A Billingham Bargain!

I have been taking more cameras with me when I am out and about. This includes a small digital camera (Olympus Pen f or FujiFilm X100T) but then a Polaroid SX70, Richomatic 225 TLR, Bronica ETRS or Rollei 35!

Combine one of those digital cameras with any of the analogue cameras (not the Rollei obviously) and you have a lot of gear to fit into one bag.

My go-to bag has been a Peak Design 5L sling but the shape and dimensions mean it can be a tight fit. In fact, the Medium Format cameras take up 90% of the space.

I do have a fantastic Vinta rucksack I bought at B&H Photo in New York earlier in the year but that fits ALL my kit – overkill for a day out.

So I did my usual, thought about it, researched it, thought about it some more, researched some more… Considered the Billingham bags. Considered the Peak Design 10L Sling etc.

Eventually, I decided to watch some items on eBay and then decided I wanted to get a bag before our break.

I contacted a couple of sellers but didn’t get anywhere with my price range.

Most were Billingham Hadley Pro bags and they wanted at least £100 for them (with some wear).

I then reached out to a seller re a Small Hadley Bag. Much to my joy, they accepted an offer we were both happy with and the bag arrived the next day!

Amazingly the bag is in near perfect condition (which is testament to the Billingham build quality) but it seemed larger than I imagined.

I could get much more in it than I had seen in all the reviews on YouTube (but assumed that was because the reviews featured full sized DSLRs).

I decided to write to Billingham and they clarified that the bag I purchased is a Hadley Original that was made between 2000 and 2004.

This means this near perfect bag is bigger than expected, holds way more stuff (my Surface fits in the gap between the padding and the bag) and it’s at least 16 years old!

The previous owner said it had been around the world with them but you wouldn’t know it by looking at it.

The Billingham is in perfect condition.

I am so pleased with this find. I think I have managed to get myself a real bargain.

I used it on our break in Lincolnshire and it took a little getting used to. I did make the mistake of carrying quite a bit of stuff during a walk into Louth and it was starting to weigh heavy.

The shoulder pad I have is new and that was cutting into my shoulder but I think I just have to break it in.

The bag is cavernous. I could fit the Bronica ETRS, Ricohmatic 225 and the Olympus with several lenses in the main compartment and have space in the front pockets for accessories!

(But I won’t do that as I’ll break my back! Carrying the Olympus, two lenses and the Ricohmatic around Louth was enough to make me realise this!).

I love it though. It’s very sturdy and keeps the rain out.

On days out in Lincolnshire I had either the Pen f, two lenses and the SX 70 or Pen f and TLR or the Pen f on its own (which was lost in the bag due to the size. I could easily have a small thin section in the side using the dividers to house both lenses in the bottom and the camera on top).

I am considering getting the Hadley Small (or Pro) for everyday use. I think it would be ideal when carrying one camera and some other bits on a day out. I’d have no issue with the bag standing up to scuffs etc. I am not rushing this decision though as I cannot make up my mind as to whether it is that much smaller than Hadley I own (if not then I won’t waste my money).

I didn’t originally like Billingham bags as I didn’t like the shape and the buckle system. Now I understand how to use it and I appreciate the build quality, I can see how it moulds to my gear and is easy to get things in and out one handed whilst also ensuring the bag is secure – I totally get it!

Billingham bags are pricey but if you can get your hands on one (new or second hand), I highly recommend them.

You wouldn’t know I had so much kit in here and it doesn’t really look like a camera bag
TLR, Glasses, Analogheld film tin, Olympus Pen f, 17mm lens, 25 mm lens and 45mm lens (oh and a pot of Polo mints) in the main compartment. Even more in the pockets!!!

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