Thom's m4/3 Bag

Updated 12/25/2016

Photographers are curious souls. They always want to know what's in other photographer's bags. I don't know if there's a lot to be learned from this practice, but I don't mind people peeking into my bags, so here goes.

I keep switching bags to put this system in, as new smaller backpacks and shoulder bags hit the market. Here's what's in the bag most of the time:

  • Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II body with RRS vertical plate
  • second body varies
  • (sometimes) Olympus 12mm f/2 with hood
  • (sometimes) Olympus 45mm f/1.8 with hood
  • (sometimes) Olympus 75mm f/1.8 with hood
  • Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 with hood
  • Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 with hood
  • Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 with hood and tripod collar
  • Miscellaneous batteries/cards/filters
  • Small tripod

One note: many of the lenses are in stuff sacks to further protect them. Panasonic tends to provide these with every lens, which makes it a no brainer. Ifyou’re looking for a good stuff sack for the Olympus lenses that don’t come with one, try the Tamrac line of Goblin lens pouches.

In 35mm equivalent, I'm carrying 14-300mm options with me, plus some prime glass that performs at the top of the heap. Here's the kicker: according to my hand scale the total weight is under 10 pounds before I add the tripod, and I can easily drop a lens or two and get lighter, when necessary.

There's not much I can't shoot with that kit, and I don't usually feel compromised in quality on anything. Years of dealing with 20-30 pound camera bags makes this bag feel like a feather.

If there's something to be learned from this little glimpse inside my bag, it's this: you can put together a very competent m4/3 kit in a small protected space and the whole thing doesn't have to weigh a ton.

One further comment. When I'm doing long hikes in the backcountry with my m4/3 gear, I swap most of the contents of this bag into a LowePro Photo Sport 200 AW. I trick that out with a Peak Designshoulder-strap carrying option I have so that a camera always rides on a quick release plate where I can grab it and start shooting almost immediately (plus a small camera like the OM-D E-M10 Mark II body goes in a pocket).

Why the swap of bags? First, on these long hikes I need to take some survival essentials, including layers of clothing. I'm also usually carrying my RRS Versa 2 tripod (which clips onto the side of the Photo Sport) with the small Uniqball head. I need to carry plenty of water (you can use a hydration bladder inside if you're the gambling sort, but I use the bottle pocket on the outside). Finally, the built-in rain cover is a necessity for protecting equipment should the weather change on me.

But finally, a confession: m4/3 served me very well for almost seven years. Today, however, I’m starting to look elsewhere. Why? Sensor size, basically. While the kit I describe above works just fine to ISO 800, I start to feel limited beyond that. Thus, over time I’ve also added a second mirrorless bag to my ready-to-run kits, and it’s a Sony-based kit.

text and images 2017Thom Hogan
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