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Jack be nimble

It was back in 2011.  I stood in front of the check-in desk in a state of anxiety.  Now that is not in itself unusual.  I am not at my most serene in airports.  Still this was a heightened state.  Something weighed heavily on my mind or, more correctly, my back.   There sat my Thinktank Airport Take Off roller case chock to the gunnels with my 5DII along with every lens and accessory I thought I might need at NAB and a road trip round the SW USA.  I was carrying it with every ounce of nonchalance I could muster.  But the check-in clerk wasn't fooled and invited me to place it on the scales.  Virgin Atlantic allows just 6Kg for check-in luggage.  I already knew the scales would be show my bag to be a little more, a whole 6Kg more in fact.  The laptop was disallowed but that still left me at 10Kg.  I begged, I offered to pay extra - still no chance.  There was no alternative, I gave the prearranged signal.  Slipping past the lines my parent appeared on their white chargers and handed me my smaller Tamron Aero.  I could feel 200 hate-filled eyes boring into the back of my head as I hurriedly repacked items into my suitcase at the head of the queue.  I waved good-bye to an unhealthy proportion of my lenses as they slid down they conveyor.

I can relieve the tension for you now.  No lenses were harmed in the telling of this story.  A month later and I am back in the US.  This was not to be a photography biased trip.  A combined business conference and family trip in Florida.  After my earlier experience I left the DSLR behind packing only my Olympus XZ1.  It's a nice little camera and perfect for a few quality family snaps.  Then they delayed the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour rescheduling right into the middle my trip.  Now I am a child of the space age, one of my earliest memories is being brought downstairs by my Dad in the middle of the night to see Neil Armstrong step on the moon.  My nickname is ironically not related to the Shuttle, but I still took it as a sign - this was too good to miss.  So sacrificing a bit of a keynote and a good quantity of sleep, my Dad and I headed to Titusville in my rental Mustang.  As I stood in Space Park looking over (way over), to Canaveral I couldn't help thinking of that nice white lens sitting in my house.  I was hopelessly outgunned by the spectators around me.

So I decided I needed some sort of halfway house for travelling - something that would not exercise the scales at Manchester Airport but could match my DSLR for flexibility.  I had a brief fling with a super zoom but it didn't work out.  It was just too slow and too soft.  It doesn't matter how good the feature set is if you just don't like the pictures. At Focus on Imaging I saw the Olympus reps wandering around with the new OM-D EM-5.  It struck me straight away that it was a very pretty camera that felt nice in my hands.  Despite some interesting entrants from Sony, Canon and Fuji nothing turned my eye from the Oly.  It also had the advantage of a great choice in properly compact lenses.

I am typing this on my iPad on a plane heading to Florida.  Sitting somewhere over my head is my new Thinktank Retrospective 7 bag.  In there sits the OM-D and 6 lenses spanning 18-300mm (35mm equivalent); 3 of which are below f2.8. There is also a MacBook Air and a host of accessories, wires and travel docs.  Even when the iPad was in there too it weighed exactly 6Kg.  Overkill for a family holiday?  Probably, but why take the chance.  If they are going to give you a 6Kg limit it seems almost rude not to use it.

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