I have to admit that when I started my photography journey, I would use any old bag to cart around my camera gear. It soon became apparent that not only was more protection was needed, but carrying around a satchel that looked like a throwaway from a thrift store didn’t exactly look professional. A huge padded camera bag was a great option for carrying around lots of gear, but when you only need a few lenses and a camera body, a small solution was needed.
From this angle, came the options to shortlist the best camera purse, which was of adequate size, durable and looked the part. By a camera purse, we mean a camera bag which is more applicable for smaller shoots and will look stylish for any gender. While these chic offerings may cost a little more than a comparable camera backpack, they are built to last, won’t fall out of fashion, and have enough space for essential gear.
The camera purse you choose will largely dependent on the amount of gear you need to carry. If you need to carry extras such as a tripod, then a more traditional looking backpack will do the job. While more lightweight solutions can not just be used for camera gear, but can also double up for carrying useful everyday items.
1. ONA The Prince Street (Overall Winner)
The ONA The Prince Street camera purse is a full on premium product with a price tag to match, but this thing looks and feels so good in real life. Made from top-quality Italian leather and high-quality brass buckles, there’s enough room inside for an 11-inch laptop, camera body, a few lenses, and some accessories.
There are conveniently located pouches around the bag and the overall design is extremely well padded, considering it looks like an everyday bag. For sheer overall sumptuous quality, you can’t fault this camera bag solution. While it has a premium price tag, the design will probably outlive most photographers, making the asking price inconsequential in the long run.
2. Tenba Cooper
The Tenba Cooper bag is a quality made product with plenty of space for not just camera gear, but also everyday items. It has a very stylish design, which comes in various sizes and plenty of protection and padding. There’s enough room for a camera body and roughly four lenses, with an additional removable main compartment with Velcro dividers and conveniently placed side pockets.
The bag has plenty of zips and Velcro attachments, plus a nicely padded shoulder strap with high-quality attachments to the bag. This solution is quite expensive compared to a traditional camera bag, but it also serves as a great everyday bag with plenty of room for a small laptop or tablet.
3. Duragadget Brown Vintage Style Faux Leather Camera Satchel
I don’t know if my leanings towards leather crossbody camera bags are because of the looks, durability, or because I’m old, but the Duragadget Brown Vintage Style Faux Leather Camera Satchel looks the part at a very cheap price.
This bag is made from Bicast leather, which is basically imitation leather, but it’s a solid little bag, which is water-resistant and comes in a variety of sizes. The main compartment has a padded surround with a single divide, with the exterior having two reasonably sized pouches for camera accessories.
The exterior of the bag is very robust and while the shoulder strap isn’t the widest version in the world, it feels comfortable to carry. This bag may be small, but for its low asking price and vintage looks, it’s a very cost-effective solution for small amounts of camera gear.
4. Peak Design Everyday Messenger
The main benefits to the Peak Design Everyday Messenger bag are its unique magnetic MagLatch locking system, DWR-coated outer shell, and ergonomic straps. The internal dividers can be moved around, making this solution ideal for everyday use.
There’s also a 15-inch laptop and tablet sleeve, with the main compartment expanding and contracting depending on the number of items placed within it. There’s also no faulting the build quality and while it’s expensive for its size, it’s a unique solution with some very well thought out features.
5. Billingham Hadley Small Pro
The Billingham Hadley Small Pro features a fully adjustable shoulder strap, removable dividers, inserts, and a very stylish design.
The front pockets are expandable, with elegant leather straps and brass buckles, with enough space inside for a good-sized DLSR camera and a bunch of lenses. The inside is adequately padded and you can’t fault the build quality, which can also double up as an everyday bag. There are also waterproof back pockets, which can be used for general items, rounding off the Hadley Small Pro as a high-quality solution that will tolerate years of use.
6. YANGYANJING Canvas DSLR Camera Bag (Budget Winner)
This particular camera purse solution proves that you don’t have to spend big bucks to get a quality camera bag. This item looks fantastic for its price, with a padded laptop sleeve, very accessible pockets, and waterproof exterior and interior foam dividers.
The exterior wax canvas material feels very high-quality and the buckles and straps feel very heavy duty when the bag is fully laden. It also may only be able to fit one camera body, two lenses, and a few accessories, but it definitely looks the part and gives just about enough protection to your precious camera gear.
In total, this camera purse is a cost-effective solution, which also looks the part. With the only downside being its limited internal capacity.
The Skinny on Camera Purses
All the shortlisted examples on this list will serve as great options for small amounts of camera gear while still looking the part. As with most camera accessories, you generally get what you pay for, which means the premium offerings may cost the most but are also most likely to last you a lifetime.
If you don’t mind the price point, a premium all-leather bag can’t be beat, but the other solutions made with more modern materials work equally well, with configurable internal compartments which are very useful for camera gear or everyday items.