December 12, 2012

Billingham Hadley Small Review

Views from Daddy M
The Perfect Bag for OM-D
Billingham Hadley Small
I do not profess to have a hobby ( unless you count updating this journal as one). The closet activity that resemble a hobby would probably be photography. I mainly photograph my kids and love the way photos bring life to memories. I am but a novice , having yet to go for courses to get acquainted with my A & S ( Aperture and Shutter), Nevertheless I was infatuated intrigued with my current camera OM-D and was on the lookout for the perfect bag to house it.
I had reviewed the OM-D EM5 few months ago. I had indicated that I may have found the perfect bag for The OM-D in the form of Herringbone small bag. However after months of use, there are limitations to the features of the bag . While it is small and portable, the bag was far too small for more general use and travelling. Critically it could not fit an IPad into it, thus the choice was either to get the IPad mini or search for a new bag. I picked the latter.
The next bag has to be lightweight and compact. I have 2 boys under 5 and there are times it is necessary to carry them. Thus this feature is essential for the next bag. Since the OM-D is the default camera for my use, I decided to embark on another search for the perfect bag for it.
The criterias for the 'perfect' bag are as follow
  • Must fit a full size Ipad
  • Pockets for passports ( at least 4) , wallets, phone
  • Space for batteries
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Does not scream camera bag
  • Good quality material
  • Secured
Hadley Small
I stumbled upon the brand Billingham. To the season photographer, this brand is no stranger to them. In fact Billingham is seen by many as the de facto camera bag in terms of style and quality. I can't wait to get my hands on what is deem to be the 'Louis Vuitton' of camera bags brand.
Nickel plated and corrosion free.
The features
The review is done from a casual photographer perspective. I would like to explore the features as well as functionality of the Billingham in this review.
The bag I had decided on is the Billingham Hadley Small. This bag is one of the smallest range of Billingham bags. From the size, this may not be able to fit a full size DSLR and its systems. However it is a perfect fit for most micro four third system, the OMD included.
Green interior
The colour I had decided was the black on black model in. For the full range of models, you can refer to the Billingham website.
The interior of the bag is in Billingham classic signature green. The bag is made with canvas with high quality leather lining up the edges and the protective layer is well padded.The buttons are nickel plates and corrosion free.
The front cover is secured by 2 leather straps. They feature a quick release system by way of opening through the tear shaped hole.The buckles are mainly use for adjusting the width of the bag to fit your equipments. This is great for street or kids photography when you need quick access to the camera.
Two front pockets.
There are two front pockets are secured by a Nickel button. You can only access it when the front cover is removed. This feature makes the compartment secured. A potential thief have to get through 2 layers of opening before they have a chance with your wallet stored in the pocket.
Expandable
The front pockets are expandable as well . This is a well though feature and would come in handy if you have multiple passports, wallet or a combination to place in the same pocket!
Signature
To check the authenticity of the bag, check if the serial number on the label ( found in one of the pockets tally with the warranty card. There is a 5 years warranty on workmanship. So do keep your receipt for this.
Billingham 5 years warranty
The bag comes with 4 removable inserts. They are a combination of 2 large ones ( to separate the camera from the lens), as well as 2 smaller ones (to house 2 prime lens in one slot)
Removable inserts
The functions
The front pockets are a great way to stow away all your knick knacks. I managed to store a (bulky) wallet, an iphone, pen in one and Sunglasses and accessories in another.
Front pocket
You probably can stuff the battery pack in one of the front pocket, thus making it an excellent travel bag option for your camera kit. I concluded I should have no issue fitting in 4 passports (for the boys and the missus) in there as well.
More stuff in the front pocket
As for the main compartment, A micro four third camera with 2 prime lens should be a good fit. if you need more lens in the bag, you can always fit it with the lens detached. In my bag, I have comfortably fitted the OMD-EM5 with the 12-50mm kit lens attached., a panasonic Leica 25mm 1,4 lens and a lens hood for the panasonic lens. There are enpugh room for additional lens if needed. A small DSLR system may even fit into the Billingham Hadley Small.
What is in the Billingham Hadley Small bag?
Now for the litmus test. There are not many bags in the markets that can call itself compact while able to fit the iPad. Billingham Hadley Small had addressed this issue with purposely made compartment to fit the iPad
The iPad test
Eureka!
It's a perfect fit for the iPad with a slim profile cover attached. I like the fact that with the iPad in place, the bag retains its original shape. In addition, the iPad is not poking out ( unlike some other bags where fitting the iPad will be a chore) and disappear from sight once it is in the slot. I would dare say with this thoughtful arrangement, your iPads will be safe from pickpockets.
It's a fit!
The camera insert can be removed as seen below, thus giving you the option of having a portable messenger bag fit enough for office or daily use. You technically get 2 bags for the price of one.
A great option if you need a office bag or even a diaper bag!
In addition, the camera insert can be used with another bag, thus expanding the options you have with one purchase. On the first day I carried the bag, I had received a compliment from a stranger. Not exactly the norm in Singapore.
Removable Camera insert
Lastly I like the fact that the bag does not scream ' I am a camera bag!' Even though it is branded on the front, the colour combination made the brand tag inconspicuous.
2 bags into 1
It comes in various colour combinations. As I wanted something discreet, I had chosen the black on black canvas. The other combinations are as follows
  • Khaki Canvaas, Tan Leather, Brass fittings
  • Black Canvaas, Tan Leather, Brass fittings
  • Black Canvaas, Bacl Leather, Nikcel fittings
  • Black FibreNyte, Black Leather, Nickel fittings
  • Khaki FibreNyte, Tan Leather, Brass fittings
  • Sage FibreNyte, Tan Leather, Brass fittings
Billingham Hadley Small- for OMD
The Billingham can be found at selected stores in Singapore for about $270-$300. The price is not fix as there are limited authourised seller in Singapore (I did see some retailers marketing it for over $400!)I got mine from Mr Chan of Yip Cheing Trading Services who is listed as the distributor of Billingham in Singapore.
After a few months search and decision making, I think I finally found the 'perfect' bag for micro four third system. It still has some quirks and I do wish it is an inch bigger, but nevertheless it met my personal expectations of a perfect bag.
It is now home to the OM-D EM5.
Disclaimer
This review is base on personal experience and not sponsored by any organisation or person

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for an excellent review. What kind of wrist strap do you have on your Olympus?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the compliments. I am using a Gorby wrist strap for the Omd. Functional and simple.

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  2. Nice review ! Anyway which combination did you have? Black canvas or black fibernyte one??

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    Replies
    1. Black canvas, saw the, side by side and the canvas one looks more vintage

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