When it comes to getting around with my primary camera, a collection of lenses, filters, and various lighting accessories, I’m a backpacker to the hilt. But what about the cases where you already have your hands full, but still want a camera capable of bringing with you and don’t want to bust out the production-ready camera bag? As a father of two young children, this scenario is increasingly common for me and I think I have found the perfect solution.
Even if you don’t have kids, there are undoubtedly times when it just isn’t practical to have a full professional setup of imaging tools. On the other hand, using a simple cell phone camera can leave someone wanting more. More image quality, better ergonomics or the desire to simply enjoy the physical aspect of creating photographs. With that in mind, perhaps a standard sized shoulder bag is the remedy, as it forces the user to be more discerning in choosing which items to include.
While it’s true that shoulder bags generally provide quick and convenient access to camera gear, I personally find that they hurt my back after a few hours, let alone using one for long periods of time. . Can you say, massage therapist? Granted, the pain inflicted on my aging body is directly related to the amount of gear I’m willing to fit into a shoulder bag, so it would be fair to say the fault is mine. Either way, there’s another alternative that’s arguably the perfect camera bag for a parent’s daily carry or when you’re just looking to enjoy a trip (eating ice cream, BBQ skewers, drinking beer, you get the idea) while having a proficient image building tool. at hand. This is where the Billingham 72 becomes relevant.
The Billingham 72 is a compact shoulder bag designed for still, rangefinder and compact mirrorless cameras. Think like the Fujifilm X100V, Leica Q2 or Leica M body with a small lens attached like the Summicron-M 35mm f/2, Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH or Summicron-M 75mm f/2. The bag fits my Fujifilm X100V comfortably, and I can fit an extra battery, USB-C charging cable, and microfiber cloth on the other side of the removable padded divider. Also, the front pocket fits a passport perfectly and that’s exactly where I keep mine. It should be noted that the aforementioned slot could just as well store a cell phone instead of a travel document. That’s all I need and it encourages me to prioritize the act of photographing over the equipment itself. While I find this forced minimalist setup quite liberating, I’ll freely admit that it won’t work for all occasions.
When it comes to the design of the Billingham 72, the bag is made of premium materials including canvas/FiberNyte, leather, and metal. Everything feels great and looks like it’s capable of handling decades of heavy use like a champ. Billingham is renowned for its handmade and durable products, and I know many avid photographers like to collect them. A year later, my own personal copy still seems unscathed. Even after I remove my X100V, I will continue to use the bag for my next compact camera. Therefore, I consider it a great investment, and not tied to a specific camera model.
Looks aren’t everything, but I really like looking at this bag. It’s not in your attractive face, but rather elegant. And because of that, the Billingham 72 is low key in that no one ever seems to notice. I should mention that I have the black FibreNyte/black leather version with olive interior lining, which more than likely adds to its stealthy silhouette. Not only does it go unnoticed when I travel, but the best part is that it’s not a burden to carry. In fact, the bag is so light that I can barely feel it.
So how is this particular shoulder bag used? Well, I got caught in moderate rain a couple of times and the bag kept my gear totally dry. I mentioned earlier my desire to have a bag that I can use even when my hands are full, and luckily the Billingham 72 is quite easy to open with one hand (another plus for parents). The shoulder strap is also easy to adjust on the fly. Also, the interior material is the nicest I’ve seen in a camera bag. Therefore, I don’t need to use a lens cap on my Fujifilm X100V, which saves me time when removing the camera to take pictures. It became clear to me that everything that went into the design of this bag was intelligently thought out and carefully considered. Lastly, the bag is even small enough that I can fit it into a larger backpack with my computer when traveling through airports.
What I liked
- Beautiful minimalist design that does not attract attention
- Extremely light
- Small footprint for a camera bag
- High level of know-how
- Safely protects your camera from the elements
What I did not like
- Could use smarter placed pockets
- The price is a bit high for the amount of gear it can carry
In short, I’ve found the Billingham 72 to be a great choice when you want a camera on you but don’t want to break out the camera kit. A bag that allows you to have your hands full like I do so often these days, while carrying a compact camera with you. This bag is well suited for times when the trip itself is the priority and not a full photo shoot. Plus, it’s a fantastic choice for the fashion-conscious minimalist as well as the busy parent looking for a practical way to lighten their load. I was so impressed that I will probably buy more Billingham bags in the long run for the exceptional quality. The Billingham 72 easily lives up to the hype.