Home Accessories Thomas the burgundy Billingham: An alternative to the dedicated camera lugger

Thomas the burgundy Billingham: An alternative to the dedicated camera lugger


Camera bags, bags in general: I can’t get enough of them. Did I mention before that I have a thing about bags? A whole room of Macfilos Towers is stuffed with bags and suitcases. We call it the box room, but in reality, it is the bag room and it contains more than I could ever use.

Thomas now comes in a dashing burgundy with chocolate leather trim and traditional Billingham brasswear. Could you find a place for him in your boxroom?
Thomas now comes in a dashing burgundy with chocolate leather trim and traditional Billingham brassware. Could you find a place for him in your boxroom?

And writ large among my collection is the name Billingham. I’ve lost count of my stock, but suffice it to say I have a Billingham for every day of the week. They are all, however, Billingham’s camera bags and cover a wide range of decades. No one does camera bags better than Billingham.

But sometimes you don’t need a proper padded camera bag, sometimes you just want an everyday convenience carryall for your iPad, your notebook and, perhaps, a little camera for those elusive moments.

Rather more discreet, black with contrasting leather
Rather more discreet, black Thomas with contrasting leather

Indulge me a little longer….

This is where Thomas comes in. He’s been in the Billingham collection since 2017 as a laptop/briefcase styled in the traditional camera bag fashion. So far, though, he has escaped my notice, very careless of me, I know. But news of a Burgundy Thomas has set my bagophilia into top gear. Could this be the next addition to the box bag room?

Detail devils

I’m reminded though, that Thomas is a versatile chappie. Already he comes in four colours of FibreNyte material, which photographers will find familiar, with a variety of leather and brass trims. He will swallow a 15in laptop and even sports a removable umbrella strap and numerous pockets. What more could you want?

The new burgundy case is on special offer if you order in advance from Billingham. Instead of the regular £395, you can get it for £295 if you order before December 3. Strikes me, this makes an ideal Christmas present.

The kind folks at Billingham are sending me a Thomas for review, so I will report in detail before Christmas, I hope. Sadly, though, that might be too late for you to bag that £100 discount.

Billingham’s view

“Billingham has released its popular Thomas briefcase/laptop bag in burgundy with chocolate leather at a special launch price of £295 including VAT.

“Available to pre-order from today at www.billingham.co.uk, the striking Billingham Thomas is lightweight yet supremely padded and will accommodate laptops or MacBooks up to 15”. This versatile case includes handy removable umbrella straps, a matching leather shoulder pad and a leather luggage tally.

“The perfect companion for business travellers, this premium briefcase is precision-made from rugged three-layer, waterproof FibreNyte material at the company’s Midlands-based production facility in England.

“Practical and convenient, the bag features multiple interior pockets to organise a host of accessories. Billingham has also added strong leather umbrella straps onto the front, safeguarding valuable contents against damage from a damp or wet brolly. These can be removed if not required on a particular day.

“The distinctive, contoured top-grain leather handles are laser-cut, stitched and meticulously hand-finished using unique equipment invented by Billingham’s own engineers.

“The Thomas has been reinforced with genuine top-grain leather hide along the base for increased strength and defence against knocks or drops, while the ‘ClogBalls’ securing the front pockets and shoulder sling are built from durable solid brass.

“Three deep pockets can be found in the main interior compartment, with the front two open to drop in small items such as maps, diaries or sunglasses for easy access. The integrated rear pocket runs for the whole length of the bag and is secured with a zip to safeguard critical items such as passports, travel insurance documents and keys. Billingham has covered the full-length internal pocket zip with a material flap, protecting the enclosed laptop from the zip and enhancing the overall look of the bag’s interior.”


  1. Lovely bag – I suspect most of us find specific bags appealing for certain circumstances. There’s always one more situation and one more bag that calls out to you.

    Thank goodness you never got into shoes!

  2. I had the same email and thought about getting one for work, but then as much as I want to, I really shouldn’t. So I am umming and ahhing over whether to get one.

    At least I don’t have one for every day of the week yet.

  3. A really nice and handy bag but I’ll stick to my ona bowery leica which homes the X2 and two GRs + spare batteries and chargers. I won’t forget to add spare sd cards to avoid my “Slovenian mistake”. Of course I’ll have to invest in a new bag if I happen to buy another camera.

  4. Do you think it’s bagophilia, Mike, or the much ore serious affliction of “bagromancy”? (Or perhaps it’s just a bagatelle?). Whatever, just lie down and keep taking the tablets………

  5. I have never, ever understood this business with ‘bags’ (..or an obsession with straps ..or people walking around with a camera and its lens cap’s on! ..is it going to die if the lens comes into contact with air? ..with carbon dioxide? ..with breath? ..with – heaven forfend – moisture?)

    How can you take a picture when the camera’s in a bag? Put it round your neck, or over your shoulder, and it’s ready to use. But in a bag? Does anyone keep their phone in a bag? ..It’s just incomprehensible ..to me.

  6. My Billingham System 2 canvas bag was bought new in 1979 straight from the factory … price £28.75 inc. shipping! In 1979 Billingham bags were not available in shops and there was a 6 weeks waiting list. Somewhere I still have the invoice. Nowadays, a similar Billingham bag would be 6x the price to buy new … and 8x with its extra side pockets. A few years later I needed a larger Billingham bag to accommodate all my wildlife photo accessories including e.g. Kennett Engineering (Benbo) flash brackets, bellows and an X-Y focusing rail – so I bought a System 3. Now I have 6 Billingham bags including an enormous secondhand 550 with side pockets; its the only Billngham which will comfortably accommodate e.g. a Leitz 560/6.8 R lens or a Novoflex 600mm – both ‘telescope’ as distinct from ‘telephoto’ lenses. But I still use the original (but faded) 1979 System 2 bag; its leather straps and leather trim are much thicker than present day models and it shows no signs of ‘wearing out’. My most used bag is the Billingham f5.6 model … just large enough to accommodate an SL1 with SL 24-90 … but mainly used as a ‘man bag’ with a Leica C or Leica T whenever I’m ‘travelling light’.

    • I remember ’79 and those first Billinghams ..they sent us a ‘press release’ (..or a bit of information..) and a sample bag or two, and Robert the Editor wrote a piece in the magazine about Martin (was it?) Billingham and how ‘wonderful’ those new camera bags were.

      ? ..Why would anyone keep a camera trapped in a bag? You’ve got to undo the clips, pull it out of its comfy cocoon, and how d’you hold – and where d’you put? – the bag while you’re pulling the camera out of it? Does it have a lens cap on while it’s in the bag, and does the lens cap fall off when you’re pulling it out, and which third hand d’you use for retrieving the cap while you’re holding the bag and the camera?

      I can understend the queen with her M3 or little Rollei in her hendbeg when she’s ite and abite (..sorry; just bingeing on the new series of The Crine..) but mere mortals? ..Why would anyone do that? It’s like having the camera in a never-ready case. The only cases I’ve ever used are aluminium flight cases when packing stuff onto aeroplanes. I’ve got a few little Billinghams Mike – they’ve come with cameras which I’ve bought second-hand, like a Digilux 2 or a Something 3 – and you’d be very welcome to them, as I have never ever used them even once!

      – David.

  7. Mike, I share the same malady as you. I have way too many bags, although I don’t keep them in a dedicated room. Rather, when not in use, they reside in a closet on shelves.
    I am partial to FOGG and Brady. I have my share of Billingham as well. I did not help when I was a dealer back in the 90’s and could get any Billingham or FOGG at cost!
    With the M system, I use the FOGG B Sharp and the Brady Small Ariel Trout. The FOGGs are beautiful and purpose built. The Brady is more an acquired taste. In a way, I use Brady in remembrance of my two good friends, Tom Abrahamsson and Sal Di Marco who used them exclusively.
    Billingham started out as a cutter for Brady back in the 60’s. You do need to add a padded divider to the Brady, which I got for chump change on eBay. The Brady conforms well to the body, is incredibly well made and does not scream expensive camera bag. I have a nice all black one which is very stealthy and a beat to hell one in khaki when I want to go slumming (or look like Tom and Sal!)

  8. Jean when you get your nxt GR then get an ona prince, holds both my x1 x2, and two GR w room for one more GR! Actually I still want see pic of Dean if Leica x1 John s kids back pack he uses. Please John an early Christmas gift show us photo of bag?Pretty please?

  9. I have two Billingham camera bags for years now. the quality is amazing except I find the straps too hard in my shoulders so I paid a competent craftsman to replace them. Also, good luck on trying to figure out buying various optional dividers to further customize these bags!

    • I did see that, Jonathan. They are sending me a black/black bag for review. It I like it I will buy it. Let me know how you get in with yours.


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