Camera Bag Review: ONA Campbell Collection Lens Cases

This has to be one of the best efforts to reinvent the lens case that  falls flat on its face

When the ONA Campbell series was first pitched to me, I was very cautious. There are a number of blogs out there that will simply send the products back and not give a review at all because they don’t like the product, but I choose to abide by FTC laws and give everything the coverage it truly deserves. With that said, you should know outright that I really don’t like the ONA Campbell series of lens cases and bags. To explain this, I should start from the top.

When the ONA Campbell series was pitched to me, they were originally providing lifestyle imagery that had nothing to do with cameras and photography. Instead there were just flowers inside of the bags. Odd, right? I mean, when you look at ONA’s history you’ll see they try to make an effort with their lifestyle imagery and target it at photographers. But this time around, they didn’t. Perhaps this is because, well, the ONA Campbell fails pretty hard at actually accommodating to photographers.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from our original piece

The ONA Campbell Crossbody ($249): The Campbell is an elegant and modern crossbody bag inspired by vintage lens cases and is a wink to our heritage in camera. Its simple silhouette is handcrafted of fine Italian leather by our skilled artisans in Morocco, and is detailed with solid brass hardware. The ultra-suede lined interior is designed to carry your small, everyday essentials with an added layer of protection. The Campbell includes a removable padded wrap that doubles as a lens cleaner. Adjust the leather strap to carry yours over-the-shoulder or crossbody.

The ONA Campbell Lens Case – Small ($69) & Tall ($99): Inspired by vintage lens cases and sleekly reinterpreted by traditional Moroccan leather workers, our Campbell lens case range is handcrafted of fine Italian leather and detailed with solid brass hardware. These must-have accessories feature an ultra-suede lined interior and are designed to secure and protect your lenses or other small valuables when traveling or on everyday adventures.

Ergonomics

The ONA Campbell series consists of one bag and two lens cases. The bag has what many of us think of as the most promise. They’re all variations of one another. For those who don’t know what that means, lens cases for years were these clamshell zippered wrappers that had a padded interior. They protected your lens when you were traveling. They often had these belt loops on them so that you could put them around your belt while shooting. They were very popular with photojournalists and wedding photographers. Sigma used to bundle them with their lenses.

In ONA’s own way though, they found a way to make them prettier. In this case, they have a suede finish (even though they say it is Italian leather it feels like suede) and high quality zippers.

In addition to that, the ONA Campbell series also have pretty hefty padding on the inside. This padding does a very decent job of actually protecting your lenses.

Build Quality

All of these pieces, despite still making me scratch my head, are built very solid. ONA’s gear often is built very well; I currently own two ONA bags and only one has broken on me. I haven’t bothered to get it repaired simply because I don’t use messenger bags that often anymore. But if you are going to use these, then you should be aware they’re going to take some roughing up. Put the lens cases with a lens inside into your bag (that isn’t a camera bag) and the lens will surely be protected. But the case is going to get scratched and worn. Maybe you’ll like that, but with the blue finish I’m not really a fan.

In fact, I genuinely think that ONA should have gone with canvas and leather accents instead.

Ease of Use

Here’s where I’m really, really confused. While I sort of see the appeal of the lens cases when you don’t have a camera bag on you, I don’t see the appeal of not having some sort of belt loop on them at all. If I don’t want to have a bag on me at all, I can just put the lens case on my belt, have the camera around my shoulder, and go about my day. With my Leica M4P or my Fujifilm X Pro 1, this would make a ton of sense. But alas, ONA didn’t do this. Why? I’m not sure. I think aesthetically it would have still worked and would have also changed my whole opinion in this review.

Beyond this, the ONA Campbell shoulder bag also has its problems. Not many cameras can be stuffed into here. If you want, you can use the lens wrap (which is a padded microfiber cloth) to wrap your goods inside. But ONA could have done a significantly better job by making this whole thing bigger overall or turning it into something akin to a sling backpack. Instead, it’s just designed to go onto your shoulder.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re still pretty; but this is one of the few times where I feel like ONA put pretty over practical. Camera bags are typically a mix of both with the other big exception being the Camps Bay. I have friends that have ONAs and have used them for years. So this, I just don’t understand.

To confirm my impressions, I put the bag in the hands of a few other photographers of both genders. Neither liked them or would honestly use them. And when the prices start at $69, it seems like a slap in the face.

Conclusions

The ONA Campbell bags have a few good things going for them: they’re pretty, they can protect your lenses before you shove them into another bag, and they’re built well. But they’re impractical, oddly sized, and generally just don’t make any sense.

Take a hard pass on the ONA Campbell series.