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Billingham 307 Review

Billingham 307 Review - Matt Grayson gives his camera a taste of the high life with the Billingham 307 camera bag.

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Category : Bags, Cases and Straps
Product : Billingham 307
Price : £230
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Founded in 1973, Billingham is still a family business and has made it's name as a manufacturer of stylish camera bags. They have a characteristic attributed to the English and their age old need for quality and attention to detail.
 
Billingham 307: Specifications
Dimensions:Billingham 307
External:
  • Width: 360mm
  • Depth: 180mm
  • Height: 260mm
 
Internal:
  • Width: 340mm
  • Depth: 150mm
  • Height: 220mm
 
Front pocket:
  • Width: 140mm
  • Depth: 65mm
  • Height: 200mm
Other specifications:
  • Strap length: 115-163mm
  • Weight: 2Kg
  • Material: FibreNyte canvas

Billingham 307: Features
Billingham's new 07 series of bags bear a striking resemblance to the Presstop 06 models and that's what they're based on. In fact, with similar dimensions, you could easily mistake them at a glance. Subtle differences are more noticeable on closer inspection such as a darker leather and more of it being used on the strap fasteners.
 
Billingham 307
The lugs that attach the strap are solid brass. A prime example of the quality.
The unmistakeable vintage styling of Billingham drips off the 307 with its khaki/chocolate colouring and thick canvas build. Solid brass lugs adorn the front for keeping the lid closed and the whole ensemble oozes old school retro.
 
Opening the top flap brings you to the zipper which is one of the most solid types I've seen in a long time. Carbon fibre rods are placed around the top gusset to keep its shape make keeping the top open easier. Carbon fibre is used because it can bend but won't get misshapen.
 
Billingham bags are well known for being deeper than other camera bags and the 307 is no different. In fact I can get my arm in nearly to my elbow before hitting the bottom and the idea behind this is that you can put any personal effects on top to hide your equipment to prying eyes and for quicker access to those belongings. This equipment is placed on the second lid of the bag which is made up of two flaps that fold down to create a ledge around 4-5in below the zipper.
 
Inside, the separators are made from Billingham's Superflex material which is thick yet flexible so you can place your equipment in multiple layers and still be able to get to them.  They're already shaped into cubes to slide lenses in but  a spare body is meant to be kept at the bottom underneath everything else. This isn't a way that I like to work and I'd find it difficult having to dig around through expensive equipment to get to the one item I happened to need which is bound to be at the bottom of the bag.
 
Billingham 307
The front pockets don't seem to be as protected as the interior or the rear pocket.
On the front, two pockets are available for accessories to be stored such as spare batteries, memory cards and maybe even a medium sized flash gun. There's no secure webbing for these bits though, so they'd hang around loose which increases the chance of them getting lost. They stay closed by the hand strap attaching to them using a strong pop stud but there's no inner water repellent material to prevent stray water entering. In fact it seems that the front compartments have been forgotten when it comes to keeping your equipment dry.
 
This is an unfortunate turn of events for an otherwise excellent bag because even the rear pocket has an extra flap to work as a water displacement system allowing rain to pass over the pocket entrance. While the front pockets do have flaps to do the same thing, they're nowhere near as good.
 
Billingham 307: Verdict
Being a dapper young gent around town, I have a special affinity for Billingham because of their effortless charm and quintessential Englishness.
 
I'm disappointed in the front pockets not being more protected and while I don't think they'll easily let any water in, they are still more susceptible than the other pockets and the main compartment.
 
If you're a discerning photographer that has a decent budget for a bag then take a look at Billingham. It could be worth thinking about paying extra. I'm on my third camera bag now since I started photography and I've probably spent more on them than I would've on one Billingham that I would still have now. That, to me, speaks volumes.

Billingham 307: Plus points
Lovely design
Strong materials
Deep main compartment
Spongy rubber on shoulder strap

Billingham 307: Minus points
Stacking items means rummaging
Front pockets don't seem as protected

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The Billingham 307 costs around £230 from Warehouse Express. Take a look here:
Billingham 307


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Comments


Foxfire 10 322 United Kingdom
10 Apr 2009 2:08PM
I have a billingham, which sadly I have discarded to the bottom of my cupboard. Why?

1. The bag, although, bought only two years ago, is not well suited to digital cameras, The DSLR is chunkier and heavier and so are the lenses.

2. There are no good webbed compartments to put those little things like spare battery, or a compartment for memory cards.

3. Lens brushes and cloths swivel around and often get lost.

But what really made me replace the otherwise stylish, rugged and well made Billingham, for Lowepro slingback is the weight distribution over the shoulder.

As I said Pro DSLRs are heavy and so are the lenses and they really dig into the shoulder due to the poor weight distribution of the system.

Billingham need to rethink their design, without loosing the quality and characteristics of the Billingham bags

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14 Sep 2009 12:33AM
I have a Billingham 225 which is ideally sized to carry a couple of 35mm rangefinder bodies, three or four lenses, a flash unit and a spot meter. I would disagree with the comment above regarding weight. Leica equipment is possibly weightier that digital equipment and the bag carries really well. If I am taking pictures in the hills I put my camera in a climbing sac as I don't believe that there is a camera bag made that fits all needs. But whether you are walking around town or working on the front line in Hellmund province a Billingham bag will not let you down
AlCol 9
19 Nov 2009 9:09PM
I’ve owned a number of outfit bags over the past 30 years or so - some really rubbish ones (quite a few) and some good ones (a very few). I have to say that the 307 for what it is and is designed to do, is without a doubt at the top of the pile. The only near contender among the shoulder bags I’ve owned was an old Domke F-2 (now used by my son) – nowhere near as weather resistant, protective, or as well made as the Billingham – but it did look good and performed well.
My D300 with battery grip and Nikkor 18-200mm F4/5.6 attached, fits easily into the 307 along with a Sigma 10-20mm, a Nikkor 18-35mm, a Nikkor 50mm and an SB800 flash. Everything is easily accessible - nothing is stored under anything else and nothing needs to be dismantled to fit in (unlike some “big name” messenger bags I’ve tried)! In my experience the front pockets don’t allow water ingress – even in the heaviest downpour – ok, they’re not padded, but they do hold all the odd “bitsnbobs” that we photographers accumulate and don’t need a cosy padded holder for – remote release, lens cleaning kit, spare card holder, notebook, exposed rolls of 120 Tri-X etc. (well, maybe not the Tri-X!)
I too use a backpack, LowePro Computrek, when hiking, and a Pelican 1510 for storage and air travel - makes a damn good seat in the queues!
Two phrases spring to mind about the Billingham (and for that matter all camera bags) – horses for courses – and - you get what you pay for.

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