All packed up and ready to rumble! :)

Hi everyone,

Finalised my gear for my next trip.

Added a quick release type sternum strap to my National Geographic backpack along with the Op/Tech reporter camera straps. In fairness the backpack does have a sternum strap but it’s not quick release and is pretty fiddly. The quick release strap also has a couple of D-rings, one can’t have too many D-rings. πŸ™‚ .


To prevent the strap from slipping down the shoulder straps I used a couple of heavy-duty cable ties and threaded them vertically through the sternum strap and loops in the material on the shoulder straps where the existing sternum straps attach. Also attached extra Uni-loops to the D-Rings.

Side pockets for my Nat. Geo. backpack rain cover and Manfrotto Pixie tripod.Β Not shown in the photo below but I have a couple of neoprene drawstring lens pouches with clips to attach to D-Rings which fit nicely in the pockets and the rain cover and tripod go inside these as the teeth on the zips are quite sharp and might possibly rip the rain cover. Also, if the rain cover is wet then it’s nice to stuff it in the neoprene pouch.


ThinkTANK emergency camera rain coverΒ (small size) in laptop compartment.


Camera compartment: OM-D E-M5 Mk II + M.Zuiko 12-40mm, Canon G10 (lurking in the shadows πŸ™‚ ), M.Zuiko 9-18 mm and Lumix 12-32 mm plus spare camera batteries and Op/Tech neoprene case, wrist strap and Uni loop connectors.


My BUBM organiser (medium size) fits beautifully inside the backpack as if it was made for it and for fashionistas out there it’s pretty well colour-coordinated. πŸ™‚



My Anker five port USB charging hub, Astro powerbank, USB camera battery chargers and cables etc.. Give me one mains socket and I’ll charge 5 things simultaneously. πŸ™‚



Kind regards

leigh sig 2

PS. I’ve added a few links as it might be of interest. I have no affiliation with any of the manufacturers in this post.




The best compact camera I’ve ever owned.

Hi everyone,

Most of my cameras over the years have been made by Olympus but I’ve also owned both Canon film and digital cameras before eventually returning to the Olympus fold a few years back. One camera that I’ve used time and again though is my Canon Powershot G-10. This camera is a gem, really nice solid brick of a metal body that feels like one is holding a camera with good ergonomics , all the usual modes and controls such as ISO, exposure compensation, built in flash, 14.7 megapixels, RAW, self timer, good battery life and more. Most of the shots of equipment that have appeared on my blog have been taken with this camera. It’s a great backup camera and I’ll be packing it for my next trip. Seen here fitted to my small Manfrotto Pixie tripod.


A few shots taken with this camera –






Kind regards

Edit: for those interested I found this review video from a guy who’d owned one for ten year,Β  I’ve owned my one for longer than this. :

leigh sig 2



For my next trip

Hi everyone,

I’ve been giving some consideration to what gear to take on my next trip. Currently my first choice for a travel camera is my OM-D E-M5 Mk2. I really enjoy using my OM-D E-M1 but it’s that bit too heavy for my liking as a travel camera. I lugged it up and down hills and all around the streets of Rome in the heat for a week and that proved the point to me.

Lens-wise I’ve decided to stick with zoom lenses and not take any of my prime lenses because one doesn’t miss shots and waste precious time constantly changing lenses, sometimes in inclement weather. As the vast majority of my shots are landscapes, both urban and rural, my main lens will, as always, be my M.Zuiko 12-40 mm PRO 2.8. This isn’t the lightest of my lenses by a margin but it’s a superb all-round lens with great build quality and matches their weatherproof bodies beautifully and, as such, it packs itself, if I had to take just one lens then this would be it. So far this lens has travelled with me to Malta, Rome, Brussels, Prague and Corfu as well as around the UK and has always performed excellently.

Seven of the eight shots on the left of my main page were taken with this lens, the odd one out being my shots from my trip to Liverpool where I took my 14-150 mm zoom lens.

m.zuiko lenses

I’ve decided that I’ve been missing an ultra-wide angle lens option and, after looking around, I’ve gone for an Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18 mm zoom lens. It’s a bit slow (f4/5.6) and not the widest of it’s type but it is, importantly, extremely small and lightweight and comes in at a good price, especially if you can find one second-hand πŸ™‚ and I think that it will be a useful addition for the outdoor landscape shots which are my principal interest.

I’m also packing my M.Zuiko 40-150 mm zoom lens as it is also very light (and equally slow) but I’m not anticipating that this focal length range will be extensively used as I carried my 14-150 mm around Rome and used it for relatively only a handful of shots but who knows what one might find, if i chose not to take one of these lenses to save weight it’d be this one for the above reason.Β  Where the 14-150 mm lens does come in very handy however is for-one camera-one-body type days out and it’s also has the advantage of, like the 12-40 mm lens, being weather-sealed.

I’m going to take my E-M5 Mk 1 body as a backup/second camera. I’ve been lucky to date when travelling and not had any equipment failures but, there’s always a first time.Β As always weight is a prime factor in my choice of what gear to pack and that is one of the main reasons that the Olympus Micro Four Thirds system remains my system of choice. You can expect to see some shots taken with the 9-18 mm in the near future when I’ve had the opportunity to take it out for a pre-trip test drive.

Additional: I’ve decided to pack my tiny Panasonic Lumix 12-32 mm lens as it only weighs 2 1/2 ounces and is a good backup for my most often used focal lengths. I’ve had some really good results with this lens. Total weight of the two camera bodies and four lenses approximately 1.7 Kg / 3.7 lbs, I had to double check this as it seemed wrong but it’s correct, amazing!!. To put this in perspective a popular make and model ofΒ  top of the range DSLR body with battery and memory card fitted weighs in at approximately 890 grams, add a backup camera body and a comparable selection of lenses and one is well over 1.7 Kg. Okay I guess if one is young and/or of an athletic build or being driven around all the time but I’m neither of those.

12-32 for blog

Kind regards

leigh sig 2



PS.Β  To help inform my decision making and as a matter of interest I thought I’d see which focal length(s) and also which lenses I’ve taken the most shots with so I used Lightroom’s smart collections feature to crunch the numbers. The focal length was a bit of a surprise as it turns out I’ve used 25 mm (50 mm in 35 mm film terms) the most, maybe not totally surprising as this was the first MFT lens that I bought and I have a soft spot for this focal length going right back to my film days, but nether the less I’d have thought thatΒ  wide angle focal lengths would have featured significantly higher up. As for my most used lens, no surprise at all it’s my trusty, much-travelled and much-loved M.Zuiko 12-40 mm. πŸ™‚ . As I expected my longer focal lengths, above 40 mm were well down in the numbers. As an aside, I also confirmed that the vast majority of my shots are taken at f5.6 which is the sweet spot for sharpness on most of my lenses. The irony in this being that my preferred style of painterly work isn’t meant to be biting sharp but one can always loose sharpness selectively, one can’t generally get it back if it’s not there to start with.

Hanging about: A system that ticks all my boxes.

Hi everyone,

A while back I started getting in to the Op/Tech range of straps and connectors. This is the most versatile system I’ve found to date. With this system I can quickly attach my camera to either a neck strap, hang it from my backpack straps or fit a wrist strap thus:

Figure 1.

optech system 2

Fit the straps to the backpack making sure the male connector end is on the right hand side as you look at it. Connect the uni-loop connectors to the camera with, importantly, the male connector on the left hand side as you look at the camera with the the lens front end pointing towards you.

Figure 2.

optech system 1

Detach the uni-loop connectors and keeps as spares or for use with another camera,binoculars etc.).

Figure 3.

optech system 3

Detach the padded part of the strap and keep the straps as spares or to use with another camera, I used mine for my binoculars.

Figure 4.

optech system 4

With the system set up you can

  1. Attach the camera (or my binoculars) directly to the backpack straps or….
  2. Connect the camera (or binoculars) to the straps shown in figure 2 with these connected to the padded part show in figure 3 and you have a neck strap or….
  3. Disconnect any straps and attach the camera to the wrist strap. As an added safety measure I like to fit the wrist strap to the camera when changing between the backpack straps or the neck strap so that there’s always at least one strap connected to the camera.
  4. You can even use the straps shown in figure 2 and attach them to the backpack straps and extend the length even further but the straps are already long enough for my needs and the camera hangs comfortably resting on my chest.

Personally I’m enjoying using the camera attached to the backpack straps. The weight of the camera is taken up by the straps and ultimately by my shoulders and not my neck and also there’s one less strap hanging around my neck to get caught up in things.

In use:

optech backpack straps

Camera connected directly to the backpack straps shown in figure 1.

optech neck strap

Camera connected to the the strap shown in figure 2 and the padded neck part shown in figure 3. I leave the straps and padded part connected together and stowed in my rucksack.

optech wrist strap

Camera connected to the wrist strap shown in figure 4.

I’m very impressed with the quality and design of the Op/Tech gear so I have ordered up one of their neoprene camera cases to replace the one shown above which should be a perfect fit for my Olympus EM-5 Mk 2 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm lens combination. This case has the advantage that it will remain attached to the camera when the camera is being used by means of a strap which attaches to the camera’s tripod screw fitting. They do a range of these cases to fit various makes and types of camera.

optech case

I have absolutely no affiliation with Op/Tech, I’m sharing because it might be of interest to someone out there on the Worldwide Interwebnet thingy. πŸ™‚

If you are interested in the backpack shown above see this post for further information.

Kind regards

leigh sig 2

Goodbye shoulder bags, hello rucksack!.

Hi everyone,

After years of carrying shoulder bags, I’ve finally given up on them or rather my neck, shoulders and back have 😦 . After getting repeated health-related problems with them I’ve switched to a rucksack/backpack.

After looking around I found a very nicely made one made by National Geographic/Manfrotto which ticks all the boxes for my needs, doesn’t look like a camera bag and also gives more room to pack a few extra items like a waterproof, drinks bottle, passport, travel docs etc.. It spreads the weight much better and I’m hoping that it’ll help with alleviating my various aches and pains. The clincher was that this backpack is currently on sale at half price on the Manfrotto website. I found an excellent review article here that goes into a lot of detail –Β . It also has the extra benefit of fitting my National Geographic rain cover πŸ™‚ and its small enough to qualify as carry-on luggage on aircraft and will go in an overhead locker.

Some pics –


The flap cover has a small zip up pocket where the stripe design is that can hold a few items. There are also two generously-sized zip pockets on the sides shown in the photo below. Above one of the pockets there is a strap so a small monopod or perhaps a table top tripod (not a big tripod) could be attached on the side.


I addedΒ OP/TECH Uni Adapter Loop XL System ConnectorsΒ to the D-Rings to fit in with my other OP/TECH straps and fittings so that the camera can be hung directly from the pack which in turn will take the weight of the camera and lens away from my neck. EDIT: I found a better way to connect the camera to the backpack straps, see this post for details.


Padded camera equipment compartment (removable if desired) containing Olympus OM-D EM-1 with grip and 12-40mm zoom lens and OP/TECH HAT/HOOD attached, 2 spare batteries in waterproof storage cases, 40-150mm zoom lens, 7.5mm fisheye lens and spare memory card case (under fisheye lens). All the gear I need to get to frequently.


Inside: National Geographic rain cover for the bag (the orange-coloured thing) πŸ™‚ , ThinkTANK emergency camera rain cover and pouch, small first aid kit, GPS data logger, Anker Astro 6.7 mAH USB powerbank and waterproofΒ  jacket. You can’t see in the photo but in front of them is a large zip pocket in which I’ve packed a few other items including a couple of ND filters, Micro USB cables, USB camera battery charger, OP/TECH wrist strap and the straps that go with the OP/TECH systems connectors. See this postΒ for more information on my OP/TECH and thinkTANK gear.

alt camera loadout

Alternative gear load out.

I have no affiliation with any of the manufacturers of the equipment mentioned in this post.

Kind regards

leigh sig 2

PS. I forgot to mention that the backpack also has a very large padded compartment which they claim will accommodate a 17 inch laptop. You can just see the zip for it on the left in the second on my photos. I’m not using it but I have no reason to doubt them on size and it swallows up my 10 inch Android tablet with ease. I’m using it to store a large dry bag folded flat which is capable of going over the whole backpack if required.


What’s in my bag?

Hi folks,

I’ve been revising my travel gear.

Home brew canvas camera bag with waterproof padded insert, Olympus OM-D E-M1, M.Zuiko 12-40mm lens, XUME adapter and hi-vis (not so easily lost) πŸ™‚ 62mm yellow lens cap, Op/Tech – camera strap, wrist strap and hood/hat, LOMO waterproof dry box containing Anker USB powerbank, USB LED torch, charging cable and memory card storage case, 2 or 3 spare camera batteries in waterproof cases, Garmin GPS, filters in neoprene case, thinkTANK emergency rain cover, radio transceiver and waterproof case.

I have added stick-on indicators to the battery cases to let me know the charge state of the batteries and a thin cable tie to secure the lens cap to the XUME filter adapter so that it doesn’t detatch from the adapter. I’ve ordered some zip pulls to attach to the zips to make life a little easier when wearing gloves. I’m also adding some hi-vis reflective patches to my bag after nearly getting run over at night in an un-lit country lane in the Corfu countryside!. πŸ™‚ One of which I’m going to stick over the completely naff name plate on the front of the bag. I like to think that I have a degree of “charm” and “a personallity” but not stuck on the front of my bag! πŸ™‚

whats in my bag 1s

whats in my bag 2s

whats in my bag 3s

Update: finished camera bag with zip pulls, carabiners and hi-vis strips attached.

bags shots.jpg

bag finished small

Fitted with National Geographic rain cover –

bag with rain cover

Kind regards

leigh sig 2

Born in the USA : Gear update – a few of my latest favourite things.

Hi everyone,

Here’s a few of my latest photo gear additions from Op/Tech, Think Tank and Manfrotto.

1. OP/TECH USA 1511372 Pro Loop StrapΒ 


I’ve been using Op/Tech straps on my cameras for a few years now and found them very comfortable and durable. IΒ  was attracted to this neoprene strap not only for its comfort but for its quick release system connector mechanism. This strap has great ergonomics and really helps to cushion and spread the weight. It has a dimpled inner surface not shown in the above photo which helps to avoid slippage.

2.Β OP/TECH 1301042 Secure Its x4 System Connectors


These velcro strips wrap around the quick release connector to add an extra layer of security and keep things tidy and free from snagging. You only need two but you get four in a packet. Nice to have spares and also for use with the wrist strap below.

3.Β OP/TECH 6701062 SLR Wrist Strap


Interchangeable with the Pro Loop strap as it uses the same connector system.

4.Β OP/TECH 8001112 3.5″ Small Hood HatΒ 


Made out of neoprene it fits snugly over my M.Zuiko 12-40mm PRO lens with the lens hood attached and gives an extra degree of protection from knocks and the elements. It is also quick to fit and remove. For even more added protection in transit it can be still be used with a conventional lens cap fitted if desired.

Β 5. Think Tank Emergency Rain Cover (Small)

think tank emergency rain coverΒ 

I’ve been looking for ages to find a quality made affordable rain cover and this really fits the bill. It is lightweight and comes in a small pouch which takes up no room in my camera bag. It attaches around the front of the lens and also to the camera hot shoe and has a large transparent panel at the back so that one can see the viewfinder, LCD screen and camera controls etc.. It also has a draw-string fastener at the bottom and is also available in a larger size to fitΒ  longer lenses.

It has room to get both of one’s hands inside. It is a very cost effective alternative to their more elaborate HydroPhobia product as it isΒ  designed for those, who, like me,Β  want to carry a small and quick and easy to attach, well made, rain cover. I bought the Op/Tech wrist strap specifically to use with this cover. It’s also nice to see a manufacturer catering for mirrorless cameras!.

6. Manfrotto XUME adapters.


I’ve had these a while now and they make changing filters incredibly quick and easy. They comprise of two parts, a quick-release lens adapter which screws on the lens and a quick-release filter holder in to which you screw on the filter. The two parts attach with a strong magnet and quickly pull apart and snap on so no need for time-consuming screwing/unscrewing the filter and risking wear and cross-threading etc..

Interestingly all of the above products are made in the U.S.A. I’ve found other products from the U.S.A like my multi-port Anker USB chargers and power banks to be reliable and really well designed and manufactured. I have absolutely no affiliation with any of the companies mentioned in this post.

Kind regards

leigh sig 2

Why I take protecting my gear from water seriously!

Hi everyone,

A friend of mine laughed when I mentioned the steps I take to protect my gear from water. He said “You’re going to a hot country, why bother?, it’s not going to rain!”. Well I’m pleased that I did. Two days in to our trip we got caught in what I can only describe as a monsoon in Corfu Town, the heavens opened up and the streets resembled small streams, we were wading through water in some places ankle-deep and got absolutely soaked to the skin but, unlike us, all my gear stayed bone dry. πŸ™‚ The day had started hot and sunny with no indication of what was going to happen.

The second occasion was potentially much worse as we got very wet on a boat trip to the extent where one could brush off the salt spray from one’s skin when it dried and salt water is much worse than rain water for damaging one’s gear. My canvas bag got pretty wet but, thanks to my efforts to water-proof my gear, again everything stayed bone dry.Β  I’ve been on boat trips in Greece, Malta and Italy before and had previous experience of this so was forearmed!. πŸ™‚

My first layer of protection is the bag itself which will keep off light showers and inside that a “water-proof” padded insert inside which I carry my camera gear and for added protection when I deem it required my camera and attached lens inside a neoprene case.

Equally importantly is protecting my spare batteries, memory cards and GPS data-logger as shown below. The batteries are in waterproof storage boxes inside a waterproof plastic case. The memory cards are inside a storage case protected by a neoprene case and, as with the batteries, a waterproof plastic case giving them three layers of protection and my Holux GPS data-logger is protected by a blue plastic latching waterproof case. If I’m 110% sure that the chances of rain are absolutely nil and to make battery and memory card changing a tad faster and/or to save a tiny amount of weight I can omit the two orange plastic case cases but they weigh so little it’s really not worth it.


Maybe I’m paranoid about protecting my gear from water but it’s certainly paid off on several occasions. Without the protection the thunderstorm in Corfu Town would have damaged if not ruined much of my gear and there’s always the risk of short-circuiting batteries, a risk I’m not prepared to take. Expect the unexpected!.

And my Anker 5-port USB charger, shown here simultaneously powering/charging a camera battery, my 1 Terabyte portable hard disk and mobile phone connected via a powered USB/SDHC card reader hub, GPS data-logger and spare vape battery with one charging port free once again proved invaluable. πŸ™‚

battery charging

Kind regards

leigh sig 2


D.I.Y camera rucksack

Hi everyone,

Thought I’d share this. I bought a cheap webbing rucksack (Β£11.99), a padded camera insert (Β£13.24)Β Β and a XXL 40L capacity fold dry bag (Β£11.90) and made myself a spacious, waterproof, lightweight camera rucksack for a fraction of the price of a shop bought one.

  1. Rucksack


2. Showing waterproof dry bag closed.

Rucksack 2

3. Showing dry bag opened and padded camera insert.

Rucksack 3

4. Camera insert opened.

Rucksack 4

The rucksack also has one large front pocket and two generously sized side pockets. My SLIK tabletop tripod/chest pod fits very well in one of the side pockets. All told it afford three layers of water protection. Four layers actually if you consider that my camera gear itself is pretty waterproof πŸ™‚

Kind regards

leigh sig 2


I’m sold on monopods

Hi everyone,

As you will have noticed I’ve been getting in to panoramas quite a lot recently. I’ve always hated tripods as they take time to setup and collapse and have to be carried around all day by me on foot and don’t suit my style of picture taking at all. Having said all that, I have just bought and tried out for the first time yesterday, a new monopod.Β  I had one years ago and haven’t the vaguest idea where it went but somehow I parted company with it. All my panoramas have been done hand-held and it works pretty well but it’s hard not to tilt upward or downward as one moves around and although the images align well one looses real estate and therefore the image isn’t as big as it could be.

Enter the monopod, for my usage it works very well. The panoramas I took yesterday down by the river stitched together with very little wastage and I’d say the usable area was at the very least 95%. I found it best to push town on the monopod and rotate myself around the axis giving about 30% overlap in the images. I also turned on the in-camera viewfinder spirit levels and the monopod makes them usable whereas with hand-holding they don’t help one little bit. If you can hand-hold and keep both of the levels centered and do this for a series of shots then I’m in awe of your stability!. πŸ™‚

As is my way I’ve started with a pretty cheap although study model with a simple ball and socket type head with quick release plate, the same type as fits my SLIK tabletop tripod/chestpod, and free delivery (standing joke) πŸ™‚ . I’m thinking that one with the fold out legs at the bottom might be my next investment once I’ve finished putting my current one through it’s paces. I particularly like that the model I bought extends to good comfortable working height and weighs only one pound.

Another thing I’m keen to try out is to hold the camera fitted with wide-angle lens mounted on the monopod above people’s heads and use the programmable timer function to take a series of shots above the crowds. Something that would have really come in useful with the hoards of selfie-stick waving tourist and tour guides adorned with their umbrellas topped with fluffy gonks at all the tourist spots in Prague who were seemingly trying their best to decapitate me. Generally-speaking I don’t really want people in my shots, one of two maybe but not huge crowds of them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being anti-social, in fact some of my best friends are people!. πŸ™‚

Best wishes

leigh sig 2