New camera bag for my m43 gear (mini review of Billingham Hadley Small)

I have started to use my micro 4/3 (m43) gear a bit more again. Given all the other junk I have to bring when I go on a walk with our daughter the photo gear needs to be easy to bring, otherwise I just leave it at home and end up taking photos with my iPhone.

I already have a Think Tank Retrospective 10 which I’m very happy with but even if it’s lighter when packed with the m43 gear the bag itself is still quite heavy and there is a lot of space I don’t use. I considered just buying a Retrospective 5 which should suit my m43 gear better but it would be very similar to what I already have and it’s always nice to buy a new bag so I decided on a Billingham Hadley Small instead. It seemed about the right size and looked cool (different than the Retrospective).

Billingham Hadley Small in Sage/Tan (FibreNyte fabric)

Size and fit
I wanted a bag which would fit the m43 gear I normally bring when walking around town (I usually don’t bring all of this though):
– Camera bodies: Olympus OM-D E-M5 and Panasonic GF3
– Lenses: Panasonic 14mm f/2.5, Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4, Olympus 45mm f/1.8, Nikkor 105mm f/2.5
– Some good to have junk; Spare memory cards, blower and cloths for cleaning, the OM-D flash, etc.

My m43 gear with some room to spare.

I have two Nikkor lenses (50mm and 105mm) but I don’t use them that often and can leave some of the other lenses at home if I want to bring them both. The Panasonic GF3 I normally just use for mountain biking and skiing but I included it anyway to see how much the bag fitted.

The Hadley Small easily fits all of this with some room to spare.

Nikkor 105mm f/2.5, Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 45mm f/1.8 mounted and Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 with lens hood mounted.

Flap closed over Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 and Panasonic 14 f/2.5 put on top.

A Panasonic GF3 body with the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 mounted fits in the front pocket.

I found it easy to figure out a configuration of the padded insert which worked for my gear.

Weight and carry comfort
With all this the bag weighs about 2550 g. My normal Canon gear (Canon 6D with 17-40 and two primes) in the Restrospective weighs about 4500 g. Compared to my old Retrospective the shoulder strap is thinner and no shoulder pad is included with the bag but it still feels comfortable to carry with this content. I guess the thin shoulder strap and missing shoulder pad is also part of the reason why the bag is so much lighter than the Retrospective 10 (700 g vs. 1400 according to manufacturer specs). I usually have the shoulder strap across my chest and like to have my bag quite low on my hip and this works great with the Hadley Small.

Compared to Retrospective 10
Hadley Small and Retrospective 10 are not really the same kind of bag but since they are the two bags I own I still wanted to include some comparison shots of them. I don’t know if it shows in the photos below but the Hadley Small is significantly smaller than the Retrospective 10. Even if it’s not advertised by Think Tank I can cram my Canon 6D with the battery pack mounted in the bag since it expands a bit with gear in it and there’s no problem to have gear sticking up a bit over the top of the interior. The base of the Retrospective is quite big though even with no gear in it. The Hadley Small doesn’t expand at all and therefore it will be much thinner even when fully loaded.

Compared to Think Tank Retrospective 10.

Compared to Think Tank Retrospective 10.

In summary I’m very happy with the purchase and I think the Hadley Small is a perfect fit for a micro 4/3 walk around setup consisting of one or two bodies and a couple of primes. I intend to use this bag and gear for an upcoming vacation trip to Lisbon in Portugal and it will be interesting to see how it works out.

If you want a bag for transport to location with more equipment (larger lenses, flashes and tripod) you should probably consider a larger bag but for those cases I have the Retrospective 10 and a F-Stop Loka backpack. If you only use one lens mounted two the camera you might want to have a look at the even smaller Hadley Digital.


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