Beautiful. Functional. Billingham Hadley Large Pro Review

Beautiful, comfortable, and functional. This is what most photographers look for when shopping for camera bags. As it turns out, few offerings deliver on all three bullets. Even fewer are successful when it comes to larger camera bags. Billingham is known in the industry for beautiful bags that are built to last, which is reflected in the price. As someone moving to a medium format sensor, I was curious to see if the Billingham Hadley Large Pro could deliver style, comfort, and functionality. Could it be as successful as the original Hadley?

Too Long Didn’t Read

The Billingham Hadley Large Pro camera bag is beautiful and functional. An add-on purchase of the SP50 shoulder strap makes it comfortable. It’s designed to carry a lot of gear in style. The addition of a luggage trolley strap and their renowned quick-release straps would make this quality bag even better.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • It’s beautiful
  • Well-constructed
  • Plenty of room for gear
  • Doubles as an overnight bag
  • Waterproof FibreNyte

Cons

  • A bag of this size needs a luggage trolley retainer strap
  • It doesn’t have the quick release system
  • FibreNyte gets dirty easily, although the sage green wears it very well

Gear Used

We tested the Billingham Hadley Large Pro with a 16” MacBook Pro, Sony a7 IV with the Sony 35mm f1.4 GM lens, Sony 50mm f1.2GM lens, Canon 5D Mark III with Canon 50mm f1.2L lens, Hasselblad 501cm, Sekonic light meter, film, and accessories.

Innovations

The Billingham Hadley Large Pro isn’t very innovative. It follows a very classic design and pairs it with beautiful materials. The bag is more attractive than many of those on the market. Plus, it’s built to last.

Tech Specs

All technical specifications are from Billingham

  • External Dimensions: W440mm (17¼”) x D180mm (7⅛”) x H320mm (12⅝”) (excluding top handle), W440mm (17¼”) x D180mm (7⅛”) x H340mm (13⅜”) (including top handle)
  • Internal Dimensions (Main compartment): W400mm (15¾”) x D135mm (5⅜”) x H280mm (11″)
  • Capacity with padded insert: 10 litres (0.35 feet³)
  • Capacity without padded insert: 13 litres (0.46 feet³)
  • Weight: 1.64 kgs (3.62 lbs)
  • Front ‘dump’ pockets (x2) Dimensions: W165 to 205mm (6½” to 8″) x D40 to 60mm (1½” to 2⅜”) x H250mm (9⅞”)
  • Capacity (each): 1.5 to 2.5 litres (0.05 feet³ to 0.09 feet³)
  • Internal laptop slip pocket: W390mm (15⅜”) x D Nominal x H300mm (11⅞”)
  • Rear zipped pocket: W390mm (15⅜”) x D Nominal x H270mm (10⅝”)
  • Capacity Nominal
  • Padded Insert External Dimensions: W400mm (15¾”) x D140mm (5½”) x H290mm (11⅜”)
  • Padded Insert Internal Dimensions: W400mm (15¾”) x D135mm (5⅜”) x H280mm (11″)
  • Capacity: 10 litres (0.35 feet³)
  • Weight: 0.44kg (0.97 lbs)
  • Shoulder Sling Measurements 
  • Length: can be adjusted between 970mm (38⅛”) to 1550mm (61″) approx. 
  • Width: 50mm (2″)

Ergonomics

The first thing you will notice about this Billingham bag is that it lives up to its name. It looks like a much larger version of the Hadley Pro 2020. The Hadley Large Pro fits on my Vespa and allows plenty of legroom, making for a comfortable commute.

The bag is designed to be carried in several different ways. The adjustable shoulder strap can be worn cross-body as well as single shoulder carry. Although, it’s best to wear the Hadley Large Pro cross-body style when it is loaded with gear.

A leather grab handle is located on the top and allows you to carry it like a suitcase. The handle is a nice feature as the amount of gear this bag can carry can get heavy.

Here is a look at the optional SP50 shoulder pad. It is one of the most comfortable that I have encountered, and I think it really should come standard with this bag. As you can see, the Hadley Large Pro is the only camera bag offered by Billingham that does not have quick-release straps. Instead, you will find traditional brass buckles.

A large zippered pocket is located on the back and can fit a large sketchpad or tablet.

On the front, you will find two large pockets. They are expandable and will hold a lot of accessories. My Hasselblad 501cm fits perfectly. The flaps securely snap into place.

Underneath the main flap, you will find a padded laptop sleeve and a removable padded insert. The Hadley Large Pro doubles as an overnight bag.

Its padded insert has two flexible dividers that will accommodate both DSLRs and mirrorless systems, plus several lenses. I fit one of each alongside my old medium format film camera plus an extra lens.

Build Quality

Billingham is known for using quality materials, and their craftsmanship lasts for years. The Hadley Large Pro is no exception. It’s made of full-grain leather, brass fixings, and waterproof FibreNyte that feels like canvas. I got caught in a passing rainstorm, and the FibreNyte material did a great job keeping my camera dry. The bag is heavier than others on the market, and it feels more premium. It will surely last for a decade or even longer with proper care.

Ease of Use

The Hadley Large Pro bag is easy to use. Its simplistic design makes gear easy to organize. As a photography bag, I wish it had Billingham’s signature quick release system. The buckles are a bit of a hindrance when walking around and shooting. Although I did prefer the buckles when using it as an overnight bag.

There is no trolley luggage retainer strap. In other words, you will be carrying the weight of this bag. Make sure to utilize the SP50 shoulder pad, especially if it’s loaded with gear. I think it should be included and priced accordingly. Without it, I would have had a much different experience with the Hadley Large Pro. Also, make sure to wear it cross-body style and position the weight over your chest. Your lower back will thank you later.

Conclusions of the Billingham Hadley Large Pro Review

Likes

  • It is a beautiful bag
  • The SP50 shoulder pad ads comfort to the weight this bag is designed to carry
  • It holds a 16” MBP
  • Removable insert to double as an overnight bag
  • Craftsmanship
  • Deep pockets
  • Flexible internal dividers

Dislikes

  • I wish this had the quick release opening system
  • A bag this size needs a luggage trolley strap
  • The back zipper is not waterproof

There’s a lot to like about the Billingham Hadley Large Pro camera and laptop bag. Although, it isn’t perfect. I wish Billingham would have opted to keep the quick-release straps. A camera bag of this size should have a luggage trolley strap. It’s meant to be traveled with. It should also come with the SP50 shoulder strap as a standard accessory. 

The pros far outweigh the cons. This bag is designed to haul a lot of gear and do so with style. It’s gorgeous, especially in the sage color. The Hadley Large Pro is exquisitely crafted and feels like it will last for years to come. It is a great option for medium format shooters or any photographer who needs the extra room for gear.

We are giving the Billingham Hadley Large Pro four out of five stars. Want one? Check out Amazon for the latest.

Brittany Smith

Brittany is a commercial fashion and portrait photographer working in Montana and NYC. When not behind a camera she can usually be found at a local artisan coffeeshop, writing for photography education sites and publications, teaching fitness classes, or baking something fabulous.