It had always been my dream to own a Billingham camera bag. The legendary label exudes an aura of sheer elegance that other brands cannot match. Like a Lamborghini Gallardo, the Billingham is not just about looks but also sensible practicality.
Many camera bags in the market are concerned about function – the ultimate purpose of camera bags is to protect the gear, allow quick access to the gear and be comfortable to carry for hours. These manufacturers know what they are doing, but camera bags have evolved to become more than just a mere container to transport camera equipment. They are now fashion accessories for the chic photographer.
Of the various brands, Crumpler has taken the lead by targeting those who want a camera bag that does not look like a camera bag. Many photographers prefer to carry a bag that does not shout about the camera gear it holds. It is not simply for the sake of appearances. It is also a matter of security, especially if you are travelling. Think Tank has recently followed in this direction with their Retrospective range of shoulder bags.
However, these pretenders cannot compare to the ageless look of the Billingham. A sharp eye would recognize the attention to details underneath the stylish design. The unique buckle system makes it easy to unbuckle the bag to reach your gear.
The main flap of the bag has darted corners that ensures it closes around the opening. The bag comes in canvas or fibrenyte, which is a lightweight but durable material, and both materials are waterproof. There are several colour combinations available. I chose the black fibrenyte with black trim. The bag is much lighter than the Retrospective 20 when both bags are empty.
The bag becomes a messenger bag when you remove the insert, though I find the Hadley Large a little too big as a messenger. A Hadley Original or Hadley Small would make a better messenger bag at the expense of lesser capacity.
I decided not to go with the Hadley Pro because of the handle. While it is a handy feature (pun intended), it does not go well with the overall look of the bag. I would prefer the handle of the 5 series. I might consider getting a 225 if I need a bag to carry a lot of equipment.
For now, the Hadley Large is sufficient to carry my SB-600, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II, 50mm f/1.4G and 35mm f/2D with any of the lenses attached to my D700. I can even put my MacBook Air in the bag with the above-mentioned equipment. My Retrospective 20 cannot fit the laptop. The Hadley Large fits all the equipment and still have a slimmer profile than the Think Tank bag.
This is my first Billingham bag and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
Detailed review with pictures can be found here.
You can get your Hadley Large directly from Billingham or through Amazon.