Fstoppers Reviews the ONA Berlin II Leica Edition Bag

Fstoppers Reviews the ONA Berlin II Leica Edition Bag

Since being founded in 2010, ONA has made a huge splash in the photographic community with their high end camera bags. I used The Berlin II for Leica bag everyday for the last month and these are my thoughts. 

I previously used a larger Domke bag, which was good for carrying an SLR and extra lens. Carrying my x100s and Leica M3 with me everyday, I wanted a bag that better suited those cameras. The Berlin II took a little adjustment to carry all my peripherals. I had previously left them loose in the main pocket of the Domke. The Berlin II is more refined, more organized with a place for everything.

After using the Berlin II for over a month now, I can’t see going to any other bag. While it’s not large enough to fit a laptop, the iPad Air fits quite nicely in the back pocket. The front compartment has great spaces where my business cards, pens, notebooks, and various other items live. I’m not exactly sure what the little leather sleeves on the far left are for, but they seem to hold SD cards and my Summicron lens cap quite well. There is also space for my kindle behind the camera and lens compartments. Speaking of that, you can fit a Leica M body and 3 lenses in the fully customizable interior. I don’t have the any other lenses yet, but I rock the x100s, moment lenses, and a disposable camera instead. My iPhone 6+ also fits perfectly in the side pocket.

Using this bag every day for the last month has become natural. The gunmetal buckles are easy to undo with one hand to access your gear. Shooting street work in downtown offers unique challenges which the Berlin II solves. The clips aren’t too easy to access by a potential thief like Velcro on other bags. The interior provides great padding when you inevitably bump into a door frame or fellow pedestrian. The accessory pocket sports a hefty zipper to keep all your goodies from falling out.

The signature red felt interior is as stunning as it is in the display cases of Leica stores. The strap is very thick leather with a nice shoulder pad. On the front you'll notice the signature red again on a single rivet. This collaboration between ONA and Leica came together to celebrate 100 years of Leica photography.

What I liked:

  • The overall quality of the bag is superb from the leather to the hardware

  • The more you use it the better it looks, developing a rich patina over time.

  • Designed specifically for use with the Leica M system

  • Comfortable enough to use everyday for extended periods of time

What could be improved:

  • I wish the front pouch had a little more extra space for various loose items.

  • The claps are difficult to tell when they are clipped back in, I’d like a little more audible or tactile feedback

  • Unlike the Bowery, the strap is not removable, so if you aren’t a fan of the strap, you’re still stuck with it.

The problem with using high quality gear, is that you can never go back to using more economical options. I’d suggest this bag to anyone, especially my fellow Leica shooters. Your baby deserves a good home. If the Berlin is too large for your tastes, you’re in luck. As of last week, the ONA Bowery for Leica shoulder bag is available for purchase. While the Bowery bag has been available, the special edition designed specifically for Leica systems has not. The bag is designed for the Leica M-System as well as Leica Q, Leica T, Leica X, and newly released Leica SL cameras. The Bowery is the little brother to the Berlin II messenger bag. The insert is customizable for use with one body and up to two lenses in addition to five exterior pockets. The bag can also be used as an insert into larger bags when you remove the straps, though I don’t know why you’d ever hide this thing inside another bag.

 
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16 Comments

These bag reviews are getting hilarious.

It's a bag. It's got a Leica red dot on it.

Done.

Kian McKellar's picture

I can understand your point of view but I kind of like bag reviews. I feel that my bag is a piece of equipment that I use more than almost any lens. It is also one of the things which gives the client an impression of who you are. Clothing doesn't make the person but first impressions do matter.

I use my pants more than my photo bag. Should I review them?

There isn't much to debate and review on a bag.

- looks (subjective)
- size (can be found in the specs)
- price (at the damn store...)
- weather sealing (again, specs)...

There is no new tech or option that is relevant to anyone. It doesn't change the way a professional works, etc...

Those reviews are lifestyle ads, plain and simple.

Chelsey Rogers's picture

Please, PLEASE review your pants!

HA!... hum.. I might think of something. I'm not great in front of a camera so I might write up something quick.

Kian McKellar's picture

I'd actually love some reviews of good outfits for photography. I know that my shoes I bought because Fstoppers mentioned them as being great for looking professional and for being on your feet a long time. I know my girlfriend has tried half a dozen dresses to find the perfect dress for shooting weddings. Yeah, actually, I'd love a pants review if it helps you shoot better.

Kian McKellar's picture

Oh and if you are wondering where I got the shoe recommendation.

https://fstoppers.com/originals/ways-avoid-aches-and-pains-shooting-8625

You haven't tried the Tenba magnetic buckle. Seriously.

Kyle Ford's picture

I think we keep doing them because they are still one of the most discussed thing in photo groups. What bags have you used, and how do you like them...

Kian McKellar's picture

Yeah, I think most professionals I know have a bunch of bags. Depends on what kind of gig it is.

I can't see past the price tag, sorry.

Michael Cassara's picture

I gotta say that I have been pretty unimpressed by ONA's bag line. They look nice, but they are incredibly impractical (shoulder pad is terrible, gear is cramped/hard to take out) if you are shooting in a fast paced environment. I'd much rather use my Domke F2 during a wedding than my ONA, as it is a pure shooters bag. However, I would take my ONA to a client meeting as it looks much more professional.

I think this bag is ugly. And I'd like to think I have some experience with camera bags.

Over the years, I have collected a few bags. Some of these are older than some of you.

>> While it’s not large enough to fit a laptop

And poof. Disqualified. Thanks for playing.

Peter Charlesworth's picture

looks like a chicks handbag to me

Paul Watt's picture

I don't own a Tablet but I do use a laptop for when I'm out and about. Strike 1. Strike 2 and 3 ..$400 for a bag.