Posts Tagged ‘Billingham’
I’ve had a Panasonic Lumix G1 since January and I’ve discovered that its a very handy piece of gear that easy to carry, especially when traveling. On a recent trip I relied on my Leica M8 for the majority of my photos but the longest lens in my traveling M8 kit is the Summilux 75mm f/1.4 lens which with the M8’s crop factor of 1.3 is equivalent to 100mm in 35mm format.
On this particular day I also carried the G1 with its optional image stabilized 45-200mm f/4-5.6 zoom lens which has an effective range of 90-400mm. Not only is the G1 a tiny DSLR, this lens is very compact, so much so that I was able to carry both the M8 with a Carl Zeiss Biogon 21mm f/2.8 lens and the G1 and lens in the same bag, the small Billingham Hadley.
The G1 saved the day as there was no way I could get close to the show to take closeups of the action. The show photos ranged from 107 -334mm effective range. Although the lens isn’t that fast the image stabilization managed even to steady the lens extended to 334mm. (And as I noted in other recent postings, some photos to 422mm.)
The show photos in this posting were all shot in jpeg. Handheld. No tripod.
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?
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.
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.
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.
One of my mandatory stops when I’m in Singapore is K-13 Marketing. This small store is located on the second floor at Peninsula Plaza and is a dealer for Billingham, as well as several other accessory manufacturers including Manfrotto, Lowepro. I’ve been coming to this shop for ten years.
They have a good supply of Billingham products and the prices for the bags and accessories are good.
As an aside, they also have a good selection of used equipment, both German and Japanese, and one is never bored with looking at their offerings.
Further, they carry a supply of lens adaptors so that if you are so inclined to use one manufacturers lenses on another’s body, they may be able to accommodate. I checked out the Contax (Carl Zeiss lens) adaptor for the Canon EOS. I also tried the adaptors to fit Nikon and medium format Carl Zeiss lenses on a Canon EOS camera. But they’ve got more adaptors than that.
They are located at Peninsula Plaza, 111, Northbridge Road, 2nd floor, #16/17. Ask for Tony.
Recently I was asked about the size difference between these two Billingham bags. The tan Hadley Pro is large enough to hold a Canon 5D with 17-40mm f/4 L and a 70-200mm f/2.8 L lenses. As the 70-200mm is a large lens, both length and diameter, it consumes all the extra room. Optionally, the bag will hold a Canon 5D with attached 17-40mm f/4 lens, as well as two other lenses, a 24-105mm f/4 L and an 85mm f/1.8 lens. The two front pockets will also hold your accessories. See my two previous postings on this subject. Here or here.
The small Hadley will hold a DLSR with attached lens and one other small to medium sized lens, like the 24-105mm f/4 L lens. And if you DSLR is on the small side like a Canon 450D, you have a little more room. See my other posting about the small Hadley.
Comfortwise, I find the small Hadley one of the most comfortable bags I have. I can carry this bag all day and never notice any discomfort. On the other hand, I don’t find the Hadley Pro comfortable at all. Perhaps it had to do with the overall stiffness of the bag with insert in place. It’s not one of my favorite bags and I usually use the Crumpler “seven million dollar home” or the Lowe Pro Inverse 200 AW if there’s a need to carry a larger bag. The Hadley Pro stays at home.
Both Hadleys are versatile. Their inserts remove and you can use the bags in other ways. The Hadley Pro can be used as a daily work bag and will hold an A4 sheet of paper, even with the insert in place, you can place A4 size docs in the space behind the insert. Also, the snap shown in the above photo creates a divided area in the space in front of the insert.
Quality-wise, both bags are extremely well-made and can be expected to last a lifetime. The leather trim also adds to the appearance of the beautiful canvas material.
Billingham enjoys a reputation for being the purveyor of quality-made camera bags that should last a lifetime and look good at the same time. This reputation is well-earned.
And if you’re looking for the ultimate large capacity bag, the 555 is it. In addition to being well made and detailed, it’s layout and design is capable of swallowing all your gear yet look good and remain comfortable worn on your shoulder or across your chest. It has numerous pockets that can organize your equipment so you know exactly where everything is. We talking large voluminous pockets, zippered slit pockets, interior pockets and the Billingham Superflex insert.
The top can be configured three different ways. When you pull back the top main flap, the zippered top is exposed and as you can see in the photo above, there is an additional handle strap. First, you can carry the bag with the top flap cinched and shut and the zippered enclosure closed. Or the top flap pulled back and the zippered enclosure exposed. Or the top flap closed and the zipper pulled away from its center position and tucked front and rear. Billingham refers to this last feature as the Tuk Top. Sounds a little complicated but in fact it’s not.
As you can see from the photo above, its capacity his huge. In the main compartment is a Canon 5D with attached 17-40 mm f/4 L lens. On one side of the camera is a 70-200mm f/2.8 L lens and on the other side is a 24-105mm f/4 L lens. In the secondary compartment is a Canon 1V body and a 10D body. And there is probably room for one smaller lens and of course, odd and ends. Bottom line capacity as shown is three camera bodies, four lenses, and and miscellaneous accessories.
The only gripe I have is that in this configuration, you can not keep the 70-200mm lens attached to the camera body without reworking the interior by placing the camera on end with the lens in a horizontal position. In doing this, the capacity isn’t quite a large and the Superflex insert quite as useful.
That gripe aside, its a wonderfully made bag that I would recommend to anyone looking for a larger bag.
I was recently asked by a reader if the Hadley Pro will hold the 5D and a second lens without any problem, given that the depth of the bag is relatively narrow. The photos show that this bag is capable of holding two or maybe three lens depending on the size of the lenses. The lenses in the photos are a Canon 17-40mm f/4 L and 70-200mm f/2.8 L zoom lenses. The 17-40mm has the lens hood attached in reverse position. The 70-200mm is without hood although the bag will easily hold that lens with the reversed hood. Neither hood can be fitted in its “ready” position and be kept in the bag.
As you can see, the 5D is a tight fit as placed in the bag. One could also place the camera in the bag with the attached lens horizontal. There is still room for a second lens. Suffice to say that if you use the optional battery grip, there is a problem fitting the camera in the bag. Check out my other posting for more information.
Billingham makes a great line of “old school” camera bags that are the epitome of detailing, workmanship and design. The Hadley Pro is a handsome bag with proportions that are unmatched in overall appearance. It will easily hold a DSLR with attached lens and one additional lens. Even a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L lens as your additional lens. Or two DSLRs with lenses attached, provided the lenses are of smaller dimensions. But given its capacity, it can become heavy.
The only niggling complaint I have is the interior depth of the bag. It’s 70mm (2 3/4 in.) (if you use the padded insert). I wish it was 50mm (2 in.) wider. As it is, with some lenses etc it’s a tight fit. As you can see, the bag also has two exterior pockets that are slightly wide. The only problem with these pockets are the exposed rear of the snap rivet in each pocket. This metal can scratch so you’ve been warned.
I recommend you consider the optional shoulder pad as this bag is capable of holding substantial weight and the shoulder strap could become uncomfortable. This is not an issue with the smaller Hadley bag.
Billingham have several bags slightly larger that may give you more flexibility in arranging your gear. The 306 is of slightly larger dimensions and comes with the Superflex partition insert.
I highly recommend this bag to anyone. It’s hard to go wrong with this traditional design. And it will last a long long time. Enjoy.
Check here for my other review re this bag.