Billingham Hadley Small Pro Review
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The latest in Billingham’s Hadley camera bag range is the Hadley Small Pro. Designed for smaller cameras, such as compact system cameras, rangefinders and mid-sized DSLRs, the bag is available in six different colour combinations.
Made in England at Billingham’s factory in the West Midlands, UK, the bag is crafted from rugged, weather-resistant materials including durable canvas and comes with a five year manufacturer’s warranty.
At the time of writing, the Hadley Small Pro retails for around £200.
Ease of Use
The Hadley Small Pro has a classic and stylish look, with six different colour combinations to suit your own personal preferences. We have been supplied with the Sage FibreNyte/Chocolate Leather combination for the purposes of this review, which is deep green colour with brown leather detailing.
Depending on the colour variation you go for, the bag will either be made from colour-fast FibreNyte material, or durable canvas. Both of these are hard-wearing textiles which are bonded to Stormblock material - two layers of fabric fused with butyl rubber for a high level of weather resistance. The composition of the materials means that Stormblock never requires “reproofing” and remains water-resistant for its lifetime.
On the top of the bag is stiff, padded handle which is reinforced with leather on the underside to make it comfortable to hold and secure. The handle feels extremely solid and secure, with the leather detailing on either side of the handles giving an attractive look.
At the back of the bag you’ll find a small pocket which is secured with a water-repellant zip. This is ideal for smaller items, such as memory cards or filters, a mobile phone, or if you’re using it as a holiday / travel bag you could use it for your passport and travel documents. A new addition to the bag is a strap which allows you to slot the bag over the handle of your suitcase, for easy transportation around train stations, airports and the likes. As the strap is very close to the rear pocket, it’s important to make sure you’re actually putting your items into the pocket and not slipping it through the strap and onto the floor.
On the front of the bag are two small pockets, which again are useful for smaller items, including memory cards and similar accessories. You could even fit smaller, pancake type lenses for mirrorless cameras in these pockets, too. The pockets are secured with brass studs which require some effort to open - this helps to make the pockets feel secure from potential pickpockets as you’re walking around with the bag, especially as the bag’s top flap goes over the top of the pockets. Underneath the right-hand pocket flap, you’ll see a label with the unique serial number of your bag.
The top flap itself is secured by sliding brass fixings into leather straps, which can then be pulled upwards to “lock” into place. Although designed to be opened with one hand, these again can be quite tricky to open quickly when on the move - the leather is likely to soften with age though and become more malleable and quicker to open. If you need regular, repeated access to your camera gear, it’s worth leaving them in the “unlocked” position - just be careful if you’re walking with your camera bag in a busy location. The famous Billingham logo is also found on the top flap, embossed into leather.
Completely covering the bag’s interior, the top flap does an excellent job of keeping the elements away from your gear. For added protection, when you open the bag you’ll see that there’s a second padded top flap which you’ll need to move out of the way to access your camera and lenses. The entirety of the bag’s insert is removable, meaning you can use the bag as a standard day bag or piece of luggage if you need to.
Within the insert you’ll find two removable and/or reposition able vertical dividers. These have velcro at the sides so you can place them in the exact places you need to match the size and shape of your camera and/or lenses. In addition there are two smaller dividers included which you can use for stacking lenses.
The bag is not designed with a specific system in mind, but we have been using it with a variety of different options, including the Canon EOS M50 and the Panasonic GX9. With relatively small cameras such as this, you’ll probably find that you can happily accommodate the camera plus at least three additional lenses, depending on the type of lenses you have. For larger cameras, for example entry-level DLSRs, it’s likely you’ll be able to fit a camera with a lens attached, plus one additional prime or small lens. This bag is intended more as a day-to-day carry around bag, rather than something which you can use to fit all of your gear in at once.
For carrying the bag over your shoulder, there is an adjustable, shuttle-woven polyester strap. This can be shortened and lengthened to suit your requirements - at its longest it’s also suitable to be used as a cross body strap for extra security and a more comfortable wear for long periods of time. The strap is also completely detachable if you want to use the bag either with a different strap or entirely strapless.
It may seem like quite an expensive proposition to pay £200 for a relatively small camera bag, but, considering the high-quality construction and durability of the bag, it can also be thought of as good value for money - especially with a five year manufacturer warranty to give you peace of mind.
The Hadley Small Pro may not be all that appealing to DSLR users with lots of lenses, but if you’re either somebody who has one DSLR and one other lens you like to use regularly, or a compact system camera with a range of small lenses, the Hadley Small Pro is the ideal day bag.
Street photographers and travel photographers may find it particularly appealing, especially with the cross-body strap and one-handed access to the interior pouch. Being able to adjust and remove the interior to meet your needs also makes it very user-friendly, too.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||4|