New York-based photographer Adam Marelli has a thing about camera bags. “For the past two years I’ve been field-testing shoulder bags,” says the Leica ambassador, whose work has included photographing the chiefs of the Naihne tribe on the remote South Pacific island of Vanuatu, and documenting Japan’s master craftsmen for the three-year project Lost Ceremony. But as for the perfect camera-toting accessory to accompany him on his travels, he found little to like about those on the market. “They are too boxy. Most camera bags feel like lunch boxes slung around your hip. They’re overly padded and they’re huge. Lots have a very poor strap design. A strap should not end at the top of the bag. It should wrap all the way around to cradle the load from the bottom. And they use too much Velcro, when camera bags should open silently.”
Marelli has partnered with British heritage brand Chapman to produce his own design (£289). It resembles a traditional fishing bag, in a hard-wearing canvas, but is designed to hug the body while also including all the requisite pouches and padded inserts with dividers. The front pockets hold smaller cameras vertically – everything up to Leica M bodies with its Summicron lenses, or the equivalent – while the main compartment holds Summilux lenses, SL bodies or DSLRs. And the strap wraps around the bottom.
It certainly looks the business – but what does a fellow professional think? “The bag perfectly handles my smaller cameras,” declared Marelli’s friend and fellow photographer Jamie Ferguson, on giving it a trial. “The spacing and layout on the inside also makes packing any gear easy. I was worried that the two-buckle fastening would make opening and closing the bag a hassle, but they’re surprisingly quick to release. There’s also a useful little handle on the back of the bag so you don’t have to sling the shoulder strap every time you want to move.”
Simon Crompton is an author and journalist and the founder of a leading website on luxury and bespoke menswear, PermanentStyle.com, which receives over a million visitors every year. He is the author of several books including The Finest Menswear in the World (Thames & Hudson). @permanentstylelondon.