Camera Bags

Barber Shop Bags - Introduction and preview

As a photographer and in life in general, I have tried to cut back on the amount of stuff I own and use. It has made life a lot simpler and there are just less things to think about.  I have got rid of hundreds of books, sold the majority of DVDs that I owned and ditched my CD's. I have only kept things that I have a real attachment to.

I have also really stripped back my camera gear over the last couple of years, just keeping the absolute necessities. I can complete most jobs with this set up, hiring in anything special for specific jobs. There is one item, however, that I always seem to end up with good numbers of, and that's camera bags. 

In the past I have owned over 10 bags at any one time, all with different functions and purposes. I have back packs, shoulder bags, small ones, big ones, you name it, I've got it. In the last year I have tried to reduce the amount of bags I own, and probably still have more than I need. 

This is an addiction that won't quit though, and lately I have been on the look out for a bigger shoulder bag in black or brown, that looks a bit smarter than my other bags.  I was looking at some of the Think Tank Urban Disguise range and the Domke black bags. Then a few days ago I received an email press release from a new company that sounded interesting. 

Introducing Barber Shop Bags.

Hand-made in Bassano Del Grappa (Vicenza), Italy, there is a range of products made out of the highest quality leather. The range of products is extensive, from beautiful camera straps to shoulder bags and backpacks.  The press release came with some photos of some of the products as well as images of production and I have to say it all looks very nice, very nice indeed. 

They have worked with photographers to produce products that are both useful and stylish, in a very Italian way. The larger shoulder bag is of most interest to me, but their sling camera strap also looks rather good.  They also feature bag straps designed for women. 

They are all hand crafted by their skilled designers and made out the finest leather and performance materials.

I am really excited to see these products in the flesh and I will hopefully have a sample product to review in the coming months.  In the meantime Barber Shop will be at the photography show in Birmingham, presenting the new range until the 24th March.  To keep up to date with Barber Shop you can sign up for the newsletter at their website as well as liking their Facebook Page As yet there no pricing information or date for shipping. 

Ona Bag review - The Brixton

I recently swapped my 13" Macbook Pro (MBP) for the same sized Macbook Air (MBA). I really liked the MBP, it was solid and powerful, but that made it quite heavy and a little bulky.  I tried the MBA and found that it was powerful enough for my needs ( no editing 4K video here) and was nearly half the weight of the MBP.  Whenever I took the MBP on assignment or just when travelling, I nearly always carried it in a separate case, as I wanted to carry my camera in a small bag. Adding the weight to my camera gear made it a bit heavy to carry around all day in one bag. 

So armed with the MBA I was on the look out for a new bag. One that could carry my basic fuji kit and the MBA comfortably.  I had a very strict idea of what I was looking for. It needed to be something that I could use everyday and in various scenarios. It needed to look smart for visiting clients, but then fit with the more casual side of things.  The biggest problem with most the bags I looked at was that they were too big for the size of my camera gear, which would put me off using it if I wasn't carrying the MPA.  I also wanted something low profile and slimline, which again was not easy to find.  I really like Think Tank bags and already own a retrospective 30, which I rate. The MPA doesn't quite fit in the bag, which was a shame. The nearest sized retrospective with a laptop compartment is the 60.  I already found the 30 a bit cumbersome in some uses, so I discounted the 60 quite quickly. 

I had heard about the bag range from ONA a little while back.  Browsing their website I found that the bags were exactly the sort of thing I was looking for.  They are not really stocked in shops over here, being an american brand.  Luckily I knew a photographer who had bought an ONA Union Street.  Upon seeing the bag I was convinced. 

There were two models that I was looking at, the Union Street and the Brixton. They are both very similar, but the Union can hold a 15" laptop where as the the Brixton only a 13". I was on the verge of going for the slightly bigger Union Street, as you never know, but decided to give the Brixton a try instead.  

The bag arrived from fotosense in timely fashion. It comes beautifully packaged (its nice to see a brand putting in the effort).  I decided on the Smoke, despite my heart being set on the Ranger Tan colour.  The Tan looks nicer on the union street, they use a darker leather on the Brixton which does't quite look the same.  The bag is made of a waxed canvas with leather trimmings. 

The bag looks amazingly stylish, even more so once you have scuffed the canvas up a bit. 

The leather trims are beautiful and a fine quality leather. Despite appearances the bag is fastened by two brass push clips, which gives easy access. 

The strap is a strange seatbelt type material with a shoulder pad that is leather on one side and padded on the other, nicely coated with the same coloured canvas as the bag (nice touch). The strap is comfortable, even when fully loaded. 

The bag offers enough protection for everyday use, something this streamlined will never offer masses of protection, but I would probably feel comfortable dumping it on the ground if I wanted to.  The padding inside the bag is, again, beautifully crafted. Its a nice thick padding with a very soft felt covering, makes getting your gear out a pleasure. 

The Brixton has a leather grab handle at the back and a pocket with a magnetic fastener. The grab handle is a bit pointless in my opinion, in that it doesn't really offer much of a carrying solution.  It is only there quickly grab the bag before putting it on your shoulder. The pocket has enough space to put a tablet or a note book. 

 Modelled by yours truly!

The bag takes all the gear I need for a day out.  In the main compartment I can fit my MBA, Fuji X-T1, Fuji X100s, Fuji 56mm f1.4 and the Fuji 28mm f2. There are two front pockets which can hold batteries and memory cards.  

CONCLUSION

All bags are different and this is certainly not for everyone or for every occasion.  The price tag alone sees to that.  Coming at £250 its a pricy option (the Union Street is around £270 from fotosense). For me it has become my number one goto bag, so for that the price is worth it.  The fact that it is damn stylish is a bonus.  These bags are beautifully crafted, and designed in such away that the more they are used the better they look.  If design and appearance is important and you are willing to pay extra for the quality then this may be the bag for you.  I have no doubt this bag will still be going long after i've need for it.  If you are just after something to protect your gear and not too concerned on the looks, there are certainly cheaper options.  

If you are feeling extra rich and don't dig the canvas, check out the amazingly beautiful all leather versions of the Brixton.  Imagine Indiana Jones with cameras and you may come close to how cool they are. 

Thats all for today, thanks for reading.  Leave any questions in the comments below. 

p.s. check out the fotosense website for ONA products in the UK.