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The best leather camera bags: luxury for your photo kit in leather and canvas

The best leather camera bags: luxury for your photo kit in leather and canvas

The best leather camera bags are a luxurious, decadent alternative to the boxy, staid look of most camera bags. We have extended our definition to 'luxury' camera bags that use canvas and natural materials too. Luxury bags do cost significantly more than standard camera bags, but they can be just as practical and they have something that regular camera bags don't – style.

Leather camera bags tend to based on a classic satchel or messenger bag design, usually with a few flourishes to give them that stylish edge. But it's not just a case of style over substance, as these are proper camera bags, and have all the necessary features for protection of camera kit.

This tends to consist of a padded interior, with removable and customisable dividers that you can fit around the precise contours of your specific setup, protecting it from knocks and bumps. Some will have dedicated mounting points for a tripod, as well as small pockets for extra items like SD cards. 

We've made sure that all the leather camera bags we've included in this guide are not just good-looking, but also have got the features that photographers need, giving you the best of both worlds.

The best leather camera bags

(Image credit: Future/Matt Golowczynski)
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The best luxury camera bag overall

Specifications

Main material: Canvas/FybreNyte
External dimensions: 370x275x140mm
Weight: 1.4kg
Laptop/tablet compartment: 13-inch laptop + tablet
Removable camera insert: Yes + alternatives
Top handle: Yes
Strap pad: +£34/$50

Reasons to buy

+
Robust, stylish and versatile
+
Can accommodate large lenses

Reasons to avoid

-
Full camera compartment costs extra
-
Shoulder strap pad not included

Billingham has been creating premium handmade bags in England since 1973. Typical of the range, the Billingham Hadley One combines a three-layer waterproof material with top-quality leather and solid brass fittings. 

Noticeably larger than the classic Hadley Pro, the Hadley One is similarly available in a range of canvas or FibreNyte color options with contrasting leather details.

The bag comes complete with a full height, half-length camera insert, so you can use the bag for camera kit and daily essentials. A full camera insert is available for an additional £60/$70, which will accommodate a full-frame DSLR with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens attached, plus a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens complete with tripod mounting ring, an additional medium sized lens and a pro-grade flashgun. 

Other included highlights include an internal pocket for a 13-inch laptop, a rear zippered pocket for a tablet or documents, and two large ‘dump pockets’ at the front, with popper fasteners.

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Future)
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A beautiful, luxury bag with a hand-crafted finish

Specifications

Main material: Canvas/FibreNyte
External dimensions: 400x180x350mm
Weight: 1.83kg
Laptop/tablet compartment: 13-inch laptop
Removable camera insert: Yes
Top handle: No
Strap pad: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Smooth ergonomics
+
Enormous front pockets

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey even by these standards
-
Tight fit for tall cameras

This is a comparatively new bag from Billingham, replacing the now-discontinued Eventer. A tall bag that's comfortable to wear on the shoulder, the Eventer MKII retains all the classic Billingham features that photographers have come to expect – the sturdy leather straps that hold the bag closed, and the deceptively large pockets that can hold simply reams of stuff. The expandable pockets at the front of this bag are especially impressive. 

The minimal design means it lacks some features of less chic bags that are actually somewhat handy – we're thinking of the little pockets that many camera bags have which are great for holding SD cards and things of that nature. However, the padded internal compartment is excellent, allowing your gear to fit snugly and securely, with dividers at just the right level of thickness. 

As this is a new bag, you're not likely to get it at anything less than full price, which is considerable. However, we're on the luxury leather buying guide for a reason, and this is one of the best you can buy. Just be aware that it's new enough that it's still not quite widely available in the USA, which will hopefully change soon. 

Best leather camera bags: Gitzo Century Traveler Camera Messenger

(Image credit: Gitzo)

3. Gitzo Century Traveler Camera Messenger

The best budget luxury camera bag

Specifications

Main material: Nylon
External dimensions: 390x280x140mm
Weight: 1.2kg
Laptop/tablet compartment: 13-inch laptop
Removable camera insert: Removable dividers
Top handle: Yes
Strap pad: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Quite compact but with plenty of additional pockets
+
Tripod attachment facility

Reasons to avoid

-
Mostly nylon construction
-
Only available in black

Just when you thought you were safe from the onslaught of black nylon camera bags, here comes the Gitzo. Despite being famous for luxury tripods that are massively expensive to buy, Gitzo's Century Traveler is very competitively priced for a camera messenger bag. 

It’s not altogether nylon either, as the front flap is faced with premium Italian leather, which is also used for the top strap, baggage trolley loop and a few other flourishes. Although reasonably slim and lightweight, the Gitzo can play host to a full-frame DSLR with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens attached, an additional 70-200mm f/2.8, plus a full-sized flashgun, or a bigger collection of smaller lenses and accessories. 

There’s also an internal compartment for a 13-inch laptop, plus full-length zippered external pockets at the front and rear of the bag, and two smaller zippered pockets, one on each side. The front pocket has a built-in organizer section. Access to the main compartment is via a clever ‘G-Lock’ pull tab, and there’s also a zip across the top flap so you can grab your camera without having to open the whole bag. 

And lest we forget that Gitzo is predominantly a tripod manufacturer, the underneath of the front pocket has a separate zip that gives access to a pull-down tripod carrier for a reasonably small travel tripod.

Best leather camera bags: Ona Prince Street Messenger Bag

(Image credit: ONA)
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4. Ona Prince Street Messenger Bag

Most stylish canvas/leather camera bag

Specifications

Main material: Italian leather
External dimensions: 317x254x114mm
Weight: 1.5kg
Laptop/tablet compartment: 11-inch laptop or tablet
Removable camera insert: Removable dividers
Top handle: Yes
Strap pad: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Beautiful leather finish
+
Impeccably stylish

Reasons to avoid

-
A bit cramped for larger cameras and lenses

 With gorgeously aged leather and beautiful brass buckle details, if style is your number one concern then look no further. The Ona Prince Street Messenger Bag is beautifully designed and crafted from Italian leather in two color options (if you want to economize there are two canvas versions available too).

Inside this premium bag, there's ample room for a DSLR, rangefinder or mirrorless camera with an attached lens and two extra lenses. The padded interior dividers enable you to customize the organization of your kit to best suit your needs. There's also a handy interior pocket to slide in an 11-inch laptop or tablet. 

On the front of the bag are dual front pouches for accessories such as your phone, keys, memory cards or batteries. Along with an adjustable shoulder strap with comfort pad, this bag also features a removable top carry handle for maximum ease of use on-the-go.

One of our favorite aspects of this bag is that it's easy to whip out the interior dividers, making this not only a superbly stylish bit of photography gear, but also a versatile bag for everyday use. 

Best leather camera bags: Think Tank Signature 13

(Image credit: Think Tank)

5. Think Tank Signature 13

Slim and stealthy, it looks like a regular posh messenger bag

Specifications

Main material: Wool-like fabric
External dimensions: 370x265x160mm
Weight: 1.4kg
Laptop/tablet compartment: 13-inch laptop + tablet
Removable camera insert: Removable dividers
Top handle: Yes
Strap pad: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Slim and lightweight
+
Surprisingly roomy inside

Reasons to avoid

-
A little less luxurious than some competitors
-
Soft woolly feel won’t be to everyone’s taste

Although it looks comparatively small and slim, the Think Tank Signature 13 can nevertheless accommodate a full-frame DSLR with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens attached, plus a 70-200mm f/2.8 and large flashgun, along with a 13-inch laptop tucked behind a divider in the main compartment. 

Sprung latches with adjustable leather straps enable easy access to the main compartment, but there’s also a secondary internal zippered cover. You can use this for added security, or fold it away into a rear section if you don’t feel the need for it.

The front of the bag has a large additional pocket, with its own internal divider. One part of this is accessed by a leather strap with a popper. The other adds greater security, with an additional zip revealing an organizer section. 

There’s yet another zippered pocket at the rear, plus a luggage trolley strap. The shoulder strap has a neoprene lining to enhance comfort, and there’s also a carrying handle on the top of the bag. 

Unlike the full leather or canvas-like material that’s usually used in luxury bags, this one is made from rain-resistant wool-like material which is pleasantly soft to the touch. A waterproof rain cover is also supplied.

How we test leather camera bags

At DCW, photo and video accessories are tested out in the field by experienced, knowledgeable reviewers who know the product area and have used them before. Our reviewers test leather camera bags for capacity, durability, weight, and other common concerns such as whether they fit in standard airline carry-on luggage dimensions. We use our findings in the testing process to inform our comments in buying guides, so that we can be sure we're recommending products that we would buy and use ourselves. 

Read more:

Best camera bags and cases (opens in new tab)
Best messenger bags (opens in new tab)
Best camera backpacks (opens in new tab)
Best Canon camera bag (opens in new tab)
Best Nikon camera bag (opens in new tab)
Best camera straps (opens in new tab)
The best camera holsters and pouches (opens in new tab)

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Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 


His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 


In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.