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My thoughts on the Billingham Hadley Pro ( Plus the f1.4 ).

In Search of the One Bag to Rule them All.

I’ve been into photography now for about ten years and for the first four years I pondered, as we all do over which camera bag would suit me best. There still isn't really a solid conclusion to this as it depends on what gear you are taking and what the job is. I’ve since came up with a few different set ups.

When I first came across the Billingham bags I knew I wanted one but the price was a bit out of my range so I scoured Ebay for a good deal, For around £60 I got an old canvas Billingham ( possibly a 225 ) which I love but was a tad on the heavy side and also too big to use as an everyday bag.

Scaling my setup down for everyday use I bought a 40mm pancake lens for my 7D. I wanted a bag that could carry this and flash with a few wee extras so I got the Billingham f1.4. This was a great little boxy bag and my setup fit perfectly at first. The front pouch of the f1,4 is one bug pocket the length of the bag. It is not compartmentalised, meaning all your effects rattle around. As stated before the bag is also pretty boxy which you can feel when the bag is full. It just doesn't cling to the body in the way that the Hadley Pro does.

The Billingham f1.4.

If you're only carrying a DSLR without a grip with a flash or maybe an extra lens then the f1.4 is ideal. The boxy shape slots my 7D with the 17 - 55 f2.8 lens in perfectly without distorting the shape.

f1.4 with 7D

Next to the f1.4 in the range is the f2.8 which is not as wide ( get it?? ). I've had a try of f2.8 and I couldn't really see any reason to get that over the f1.4. As you can see from the image above there is also a slot in behind the camera that can hold a notepad or tablet. There is no handle on the top of either of these bags. Before I had the Hadley Pro I didn't think I needed this but after having the Pro I couldn't be without it now.

 

The f1.4 with the Canon 7D

The f1.4 with the Canon 7D

The Hadley Pro.

Thank god for my 30th birthday when I could cash in on the occasion with my large family chipping in to get me Hadley Pro in sage with tan leather. Having owned the older canvas Billingham I opted for the fibrenyte as it’s much lighter than the canvas. As I said before the Pro also features a carry handle on top which I didn’t think I needed until I had it ( I previously read reviews of the f1.4 in which folk were lamenting the lack of handle. I’d never felt it needed one ) but picking the bag off the floor or from the passenger seat of the car is so much more convenient with the handle. Theres a plate under the fibrenyte and attached to the handle so it won’t wear out the material even with relative stress.

I have my “work” setup that includes my 7D with the 17-55 f2.8 lens, two Canon 580 exii flash guns, spare batteries, filters, small torch, Swiss army knife, pen and notepad. I can also fit my MacBook or and iPad into the back pouch but to be honest with this setup the bag will feel uncomfortable after a while. It’s worth noting that the Hadley Pro doesn’t come with the shoulder strap ( SP15 ) which is an additional £25. I got a shoulder pad with my old ebay Billingham so I use that on my Pro.

My “everyday” setup consists of my Lumix lx100 camera, spare batteries, pen, notepad, headphones, charger and MacBook ( 12 inch ). I can and have carried this setup around all day as it’s very light and theres still loads of room to spare.

 

 

A DSLR with a grip and lens attached wouldn't fit into the Pro at all and any DSLR with a lens does make the bag feel a bit squashed. In the last image there you can see my tiny Lumix LX100. Billingham bags really do feel like they're made for these little types of cameras. In fact the Pro might be over kill for a micro 4/3 camera. For those the Hadley Small would probably be the best option unless you're carrying a laptop around like I do.

I think it's fair to say that once you own a Billingham bag, it's hard to see past them. The quality is amazing. So much so that I've started using my old 225 as an overnight bag. Unfortunately for my gear needs as well as wallet, Billingham have started to make leisure bags. I have my eyes on the weekender.