ONA Leather Brixton Bag
Like most photographers, trying to buy the perfect camera bag is a never ending challenge, buying a camera bag that costs the same amount of money as a lens is a all kinds of crazy but most of the people I know who have bought an ONA bag seemed to be very happy with them, so it was with great trepidation that I ordered the ONA Leather Brixton Bag to replace my Billingham Hadley pro.
Being the type of photographer who always takes a camera with me, no matter were I am going, means I put my camera bags through a lot of use. The Billingham Hadley pro had not held up well over the last 8 months of use and it had developed a hole near the one side of the bag. I was extremely disappointed in the durability of the bag, especially considering the big reputation the bag had. Everyone spoke so highly of the Billingham Hadley pro, so I choose the Billingham Hadley pro bag over the ONA Leather Brixton Bag.
One year lately, and I am truly sorry that I made that initial decision as the ONA Leather Brixton Bag had completely blown me away with its quality and feel. As I Unboxed this bag and smelt the leather, felt how thick the bag is compared to other bags, I knew this bag was in a totally different class from my previous camera bags.
To start off with, this bag is a little bigger than the Billingham bag, a little deeper and heavier but it gives a feeling of quality when you pick it up. The day the bag came, I immediately swapped my gear out of my Billingham Hadley Pro and into the new ONA Leather Brixton Bag. The ONA Leather Brixton Bag swallowed my normal carry around gear with little problem and I still had much more free space avaliable compared to my Billingham Hadley pro but this is no surprise as it is a bigger bag.
Since that day, I have been using the ONA Leather Brixton bag every single day, and through some pretty harsh weather. I have used the bag in a couple of snow storm in China, in a sand storm in Beijing and in some harsh downpours in Guangzhou Hong Kong. I have flown with the bag all over China this year and stuffed it to capacity for each flight. After all this use, I can finally sit down and write down my honest opinion of this bag and compare it to the Billingham Hadley pro.
Lets look at the build quality of the bag and compare it to the Billingham Hadley Pro. Simple put, the ONA Leather Brixton bag has a much higher quality finishing and the materials feel more superior. The lining of the bag is thicker and I am sure it would protect you equipment just a little more than the Billingham Hadley Pro. TheBillingham Hadley Pro is not a bad bag in this department, but the ONA Leather Brixton is just a whole lot better here. The quality of the materials used is also hugely different.The one disappointing part of the ONA Leather Brixton bag is the small leather handle that is attacked to the body of the bag. It does not feel very strong, and I avoid using it when I need to pick the bag up. The Billingham Hadley Pro bag also has a handle on the top of the bag, and it is much stronger and durable. I often used it when I need to lift the bag up or off something.
The ONA Leather Brixton is leather and is extremely easy to keep clean. The Billingham Hadley Pro canvas like material is a nightmare to keep clean especially if you have any pets. The Billingham Hadley Pro is an absolute hair magnet. Every single animal hair will find its way onto your bag and you will have to routinely have to wipe the bag down. I have a cat, and even though he never went near my bag, I had to wipe the bag down each time I left the house. This is very frustrating when you want to rush off somewhere quickly and you have to stop and find a wet rag to wipe the bag down. The ONA Leather Brixton bag also needs some TLC but this usually amounts to applying some leather wax once a week. It is like looking after a pair of leather shows. I use the bag daily, so it needs a weekly treatment but if you used the bag less often, then you would have to treat the bag much less often. One thing you will notice about cleaning the ONA Leather Brixton Bag, is that as it ages, the leather will darken a lot. This is not dirt on the leather, just the natural aging process for the leather.
Weather proofing of a camera bag is also important, some of us carry a lot of gear and water is not our friend. I have used both bags in all kinds of weather and this is one area that the Billingham Hadley Pro is far superior than the ONA Leather Brixton. I used the ONA Leather Brixton in some pretty harsh environments recently and although the bag did a good job, it was not even close to providing the protection that the Billingham Hadley Pro bag had given me. Using the ONA Leather Brixton bag in snow storms and the sandstorms resulted in snow and sand getting into the bag both times. Not a lot but it definitely got into the bag, which is a little disappointing. The primary location for this intrusion seems to be the side of the bag. I have notices that as the bag ages, the side flaps are doing a better job at keeping my equipment dry. The last snow storm I went to shoot in, the ONA Leather Brixton kept all my equipment bone dry even though it was the worse snow storm I have ever shot in.
The sides of the bag never seem to make a really tight seal and the extra flaps of leather don’t catch all the particles. I used the Billingham in exactly the same cities and same weather conditions in China the year before and I had no problems with the Billingham Hadley Pro bag in this regard. Another difference that a buyer should also note that the back pocket on the ONA Leather Brixton bag has no zipper on it and anything that you put into this pocket will get wet if you get rain onto the bag.
Usability of the two bags are both good, but the Billingham Hadley Pro bag is more silent with it flap design and the latched that it uses. You could simply undo the Billingham Hadley Pro bag in near silence but the ONA Leather Brixton bag has bras buckles and they tend to make more noise though. But I found this to an added benefit for me. I don’t shoot weddings or shoot in environments that need silence. This is not my work bag, this is my everyday bag that I carry around with me. So the little noise and tension that is required for me to open the bag is a good thing. It gives the bag a little bit more security. The Billingham Hadley Pro bag is not a good bag for security though, for this very same reason. Twice I had a pickpocket unclip the Billingham Hadley Pro bag while I was standing on the subway and both times I only caught the culprit because someone warned me. I simply did not feel or hear someone undoing the latches. The ONA Leather Brixton requires much more force and makes more noise when you undo the buckles and it gives me a little more peace of mind when I am on a crowded bus or subway.
The last category I think that is very important for a bag is the comfort-ability of the bag. If you carry the bag around all day, the last thing you want is an uncomfortable bag. In this regard, the ONA Leather Brixton bag wins. It comes with a shoulder strap and it sits more comfortably on your shoulder when you are walking around. I prefer to throw bags across my shoulders and walk around with the bag slightly behind me, and the ONA was always more comfortable on my shoulders after walking around all day.
There is little doubt in my mind that after using the ONA Leather Brixton bag for a nearly a year and a half now, it is the better bag compared to the Billingham Hadley Pro which only lasted me 8 months. It has a better build quality, superior materials used in its construction but it is nearly three times the cost of the Billingham Hadley Pro bag. The Billingham Hadley Pro bag is much better in bad weather though. If my ONA bag had to get stolen, I wound not hesitate to order a new one, it is the first time I have ever been this satisfied with a camera bag and if anyone is thinking about buying one but is undecided about whether they should buy the ONA Leather Brixton or the Billingham Hadley Pro, I will encourage you to think carefully. Unless you plan to shoot in heavy rain each week, I think there is no better bag on the market right now that you could buy for your cameras.
Simple put, I love this bag and I plan to use it for as long as possible