Billingham 445 Classic Safari Soft Case

Available At:
445 Classic Safari

All main compartments are accessed by a single straight zip with double pullers. Straight zips avoid the stress which occurs when zips are forced around tight corners. Double puller arrangement provides restricted access when working in crowds.

User Reviews (10)

Showing 1-10 of 10  
martinr   Intermediate [Jul 29, 2002]
Strength:

jeez - where do I start?? Size, materials, feel, comfort, versatility. If you have a 335 or 445 I can heartily recommend getting the backpack harness - makes a great bag even better!

Weakness:

Because its so apacious there's a temptation to fill it - my back fully laden weighs thirty pounds - at least its good exercise!!nearly

Firstly - I have a 335 NOT a 445 but there isn't a review space for the 335 so I thought I'd drop my review in here - kinda fits?! I got my Billingham as part of a job lot through a local advertising rag - Dynax 7 + VC7, sigma 28-300, sigma 24-70, 2 x canon a1's + winders, canon 28, 50, 75-200, 199 flash, tripod, filters & the 335 (all 6months old or newer) - £660 - can't be bad!! My intention was to keep the 7 and flog the rest but the Billy ended up staying after I used it for a day. The thing just oozes quality - it makes you feel "special" in a kind of Louis Vuitton way. The 335 is smaller than the 445 but I can fit in 3 x 35mm slr bodies + VC grips, 24mm, 105mm, 28-70, 70-210, flash, filters, load of films, odd & sods and still have space for a decent size sandwich box!!!. I made a couple of DIY quick release harness straps and bought the backpack harness (the "octopus") which is simply fantastic. With the BPH its not as comfortable as my Lowepro but it still gives your shoulder a rest. Seriously - how many decent quality bags are there that you can carry as a backpack, hand held or carry over the shoulder (with quick unfussed access). The Lowepro's gonna have to go!!

Customer Service

Only used when ordering accessories - polite & swift!

Similar Products Used: Assorted over the years but nothing worth remembering now.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Available At:
paul mac   Professional [Nov 08, 2001]
Strength:

Good capacity and style.

Weakness:

Appears to be hard wearing but not my experience. Definately no "family heirloom" as will fall to bits in really hard use

I work as a press snapper in the UK and have had a canvas 445 for about 10yrs.My bag has now worn out with lots of holes in the base and corners.Was never really waterproof - lealing at the seams.Main problems that I found with the bag are 1.Equipment tends to get covered in fine dust or fibres of some sort which I put down to the rubber lining or canvas deteriorating - although this was a problem from new. 2. The strap has deteriorated to a colection of threads running over my shoulder. My bag was used extremly hard but this is the nature of press work!. Recently replaced it though with a 555 as I do like the way the bags can accomodate a large amount of gear in relative safety and don''t shout camera bag come and steal me.

Similar Products Used: None
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
Andrew Wheeler   Professional [May 19, 2000]
Model Reviewed: 445 Classic Safari
Strength:

Build Quality
Ease of access to equipment
Classic good looks
Durability - Survived a trip to Mongolia

Weakness:

Can get heavy if you only use the shoulder strap

This is an excellent bag, I have tried a few now and this is the one I like best, mine is the older version which is better crafted. The ad on back straps actually work very well. You can pin the bag opened for rapid access, it is intuitive. It ages well too, it gains character. I find some of the latest bags by Lowe Pro would do well to use materials and craftsmanship of the same level as this one. Sadly the new version of this bag seems to be less well crafted when compared to the old. I hope these bags don't become cheap and nasty some day.

Similar Products Used: None
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Available At:
Sarawoot Chittratanawat   Expert [Nov 19, 2000]
Strength:

- Fit 2 big camera with lens attached (RTS III and RX with 80-200/4 and 21/2.8).
- Top quality and built
- Genuine water-repellent
- Zip top and flap cover
- Smart pad insertion. Not heavy and full protection
- Excellent handling
- Great

Weakness:

Pricy

Known as bag for Leica, Expensive bag, Rolls Royce quality. Target markets to well-heeled customers seek for best quality bag. Billingham is popular in Leica M, Contax G. But Billingham now is used for all classes photographers (majority is still Contax and Leica users). The popular model of Billingham is the "Hadley", very well-known in Leica-M and Contax G users. I used to have Hadley (original size) when I used Contax G as well. Now I fall in love with Billingham 445 and Packington (both are the best bags that I had seeked for years). Company website is www.billingham.co.uk . You can browse the Billingham bag at B&H (www.bhphoto.com). Adorama shows it in stock but they never have it whenever I drop email. The competitor of Billingham is not the popular brands in US, such as, Lowepro, Domke, Tamrac, Tenba. The real competitor of Billingham is FOGG bag, which I rarely found anyone but tarmakin carries it in store. Fogg bag is more expensive than Billingham though.

Customer Service

None

Similar Products Used: - *Every* Domke bags
- Many LowePro
- Many Tamrac
- Many Tenba
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
George Dreimanis   Expert [Dec 14, 2000]
Strength:

I bought the bag second hand, hardly used, back around 1991. I assumed the bag would serve me well as a travel bag for my camera's, a few lenses plus travel docs etc. I never thought it would be this good. Its been through downpours in singapore, duststorms in Australia to blizzards in the USA and has proven tough, water resistant and well padded without being too thick. It doesn't look like a camera bag, a big plus for the traveller, I must admit though, it does look good. The leather is still like new and the material (mine's made from Nytex) is just as good. The 445 suits me well for size, I fit in 2 pro bodies, 80-200, 20-35, 85, 105, 100-300, flash, filters, batteries and mobile with ease. I recommend the shoulder pad as the weight is easily stacked on.

Weakness:

I thought about this for quite a while and cannot think of any weaknesses. The price may concern some but it really is worth it.

If you buy one you won't regret it. It will turn into a family heirloom, tough enough to last many lifetimes.

Customer Service

I contacted Billingham UK on a few occasions. Not for service but general inquiries and found their response without fault.

Similar Products Used: Domke, Tenba, Lowe Pro. The last (lowe Pro) I still use along with my Billingham. Have a look at the Photo Trekker AW and the Street and field series. The billingham doesn't quite suit all photo needs and these fill in those times very well.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Available At:
Chris Burch   Casual [Dec 14, 2000]
Strength:

Durability - it looks and feels better as it get used. The canvas fades, the leather supple etc. Now over 15 years old. It has a very 'soft' feel to it and easily takes a couple of SLR bodies with 4 lenses in the main compartment + all sorts in other pockets. Additional handle which facilitates picking it up with the flap open is a great idea. Despite looks, water resistant. This bag is an old friend.

Weakness:

It all 'done up' can take a few seconds to get inside with the handle, cover flap and zip top undo. Rubber on pop on shoulder strap pad has perished (but it is 15 years). Would have liked removable shoulder strap as I sometimes use it as a non photo luggage bag just using handles.

Very well made in an almost timeless style - not cheap, but good value. Style has become popular with many manufacturers, including non photo, so it does not immediately shout "expensive camera gear in here". A great all round stylish bag.

Customer Service

Not required.

Similar Products Used: None. This was the first soft 'gadget bag' I purchased and it has been my main bag ever since. I do have a Barbour 'poachers' type bag which is similar style but much lighter and not padded for quick trips where don't want to carry much kit - do need to protect items individually.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Skip Bogard   Intermediate [Jan 18, 2001]
Strength:

1. Softest interior available
2. Holds a pre-mounted body on a Stroboframe Pro-T while standing upright

Weakness:

none, it's perfect

Billingham makes the softest bag you can buy. This saves wear and tear on your equipment. Why have ballistic nylon abrade the paint off your body?

My 445 bag holds: 1) Nikon F100 MOUNTED on a Stroboframe Pro-T, standing upright on the right side of the bag 2) my Nikon 28-70F2.8 ED-IF AFS in its MONSTER case on the left side and 3) SB-28 flash and accessories in the middle. This is a perfect case for a 35mm wedding shooter, as all you have to do is mount your flash on the Stroboframe and go!

Similar Products Used: any ballistic nylon bag (aka 80 grit sandpaper) is a waste
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Available At:
Bert Janssen   Expert [Feb 18, 2001]
Strength:

Excellent materials used, beautfully crafted, inconspicuous,
lots of space, offers excellent protection for your gear against every threat.

Weakness:

expensive, but splendid value for money

The Billingham 445 has become my everyday, all duty camerabag. I easily get 3-4 bodies (Minolta XM, SRT-303, XD-7 with winder and X-700 with motordrive), 6-8 lenses, a flashgun with accessories, a lightmeter and lots of filters, films and small items into it. It gets better everyday just by using it; I have even used it as a travelbag (by removing the internal dividers.
This is a bag for life and worth the money you pay for it! That's why I have bought a Billingham F4,5 for a small outfit (1 body, 3 lenses and a flash) when I don't want to carry a lot of gear.

Customer Service

Out of this world! I asked whether it would be possible to have end-pockets like on the 205 and 305; reply: please state colour and model of your Billingham. Within 6 weeks I got 2 custom-made end-pockets!
They now make them (slightly modified) as optional accessories.

Similar Products Used: Tamrac 606 and Expedition-5, Domke F-3X, Billingham F4,5
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Scott   Intermediate [Mar 13, 2001]
Strength:

Quality of Material.
Strength.
Looks like a weekend bag rather than a camera bag.
can withstand a lot of abuse (heavy rain, trodden on etc etc)
Cleans up quite easily.

Weakness:

price.
a bit awkward to get in to if in a hurry.
weighs a bit fully loaded.

If you can get past the price, this bag will last for ever, get the right internal dividers/padding and your equipment will last too. Its a bit heavy but you can buy a back pack harness, Highly recommended.

Customer Service

Never Used, nor expect to use.

Similar Products Used: First bag I tried was the 445, nothing else mattered after that !
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Simon Wardle   Intermediate [May 22, 2001]
Strength:

Build Quality

Doesn't shout "Camera Bag!"

Protection offered

Weakness:

Can't remove shoulder strap and fit neoprene replacement

Just like a Barbour jacket, a Newbery bat or a Bentley, this is a timeless English classic. I’ve had my Billingham for 10 years and it’s great. Originally, I had no intention of buying a Billingham. I’d outgrown my previous bag, a Hippo I think, and I fancied a CCS bag, but couldn’t find one at the time. The shop suggested a Billingham instead and I’ve not regretted the purchase.

This bag is not cheap. Mine cost GBP 100 (approx. USD 150) 10 years ago and is currently priced at about GBP180 (USD240) However, the quality justifies the price.

This bag will carry a lot of kit and can become heavy as a result. I generally carry a Canon EOS body, 20-35, 28-105 and 80-200 f2.8 zooms, flash, and various accessories and the bag is by no means full.

The protection is very good. The main compartment is lined bottom and sides with covered foam and additional padded dividers are held in place by Velcro, allowing you to tailor the bag to your own requirements.

The bag has an amazing number of pockets and pouches to store things like film, filters, batteries and cable releases. There is a slim full-length pocket on the other side to the straps that is great for storing travel documents, event programmes etc. It even has handy pen pockets so pens don’t get lost at the bottom of other pockets.

It also has lots of loops on for attaching tripod straps or harness that turns it into a backpack.

The only criticisms I have are firstly, the original shoulder pad disintegrated, but I was easily able to buy a replacement, which is a different design and has lasted much better, and secondly, the shoulder strap can-not be detached. As mentioned earlier, the bag can get heavy and with my previous bag, I used an Optech neoprene strap to make it more comfortable. This is not an option with a Billingham.

I chose the Nytex version and this has worn very well and is easy to clean. The leather parts respond well to a little clear shoe polish if they get dried out and if the brass fittings get tarnished, get the Brasso out! Although mine is 10 years old it only looks 1 or 2 years old. This bag should last you a lifetime!

Customer Service

Not used

Similar Products Used: Hippo Bag about 20 years ago. I outgrew it when I bought a 80-200 f2.8 zoom
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 10  

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