Yes, protection of the gear is very important. Against bumps, falls, accidentally bad handling and rain. Yes, size and the right amount of space and divisions is very important. Yes, aesthetics are also important, depending on your personality. But what about weight? (Seldom in the forefront of bag reviews.) Weight, for me, is extremely important and many of the elegant, beautiful and gorgeous camera bags don’t face up well to this demand. I have a very beautiful camera bag which I always want to take out with me because it is something extremely attractive hanging from my shoulder. But, after half an hour I regret that I have not opted for one of my very light, very nothing camera bags, which actually protect very well and have very well-sorted out compartments. One of the most comfortable, sensible and unobtrusive camera bags I have are from ThinkTank. One of the most beautiful camera bags I have is the Ryker from Wotancraft. To be totally honest, I use it only when I cannot resist the temptation to show off. This temptation disappears very quickly when on a shoot. The Ryker is just heavy. Leather and padding and buckles are so well built, and this adds a lot of weight. However, the Ryker is extremely well build, extremely beautiful, smells of leather and exudes class. Thorsten von Overgaard, best source of information about everything Leica, might be shlepping it around, but only for contractual reasons. (Actually, he does not, he uses Hermes bags, not designed especially for cameras and lenses. However, Steve Huff does. He inspired me to buy one. I don’t regret it, but I rarely use this bag. I actually never use it.)
The bags I use for travelling and transport are mainly ThinkTank’s Retrospective 7 bags. They are extremely well designed and they are extremely light. For simple outings, however, I use the Billingham Hadley bags. Comfortable, light and just perfect for one camera and two lenses.
Ever so often, and this is worth mentioning, I do not use any extra camera bag at all. I just put my gear into my everyday rucksack and have rarely missed a specialised bag. Yes, I use Leica cameras and yes, they are expensive and yes, I do want them protected. Quite easy: When my camera is not around my neck, it is wrapped in a soft undershirt inside my bag. Extra lenses are protected in thick woolly socks and I cannot remember having ever damaged any of my cameras or lenses and when I sell them, they are almost mint. This does not have to do with bags, but how one handles one’s gear.