cameras (Olympus E-P1 and OM-2n) and a spare lens. It is light, sturdy, it's not overpadded at all and it's discreet: it doesn't shout 'photographer with expensive gear', which, depending on the criminality rates of your favourite photographic locations, can be a good thing. Plus it's well made and inexpensive and, as almost all Lowepros, very functional, with plenty of pockets everywhere. Yes, the Think Tank Retrospective 5 looks even nicer and it's probably better, but I can't help wondering what it does that the Lowepro doesn't do - and for less money.

Thanks. It's kinda the norm these days to diss Billingham bags, Leica cameras and any other item that costs more than the average person is willing to spend. My Pro Hadley has been the best bag I've ever owned. Mine no longer looks new, however. It is a green bag with tan trim and the green has faded over the years as well as the material having picked up a few stains and spots of indeterminate origin. Some people say that shows character. Originally bought to house a pair of Leica M6 cameras and lenses, it's now used with Canon and Olympus digital equipment.

I have a big old Studex Gitzo with Gitzo ball head among my dusty tripod collection. I haven't used a tripod in years. I keep a monpod under the rear seat of my truck but I can count on one hand the number of times I've used it.

If we start talking about photo equipment we no longer use, I could get into the number of enlargers in my attic and closets. No...let's don't do that.

Sometime back in the 70's my wife (a world class shopper) bought me a British style shoulder bag, very similar to a Billingham, from a now extinct and expensive NYC store called Hunting World. That bag turned out to be my favorite for carrying a limited (a good thing) amount of 35mm film gear.In the late 80's my son took it to Oxford as an exchange student and destroyed it. Fast forward to about six years ago; after trying the newer styles of bags (slings, backpacks, etc.)and realizing that I am a shoulder bag guy, I bought a Billingham Hadley Pro. Aside from the quality issues,I love the size; I carry a DSLR and one more lens, if that. In the late 80's I gave up on serious photography for quite some time after schlepping too much gear around on a trip. I now limit myself to what I can carry and work, with what I have, to get the shot. I felt a bit guilty about forking over the dough for the Hadley, but remembered my wife's mantra about buying good handbags (and many other things) that last. So true!

I'm always suspicious of the claims of expensive equipment owners about their stuff. I've been in advertising long enough to know that there is a certain cachet associated with premium priced goods, and a certain reluctance to be the person to admit you bought an expensive item that doesn't meet your requirements, as well as a certain reluctance to ditch that item from your inventory because even tho it may not be working out for you, at that price, it must be you, it can't be the bag...

I've used many fine bags over the years, from Tenba, Lowepro, and other major manufacturers. I'm still using a couple of old Tenbas from 30 years ago, and kick myself for getting rid of one great Tenba no longer made any more, on a camera sales deal, where the person liked it so much, they wouldn't buy the camera unless I included it! I've also modified bags myself, putting wider, thicker and longer straps on them, because it's easy to get webbed belting material and connectors and clips from the out door store and make it what you want.

Much like Leica, where they are beautiful little mechanical machines, but the lenses aren't "all that", and rarely, when I was a young pup, would those lenses even get close in sharpness or contrast to a lot of Canon and Nikon stuff; once you've made the decision to spend 300 bucks on what looks like a highly refined British fishing bag, are you going to be pre-disposed to admit you don't think it's that great and you've made a stupid money decision?

Dear Mike,

Long ago, when the newspaper I worked for still used molten lead in its Linotype, I had the privilege of doing a feature on an admirable vintage car connoisseur whose "town" car was a Facel Vega. He had a discreet brass plate in his rear window, engraved in classic copperplate with the superb words "My other car is a Bugatti." Which was true, too.

All this was brought back to me from the mists of nostalgia by your Billingham feature. Maybe you could affix a small brass plate to the flap of the "225", elegantly engraved with the most memorable quote from your current piece:

My other camera bag is a Domke.

(And where are the HTML tags for "copperplate" when one needs them?)

Mike, try the Billingham Waist Strap with that bag: makes a huge difference shifting the weight from the shoulder to the body:


If you want English style and craftsmanship (albeit made in France by Brit expats), try Fogg Specialty Bags. If nothing else, they will make your Billingham feel less extravagant.

One thing I consider when it comes to bags is dust. I sometimes get a bag home and leave it open and out for a while. The interior and certainly the exterior can get dusty. The new bags like the little Kata shoulder bag I picked up are kind of ugly with their plasticky nylon fabrics, but they clean up well. The mention of durability brought me to this. I still have one of my earliest camera bags - a "Mustang" purchased in 1984 the summer after I graduated high school and flew to California (my first flight) to visit a classmate whose Dad moved the family out there. My friend had started a job at a camera store in a mall and got an employee discount, so I think the little rectangular bag cost me about $16. I've lost any dividers it might have had and the zipper pulls have broken (I replaced them small versions of those split rings you use on a key chain). And I still find the bag handy now & again. The only problem is that the soft padded fabric holds lint & dust and I'm never convinced that it's really clean after I vacuum it out. (I suppose if it doesn't vacuum out, it's not likely to get into my gear).

After reading JCs article, I was quite ready to write off Billingham as a pricey, fashionable bag for Leica users. You've done them justice, Mike. I'd give them a second look in the future. (Especially in black. I've never lived with a tall, statuesque, blonde horse rider, so don't have such a pleasant association with the tan & brown combo).

The bigger Billinghams are quite nice too. I recently was able to snag a miscategorized Billingham advertised as a 335 off of eBay. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be the utterly gargantuan 555 instead! Not a bag I'll use often but, I have carried it for whole days loaded with an entirely unreasonable amount of gear and, aside from needing to remember that the bag adds a solid foot to whatever side it's hanging on, it was almost unnoticeable. My shoulder didn't even get tired. Damn thing hangs like a dream and makes a great companion to my Hadley.

Eisenstaedt: When I go out on assignments, I usually take along my old gadget bag. It's about 18 years old now and dilapidated. People sometimes say, "You should get a new case, a bigger and better one. Surely you can afford it." My answer is, "Sure, but would it help me to make better pictures?"
(From "The Eye of Eisenstaedt, p. 198)


Re care and feeding of leather.

I swear by Lexol Ph Cleaner and Lexol Conditioner and have used them exclusively since I discovered them in a BMW USA forum thread more than 10 years ago. I use them to clean and condition my car seats, belts, bags, and shoes.

Procedure: Clean first then apply conditioner. You may apply conditioner directly to new or clean leather.

Cleaning: Dunk a clean rag (preferably lint-free) in a basin of of tap water. Wring till it no longer drips but is still moist. Unscrew cap of Lexol jug (200 ml/6.7 fl. oz.) and tip over once or twice unto moist rag. Wipe unto to the leather in parallel sweeps. When you get the combination right, it will lather lightly. When reloading, use a clean section of the rag. After the piece has been wiped clean (when it no longer soils the rag), wipe dry with a towel. (If cleaning a large area like a car seat, work in sections and wipe dry so as not to leave cleaning marks.) When the leather is dry to the touch, proceed with conditioning.

Conditioning: Using a dry cloth (cotton, flannel, or microfiber) folded once or twice over, tip over conditioner unto the dry cloth as before. Rub conditioner into the leather firmly using long or circular strokes (e.g., with shoes). Unfold cloth inside out to make use of the conditioner that seeps through. The leather will have been conditioned when it stops absorbing the conditioner. That is, when the leather surface shines. After a few minutes air drying, the Lexol conditioner imparts leather with a matte sheen.

The Lexol cleaner has a mild soapy smell which deodorizes a`grimy car seat. Out of the bottle, the conditioner is as pungent as talcum powder but with a different smell (like the inside of a biscuit tin can). When applied it enhances the smell of leather. It definitely doesn't "smell like cow."

In Manila, either of the two costs more per unit volume than my wife's body wash or my horse shampoo. But they last longer (provided you don't spill them because the jug easily tips over). I clean and condition my car seats thrice a year, my belts once or twice, and my shoes as needed. YMMV. Thus fed and cared for, old leather remains supple, like my UCB belt which I bought when Michael Schumacher was driving for Benetton.

Both products are available at Amazon as a kit (by the liter!).

I have the Lowepro Event Messenger 150. Here my experience with your el cheapo reference :-)
Background: Sometimes a bag for your photo-kit alone is not enough. I needed a bag for travelling that would fit my Pentax K-5 ii and a few lenses, spare battery, etc – but also my Samsung 8.9 tablet, some paper, pencils, passport, wallet, etc. Plus the occasional bottle of water and guide book.
Style-wise I wanted a messenger style bag that would blend in when walking the back alleys of a city as well as at sitting in a conference hall. I was much tempted by a more luxurious model from another brand, but that couldn’t be found in a store near me, and I don’t like to buy an expensive bag without having seen it in real life.
When I came across the Event messenger in a store it seemed to fit my needs, and as the price was very reasonable, I decided to give it at try.
Experience: As you would expect from Lowepro, the quality of materials and workmanship is good. Maybe not luxurious, but OK+. It has the usual removable dividers in the central compartment, and a god number of pockets. The strap is not too stiff and it has ample shoulder-padding.
It’s easy to get at your gear, while in the same time the bag can be closed securely with a buckle. The Velcro can be “silenced” for places where you don’t wish to make noise to get to your camera.
I used it lately for a trip to a conference in Turkey, including a whole days walk around Istanbul (That was just before the recent unrest), as well as a couple of days of meeting, excursions and dining, and it served its purpose.
If you are a positive person, you would call the design understated – while a negative person would call it dull. The outer fabric is woven as to mimic a course canvas. But unlike some of the more expensive models, it is evident – even from a distance – that this is not cotton but synthetic. You will not fool anybody to believe, that this an original 1970’s messenger bag from the flea market…..
Verdict: The Event Messenger is definitely value for money. Compared to a Think Tank Retrospective or Lowepros own Messenger Pro, I would say you get 90% of the functionality for 40% of the price. But then again, can you live with 90%, when you know that there is 100% to get somewhere out there? And then there is the question of style……

I have roughly the same attitude, as You, Mike, but with some important difference. Once I buy well, I keep on that for years (actually I still use 1987 Oly OM for example). However when it comes to bags I didn't found the good one. The worst disaster for me was Tamrac System-3 which has strap fitted at about half the height of the bag, so there was no difference for the bag if it's good way up, or not.
The longer I search, the more I realise that the really good bag is not in production. Partially it's because MY key point differ slightly from what others say.
For example I think that the bag shoul'd be rain-proof WITHOUT any special cover, the main flam should do. BUT the companies keep fitting these nonsense zippers in main flaps because it's soooo impooortant to have additional hole in it.
Other thing, I think, that it should be posible to CLOSE the main flap with one hand only, and the only closure capable of that is the traditional type, never seen on the photo-bags (as here: http://upload.ecvv.com/upload/Product/20128/China_Messenger_Bag_Double_Pockets_on_Front_and_Flap_with_Push_Buckle_Closure_H32011005920128161826560.jpg )
and so on, and so forth...
When I came up with the list what I want from the bag I end up with the conclusion that have to design it for myself and let it made especially for me. And then probably noone else would like to use it. ;)

I'm also a bagaholic, but more for bike bags. I've owned lovely saddlebags and panniers from Carradice and Rivendell (made by Duluth Pack), and i've made my own canvas and leather bags too. For cameras i've mainly made do with other bags, other than a small Crumpler that i like well enough. I haven't settled on a camera bag of my preferred canvas style mainly because it's hard to find them in stores near me, and i hate buying options online just to return half of them. This series has helped a lot though, thanks for running it!

I have no less than eight Billingham bags - I am astonished to say - bought over the last 15 years.

In the old days they were mostly full of different systems (one Hasselblad bag, one Pentax 6&7 bag, one Leica bag, one Nikon bag etc) Now I just have a Nikon system and a Fuji X system and have way too many Billinghams.

Then again I have bags to suit extended travel all the way down to going to the park for the afternoon. They are extremely hard wearing and very resistant to tropical downpours and Icelandic winters. They are also far smarter than the plastic fantastic Lowepro and Tamracs I also own and disdain. I highly recommend them.

I must admit I find Billingham bags very tempting for many of the reasons mentioned. They suffer from two great flaws, however:
1) No provision for carrying water bottles outside the bag. I am willing to forgive the absence of stretchy mesh pouches, but my understanding is that the larger AVEA 05 (which fits the Hadley Pro and fStop bags) won't take something bike-bottle sized—I would be happy to be corrected about this if I'm wrong! While one could attach a nylon bottle holder from some other brand, I would not so mar the elegant style of a Billingham.
2) Many models are inexplicably unavailable in the extremely handsome Khaki FibreNyte / chocolate leather combination.

Billingham started out making fishing bags - and only moved over to making camera bags when the company noticed how all the photographers at football matches were using their original large fishing bag. It was a little like the "White Lens Collection" nowdays.

One disadvantage to genuine canvas Billinghams - for some reason, cats like to urinate in or on them.

I have five Billingham bags of various ages - three of which now smell of cat urine when warm - but it does make them even less likely to be stolen - and you don't get crowded going through airports.

My Nikon DSLR kit gathers dust in a Billingham 550 that I bought when I did theatrical photography professionally in the 90’s. My M4/3 kit lives in a 225.

The 550 has faded a bit but is still almost perfect after 20 years of hard use, I hope the 225 lasts as long.

For me Billingham bags are very practical to use. I like the flap that covers my kit with the bag unzipped.
When I was working in theatres it was quick to retrieve stuff whilst at the same time hiding the contents when I was shooting.

You might want to consider an out-of-the-box approach to camera bags. Look at Shootsac lens bags (http://www.shootsac.com/). I've been using this for years and I like the way I can quickly reach in for a lens. Plus it's not heavy like some of the bags you've listed and it doesn't get in the way.


I never gave a rats ass about camera bags, considering them an affectation of sorts, but I love my Domke, and it has the Beaver Eklund seal of approval ( see The Fighter - multi award winner ) as in "nice f.....ng bag , Larry." For some reason unknown to me, she insists on calling me Larry. I'm afraid of her, so she can call me anything she wants.

A variation on the Billingham look that works very well for a minimal kit and is also extremely high quality is the Filson small field bag. I use it with a Crumpler insert. It's just the right size for a Leica IIIf, some film, a couple of filters, a folding umbrella or a windbreaker, and a tabletop tripod. I've had mine for a quarter century, and it has developed an attractive patina. Needless to say, the Leica is used with a single lens. For a year, at least. With one type of b/w film.

Dear Mike,

So, speaking of tripods...

What would you -- or anyone else reading this -- recommended in the way of a LIGHTWEIGHT tilt/pan head (don't want a ball head––have used them, don't like them)?

The Pro master carbon tripod I bought off of you weighs just over two and a quarter pounds, sans head. when I got it, I didn't have the time nor money to research has, so I just slapped the cheapo plastic head from my Quantaray tripod on it. It does make for an exceptionally lightweight kit, it's still under 3 pounds, but maybe it's time to get something that's less wobbly and more durable.

The one you link to in your column is overkill and overweight for my kit.
I'm only using micro four thirds gear and I have no interest in future-proofing this purchase. If I wind up with a totally different kit in the future, I'll get a different head (and maybe a different tripod). Right now I'm looking to keep the weight down as much as possible and still have something decent.

Money is not the issue (at least, not unless we're talking about honeycomb beryllium and four figure prices).

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Anyone use Fogg bags?


Giottos makes some nice alternatives to the "over priced Gitzos", IMHO. Bogen Manfrotto 3D heads if you don't like ballheads. and you don't have handles sticking out to snag things. For a monopod, ballheads offer the the most efficiency, especially one with some tension control.

In small tripods, carbon fiber is very expensive for the small weight savings. IMHO

Funny.. I also have a more then thirty year Billingham bag (it's been my only bag for all that time) and as another TOP reader I did have several cats finding it comfortable enough to claim them... In cat's usual ways !!! I did clean it, but I believe mice will never go near it !

I can't remember the price at that time but I bought it new when I was young enough to be broke, I would never have bought a luxury item in those times...!

Dear Bron,

I'm looking for recommendations of specific models of tilt/pan head. I know who the makers are, so just listing those doesn't help me. (Reading spec sheets doesn't tell me much, either.)

I've already got the carbon tripod. It's much more rigid, as well as being lighter, than my old metal pod, even though the metal one had a center column brace and this one doesn't.

pax / Ctein

One negative opinion on the Billingham pageant. Lenses kept in my 15 year old bag developed some fine dust, which I eventually found was coming from the lining of the canvas - perhaps related to the waterproofing.
Two petulant letters to the Billingham centre in England were ignored.
I kept the bag, thinking that one day I'll get to England and I'll march up to their office and lay it on the counter. I never have.

My name is John... And... I..am...a......bag...aaaholic. There I said it.
I have two Billinghams, they alternate with my digital and analog systems, they have travelled everywhere, in all manner of weather and I love them.
Best bags in the world, one handed operation, quick and easy switching, classic look and feel, one in black, one in green.
There are twenty other bags including four Think Tank variants under the stairs and in use, the Billinghams are the best in real time use.
John B

If you want a modern bag, I recommend anything by Crumpler.

I'm another one with a 30+ year old Billingham. I got mine in 1982-ish (so long ago I can't remember exactly when), and I'm pretty sure I paid less than £40 for it in London. The were called Billingham Safari bags in those days. Very similar to the current 225. It has been my main bag ever since, although last year the zip to the main compartment finally went. Terrific value at not much more than £1 per year of use.

The bag I'm looking for isn't so much a camera bag as a going-to-work bag, that has a compartment to hold a camera safely (a Fuji X-E1 at the moment, though room for a DSLR + prime lens would be good), along with everyday stuff: a book, iPad maybe, headphones, notepad, etc. A rucksack rather than a shoulder/messenger bag. And I've still not found it yet. Any pointers out there?

Billingham: ugh! so pretentious.

Hi Mike,
Speaking of old bags - I recall my grandfather toting around a black leather doctor's case - tall, almost briefcase height - the type doctors used to carry on housecalls. It was ideal for him - it held a Rollieflex, a Spotmatic and a spare lens, a tiny 600w halogen spot (originally intended for super-8 movie cameras), possibly a flimsy collapse-able light stand, and lots of Plus-X. I suppose looking like a elderly doc on a housecall probably deterred bag theft, though with his kit he wore his most valuable tools when he was working.

I've been watching these threads with interest - my kit is small*, so I use a spare pocket in a diaper bag, backpack, messenger bag, or in my cargo pants. One trick I haven't seen anyone mention is looping the camera strap through the carry strap of a shoulder bag or backpack, and then tucking the camera into an outside pocket. It's always at the ready when I'm walking, and I can't drop it to the pavement unless I drop the shoulder bag (diaper bag in my case), and it can't be easily pickpocketed. The camera strap I use is thin and long - half an inch or less, so I imagine this is less feasible with the more substantial (2"+) straps most people use.

The few times a year I carry multiple lenses, I stuff them into padded drawstring pouches, put the flash in a padded 'camera pouch' (i.e. for a 80's era 35mm point and shoot), and put the bits and bobs (gorillapod, etc) into a cheap nylon drawstring bag that was a convention freebee 7 years ago. Car travel means putting that bag inside a heavy garbage bag inside a duffle with my clothes, and looping the duffle's straps around the legs of my longer tripod.

I'd consider a dedicated camera bag if photography was my job, but this mish-mash of re-purposed 'ordinary' bags seems to work okay, but none look like camera bags, and I never behave as though I'm carrying something terribly valuable. Obviously, things would change if I had a bigger camera, or had more elaborate gear.

Having experienced overloaded messenger bags, I can say that for me, they are a recipe for debilitating lower back pain -back spasms that last for days. I now avoid carrying any fully-loaded bag slung over my shoulder for more than ten minutes.

*one camera, one lens, maybe one year :) E-pl1 & 20mm.


I have a 3D junior Head, used to be #3025; now part #056.

I also have the Super Head, #3028, but that is no longer in their line; at least I couldn't find it. Ebay?


The Super Head is probably too much, though Ebay does list some. I've used the Junior head with heavy SLRs, DSLRs to compact cameras. Easy to use and locks rigid, and once you get the hang of it, almost as fast as a ballhead.

I love my old camera bag! It was my fathers and it works for me just as well as it did for him.

As I posted in the "other" thread I have/had lotsa bags over the last 40 years and without a doubt my favorites have been the Billinghams. I still regret selling my "photo Eventer" which was a leather bottomed Hadley. It was perfect for my FM2s and traveling. I bought it used and sold it after a few years for what I paid for it! I then found an absolutely wonderfully beaten up original 550 on Craigslist for $75. and spent another $50 at my local shoe cobbler on minor repairs/replacement leather.
I use lens pouches and a microfiber cloth wrap around the body, "If" the body is in the bag. My car bag is a cheap plastic bin that I have padded and simply load what I want into the 550 for my trip from the car.

Like any photographer I have my own collection of bags. Some I rarely take anywhere but use to store the extra stuff that's a specialty item.

The two most used bags I have are the Tamrac sling bag where my Sony NEX-5N lives along with 3 lenses.

The second most used bag is my Think Tank Retrospective 20 bag that carries my Nikon D7000 with 3 dedicated lenses aboard. Finally there's a backpack that holds leftover full frame lenses and accessories like my hoodman hood that I've never used, my battery pack for the D7000 that I've never used and leftover wired and wireless triggers for 3 different cameras that I rarely use.

With a new batch of kit in the planning, my larger sling bag will start getting its use. I have plans for a Fuji X-E1 with 3 lenses that will fit in there nicely without breaking my neck.

I love Will Frostmills story about his grandfather and the doctors bag; with all the padded inserts available from different bag companies, there is certainly the option to repurpose almost any beautiful leather bag, I'm looking for an old 50's leather business top loading briefcase myself.

The definitive key to all these discussions that have been going on for multiple entries, is whether one uses their bag "on-the-fly" or to cart equipment around and then set up. I've used lot of great bags from different manufacturers, but I never have to have a bag hanging around my neck, and, in the middle of a rain storm, dig into it to find one of 4-5 lenses, mount it on a body, and take a picture in a second, I just don't do that kind of work.

That's why I generally just use hard cases and can work out of and where each piece of equipment has it's own little place, and can be easily replaced in it's spot after usage. Time to unpack, and then repack, with safety is most important. I worked with a photographer one time that kept his stuff in custom aluminum cases ordered from England (Sam Cine? Can't remember), but none of them were divided out, because he believed it would make the cases bigger, so you put the equipment in wrapped in a pad, in almost any order, and the lighting stuff wasn't padded at all, just shoved in. It was chaos, and stuff ended up dented and bent all the time, but he liked it.

If I did location, on-the-fly, less would be best. a small rainproof case, and a body with maybe two lenses, like a Lumix with the new 12-35, and the 45 Oly, I could probably go around the world with that.

So, are TOP readers slagging Billingham?

Apparently, not after this post.

Source: Tally 4

Mike's Slaggin' post persuaded the Billingham owners among TOP readers to set aside their reticence. Billingham was a distant fourth after Part III of John Camp's superb Camera Bags and Camera Backpacks review series.

Source: Tally 3

Think Tank, though, is top-of-the-heap in terms of "Net Approval." Next to Lowepro, Billinghams scored more negatives (from owners and non-owners) than other brands among the Top Five. Domke owners are the least conflicted.

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