Cecilia Lambert Review
Most camera bag manufacturers are focused on blending functionality with comfort, perhaps throwing in a touch of style for good measure.
Cecilia seem to do things a little bit differently, seeking all three in equal measure.
In the Cecilia Lambert 12L camera and laptop bag, there’s a sense that the trifecta has been achieved… and it smells really good, too.
This is a luxurious messenger bag that uses beautiful materials, has a thoughtful design, includes practical features with some innovative touches, and carries a sense of refinement throughout.
I was delighted to receive my version in chestnut leather. For a bag that’s already stunning while understated, I’m excited that its looks are only going to improve over time as the leather matures.
If you’re after a bag that has countless extra pockets and funky little features, this probably isn’t for you.
If you’re seeking an elegant, classic design offset by a couple of desirable modern features, this could be the perfect camera messenger bag?
Let’s take a closer look.
Cecilia Lambert Specs
- Smells great
- Beautiful leather
- Magnets and zips combine security and convenience
- Lacks a top handle for easy maneuvring
- Hard to double up small lenses into the same compartment
- 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
- Exterior dimensions: 10.75″H x 15.25″W x 5.75″D (27.3cm x 38.7 x 14.6cm)
- Interior dimensions: 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)
Build & Appearance
Once you’ve gotten over the stunning quality of the leather, both in its appearance and in its feel, the finishing and the attention to detail really make the Cecilia Lambert stand out.
The stitching is perfect, without a loose thread in sight. Clearly this has passed through many pairs of hands before being shipped.
Zips are reassuringly chunky and smooth. The lining of the flap feels great, and the lining of the interior makes you feel like your gear is getting a cuddle every time you slide it inside.
A quick check on the Cecilia website shows the care and expertise that goes into the making of each bag – see the video above.
Though beautiful, the sleek design of the Cecilia Lambert 12L means that there are few external features such as a drinks pouch or attachments for fixing a small tripod.
The strap is wide, comfortable, and well padded. Cinching is simple, though not that easy to adjust once you’re wearing the bag.
What makes the Lambert unique is its combination of flaps, zips, and magnets. The main flap is held satisfyingly in place with hidden magnets and lifts up to reveal a zip that closes the main compartment, keeping your gear secure.
For those moments when convenience is more important than security, you can leave this zip open, and the resulting smaller flap sticks to the larger flap, again by way of magnets hidden behind the leather.
It’s an ingenious means of offering both zipped security with magnetic convenience.
Each end of the bag has a slim pocket that would fit a smartphone, though the lack of a zip makes it better suited to non-valuable items.
There’s a zipped pocket on the exterior that opens up on both its top and bottom to create a pass-through for a luggage handle.
One aspect that I really appreciate is the protection that this bag offers. As messenger bags go, the padding is generous.
In addition, the panel that sits against your body features moulding for comfort and airflow.
The main compartment opens up to reveal a spacious interior with removable dividers that can be repositioned using velcro.
This gives you a good amount of flexibility: my diminutive Sony a7 III can slot in across the width of the bag, while larger DSLR bodies can be turned to sit lengthways.
A large lens such as the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 is probably towards the top end of what will fit into the 10 inches of height offered by the 12L Cecilia Lambert.
Keep in mind that, like a lot of messenger bags, there’s no means of further dividing these compartments. This can mean a compromise when it comes to trying to make the most efficient use of the space offered by this bag unless you fancy stacking smaller lenses on top of one another.
The main flap conceals two smaller zipped pockets that can be used for odds and ends such as batteries, travel documents, blower brushes and the like.
Travel documents fit easily but there’s space for more if required. I can just about squeeze my Macbook charger into one of these pockets.
Speaking of laptops, there’s a zipped pocket for a 13” laptop into which my Macbook slides quite snugly. This zip sits deep under the flap, tucked away from inquisitive fingers.
My typical load with this is relatively light, but it is possible to fill it out intelligently if you’re setting up for a long day of shooting.
Normally, I’d be packing my Sony a7 III with a nifty fifty, and maybe another prime or a 24-70mm.
When I need a bit more, I can also squeeze in my Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 as shown here, but it does mean that I have to leave my water bottle behind.
A slim notebook, charger, spare battery, and other small items also come along, not forgetting my 13” MacBook Pro.
One slight disadvantage when trying to pack out this bag is that once you’ve put a lens into one of the compartments as created by the vertical dividers, any space left over is hard to use.
I can put a blower brush on top of my nifty fifty, but I can’t pack another small lens for fear of them bouncing against each other — unless I go for something like my Samyang 35mm f/2.8 as it comes with its own cute little travel case, as shown above.
With any 12 litre bag, there will always be compromises to be made. For me, this is more a “prime and a zoom and a bottle of water” bag than something I’d want for hauling gear for a more diverse day of shooting.
Plus, this is a messenger bag. At just 2.8 lb (1.27 kg) it’s not heavy, but there are plenty of bags more suited to being filled to the brim with more serious glass.
Ease of Use/Comfort
As messenger bags go, the Cecilia Lambert 12L is quite large, but without feeling cumbersome. Empty, it’s surprisingly light given its size and materials.
The combination of zips and hidden magnets make it a joy to use, offering quick access when shooting, balanced with peace of mind while travelling.
There is a cost, however: it’s a small concern but there is no top handle to make it easy to pick up and move around.
The strap could be easier to adjust once you have it over your shoulder, but this is a minor quibble.
Value for Money
If you want a lot more bag for a lot less cash, the Cecilia Lambert should not be on your radar. You probably should have stopped reading a while back!
At around US$440, it’s not cheap. It is, however, a beautifully crafted, artisan product that’s only going to look better and better with age.
The build quality seems such that this bag will last you a good many years, and expectations should be high at this price point.
In light of that, each bag comes with a lifetime guarantee. In the unlikely chance that it falls apart, Cecilia will replace it or send you a refund.
If you’re buying a bag for its functionality as a means of transporting and protecting your gear, it’s not good value.
By contrast, if you want to turn up at your next portrait session looking smart and with an eye for detail, this bag is going to give a very good impression to your clients.
If that’s where you find value, this is possibly a very wise investment.
Cecilia Lambert Review | Conclusion
If you want to show up at a job — whether it’s corporate headshots, a portrait session, or a wedding — with a bag that’s intended to make a good impression without being pretentious, Cecilia’s Lambert messenger bag is an excellent choice.
While maintaining an incredibly classy, understated sense of style, it doesn’t sacrifice usability and comes with the added bonus that its leather will only improve its appearance as the years go by.
All of the small details inspire a sense that this bag will last you many years.
The magnet/zipper combination is the perfect blend of security and efficiency, and the padding and easily divided interior make you confident in having your gear protected and organised.
In short, this is a beautiful bag that makes you want to take your camera gear for a walk.
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.