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david.kize

Billingham Bag for M System and What Larger Travel Bag?

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I have a new Billingham Bag for my Leica M10 and two lenses, plus some accessories including filters and batteries.

 

The fit is very nice and I am pleased with it, although I wish it had a handle strap across the top (in addition to the shoulder strap).

 

However, when I go on a vacation or other photographic trip, I need more space even when I am trying to travel light.  Typically, I would bring along a Nikon D800 or D500 with a telephoto zoom lens (such as my Nikon FX 70-200mm f/2.8 plus teleconverter, or a DX 18-300mm, and this means also bringing Nikon batteries and charger.  I also have a small Sony RX100v with its own extra battery and charger.  Suddenly I need a big bag, but well short of some of my biggest, including my ThinkTank Airport Security roller bag (which I almost never use).  Oftentimes there is a weight and size restriction that might actually be enforced somewhere.

 

I need to add to this bag in-flight items such as extra eyeglasses, contacts, medicines, etc.  

 

If I also take any prime lenses for my Nikon cameras, I might as well hire a moving van.  Surely, I will be happy relying just on my M10 and its lenses for that job, and so my Zeiss Distagon 21mm will have to stay at home.

 

At about this time I am wondering why I bought a Leica--the idea was to travel light and not add the excess gear that I already struggled to choose among in packing for a trip.  It was supposed to be the Leica instead of other cameras; not in addition to them.

 

So . . . I may look at a large Bilingham Hadley or some other type of carry-on case that is not too large and heavy and that I can carry with me on, say, a tour bus even when other luggage is stowed below. I have been using a Gura-Gear bag that is lightweight virtually indestructible nylon about the thickness of parachute cloth, which has internal photographic dividers.  After my last international trip produced a jammed 28-300mm lens that then had to go to Nikon USA for servicing, I don't think I want to trust my expensive Leica equipment to being crammed into that bag with a lot of other stuff.

 

What do others do when they need a bag that is larger than the one they might use around home?  The Billingham bag for the M system is great for when I just want my Leica M10 and two or three lenses.  And that will be the case much of the time except on trips.

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Maybe I will have to consider one of my big shoulder bags, but I hope to find something smaller.  I have had for many years an unused Kata "Bug" bag that would easily hold my Leica M10 and two or three lenses, plus a full-sized DSLR and telephoto lens, plus accessories and personal items.

 

http://www.kata-bags.com/bug-203-pl-for-pro-dslr-w-300mm-lens-attached-4-5-lenses.htm

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I’ve got 3 Billinghams, a small, a medium and the Hadley Pro as the biggest, I use that one as a homebase on trips and depending on the plans of the day I pick a selection with the small or medium. I like to carry on the hip often, so I have some Crumpler thing for my 2 Rolleiflexes when I choose to go with them. I refrained from a rucksack made by camera bag brands like Billingham or Lowe because I feel limited by them to combine weekend trip toothbrush things together with my LF stuff. So I bought an Osprey Farpoint 40 which fits perfectly into airport regulations. I hate trolleys, they contribute to the overwheliming presence of masstourism, which we all participate in and I think we should become modest as travellers

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for an M10 and two lenses, extra batteries, filters, etc. a Billingham Hadley Pro would be big enough and you will have a top handle with the BillHadPro. 

 

I would suggest a photographer's vest for carrying your extra glasses & medicines.  That works out well for me.  A vest is considered a garment so it does not count against your carry-on allotment on an airliner. 

 

I like to have my carry-on camera gear in a locked Pelican hard case.  For your M10 and two lenses, a Pelican 1400 would work and it is significantly smaller than the mazimum carry-on size for large airline jets.  My Pelican 1510 roller is carry-on size for large jets   and it is much larger than the 1400. 

 

As for the Nikon kit and the huge zoom lenses, I would leave them home and rely on the M10 and your two lenses that you have for it.  Less stuff, more photographs.

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for an M10 and two lenses, extra batteries, filters, etc. a Billingham Hadley Pro would be big enough and you will have a top handle with the BillHadPro. 

 

I would suggest a photographer's vest for carrying your extra glasses & medicines.  That works out well for me.  A vest is considered a garment so it does not count against your carry-on allotment on an airliner. 

 

I like to have my carry-on camera gear in a locked Pelican hard case.  For your M10 and two lenses, a Pelican 1400 would work and it is significantly smaller than the mazimum carry-on size for large airline jets.  My Pelican 1510 roller is carry-on size for large jets   and it is much larger than the 1400. 

 

As for the Nikon kit and the huge zoom lenses, I would leave them home and rely on the M10 and your two lenses that you have for it.  Less stuff, more photographs.

 

The little Billingham for Leica M is fine for taking my M10 and two lenses out for the day.  It sounds like the Billingham Hadley Pro is a step up and has a handle.

 

I had not thought of a Pelican or similar hard case for travel. I have always believed that a padded case (Billingham or other) is enough for carry-on purposes.  By the way, one time I got frustrated with my Nikon D800 (electric failure) and an all-purpose consumer zoom (28-300 with jammed zoom)--both later sent to Nikon USA and repaired.  So I took resentfully took the D800 back with me from New Zealand in my carry-on, but I just stuffed the lens among my clothes in my unlocked checked luggage.  From NZ to the USA non-stop, this worked fine.  I can think of other places where my luggage when opened after returning home would have been missing a lens.

 

As for leaving all the non-Leica stuff at home . . . the issue that I see relates to trips involving sea (whales) or land wildlife photography where more reach is necessary, in the 300mm - 600mm range.  Suddenly I have a compact Leica system plus part of a heavier, larger DSLR system.   Aside from trips where I need a telephoto lens, I like the idea of just having compact Leica equipment, but I would probably also take my small Sony RX100v because it is so good at handheld night photography and is tiny enough to fit in my pocket).  While I would not select my trip gear for this purpose, I also enjoy taking people pictures in public places sometimes from a distance.  It is easy to do this with a DSLR and a zoom telephoto lens, but for a Leica the telephoto lens choices are more limited and would involve a lot of lens swapping or an extra camera body.

 

I like your idea of a photographer's jacket and its not counting against carry-on luggage limits.  I have a photographer's jacket and had forgotten that I have it.  I think I took it to Greece with me last summer, and I hope that I remembered to bring it back--I'm at my office now, but you have me thinking about this.  I will check tonight.

 

Otto.f mentioned in this thread an Osprey Farpoint 40 backpack for travel.  That one sounds good to me because most of the straps can be covered by a flap rather than left dangling.  And there may be room inside for both a camera insert and personal items.  On a vacation, this bag could double as a day pack. I could put a large DSLR and long zoom in the insert and possibly the small Billingham bag would also fit in there during the airline boarding process so as not to count as two bags.  I also have a never-used but "old" Kata backpack that does have inserts and would hold all this stuff--but it has lots of dangling straps which I don't like.  So do my other day packs which I often use on trips to dump in some personal items and a camera.

 

Another large gear bag that I have and which would likely hold everything is a Gura Gear bag made with rip-stop nylon and which weighs almost nothing.  It contains removable, padded camera gear inserts and gets heavy only because it holds so much heavy camera gear.  It is in the style of a thick computer briefcase, and I bring along a light plastic roller dolly so that I don't have to carry the weight except to lift it to an overhead bin on a plane.

 

 

 

David

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As it concerns function, Billingham bags are not cost effective. Are they used for functionality or style, appearance, advertising affluence? Does any serious photojournalist, for example, use one? Just wondering.

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As it concerns function, Billingham bags are not cost effective. Are they used for functionality or style, appearance, advertising affluence? Does any serious photojournalist, for example, use one? Just wondering.

I bought the Billingham bag as being convenient and sized for the Leica M system.  I use it when all I want to carry is the camera with a lens mounted, one or two extra lenses, and accessories such as an extra battery, a charger, and an extra filter.

 

For pros, it is a whole different ballgame.  The ones I see and talk to use bags (or hard cases) that are purely functional for their particular needs.  One widely known photographer just uses a rubberized bag that is folded and sealed at the top to be waterproof.  Lenses, camera bodies, and other photographic equipment are piled in the bag with no dividers.  I don't see any pro carry bags for style and to demonstrate that they have a lot of money. 

Edited by david.kize

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As it concerns function, Billingham bags are not cost effective. Are they used for functionality or style, appearance, advertising affluence? Does any serious photojournalist, for example, use one? Just wondering.

 

Not cost effective? How do you work that one out? Billingham's are extremely well made and they just do the job and last (IMHO). Mine is all black and looks very understated.

 

I would add that I only bought one - a used one at that - for the first time a few years ago.

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As it concerns function, Billingham bags are not cost effective. Are they used for functionality or style, appearance, advertising affluence? Does any serious photojournalist, for example, use one? Just wondering.

 

Bruce Gilden uses Billinghams (see video).  I would expect his membership in Magnum qualifies him as a serious photojournalist:

 

 

And - https://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?ERID=24KL53ZS6V&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&VP3=CMS3

 

 

As it concerns function, Billingham bags are not cost effective.

 

I cannot go along with that one at all.  Billingham simply blows away Domke, Lowepro, Think Tank and others. 

 

JMHO based on 12+ years of using a Billingham Hadley Pro and a 335 which I regrettably sold off. 

Edited by Herr Barnack

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I'm certainly not a serious photojournalist. But I have a Billingham 335 bought new in the late 1980's which is still in great condition (the Aussie sun has faded it somewhat though.) I suspect it will last another 30 years which makes it very cost effective in my humble opinion.

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I would start by trading the long lens stuff for MFT gear.

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As it concerns function, Billingham bags are not cost effective. Are they used for functionality or style, appearance, advertising affluence? Does any serious photojournalist, for example, use one? Just wondering.

 

 

Not cost effective? A Billingham bag costs about the same as three or four plastic Leica lens caps or one or two lens hoods. They could conceivably last a photographer's entire career or most of their adult life.

 

In terms of use by "serious photojournalists" I think it depends upon where you are in the world but in the UK they are still widely used (though there has been an increase in the popularity of rucksack type bags as an alternative to the spinal injury inducing heavy shoulder bags like the big Billinghams). Turn up at a popular press event and you will see all manner of bags including the bigger Billinghams, stuffed full of proper pro gear. What you won't see are the Hadley type Billingham bags or any Leica RFs (though I am reminded of an anecdote I once read from a leading advertising "creative" who, having commissioned the photojournalist Tom Stoddart to shoot material for a major print campaign, was surprised to see him turn up at the airport with just a small Billingham bag containing his Leica).

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As it concerns function, Billingham bags are not cost effective. Are they used for functionality or style, appearance, advertising affluence? Does any serious photojournalist, for example, use one? Just wondering.

For me it is functionality after having had many others like Domke, Lowe, Crumpler. The Billingham bags are the only ones I know that are silent (using no velcron or iron lockers), soft and unbelievably water-resistant. I don’t use them for appearance because for my taste they’re too british in that respect

Edited by otto.f

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Not cost effective? A Billingham bag costs about the same as three or four plastic Leica lens caps or one or two lens hoods. They could conceivably last a photographer's entire career or most of their adult life. [...]

 

Comparing the expense of a bag to Leica parts is crazy because Leica part prices are crazy. Lifetiime use? I have a couple bags in storage that will last my lifetime because they are in storage. They are in storage because I choose not to carry so much gear.

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At about this time I am wondering why I bought a Leica--the idea was to travel light and not add the excess gear that I already struggled to choose among in packing for a trip.  It was supposed to be the Leica instead of other cameras; not in addition to them.

 

Your problem is not the bag to fit the gear, its the gear. Too much. You are making the classic mistake of trying to do everything which is a recipe for doing nothing well. Limit yourself and you will enjoy the trip more and take better photos. Either accept that you are going to concentrate on long lens wildlife or otherwise. As for bags well a backpack is much better for your back. I use a Billingham Hadley Pro insert in an old and tatty backpack. Fits well, protects 2 x M bodies and up to 4 or 5 lenses if it has to and looks like an old backpack full of clothes so not worth nicking. That said I usually carry one body and three lenses which will cover an awful lot except specialist stuff like wildlife and macro.

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I have one of these: http://www.redlabel-artisanandartist.com/en/productdetail.php?prodId=31

 

It's an Artisan and Artist backpack. Why backpack? Because it's more secure around your body. It doesn't swing around and get in your way when you bend over. 

 

Why this one? Because it is incredibly light (less than 1kg) and because it has two compartments. The lower compartment is large enough to store an M camera, two large M lenses, two spare batteries, and a few accessories. I have the holster for the M10, and I can even fit that in the lower compartment. 

 

I use the upper compartment for whatever I need when i'm touring. Powerbank, bottle of water, small souvenirs. 

 

You can also unzip the lining that separates the upper compartment from the lower. Do this, and you can fit larger items like coffee table books in there. I was amazed how much could fit in this thing. 

 

The downside is that you don't have instant access to your bag. If you want something, you have to take it off and unzip it. It's not as easy as reaching into your messenger bag and pulling the item out. But no problem if you are travelling with your wife, she knew how to unzip the bag and pull out the lens which I wanted. 

 

And yes, I would agree with pgk. Don't carry too much photo gear around. If I am travelling between cities, the camera and lenses gets packed into the lower compartment, and the upper compartment carries travel documents and food. If I am out touring, I only pack the lenses and spare batteries into the bag (it is otherwise empty), and the M camera is slung around my shoulder. This is a really light way to travel, and this is why I own a Leica M. 

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The downside is that you don't have instant access to your bag. If you want something, you have to take it off and unzip it. It's not as easy as reaching into your messenger bag and pulling the item out. 

 

 

 

The link you provided has a video at the bottom that shows a lens change while swinging the bag to the front while in sling configuration.  Maybe harder than it looks?

 

Jeff

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