I've been using this bag for the past five months as my day to day bag... It's fair to say that I have a problem, in that there is never the perfect bag (for me at least)! For the past few years I've been using the great Millican bag range (see them here) but they aren't proper camera bags, I've adapted them as best I can to fit my needs, which worked well to a point. The bags are generally built as environmentally consciously as possible. They're fantastic for everything but when you want to hold lots of camera gear, a bag designed specifically for that is generally best. The key things I look for are: functionality, comfort and style. In other words it needs to carry all the kit I would like to use it for, without breaking my back and ideally in a style which is both smart and not attention seeking.
There are bags which are pretty close to being perfect and it is fair to say that the Ona Brixton is right up there. Unlike, I suspect, a lot of other Ona bag users, I do not look after my bags. In fact I've recently returned from a three month conservation expedition on a route which travelled from Arctic Russia back to the UK, following migrating Bewick's swans for the Wildfowl Wetlands Trust, you can find more on that here. That basically meant chucking this bag in and out of cars in rough weather every single day. With the bag having to keep it's contents protected from the wind, rain and snow that frequented our journey.
The Brixton was my 'go to bag' with the X100T, X-Pro2, XF16mm, XF35mm, XF56mm and an SP-1 printer. As well as my notepad, book and iPad mini, which was great for showing photos to people we met along the way. This was great for sudden encounters, whether that was for school visits, community encounters or following one of the many flyway conservationists we met along the expedition.
Instax prints were great to break the ice, particularly when common language was limited.
Ideal for the X-Series
Yes yes I know, it will work for plenty of other camera brands (this is not meant to look like another X-Photographer getting on his high horse!), but I think it works particularly well for the system which is compact but doesn't compromise image quality. I don't have the best of backs at the moment and I know that if I was carrying the equivalent full frame kit I would have really suffered as a result!
I think that Ona and The X-Series share similar design fundamentals, in that they are both wonderful to look at but don't stand out too much. The ability to blend into the background is important from a gear safety point of view and a photographer's ability to work. I tend to pick up on 'vibes' when in a new location if the community or individuals are particularly aware of my presence or cameras.
I used a Mindshift backpack for all larger items like my zoom lenses - XF100-400mm, XF16-55mm, XF50-140mm and the X-T2. This was very much my wildlife kit when trying to locate and document migrating swans or if I happened upon other wildlife.
Unlike that bag, I am comfortable with the Ona Brixton in almost any situation, it has been used in blizzards, drench by a Mitsubishi and even visited Downing Street! It never felt out of place. The level of the craftsmanship helped to keep all my kit going and more importantly, the bag doesn't look like it's just been through five months of torture! As a result of that I believe the bag will last for many years of punishment.
From using the bag to hold RED Brick batteries and spare lenses when filming on the project, to carrying my trusty X-Series set up, the Ona Brixton has been a fantastic companion and has far exceeded my expectations! Now to look at these On a backpacks to save my back further!
Disclaimer - I was sent a bag by Ona to review, nevertheless this is still my honest opinion on this very high quality bag.