When digital photography began its steady climb to popularity, I watched from the side-lines with great interest. At the time, digital SLRs were very expensive and some of the early models felt like a bastardisation of old film lens technologies grafted onto computers. As time passed it soon became clear that digital photography was here to stay, usurping films long established legacy.

My world collided with this model back in 1991 as part of an exercise to upgrade my existing gear and provide my OM1n with some relief, as this had been the only camera I owned for nine years and I was concerned that a breakdown would leave me camera less for the duration of a repair. This bothered me more when a once in a lifetime opportunity arose, where the results were significantly more precious.

In the years that this model has been available, there can be nothing left to write about it that has not already been said. When released it rapidly became the darling of the photo industry, praised for its compact size and robust build quality. It was used in harsh environments, taken to the top of the world and carried by some of the leading photographers of the day. Its popularity meant that it remained in production for around 14 years, during which time modifications were made to the original OM1 culminating with the OM1n. And as time went by many imitators rose and fell but few, in my opinion, left behind them such an impact on the photo world. It is not in the scope of this article to cover aspects such as this – a quick search on the internet will provide a treasure trove of information.

Vanguard are well known for their tripod and binocular ranges, but they were a manufacturer I initially overlooked when searching for a photo backpack. Being a keen walker, I spend a lot of my spare time in and around Derbyshire’s Peak District so it goes without saying that I always have a camera with me. Up until a few years ago, I had been using large 55 and 80 litre backpacks to lug my walking and camera gear around in. But none offered dedicated protection for my cameras and lenses. So after writing down a few pre-requisites, I began an evaluation of what seemed like an endless array of different models. My pre-requisites were;

A new DSLR System acquisition invariably sees us purchase a new bag to house it in. What can I say? – we have a real weakness for photo bags and need little in the way of a reason to go and purchase a new one. Excuses flow easily in terms of justification but when it comes down to being honest, new bags are exciting!

Air Travel today seems to impose increasingly tougher limitations on hand luggage sizes with each year that passes. This is not just restricted to weight, but the actual luggage dimensions. I have fallen foul of these rules many times, and nowadays it is usually the weight that lets me down. It was not always so; several years ago I was so fed up with being hauled over the coals by check-in staff due to my carry-on being just a little too large, I decided to address the problem once and for all and purchase something that was well below regulation sizes but offered optimal protection for my belongings – particularly my camera gear.

The E-System Pro Backpack from Olympus was introduced way back when my E-1 was new and is the only backpack I have owned that is fully given over to camera gear. Normally, I tend to go for packs that offer dual functionality, i.e. some space for flasks, food and a coat. But this time I wanted something that allowed me to take a large part of my camera gear with me so that I could really immerse myself in the craft without worrying about what I had left at home. I had been using a Lowepro equivalent that was loaned to me, which is what planted the seed in my head about getting one of my own.