Review: Billingham Bag for Leica M

There are currently numerous choices of camera bags on the market today. There are the basic nylon bags like Lowepro and then there are the higher-end bags like Billingham. I own and use both and both companies are good in their own way. In this review I will be looking at the Billingham for Leica M bag.

Leica bag for protection

This bag is about five years old. I purchased it to house my Leica M8, which I don’t own anymore. I kept the bag because it fits a standard sized DSLR with 24-70mm f2.8 lens perfectly, although there is not a lot of room inside with this combination. The bag is made out of two pieces of high-quality canvas with a waterproof membrane in-between them.

Exterior of the bag

Side of the bag

Left side of bag

Underneath gets very dirty

One of my main issues with the Billingham Leica bag, and in fact, most of the Billingham bags, is that they do not include feet on many of their bags. This creates an issue every time I set the bag down. Because of the light canvas material used these bags get very, very dirty. Billingham does include feet in some of their larger bags, but their Leica bag and the Hadley Pro, both bags I own and use, do not. I can’t help but thinking that without feet my expensive camera has a greater chance of getting hurt when I set the bag down on a hard surface. Perhaps I’m just being paranoid and the inside padding is enough to stop anything from harming my camera, but why take the chance? Just include feet that raise the bag up slightly and it won’t be an issue.

Leather straps

Leather wear and tear

By far my greatest issue with this bag and all of Billingham’s bags are the leather used for the straps. They incorporate a leather strap quick release stud system that is very handy and quick, but eventually the leather fails and there is no resistance between the small and large holes in the leather. The leather straps can easily be moved back and forth on the system. This does not instill confidence in the bag, especially when I have an expensive camera system inside and all that is stopping it from falling to Earth is a piece of worn leather. I’ve had the bag for five years, however, the leather wore out within the first year of use.

Billingham for Leica

Underneath the bag

Shoulder pad

The shoulder strap and pad is very comfortable and I’ve never noticed any issues with it.

Inside flap

Canon 5D Mark III inside

One thing to note is that I do not use this bag on my professional shoots. I use the Hadley Pro and Lowepro bags with my Saddleback to store my gear for my professional shoots. So this bag has not had hard use. I mostly use it while traveling as there are not many nice looking camera bags for people who don’t want to look like a photographer.

All in all the Billingham for Leica M bag is a brilliant bag. It’s made in England of high-quality materials and incredible workmanship. Although at $264.95 I would argue that this bag could be a lot better. I would be willing to spend a bit more to have a bag that I feel 100% confident with. But until someone develops a camera bag that is stylish, durable and highly-functional, I will stick with Billingham.

One comment

  • Toby Madrigal (in England)

    I’ve been using the M bag in Khaki for a couple of years. For me, the best advantage is that it stops you from overloading yourself. I use it for street shooting on my travels around the towns and cities of Britain. It carries a Leica MDa + 3.5cm f3.5 Summaron + SBLOO 35mm viewfinder + Gossen Lunasix for reflected and Sekonic Studio Deluxe meter for incident readings. Still room for extra rolls of film. The front pocket holds the Mulberry Agenda diary/notebook plus pens, pencils etc. In use, I find it easier to push the bag behind my back.

    November 16, 2014

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