Billingham Hadley Large

The Perfect Shoulder Bag for X-Series Zooms?

One thing that most photographers can agree on – no matter what gear they use – is that finding the ‘perfect’ camera bag is nigh on impossible. It’s why there’s such a rush of excitement whenever someone breaks into the market with the next big thing, or re-shapes the thinking behind carrying our gear.

Since moving to the mirrorless Fujifilm X Series from Nikon dSLRs, I’ve found this ‘quest’ to be even more involved, particularly if like me you’re a user of the X Series larger ‘red badge’ zooms. The thing that drove many people to mirrorless was the size advantage, but the ‘red badge’ zooms undercut this a little due to their somewhat beefier dimensions compared to the other tiny lenses in the Fuji stable (although it is argued that they are still quite a bit smaller than their full frame counterparts).  This discrepancy in size from the traditional smaller primes and zooms has meant that bags designed for mirrorless aren’t big enough.

After trying out several shoulder bags to fit my X-T2 and lenses, I think I have finally settled on THE bag – The Billingham Hadley Large.

Billingham Hadley Large
The Billingham Hadley Large, very much at home in the Canterbury High Country

Billingham bags are what you would describe as ‘old school’. They’ve been making bags since 1973 and whilst some may think they look like something a fisherman would put his packed lunch in before spending the day alongside a canal, I think they’re pretty stylish in a retro sort of way. Like the fisherman would expect,  there’s no denying their toughness – the three layer canvas features a rubber butanol section that keeps the water out and makes the bag remarkably good at standing up to the elements. Plus the internal (removable) padded camera section is remarkably plush, cosseting your gear in its thick green-baize interior. These things are built to last.

But the biggest thing that the Billingham has up its sleeve – so to speak – is it can hold an X-T2 with XF100-400 or XF50-140 attached to the body, with room for the XF16-55 and another prime or two depending on focal length. For my go-to kit of the body, 16-55, 100-400, Samyang 12mm and 8mm plus a quirky M42 58mm f/2, nothing touches it for user-friendliness and comfort.

The downsides? The only one I can think of is that there isn’t a top handle, but if you want that get yourself the Hadley One.