In Praise of the Baby Billingham

Billingham Hadley Digital

Billingham Hadley Digital

With all the recent announcements of the shiny new things coming out of Photokina this year I feel it’s time for an ‘in praise of…’ post on a product I own that is not new (or particularly shiny) and has seen a bit of a revival in usage since I purchased a Fujifilm X100T camera. In case the picture has not given it away I refer to the Billingham Hadley Digital (AKA the ‘Baby Billingham’).

Make no mistake the Hadley Digital is a minimalist camera bag which, if that’s what you’re after, works perfectly. Whilst you can fit a DSLR and lens in there (my OM-D E-M1 and M.ZUIKO 12-40mm f/2.8 just fit without the camera’s battery grip) it’s ideally suited to a rangefinder type camera like the X100T plus a few accessories. Here’s what I like about it:

  1. The Hadley Digital, just like it’s bigger brother the Hadley Pro, is both incredibly well made as well as beautifully stylish and functional. It’s made of top quality canvas, leather and brass and has the Quick Release System allowing you to open and close the bag quickly and quietly (no noisy velcro here).
  2. This is not your typical camera bag and does not really look like any other bag out there as far as I have seen. It’s small and discreet and is ideal if you want to do some street photography without drawing too much attention to yourself.
  3. The bag is really well waterproofed and does not require you to faff around wrapping protective outer layers on at the first sign of some rain. Billingham use a ‘Stormblock’ material that has been bonded to butyl rubber to ensure maximum weather resistance.
  4. Internally the bag has a single, removable divider and non-removable padded interior with flap offering good protection to your gear. There’s also an outer pocket which you close with a very solid brass press stud and is ideal for small accessories like filters or a mobile phone.
  5. About the only thing that shows any wear on these bags is the leather fastening straps (though I’ve never actually had one break). Not really a problem anyway as Billingham allow you to replace these as they are not actually sewn onto the bag.
  6. The bag is incredibly light and adds no noticeable weight to that of your camera when worn over the shoulder. You can easily spend the whole day out with this bag and hardly know it’s there.

If there was one annoyance with this and similar bags it’s that the canvas strap can tend to slip off your shoulder easily. This can be solved by either wearing it cross-body style or purchasing the additional shoulder pad. As I own one of these already which I purchased for my Hadley Pro it’s easy enough to swap the pad onto this bag when I take it out.

Overall a great bag and like all Billingham’s one which I suspect will last for many, many more years to come.

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