I've always been very picky about camera bags. Nothing can ruin the aesthetic appeal of a beautifully crafted camera system quicker than stowing it away in a cheap, generic nylon bag. As photographers, it is our job to appreciate the fine details, and as such I believe there should be a great importance placed on what we're using to carry around our tools. A great camera bag should be stylish, but should also be built to the same high standards that our cameras and lenses are. It should be built to last, and made with care. Enter the Brady Kennet.
There's no denying that the Brady Kennet is a beautiful bag. However, those that are familiar with Billingham's bag offerings may find that it looks a bit like a "tweaked" version of a Billingham Hadley. That's not to say that sharing design cues with Billingham is a bad thing — quite the opposite, actually. It's clear that these bags share quite a bit of DNA beyond their UK roots, but upon closer inspection, are more different than they initially appear.
The Brady Kennet has a look that is quintessentially British and oozes cool. The canvas-like construction, the leather edging, and the unique closure straps come together to create a bag that is equally as stylish as the camera system you place inside of it. The material is very thick — quite a bit thicker than that of the Billingham Hadley Pro that I'm accustomed to. That thickness adds to an already significant feeling of quality and dependability that Brady bags have always been known for.
Inside the bag are two included dividers, which attach securely to the inside walls of the padded interior. The interior is white, making it easy to visually locate what you're looking for and ensuring nothing gets lost in the cavernous compartment. The main compartment is very soft and well padded, and I have no doubts that my precious Leica camera and lenses are kept safe inside.
The strap is also very high quality. It's a thick woven fabric that is wider than I expected, and even includes a movable shoulder pad that makes it even more comfortable. This isn't a huge bag so it's only capable of getting so heavy, but the shoulder strap ensures that it's never straining your body — regardless of what's inside.
The Brady Kennet is touted as being the perfect bag for a rangefinder or m4/3 camera system, and I wouldn't disagree with that. It fits my Leica M camera, a few lenses, and a handful of accessories with ease, and I feel confident that they're protected sufficiently against accidental drops.
I was also able to fit my Panasonic GH4 and a couple of lenses inside the Kennet, despite that being a significantly larger body than the Leica M. The GH4 is one of the larger (if not the largest) m4/3 bodies on the market, so the fact that it fits comfortably in the Kennet is a testament to its capabilities with larger cameras. I think you could easily fit a smaller DSLR system in this bag as well, but a larger full-frame system could be too tight for comfort.
When fully loaded, the bag is comfortable to wear and the pockets are easily accessible with just a couple flicks of the leather straps. The main compartment is quite a bit deeper than I'm used to with my Billingham Hadley. It took me a bit to get accustomed to it, and always felt that my camera was deeper in the bag than I expected. That said, it does allow for quite a bit more storage, and I can easily stack lenses on top of each other inside.
If I had a gripe about the functionality of this bag, it would be the lack of a spot to put an iPad or tablet. More and more I'm finding that I'm traveling with my iPad in my camera bag, as it is a great device to offload photos and do preliminary editing with. Not having a spot to carry one isn't a deal breaker by any means, but it does limit its capabilities to just a walk-around bag, and not a fully featured travel camera bag. A flat pocket on the back for an iPad and/or a couple Field Notes books would make a big difference.
I've long felt that camera bags should be considered fashion accessories as much as they are considered tools to keep your camera gear safe. The Brady Kennet certainly fits that bill, with its understated but undeniably timeless British styling. Thankfully though, it's not style without substance for the Kennet. It's impeccably built, cleverly designed, and offers the kind of protection and quality build that we'd expect from a bag manufacturer that has been doing this for nearly 100 years. A bag like this is built to last, and is as durable as it is pretty. It's a bag for those that have an appreciation for the finer details — it's a bag for photographers.
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