Fadbags are as much a part of photography as they are of fashion – and sometimes they are equally as silly.
I define a fadbag as the bag’o the month – the one that all the hipsters, Mosman Park tarts, and Asian visitors clamour to buy…for a short period of time. Exactly what triggers the fad is uncertain. Photography books, lecturers at TAFE, their brothers-in-law in Singapore -whatever. The choice can sometimes be based upon utility and science and sometimes on the secret phases of the mystical moon.
Billingham bags would seem to fit into the fadbag category on all counts. I will excuse what I am about to say by saying they are well-made and stylish. If your style is the British Raj or a safari to the wilds of East Bechuana in 1895 or shooting peasants in the home counties this is just perfect.
Canvas bags, essentially – with leather edging and cotton straps. Lose the leather edging, fill them with Mills bombs, and you could have a fun weekend at Ypres in 1916.
They are the heart’s desire of the Leica coterie, presumably because they make them look like they know what they are doing. Well, what they are doing is spending large money for small benefit – Leica all over, really. The bags do nothing whatsoever to protect against serious knocks and bumps. and do not have enough subdivision to be actually useful. But they are stylish, what?
Another fadbag has been the ONA – really anything in their range, though my eye has fallen on their leather series of messenger bags. Large or small, these also are well built and have something that Billingham lacks – impossibly heavy weight. When I picked up the first of the leather ones I realised it had been made from cow but I wondered if they had left the beef still inside…
If you are carrying a mirror-less system camera it’s fair to assume you are doing it partially to avoid the weight of a DSLR. If you are carrying a DSLR and lenses you probably want to be able to walk without buckling at the knees. If you are on a punishment fatigue neither of these considerations apply. Be careful when you lift the ONA, lest you creak.
The last fadbag that catches the eye also catches the back of your legs and the edge of the furniture – it is the roll-around type made by Lowepro or Think Tank. They hold everything that you think you are going to need on a field shoot – and they bring it back, whereupon you profit from the experience of lugging it up 8 flights of stairs and empty out 80% of what you took. The handles are various and the wheels can be set anywhere on the body of the bag, but you may be sure of one thing – it WILL go out of control whenever something breakable is in its path. You are breakable.
Heading Image: Crumpler, Wei-Feng, and IKEA. As cheap as you can get without resorting to using a feed bag. And the camera containers of choice for a number of really good reasons.