Hawkesmill Hand-made Camera Messenger Bags

Several months ago Main Street One reviewed the Hawkesmill Camera Messenger bags.  Since that time, and having now used the Sloane Street large bag quite a bit, it can only be said that the bags are better than described.  Yes, better.

The quality of workmanship is simply superb.  And, by chance, Hawkesmill just posted a video showing many facets of the hand-crafting that is done to create these beautiful, yet highly functional, pieces.


I am sure that you can see, while watching the video, the high quality workmanship, the attention to detail.  These are not your run-of-the-mill bags.  They quietly shout their caliber and character.

Do yourself a favor and pop on over to the Hawkesmill website and order one.  You will NOT be disappointed.

As SLR lounge said so well in their quite positive review, “The Jermyn Street and the line it belongs to brings a little extra joy to a casual day out, and is a bit of a statement piece. But instead of stating to the world you’re a ‘photographer hear me roar’, it speaks of you more as an individual…”

As the bags will undoubtedly last a lifetime, they are worth every single penny.

Over For Now.

Main Street One

Hawkesmill – The Ultimate Photography Messenger Bag

Finding a photography bag that actually caters to a professional (or a very serious enthusiast) has been no easy feat.  It seems even the best of them fall short in one area or another.  Fortunately, Hawkesmill, a new company founded by pro photog Taylor Young, has just launched its commanding and impressive line of handmade bags.

Young, an American residing and working in England, was tired of bags that were missing one or (usually) more essentials that he felt were required to provide what could be termed as the ultimate bag to both carry and protect his equipment.  He set out to produce what a pro really needs.  He has definitely hit the mark, with several options available.

Hawkesmill Jermyn Street Messenger Photo BagRenowned portraiture photographer Felix Kunze was fortunate to acquire one prior to the official launch.  Here is what he said about his bag on Instagram:  “Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this baby.  I could go on and on about all the details in the water resistant fabric, the perfect design, fast access, security and wonderful craftsmanship, etc, etc. But then you’d just want one.”  His bag is the Hawkesmill Jermyn Street Large Messenger, a deep olive triple layer waterproof canvas with a Lovat Harris Tweed flap, shown above (photo courtesy of Hawkesmill England).

Hawkesmill Sloane Street Large Messenger BagLet us take a closer look at the design and materials, which definitely set these bags far apart from the rest of the pack.  As a note, they are all hand crafted in England.  The canvas is made in Scotland while the tweeds are woven there.

There are bags, such as the Sloane Street Large (pictured above), with black triple layer waterproof canvas and a charcoal Harris Tweed flap, featuring Italian leather straps and accents.  As well, there is the Marlborough Large (below) featuring 18oz Superdry canvas and flap.  Images that follow are all courtesy of Hawkesmill England and Taylor Young Photography.

Hawkesmill MarlboroughRefinements.  Many high-end bags do not have detachable straps.  Pity.  All Hawkesmill  bags come with a rugged and stylish adjustable military-grade webbing strap, with a cushioned shoulder pad, that detaches with ease.  The straps have custom branded nickel trigger hooks with rotating rings.  So, if you detach the strap what is left?  A nicely cushioned and very comfortable hand strap that is securely riveted to a steel bar, running the entire length of the flap.  Rivets are used at all stress points, including the turn lock and the front and shoulder straps.

Hawkesmill InteriorInside, there is a removable insert with room to fit up to a 15″ MacBook along with your needed gear.  Depending on what you decide to tote there are removable Velcro dividers that can be repositioned virtually anywhere.  The insert cradles your precious camera gear and may be removed in the event you decide to utilize it as just an exceptional messenger bag.  I can comfortably stow the following in my Sloane Street Large: Nikon D7100 w/Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 attached; SB-600 SpeedLight in soft case; Nikon D7000 w/Nikkor 70-200 f/4 attached; 2nd SB-600 Speedlight in soft case; Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 in soft pouch; Apple iPad 2 w/Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard.

The back features a flap with a snap containing a removable portfolio organizer, perfect for memory and business cards, passports, and other smaller items.

Hawkesmill OrganizerFor security while on the move or traveling, the nickel and leather buckle system provides peace of mind that your gear will not accidentally fall out.  While on site, the center Italian turn lock can be used for one hand entry while wearing the bag or when it needs to be moved a short distance during your photo shoot.  There are custom branded nickel feet on the bottom to protect the bag from the elements, which are replaceable when worn.  The overall dimensions are 15.7″ wide x 11″ high x 5″ deep (39.88cm x 27.94cm x 12.7cm).

Hawkesmill FeetThe attention to detail is simply phenomenal.  For instance, the gusset folds into the flap, thereby stopping water and dust from entering the bag.

Suffice it to say that no other bag on the market combines all of the precision, features, quality materials and workmanship that make Hawkesmill the absolute tour de force within the photographer’s messenger bag market.  And, when one couples the above with a lifetime warranty against defects you just cannot lose.

Hawkesmill Camera StrapIf you are serious about quality accessories, you may want to check out the camera straps offered by Hawkesmill.  They are crafted with Horween Chromexcel leather and come in either brown or black and for Nikon mount (the Westminster) or Canon mount (the Borough).

They may seem a bit pricey.  However, if it lasts for a lifetime of capturing images, and could possibly even be passed down to the next gen photographer in the family, the annual cost is almost nil.

All of the above, and more, may be seen and ordered at Hawkesmill.

Over For Now.

Main Street One

Hawkesmill Jermyn Street Bag Exploring the Sussex Coast

Soon to be released is a line of messenger photography bags, designed by Taylor Young to fit the needs and requirements of pro photographers.

The brand is Hawkesmill and all of the bags are hand crafted in England. Beautiful. Stylish. Rugged. Waterproof. Attention to detail.

These bags truly are the ultimate photography bag.

Over For Now.

Main Street One

Nikon AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR Lens Review

I was able to find an absolutely mint condition used Nikkor AF 80-400mm FX lens to couple with my Nikon D7000 DX body, which basically converts to a 120-600mm 35mm equivalent range lens.  I earlier owned the Sigma 170-500mm and while the range of the Sigma went a bit further, having the lower band is definitely better.

Nikon AF 80-400mm f4.5-f5.6D ED VR
Nikon AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR

One of the beautiful aspects with this glass is that it has VR (Vibration Reduction), where the Sigma did not, meaning that I do not have to use a tripod for most shots.  When using this lens handheld the percentage of in-focus shots (not blurry due to shake) is nearly 100%.  With fast action shots there may be some blur due to the speed of the object in motion, but certainly not always.  And, at times, that even looks good.

There are occasions when the lens does not focus as fast as my prime 50mm or even my 18-105mm but the difference has not caused me to lose any shots I really wanted.  And, if you don’t need the full range there is a “Limit” switch which, when turned on, allows for faster focus.  For me, the primary reason for my purchase is the long range so I really do not use that feature.

Spring Training
From behind the center field fence.

The colors are crisp and clear with great contrast.  The zoom is smooth throughout, with no stickiness anywhere.  The collar can get in the way when focusing so mine is off almost all of the time.  Like many lenses, there may be some chromatic aberration (CA) in really high-contrast situations where the background is quite bright and foreground objects are extremely dark.

Keep in mind that this is a pretty heavy piece of glass, just shy of three pounds (1.34 kilograms).  That said, it is worth every sweat bead it may have caused. And, I have not suffered any lens creep issues, like I did with the Sigma.

At the races
Approximately 100 yards from the lead car.

This lens does not have the Nikon Silent Wave Motor (i.e., it is not an AF-S version) which means that it will work in both AF and MF mode only with camera bodies that have the motor to drive the lens, such as a D80, D600, D4, D7000, etc.  It will work in manual focus only mode on models without the motor, such as the D40, D60, D3100, D5300, etc.

I love this lens.  For the money paid, I am ecstatic with my Nikkor 80-400mm and would highly recommend it to anyone who must have greater than a 300mm focal range.  If I had the money to get the 80-400mm AF-S model would I?  Not sure.  This is working perfectly for me, with the caveats as above.

Over For Now.

Main Street One