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Billingham Hadley Pro FirstLook

At  the start of the Summer we took a look at some accessories for the Fujifilm X100S camera. In the article, we mentioned that National Geographic had a few canvas camera bags which we thought would pair nicely with the X100S. As it turns out, quite a few readers also find canvas to be their material of choice for camera bags. They were also kind enough to share their personal favorite with us. Of all the recommendations, we noticed that owners of the Billingham Hadley Pro were the most passionate in their praise. So we decided to take a look.

Unlike makers of other camera bags we have reviewed, Billingham is family business out of the UK (RTS is their US distributor). Surprisingly, the company started out as a maker of fishing bags. They transitioned to camera bags when Martin Billingham, an avid photographer himself, discovered that his fishing bags were popular with photographers. The new line was so popular that after a year he switched almost all of the company’s production to camera bags. The primary reason Billingham’s bags are so popular with the camera crowd is their functional design coupled with quality materials and old-world craftsmanship.

Here are the main features of the Billingham Hadley Pro camera bag:

  • Carrying handle with integrated stiffener – The stiffener distributes the weight of the bag so the stress is not concentrated at the two points where the handle is attached to the bag.
  • Two large pockets with snap closures for accessories – Bellowed to fold flat when empty and expand as needed.
  • Removable inserts and dividers – Made with closed-cell foam to protect without crumbling and creating dust. Velcro for adjustability.
  • Zippered back pocket – Perfect for stowing tickets and other paper work. Close to the body and away from other people’s “sticky fingers” when traveling.
  • Two interior compartments – Large enough for a 15″ Macbook Pro,a DSLR, and a couple of lenses.

The buckles and studs are made of solid brass; brass, unlike steel, does not rust. The strap is adjustable and has a clever quick release design which allows access to the bag’s content without having to unbuckle.

The trim of the The Hadley Pro is made of traditionally tanned  aniline leather. The bag itself is available in two different type of fabrics. The one we got is made of a new material exclusive to Billingham called FibreNyte. This synthetic material is softer than other man-made fabric, but has excellent abrasion resistance. It is perfect for anyone who wants a light (10% lighter than canvas), tough, hard wearing fabric for extreme conditions.

We are not lacking for camera bags at the office. Folks here have a very wide selection to choose from when out on assignment. However, we have a strong hunch that this bag is going to be a “first grab” whenever the photo crew heads out into the field. We will issue a FirstUse report at the end of the Fall with some of their impressions.

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