Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. The varied knowledge is amazing on this forum.
So far, I'm leaning towards getting the dedicated hiking backpack and a padded insert as an ICU as many of you have suggested. So in terms of the backpack, I'm liking the reviews on the Osprey Aether 60L pack and plan to try it out in person later this week. Might change my mind later on but there's still plenty of time for that. As for the ICU, I like the Clik Elite Capsule so far. Would have gone for the Mountainsmith Kit Cube as suggested earlier by Eagle Eye, but being in Canada, the price with shipping is fairly ridiculous when there are alternative options... I'll keep on looking around though.
Keep on coming with the interesting tips everyone. I'm still very new to backpacking so it's good to learn.
Try to resist the temptation to buy the ultimate backpack now. Once you have some real hiking experience, your taste/need/knowledge factor will probably change. There are a lot of great makes and while Osprey is a great pack, it's pretty expensive. Keep your mind open. Buy what works for YOU, not what the marketing sells you. Depending on your area and what outfitters are near you go to at least two or three well stocked stores and try on at least 6 to 12 packs that you like. Hopefully each store will have qualified staff to help you get a good fit. It's important that the pack fit your hip and torso correctly. If not, it doesn't matter what price or cool factor the pack has, it's simply not for you. Make sure it's fitted to you with at least 30 lbs or of weight in it. Once fitted, walk around the store for 15 minutes or so with the weight. After you have tried a few packs, you should pretty much know your measurements so future fittings will go faster. Google some info on how the pack should fit and how most packs adjust. (Main adjustment straps are hip, shoulder and load lifters.)
BTW, you may run across some great forums that are dedicated to ultralite hiking. As tempting as it is to embrace this type of hiking, it's an advanced thing and an exercise in greater and greater compromises to save weight. It's not as easy as it sounds and since you are carrying camera equipment, you are already breaking all those rules anyway. Save weight by getting a great down sleeping bag, upper line ultralite tent and reduce your non-essential gear like that blacksmith anvil you probably want to carry.
Personally, I am using a Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 tent and a zpacks 20 degree water resistant down sleeping bag. (zpacks also makes a super ultralite tent but it's expensive and takes some getting used to.) Also, Thermarest NeoAir is your absolute best friend! I'll share more info later if you ask but for now, just focus on getting the backpack, decent boots and socks.