Review: Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag

The Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag is pretty comfortable and has some low profile features that, if improved upon, can make it the ultimate messenger.

The Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag was announced a few weeks ago, and we got a moment to take a look at Photo Plus East and called one in for review. The bag is a fashionable messenger designed with a few key but differentiating design features that add to its overall unique nature. Being made of cotton canvas, the Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag has an exterior that is soft to the touch. There is also a bit of wax on the exterior to protect it from the elements and the drunk at the event you’re photographing. With lots of pockets, dividers, and a big strap, it is also designed with standards that lots of camera bag manufacturers have implemented over the years.

Editor’s Note: With this bag review’s publishing, I’m implementing our new review standard as a test. This is a camera bag review, and so the Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag can win a maximum on 15 stars from us as it is being rated in comparison to other products out there. We appreciate feedback on our new testing standards.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Nice looking bag
  • Comfortable when configured just right
  • I commend Cecilia for actually innovating and trying something different

Cons

  • This bag’s closure system needs refinement, as does the way that the strap sits around your shoulder in order to make the most of the bag’s back.

Gear Used

We tested the Nikon z7 with lenses along with the Leica CL and Leica M4-P with the Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from their website.

Meticulously crafted from full-grain cowhide leather, the Lambert Camera Messenger Bag combines urban heritage style and versatile functionality. The Lambert is specially designed to fit both mirrorless cameras and standard size DSLR cameras with room for additional lenses, accessories, and everyday essentials.

  • Padded dividers for customizable compartments
  • Quick-access magnetic flap opening
  • Secure main compartment zipper closure
  • Sleeve for laptop (up to 13”)
  • Custom-molded EVA foam back panel for extra comfort and ventilation
  • Luggage trolley pocket
  • Front accessory zippered pocket
  • Dimensions:
    • Exterior: 10.75″H x 15.25″W x 5.75″D (27.3cm x 38.7 x 14.6cm)
    • Interior: 10″H x 14.75″W x 4.25″D (25.4cm x 37.5cm x 10.8cm)
  • Weight: 2.8 lb (1.27 kg)

Ergonomics

This version of the Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag is made of cotton canvas that has some wax on it. When you look at the bag, it in some ways reminds you of a Think Tank Retrospective bag–except that it isn’t awful. It adopts a much more boxy appearance to it that holds up even when packed full.

One of the biggest and most important parts of the Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag is the shoulder strap. This strap is well padded and comfortable. But the strap overall I don’t really think is anything as innovative as something like Portage Supply’s–which has a section that doubles and provides even more support across the chest or the shoulder.

Unfurl the top of the Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag and you’ll find the interior contents. The interior has a flap that keeps the main compartment safe from precipitation. There are also pockets on the front that let you stuff things like keys, memory cards, etc inside.

The top flap also has magnets–which are key to the bag’s design. These magnets help keep the top flap in place. The front of the bag also has magnets that keep the bag closed.

Inside the Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag are dividers that aren’t too thick or too slim. They’re very functional and perhaps some of the best I’ve used.

The back of the bag has an ergonomically textured surface that is comfortable when placed against your back. To get the most of it, the strap needs to be very tight against your body.

In Comparison

The Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag has a $180 price tag. To that end, I consider some of its closest competition to be the Tenba Cooper lineup of Messenger bags, and my current favorite, the Portage Supply Mariner Messenger. Both of the Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag’s competitors have a big advantage over it in the case of having a strap that functions much like a suitcase. In addition to this, they both feel a lot less bulky–instead of going for the Lambert’s boxy appearance, they opt for curves. But in my eyes, Portage Supply still has the best ergonomic experience with getting to zippers, closing the bag up securely, and dividing your gear up.

Ergonomically speaking, the Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag earns four out of five stars.

Build Quality

During our tests with the Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag, we took it through Greenwood Cemetery and even into the rain. For those of you concerned about your precious bag getting dirty, the Lambert shrugged off dirt with ease. Part of this comes from the bag having leather where it counts. In addition to that, very much unlike the absolute crap that Think Tank is producing these days, when the bag is fully packed it stands up perfectly fine and doesn’t tip over.

The rear of the Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag has ergonomic padding with a zipper than can be used to put it around the extended handle of a roller bag. But to make the most of this padding, you should really have the bag hugging your body as closely as possible. Unfortunately, I feel like this could have been done better. If the Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag has more of a sling configuration, then that ergonomic structure would hug your back with all the massaging benefits that it can truly offer. But alas, this isn’t the case.

In the rain, the Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag shrugged off all the moisture and precipitation that was thrown at it pretty well. The design of the bag ensures that the interior contents will be just fine providing that the magnets are lined up and closing properly. In real life use though, this can be difficult to do depending on how packed the bag is. If Cecilia had made the surface area of the female magnets larger, then it would be much easier to keep shut. But at times, you need to really stretch the top of the bag to do this.

In Comparison

In terms of build quality, the Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag holds it own just as well as the options from both Tenba and Portage Supply. Where Tenba uses Velcro and Portage uses buckles, Cecilia uses magnets. Quite frankly, Cecilia could have easily taken this home in terms of build quality if the magnets just stayed closed all the time. But instead, due to the build and design, you’ll occasionally want to check to ensure that your Lambert is fully closed.

On build quality, the Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag earns three out of five stars.

Ease of Use

The Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag is overall a camera bag in a messenger style. If you’ve used bags like this before, you’ll know that much of it is still the same as options from all the other brands with the exception of folks like Peak Design who created an absolute monstrosity of a messenger bag. The absolutely biggest distinguishing factor is the implementation of the magnets. This is the biggest change when it comes to the ease of use overall. You essentially just need to ensure that the bag is shut and that the magnets are touching the right spots–that’s it.

In Comparison

Here is where I’m sort of torn. If you’re the type of photographer who wants an easy bag, then you’re not going to go wrong with Tenba at all. It allows for the quickest access of all the bags and is just made to be simple. The velcro enclosures are just so nice. Cecilia really, desperately needed to make the magnetic areas larger to accommodate closing the bag up at different locations and depending on how packed it truly is. Then again, there is always the tried and true clasps that Portage Supply offers with their Mariner.

For the bag’s ease of use, it earns four out of five stars.

Conclusions

Likes

  • It’s basically a more functional and better looking Think Tank Retrospective bag

Dislikes

  • The magnet system needs to be improved

The Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag is a great attempt at trying to do something much different than what’s out there currently. It’s a very alternative camera bag and has a lot of great functionalities to it. What’s holding it back is the implementation of the magnet system. When it works, it works beautifully. But it can be unreliable. Otherwise, this bag holds its shape well and shrugs off the rain with ease. Would I recommend it? Yes; if you’re a photographer who needs to bring a laptop with you and not a lot of photo gear. That way, it can stay closed a bit easier.

The Cecilia Lambert Camera Messenger Bag earns 11/15 stars. Which is more or less 3/5 stars.