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The sound of money not whooshing out the door

Nikon have conspired to leak the specs of their next top-line pro DSLR, the D3X. Naturally, I want one. Because, you know, what Nikon user wouldn’t?

I’ve spent most of the week trying to work out the best way to cart camera gear to the states for UDS week. I’ll be there all week (try the pasta, folks) and I’ll have the Sunday before UDS to be Mr Tourist, so I figured that taking at least some gear with me would be worth it.

Of course, I’ve got to deal with Virgin Atlantic’s stupidly small hand baggage limit of just 6kg (13lbs to our American brethren), so I’ve spent much of the week trying out various configurations of equipment in the two camera bags that I own to see what I can manage.

As far as I can tell, for 6kg, in my lightest bag (a Kata R-103 backpack) I can take:

  • My laptop and its charger.
  • The D300
  • My 50mm f/1.8 Nikkor (the lightest lens I own)
  • and nothing else.

So, I toyed around with a couple of solutions:

  • Buy a lighter bag.
  • Buy a Nikon 18-200mm lens to replace the 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses

And then I realised something fairly fundamental: I was actively trying to work out how to spend money so as to not fall afoul of Virgin’s silly restrictions. Even I, crazy as I am sometimes, am not daft enough to actually thing that that’s a smart thing to do.

So on the advice of a friend of mine who travels so much I’m surprised she can ever stop to lick a stamp I’m going to use the strategy known as "you’re a man, you’ve got pockets: use them." Once I’ve checked in the lenses can go back in the bag for security and everyone will be happy. Hopefully. Well, we’ll see anyway.

But all this arsing about with weighing scales and gear configurations brought me to ask myself another question: Why the hell am I trying to take all this stuff with me? What do I actually need?

Looking back over my photos from the last year I’ve realised that I don’t actually use all that many different lenses most of the time. As far as I can tell, my preferred lens is the 10-20mm Sigma, with the 30mm Sigma coming a close second.

So, for San Francisco, then, a challenge: Can I shoot The City with just two lenses? I’m going to take with me the 10-20mm, the 50mm Nikkor and, for insurance purposes only, the 55-200mm. I aim not to use the latter unless I absolutely have to (and if I have to then I’ve failed in my task, evidently).

I’ll let you know how it goes.