Leo Laksi’s Bangkok And Back

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

Billingham Hadley v. L2 (Alice) camera bags, which one for you?

with 23 comments

L2 on left, small Hadley on right.

L2 on left, small Hadley on right.

Ok, so in terms of appearance, the small Hadley has it hands-down over the sturdy but plain looking Billingham L2.  The Hadley has two buckles and exterior pockets and the Billingham logo to attract your attention.  Let’s face it, the Hadley is a great looking bag.

But as they say, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and  “beauty is only skin-deep”.   Beneath the plain exterior L2 is a GREAT bag for someone looking for a compact design.  Where do I start in describing the superlatives of the L2.  How about the leather reinforced bottom panels with feet?

L2 on bottom, small Hadley on top

L2 on bottom, small Hadley on top

Or a slight larger main compartment that makes the L2 roomier for your cameras and your accessories.  This difference can be seen in all the photos. From the “face” in the first photo to its bottom panel in the second to its end view below.

L2 on left, small Hadley on right

L2 on left, small Hadley on right

And the L2 is also expandable by attaching the optional AVEA pockets to the leather loops that comprise the shoulder strap anchor on each side of the bag.  The small Hadley does not have this advantage.

Inside the bag, one can notice other differences between the two. Whereas the Hadley has a removable padded insert, the L2 does not.  In addition, the Hadley has narrow spaces between the insert and the interior front and back of the bag for additional storage, while the L2 has a sizable storage area in front of the main compartment that is capable of holding additional gear to include smaller Leica “size” lenses.  The narrow space behind the main compartment is large enough for flat accessories like filters, etc.

In addition, the main compartment of the L2 is slight larger than the Hadley as the below photos show.

Contained in the bags are a Leica M8 with Carl Zeiss Biogon 21mm f/2.8 AND a Panasonic Lumix G1 with 45-200 f/4-5.6 zoom lens.  Both bags are roomy enough for a DSLR, like the Canon 5D lens.  But an additional lens may be difficult to carry.  A smaller DSLR like the 450D may be a better choice for this bag as the smaller body will give you more room.

Small Hadley with Leica M8 and Panasonic G1

Small Hadley with Leica M8 and Panasonic G1

L2 with same Leica and Panasonic cameras

L2 with same Leica and Panasonic cameras

Note the size of the compartment in front of the main compartment of the L2 (but remember that the Hadley has two exterior pockets the L2 does not have).  Finally, the L2 has additional weatherproofing in the form of an extra layer of waterproof canvas on interior side of the top flap (and both side gussets to protect the sides of the top flap).

Bottom line?  I think the L2 is a very practical bag to shoot from.  There are no exterior or zippered pockets to contend with.  You just open the flap and get to shooting.  However, if you’re going by looks, the Hadley is the way to go.

One small problem. I can’t find the L2 listed on the Billingham website.  Maybe it’s not being made any more.  (However the L2 is available at various photographic equipment websites.)

Final thought.  I find both of these bags easy to carry.  They are lightweight and comfortable.  I do not find my Hadley Pro or my 555 to be “easy to wear” bags.  The Pro’s insert stiffens the bag to the point I don’t find it to be very comfortable.  The 555 because of the sheer weight of the bag.  For me, there are better choices in that size of bag.  But for looks and detailing,  they are good-looking bags.


Written by leolaksi

March 20, 2009 at 6:54 am

23 Responses

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  1. heya, considering either one or the other… just wondering which compartment is actually more comfortable fit for a 5DmkII? the pictures seem to indicate that the L2 is probably roomier and a better fit.

    thx for any help.


    May 13, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    • Gary,

      The L2 will fit the 5D MkII with an attached 24-105mm L zoom with no room for any other accessories in the main compartment other than your lens cloth and the blower. The 70-200mm f/2.8 lens will not fit.

      The L2 still has room in the narrow deep pockets front and rear of the main compartment for other smaller accessories.

      I just tried the L2 with a Nikon D700 with a Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8 lens and it’s a snug fit.



      May 14, 2009 at 6:48 am

    • The small Hadley would fit but again it would be very tight. I would recommend the L2.


      May 14, 2009 at 6:49 am

      • heya! thx for the great help.

        the L2 is also probably better as it has the slots for an avea 5 pouch if i am not mistaken.


        May 21, 2009 at 10:55 am

  2. Thanks for the pictures! It really help me choosing the right one!


    May 16, 2009 at 10:05 am

    • That’s great. Which one? Leo


      May 16, 2009 at 10:32 am

  3. btw, did you try separating the body from the lens? i wonder if you can fit 5DmkII+24-105L+50L if nothing is attached.

    perhaps that would be pushing the capacity.

    anyway, i would be going to try once the local dealer has stock for the khaki L2. will report back which is my final choice!


    May 21, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    • Hi Gary,

      I think it would be a tight fit with the 5D and those two lenses. However you got my curiosity going and I just put a D700, the Nikkor 135mm f/2 and the 85mm f/1.8 in the L2. They do fit into the L2 although a bit tight. The 24-105 and the 50L are both wider than the Nikkors, so it may be difficult. Leo


      May 22, 2009 at 4:59 pm

  4. Back with feedback! Just bought a L2 today and I’m very pleasantly surprised. I can fit in a 5DmkII with 24-105L attached AND a separate 70-200 f4 L.

    It’s a bit of a tight fit but not like the canvas is forced and stretched.

    Very pleased as this means I can run around with my 70-200 in a compact. Further more, the back/front slits allow me to fit spare battery and CF cards.

    I also combine it with an AVEA 3 that came with my Hadley Pro. It seems like it can fit in a flash and really looks good with the bag.

    L2 is definitely not just for rangefinders.


    June 7, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    • Congrats on this. It’s a great bag and I’m glad it worked out with the 70-200 f/4 lens. Leo


      June 7, 2009 at 11:27 pm

  5. Hiya,

    thanks for this — a bit late to the party here, but I’m strongly looking at the L2 as “go bag”.

    Can you tell me if there is _any_ permutation of the L2 that will let me carry a 5D Mk II with 70-200 attached on its side, with room for, say, a teleconverter and additional small lens (macro, 50mm etc.)? If I add a flash like a speedlite 580?

    Any advice appreciated.

    John Salomon

    October 7, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    • Hi John,

      That combination will not fit in the the L2. To come close to your rig, I just tried a D700 and the Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8 in the L2 and was unsuccessful. The D700 and the 24-70 mm f/2.8 will fit but just barely. With that lens there is enough room for a teleconverter and the 50mm f/1.8 lens. The 580 would be a tight fit.

      The Hadley Pro will work but I just didn’t like the way it rode on my shoulder. As a result, the Pro sits in my unused pile.

      If you are interested in a well-built pro level type bag, try the Thinktank line. They make great gear. I currently use their Streetwalker backpack, the Rotation 360 backpack and their rolling carry-on bag.

      Good luck and happy shooting!



      October 7, 2009 at 8:24 pm

      • Cool, thanks a lot. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to get my hands on any of the Billingham bags where I live (Amsterdam) to get a feel for their size.

        Do you think the above list of stuff would fit in a regular Hadley if I set up the cushioning as a “cradle” and laid the lens/camera flat, without bulging out the bag too much? I am trying to get a feel for how wide they are; their website says that internal depth is 70mm, while the 5D body is 135mm high.

        As for the Thinktanks — I looked at those and considered them; I am going to probably buy a Lowepro Stealth D550 for all my stuff + laptop, unless I find something better (just for getting from A to B), but I’m searching for a handsome, classic-looking, robust bag that I can also use as a normal suitcase (hence the Billinghams).

        Ideally, I’d like one that I can smoosh flat and fit inside my “main”, big bag, hence the attraction to anything with removable inserts.

        Otherwise, want to sell your Pro bag? =)

        John Salomon

        October 7, 2009 at 8:56 pm

  6. Stumbled at your site while looking for a suitable Billingham to accomodate my newly acquired tiny Lumix GF-1 with the 14-45 and 20 pancake and the small Pana flash FLA-22. Do you think it is overkill for my outfit? Will my gear be knocking all over ?

    Thanks, best wishes from Jakarta.


    December 14, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    • The small Hadley is the perfect bag for your kit. Large enough to accommodate your gear but not so large as to be a hassle to carry. Also the bag is quite comfortable. The thing about this bag is that it’s an extremely well made bag and will give you years of use. Your current camera and behind. The L2 is also a great bag but the Hadley just looks right.



      December 14, 2009 at 8:37 pm

  7. Hi All,

    This is a good compare for this picture, Thank you so much!
    Do you know L2 and Small Hadley the price?

    Ken WOng

    December 15, 2009 at 2:45 am

    • The price depends on where you buy it. Generally, both bags go for around 200-220 USD although you can buy the small Hadley directly from Billingham for 100 pounds (161 USD at today’s rate).


      December 17, 2009 at 6:14 pm

  8. And, I have Canon 500D + 17 40 4L and 50 1.2 L, L2 or small Hadley Which one is suitable for me? What do you think? Thanks for comment!! Ken WOng

    Ken WOng

    December 15, 2009 at 2:50 am

    • Either bag will work for you although I like the layout of the L2. The small Hadley is better looking. Leo


      December 17, 2009 at 6:15 pm

      • Hi leolaksi,

        Thank you your reply,

        Finally, I have choose the L2, and the price is (161USD) (1256HKD 1HKD=7.8USD) but the price not includ the shoulder pad!!

        ken WOng

        December 18, 2009 at 2:37 am

      • You will be happy with the L2. It’s a great bag.



        December 18, 2009 at 6:54 am

  9. Hi! I was doing research about Billingham bags for my new Canon T1i and your blog has been super helpful! I think I’ve decided on the Billingham Hadley Small because I like the removable padded inserts.

    Thanks for your great blog!


    January 18, 2010 at 9:10 am

    • thats a great bag that will give you years of use and pleasure. leo


      January 18, 2010 at 2:37 pm

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