Billingham 307 Review - Part I



Billingham 307, in Khaki Chocolate

Billingham camera bags need little introduction, they've been the choice of professional photographers since the mid 70's. There have been one or two imitators, most notably the well-regarded Classic range from the sadly defunct CCS (Camera Care Systems) and the hand-made range of bags from FOGG, probably the closest in terms of quality and materials, if not in design (FOGG were always pretty radical). But few have stayed the course, the way Billingham have.

Most know Billingham for the huge pro 550, but the smaller bags, such as the 445 and 335 have been popular with professionals and keen amateurs alike. So, while keeping those in the line-up, it comes as something of a surprise to see a new, similar-looking, 07 range appear alongside. Constructed of Billingham's FibreNyte material, a fabric with an uncanny appearance, not to mention feel, of traditional cotton canvas, there are three models in total; the 107, 207, and a 307 (think S,M,L), the latter and larger of three being the subject of this review.


Positives
On first inspection, the 307 has all the hallmarks of a traditional canvas bag from Billingham; supple canvas outer, fine grained leather tabs and beading, brass-buckles as well as tough canvas webbing for the straps. However, this Billingham (as well as others in the 07 range) is constructed from a very 21st century fabric, called FibreNyte. While it looks and feels like traditional canvas, it's synthetic and offers greater abrasion resistance and durability, it's claimed, yet remains supple, soft and warm to the touch.

Thanks to a butyl rubber membrane, the fabric is waterproof, according to Billingham. In turn this is bonded to a polyester lining; a three-layer fabric in effect. I've no reason to doubt the waterproofness, but bear in mind, like waterproof clothing, rain (especially wind-driven) can work its way past zips and stitching.

Despite that, the 307 has several advantages over makes of camera bags. For a start, the 307 has a substantial top-flap, which is lined again in a rather fetching, green coloured high-quality polyester fabric, which adds to the water-resistance. It's also extremely effective in keeping dust and detritus from entering the main compartment below. I know this from owning a Billingham 445 for over 20-years and it's true of the 307.



Above, left to right, Ricoh wide-angle converter, Canon EOS 7D c/w EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6, Olympus EP-1 c/w 17mm f/2.8, and Canon 100mm f/2.8 L Macro IS. 

Beneath the top-flap is another barrier in the form of a very handy articulated closure, complete with heavy-duty zip. The design is very similar to a Doctor's case and it allows unrestricted access to the main compartment and your gear. Carbon fibre stiffeners, or wands, are used to maintain the opening and shape. And it works very well, even working from the bag with it over your shoulder.

Like all canvas bags, the 307 moulds to your body providing greater stability on the move, so the stiffeners are particularly welcome. I have to admit ease of access was an issue with my earlier 445, even though it had press-studs on the inside wall to keep the zipped flaps apart. I really liked the improved access, and for me it’s a major step forward. Next >


Part II, including the conclusion, can be found here.

More information, including UK stockists and pricing can be found here.

For US and Canadian visitors, buy Billingham product through our approved supplier, B&H Photo.

Update 09/10/10: B&H now list the Billingham 307 in khaki and black.

Amazon US list the 307 in khaki and black.


Billingham product can be be bought via Adorama.


UK readers can buy Billingham through Jessops or at Warehouseexpress.com:


Billingham 307 black
Billingham 307 khaki


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Comments

  1. They don't have anything from the 07 series at the B&H site :-(
    Elena

    ReplyDelete
  2. Maybe B&H will stock them in the future; they have pretty much everything else Billingham make.

    ReplyDelete

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