A hunt for the Camera Bag of Dreams

I have always had a great dislike for camera bags; their stiff, dull blackness, and their inability to be useful in day-to-day life. I often avoided them, to the point of wrapping my camera in a hat and shoving it in whichever bag I was using that day. Not good. This changed when I inherited my granddad’s camera bag, a well-worn, well-travelled faux leather piece that held everything I needed it to, looked nice, and didn’t scream “camera bag”. Problem solved.

A couple of months ago my camera was stolen (part of the reason for the recent lack of posts here, the wound has been too raw), my whole kit was gone, including my beloved bag. While working out how to replace my equipment I realised I had no idea where to find another bag I’d be happy with.

My first few searches left me feeling doomed. I was even considering using a baby bag as a substitute.. lots of space and doesn’t look like a camera bag, right? But then I began to find things I liked, particularly on the wonderful Etsy.

Here is my shortlist:

First is the basic, non-camera-bag-looking Domke bag. It’s cheaper than most of the others I’m drooling over, and would do the trick I think. But it doesn’t have me jumping up and down in glee.

Olive F-8 Small Shoulder Bag - Domke

Olive F-8 Small Shoulder Bag - Domke


Let’s leave the dull behind and move on to the Etsy selection. These are all in US dollars, and I’d have to take shipping into account, but look how pretty they are!

This one’s by Janine King Designs. I like its simplicity, but I have my doubts about it being big enough for what I need.


Digital SLR padded dSLR Messenger - Janine King

Digital SLR padded dSLR Messenger - by Janine King

Then there’s the Snugglens bag by GypsyRose Handbags. This particular design is too bright for my liking, but the fun thing about these bags is that each one is made per your order. You can choose from 239 fabric prints for the outside of your bag, and 219 colours for the inside. You can’t get much more custom than that. They’re also generously sized and well padded, with lots of pockets. I’m tempted.

Hobo full-flap camera bag - by GypsyRose Handbags

I’m torn between which is my favourite of the following two.

This is a gorgeous bag by Porteen Gear. All these bags are made as they’re ordered, and are customised just like those by GypsyRose. I think they’re all exquisite. (check out her adorable small bags while you’re at it. I want one!)

Blue Tapestry and Leather dSLR Camera Bag - by Porteen Gear

And finally there’s this one by Martilena. It might be my favourite for tonight (I can’t keep my mind made up for long) due to its quiet elegance. Its slightly larger size gives it an edge over the beautiful Porteen Gear bags. I think it would be lovely to carry around, and wouldn’t draw a lot of attention to the camera inside.


Leather Knox camera bag - by Martilena

Or perhaps I’ll decide to make my own

Obviously I’m waiting for a new camera before buying anything, so until then the hunt remains on!

Please tell me if you know of anything I should look at! Bonus points for anything based in the UK, I don’t think I’ve found a single pretty camera bag here so far.


14 thoughts on “A hunt for the Camera Bag of Dreams

    • Is your tote/purse/gym bag a regular bag that happens to work well with a camera?
      I’m thinking that might be my best bet for the time being…

      Thank you for both comment and sympathy, x

      • Yes, it’s a regular bag. It’s made for the gym so it’s large and has a vinyl lined compartment on the bottom that zips open to put wet gym clothing or a pair of shoes, I put a sweater in the compartment and it gives the bag cushion on the bottom. It’s very pretty and practical.

  1. Oh, I love love love the last one, just when I thought there’d never be a prettier one than the second from the bottom one.

    I think it’s silly that no one in the UK makes pretty camera bags though, I guess everyone buys Billingham? Or just lusts after Billingham (there are some on eBay, just checked xx)?

    • I knooow! How am I supposed to decide when even prettier ones keep appearing?!
      I also don’t know why no one in this country seems to have looked around and thought, “Hmm… why is every bag black and boring?”

  2. I’m so sorry to hear about your camera and camera bag from your grandpa. I can only imagine it’s sentimental value 😦

    Thanks for sharing some of these new bags. I must include some of these on my site, as I’m trying to help other women find the perfect stylish camera bag for their dslr. i recently purchased The Nevis by ONA for my dslr. It seems like you are also looking for one with enough space for more camera gear.

    i ended up choosing ONA over others for a few reasons: real leather, style, color, quality and enough room to add other lenses as I start to get more gear.

    All the other camera bags I reviewed are not on your list yet, so check it out. Please share which one you end up getting. I’m curious to get more feedback as most of these are new to the scene.


    • It was indeed the sentimental value that was the hardest thing to lose, somethings can’t be replaced by insurance…

      I love that you have a site to promote stylish camera bags! Definitely something that needs to be done. I just looked up The Nevis, it’s beautiful! How is it to use? I’ll be looking into the rest of the bags you’ve talked about on your site for sure. Thank you for helping in my search!

      • Thanks Vrinda! It’s fun to ‘e-window shop’ for camera bags and share it with other women who are also looking! Quickly becoming very addictive for someone who was not a bag person ever! 😉

        I love my Nevis and carry it all around town. I also live in Europe. The top zipper is really good quality and you will need to follow the instructions given to make sure that you have a nice wide opening before taking your dslr out. Because of it’s size and the fact that no shortcuts were taken to make the bag high quality…it is a bit heavier. The protection inside is of closed cell foam, the bag is a beautiful leather and the hardware on it is also high quality.

        When I am only taking my dslr with lens attached, I still use my Vanguard since it’s much lighter and recently got the one that looked least like a manly bag. But The Nevis is perfect for pro equipment, since it can hold a lot more gear.

        For my 2nd stylish camera bag, I’m looking for something smaller and lighter in weight. I am not one that brings a lot of purse items every time I go out (mainly b/c I live in Amsterdam and take the tram, my bike or walk everywhere). So my goal is to carry dslr w/ lens attached, small wallet, keys, phone and lip gloss.

        At first it seems like we don’t have many choices for stylish camera bags, but now it’s so hard to choose which one to get from what’s available!! 🙂

        Good Luck!

  3. You and I think exactly alike! I’ve spent 3 or 4 hours a night online for the past two weeks and have filtered it down to the very same choices that you’ve listed here. I’m currently leaning toward the same Porteen bag that you’ve pictured.
    I’d buy an Epiphanie bag or a Kelly Moore in a heartbeat if I could afford it. I also love the Golla bags. Their Sky, Smile and Story bags are my favorites. Check them out at golla.com.

  4. Pingback: My Camera Bag of Dreams: found (aka “A Porteen Gear review”) «

  5. Hi Vrinda
    I came across your post whilst Googling for ‘small high quality camera pouch’. I, too, have a similar problem though my requirements might differ a little from yours being of the opposite gender! I am searching for a small bag/case to hold a new Fujifilm X10 and hate the wealth of boring black look-alike bags and pouches. I know that Billingham has already been mentioned but they do seem to produce something that can look stylish when going out. My wife and I have Billingham Hadley bags each (hers is the khaki and mine is the olive green so she doesn’t pick up my bag). Though it’s probably too big for my Fuji, I might consider the Billingham Compact Stowaway bag and in black. At least for travel it will store the camera, my mobile phone and passport. Why the black? Well, it will be my fourth Billingham bag (I already have my own khaki and olive green bags) and black canvas with black leather trim and nickel fittings might just look classy enough and go with many clothing options – something I’m sure must be in the back of your mind too. Happy hunting!

    • Oh I’d never seen the Compact Stowaway bag! It’s very sweet and it looks ideal for carrying a minimum of camera equipment for a day out, or for travelling. It would be ideal for my little Olympus EP1. I know of a store that carries a lot of Billingham bags but I haven’t been in for over a year, it may be time to schedule another look!

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