The Uniqueness of a Billingham
Posted on September 25 2020
Our Dutch distributor, Degreef & Partner, recently introduced us to photographer Robert-Paul Jansen. We sent him two of our new Navy bags to get his opinion on them and to see the beautiful results he could create. Read below to see what he produced…
There are those products that feel good immediately when you first hold them in your hands. By that I mean that you immediately feel that the quality is good. I had that with the Billingham bags. To be honest, I can’t imagine that I’m the only one who has this. Billingham bags have been made by the Billingham family since 1973. In England. Handmade. So, it’s old-fashioned quality.
The Hadley Small Pro Camera Bag Close Up.
The Billingham bags have a classic design, and I'm sure the bags look familiar when you see the design. Billingham has been designing the bags from the start with the same principles and they don't follow the whims of the fashion world. A Billingham never goes out of style. As a result, the bag fits with every outfit, no matter how casual or dressy.
Billingham release a special edition every now and then. A unique design with a slightly different colour or a different fabric. But …this is usually temporary. Unfortunately, I missed the Camo version of the Hadley Pro. From now on, I will keep an eye on Billingham's social media to respond immediately if this unique bag is made again.
Actually, every Billingham is unique. They are made by hand and each has its own serial number which is displayed on a label in the bag. And now, a new colour will be added - various bags will be available in the new canvas “Navy Canvas / Chocolate Leather”. A beautiful dark blue canvas with chocolate brown leather elements. And the good news is this is a permanent colour!
This new colour is being released in the following models: Airline Stowaway, Hadley Digital, Hadley Small Pro, Hadley Pro 2020, Hadley One, Thomas Briefcase, Overnighter and the Weekender (as well as the ‘AVEA 7’ and ‘AVEA 8’ end pockets to add storage to some of these bags).
In addition to the Navy canvas and Chocolate leather, the inside of the bag is finished in a beautiful brown colour that compliments the Navy exterior - Chocolate. The inside of most Billingham bags is ‘Olive’. In both cases, they deliberately don’t use black so that black equipment and accessories are always easy to find.
The inside of a Billingham Hadley Small Pro Camera Bag (Navy Canvas / Chocolate Leather).
The bag is of course finished with the same care and quality as all other bags, the colour also fits nicely into the existing line of colours. A beautiful addition to the collection.
Most photographers have several thousand euros/pounds/dollars worth of equipment in their camera bag, so it is not surprising that quality and protection are high on the list when looking for a new camera bag. Billingham bags are not only beautifully made but they also offer the ultimate protection to the equipment.
The inside of a Billingham Hadley One with its 'Half Size Padded Insert' (included in the price). If you need to carry more camera gear you might like the 'Full Size Padded Insert' (an optional extra).
And that’s also one of the things Billingham excels at: protecting the contents of the bag.
A 13" MacBook Pro in the padded laptop area at the back of the Hadley One Camera Bag.
The beautiful robust canvas on the outside and smooth polyester on the inside. In between, a rubber layer has been incorporated that ensures that these bags are waterproof. A downpour while shooting? No problem with a Billingham bag.
The Billingham Hadley Small Pro at the docks in the historic city of Heusden. The 3-layer waterproofing makes it exceptional in the rain - just don't drop it in the water!
In addition to this protection against the weather (or a bucket of water poured over), the bag also feels very sturdy. The dividers in the bags are robust and offer more than enough protection. When you purchase the Hadley Small Pro, several dividers are supplied so that you can arrange the bag however you wish.
The Billingham Hadley One Camera Bag with its detachable shoulder sling removed.
It’s a great feeling to know that your equipment is always well protected. But there are more advantages to Billingham bags. For example, they are very lightweight despite the good protection. I immediately noticed this when I got my hands on several Navy coloured Billingham bags. I expected them to be much heavier!
The bags come standard with a comfortable, wide polyester shoulder strap that can be adjusted in length. You can also buy an extra shoulder pad (make you choose the right size) as an accessory, but I think this is only necessary for the really heavy bags. The strap is really comfortable.
The Hadley Small Pro Camera Bag in the historic city of Heusden.
I tested and photographed two Navy bags from the Hadley series, Billingham's most famous series. These bags have two large front pockets that are very handy for storing some loose accessories. But make no mistake, they are quite spacious! With the larger models they can also be widened and even fit a small camera or, for example, the remote control of a drone. These pockets can be closed with a press stud so that you can be sure that the contents remain in the front pockets.
Over these bags comes the main compartment closing flap that is closed with an inventive closing system (the ‘QRS’), so you don't have to use the buckles. The leather can be a bit tough when the bags are new, but after use the leather becomes supple and this is easier to do. I’m sure you can open the bag without thinking after a while.
Sequence of photos showing the front straps on the Billingham Hadley One bag. Lift the strap up and then slide off the clogall (brass pin) at the top.
Closed is really closed which is different to some of the other shoulder bags I owned. This feels very safe, because I don't have to worry that something will roll out of the bag.
Close up of the Billingham Hadley One. The strong leather straps mean that closed is really closed.
At the back, the bags have an extra storage space that is accessible with a waterproof zipper. The bags also have a luggage trolley retainer strap added to the back of the bag.
The back of the Billingham Hadley One - rainproof zip and luggage trolley retainer strap.
I was looking for a small shoulder bag, but now I have a nice duo at home. The same models of bags that I also received in the colour Navy for this photo series: the beautiful Hadley Small Pro and the Hadley One.
Five reasons to buy a Billingham bag:
I was looking for a smaller shoulder bag to use if I just want to go out with the camera. A bag that I throw over my shoulder and protects the camera at all times.
As a landscape photographer, I capture the weather elements more than the landscape. Fortunately, I encounter fog, rain and snow all too often when I go out with my camera. The fact that the bag is waterproof (from water that comes from above) feels great!
I don't need half a spaceship around my shoulder, but I was looking for a nice bag that I can take with me wherever I go. The classic design of these camera bags makes sure that every Billingham bag can be used for all occasions. Another bonus is that they don't look like a camera bag. Check.
The fact that these bags are handmade in England with the finest materials is very important for me.
Billingham obviously sells different models, from small to large. I was personally looking for a small shoulder bag, which I can always have with me whenever I go out with my camera, a second lens and maybe my iPad. The Hadley Small Pro is a fantastic bag that exactly meets my needs.
"If you want to protect your camera equipment and are looking for a comfortable camera bag, buying a Billingham is always a good idea. If you like blue, you can order the new Navy colour - available now."
The Hadley Small Pro Camera bag in a doorstep in Heusden, Netherlands. Photo by Robert-Paul Jansen.
Robert Paul Jansen can be found at:
The bags featured in this article
Special thanks to our Dutch distributor Degreef and Partner for their assistance with this article.