I was considering sub-titling this post as “The Good, The Bad and The Lovely”, as after a month with my Billingham Hadley Pro, that about sums up my feelings towards it. The lovely goes without saying. These bags are beautifully made with quality materials and should give years of service. This one is black Fibernyte with tan leather trim and brass fittings. Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there may be those who will find the styling as quaint and old fashioned compared to the more modern high-tech offerings out there. I suppose in a way its a bit like comparing an old comfortable harris tweed jacket to a modern Gortex shell jacket. As Oscar Wilde said; “I have the simplest tastes, I’m always satisfied with the best” or you could say you pays your money and takes your choice.
The bad isn’t terribly bad and if I was honest it amounts to no more than a couple of gripes or minor niggles. My main gripe is with the strap, or rather the lack of a shoulder pad. These bags are not cheap, £169 for the Hadley Pro, and I think it’s rather mean of Billingham not to include a shoulder pad at that price. The optional SP40, which can be seen in the picture above, will set you back another £30, bringing the total cost to just under £200. My only other gripe is that there is no organisation in the big front pockets, not even a pen holder, so small items tend to fall to the bottom and you have to go diving into the depths of the pocket to find them. To be fair the size of the pockets is a plus point as you will see later but a divider or two would help. I have resorted to keeping smaller items in little clear plastic pouches so they don’t get lost.
That brings us to the good and in my opinion the plus points far outweigh the negatives. As already stated the bag is well made and once you shell out for the shoulder pad its is very comfortable to carry. This is my second Billingham Hadley, the first being the Small. I bought this one because my kit has grown considerably and I needed more room. The picture below shows the main equipment I carry in the bag.
The bag itself comes with four compartments. The large main compartment, a large zipped document pocket on the rear and two large front pockets. It comes with a removable padded insert and this has four velcro dividers, two large full length dividers and two smaller dividers. I have used the two large dividers to divide the bag into one main camera sized compartment in the middle with two narrow lens sized compartments on either side, the smaller dividers split the lens compartments into two so that lenses can be stacked. In the bag I can comfortably fit the following:
Main Compartment: Fuji X-Pro1 with 18-55mm lens attached and the Fuji XF 50-200mm, 10-24mm, 35mm and 18mm lenses. I also have room for another lens but at present its space is filled with a head torch, body cap and spare lens cap. I can also squeeze in a hat and gloves if required. There is also a space in behind the insert for a small laptop such as a MacBook Air or a full size iPad.
Left Front Pocket: Air Blower, pouch containing cleaning kit, microfibre cloth, multitool, memory card wallet, spare batteries, cabe release, spirit level and Lee adapter rings. The pocket is still not full and could take many other small accessories.
Right Front Pocket: Lee three filter pouch with ND grads and Landscape Polariser. Lee Big Stopper, Lee filter holder with Polariser ring fitted and Lee cleaning cloth.
There is one alternative setup I use. If I don’t need to carry the Lee filters this pocket will easily take another X- Series body or an X100S to X100T.
The rear document pocket will also hold an iPad or various papers, boarding passes and travel documents. Again I put mine in clear plastic pouches for ease of removal.
The bag is great to use for general day to day carrying. The big front flap keeps everything well covered and dry and it folds back for easy access, without having to take the bag off the shoulder. When walking the bag sits comfortably against the body and doesn’t bounce about. I should also say that it looks as much like a camera bag as any other camera bag. I really can’t believe these reviewers who say things like “this bag doesn’t advertise the fact that its a camera bag”. It makes me wonder if the criminals are stupid where they live. Any bag is going to be a target for criminals. By their very nature they contain expensive items such as cameras, phones, tablets and laptops, and thieves just don’t steal camera bags! I have used the bag on a daily basis and for travelling on a short break and it was a joy to use. If you need something to go mountain climbing with then clearly it is not for you. However, if you’re in the market for a quality, versatile bag for travelling or daily use and you don’t mind paying for it then I would highly recommend the Billingham Hadley Pro.
If you’re thinking of buying one or have any questions about your kit fitting into it feel free to contact me.