Thom's m4/3 Bag

Updated 5/20/2017

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. Just note that my bag changes a lot.

The folks at this site's exclusive advertiser have put together a landing page with much of this gear directly accessible (see Gear Bag for Travel [advertising link]):

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All links in the following copy are to the B&H page for the item.

I keep switching bags to put this system in, as new smaller backpacks and shoulder bags hit the market. Currently, the bag I'm using is the Mindshift TrailScape 18L:

Notes: Yes, all of that will fit in/on the TrailScape. Easily. Reviews of many of these items can be found on this site, with more coming. The tripod is a slight weak link: avoid using the center column and the bottom two extensions of the legs whenever possible. But this tripod packs wickedly small, which is part of the point of this kit, to travel small and light. At times I can go even lighter by stripping down to three lenses, one camera body, the tripod, and still have plenty of space to carry lunch, water, plus rain and emergency gear. 

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 pack, 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 30+ pound camera bags in the backcountry 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 sometimes swap most of the contents of this bag into a LowePro Photo Sport 200 AW. I trick that out with a Peak Design shoulder-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 more survival essentials, including layers of clothing, and the LowePro bag is designed more for that. I need to carry plenty of water (you can use a hydration bladder inside the LowePro 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 eight years. Today, however, I’ve moved elsewhere for small and light. Why? Sensor size, basically. While the kit I describe above works just fine to ISO 800, I started to feel limited beyond that. Thus, over time I’ve also added a second and third mirrorless bag to my ready-to-run kits,a Sony-based kit, and a Nikon-based kit.

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