By Eric Yang
on 5.24.10

Originally a fishing gear bag, Billingham made the switch to pro-photo gear in 1978 when founder Martin Billingham learned that professional photographers in New York were using the bags to carry lenses and cameras instead of tackle and bait. The rest is, well, history. After a month, ours has been nothing less than a photo finish.

The Billingham Classic 550 ($530) is the latest iteration, but hardly changed from the bag that started it all. Handmade in the UK, the Classic 550 continues in the canvas and leather tradition constructed but adds rainproofing and nylon covered padding. The bag is designed with well-managed space compartments for all an arsenal of camera gear and features: brass hardware, two deep side pockets, two snap-off removable delta pockets, tripod strap, luggage strap, backpack harness and shoulder strap with leather pad. Gear Patrol covers its fair share of camera cases, but the Billingham Classic 550 stands in a world of its own not just in ergonomics and aesthetics, but heritage too. This bag will easily outlast your camera gear.

Our take after a month with the Billingham Classic 550 is that it’s best equated to a great pair of wing tips. A Billingham bag is a bag you own not buy. Photographers have known this for years, and now so do you. 5.5 lbs.

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