Photographic walk-about kits
My favourite walkabout kit:
I'm getting too old to be carrying around 10kg all day long, so I usually select 2 camera bodies, each with a lens attached, and perhaps, an extra lens.
Olympus E510 + Olympus ZD 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD
1.5kg but a very versatile outfit with high quality, image stabilised, wide aperture 100-400mm range in 35mm terms.
will do nice portraits with great bokeh as long as you have a bit of space
will do fantastic nature close up work at 1.2m giving 1:2 image stabilised macro with option of using built-in flash or Olympus ring flash which is designed for this lens.
and of course, at 400mm f/3.5 in telephoto reach terms becomes an extremely useful tool for wildlife, close birds, or for compressing perspective
it may be a bit big and heavy for some people but it is nicely balanced, I can carry it with 1-2 fingers on the E510.
many people use this with the Olympus ZD 1.4x TC to give a 35mm equivalent reach of 140-560mm at f/3.9-4.9.
this lens would be even better with the Olympus E3 which makes it more responsive and functions better for action shots, while the 2x TC may AF even at the long end using the E3 (not tested).
if this lens was too big & heavy for the occasion, then I may consider the ZD 50mm f/2.0 macro as an alternative
Olympus E330 + Olympus ZD 7-14mm
real time live preview AF with a flip out LCD for low angle shots at 14mm equivalent focal length
this is just not possible with ANY other system and allows for very creative shots without breaking your back.
when the light is low, swap this lens onto the E510 or E3 and with their image stabiliser and careful holding you can take sharp photos hand held at 14mm eq. focal length at 0.5sec exposure to produce creative shots with subject motion blur.
Canon 1DMIII with a lens to suit my mood and subject for the day such as:
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 IS L
this gives 35mm eq. range of 32-137mm, which although not as wide as I would like, complements the above combinations.
I like combination for landscape work (often with a ND gradient filter) or general purpose photography
for waterfall shots, I also take a polariser filter to allow longer exposures and a tripod
if I had the Olympus ZD 11-22mm or 12-60mm, or perhaps their forthcoming 9-18mm, I might be less inclined to bother carrying this outfit weighing almost 2kg around.
Canon 45mm tilt shift lens
mainly for shooting buildings when the shift comes in handy to allow me to avoid convergent lines, but also the tilt is useful for emphasising a subject by changing the focal plane.
Canon 90mm tilt shift lens
mainly for creative work such as portraits, closeup
Canon 135mm f/2.0 + 1.4x TC
great for when I want really smooth bokeh and to isolate a subject
good for relatively close action shots at 10fps and ISO 3200
however, if I don't need ISO 3200 or 10fps, then the Olympus 50-200mm lens outfit usually suffices.
Olympus OM 21mm or 24mm lens
great for infrared work with a R72 filter (although this must be removed to compose and focus)
tripod is mandatory with this combination.
Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens
great for outdoor portraits to isolate the subject
I often take a Westcott umbrella softbox, umbrella bracket and Canon 580 EXII flash + ST-E2 IR transmitter +/- 2nd 590EXII flash and orange gel if I have a 3rd person to hold this flash accessory outfit.
What other combinations would I consider?
Nikon pro outfit:
Nikon D700 with Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G
this would give THE BEST quality 14-24mm range images with the most dynamic range and ability to use high ISO with low noise and/or fast burst rates for creative action shots.
with this quality camera, you would want to pair it with a high quality standard lens such as the Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G
Nikon D300 with Nikon AF-S VR 70-200mm f/2.8G
unfortunately this lens is too soft at the edges and vignettes too much for high quality use with the full frame D700, but it matches nicely with the DX crop of the D300 which would make a nice 2nd body and give you a 35mm equivalent telephoto range of 105-300mm f/2.8 with the ability to extend this with either a 1.4x or 2x TC.
thus with these 2 bodies, 3 lenses and a 2x TC, after going bankrupt, you would have a high quality, albeit heavy outfit without image stabilisation below 105mm, but covering a range of 14-600mm.
and if you needed specialty lenses, Nikon have some nice new and very expensive tilt shift lenses, while prime lenses such as the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lens would provide a very nice portrait lens.
personally I would not be spending money on DX lenses unless you were on a tight budget
Nikon budget outfit:
my main concern here is that the cheapest Nikon dSLRs such as the D40/D40x/D60 cannot AF with certain lenses such as the 50mm standard lenses and this means good portrait shots with blurred backgrounds are hard to achieve with these cameras, so personally, I would avoid them other than as a back up camera, perhaps for street photography or landscapes.
furthermore, the full frame lenses are generally not well matched to the DX sensor, so most budget photographers will opt for DX lenses and then later upgrade their whole kit to full frame.
Nikon D80 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor
a very useful travel lens covering 27-300mm but image quality is compromised
add a 50mm f/1.4 or f/1.8 AF-S lens for portraiture
Olympus budget outfit:
if one can afford it, get the 14-42mm kit lens plus ZD 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD
this gives high quality image stabilised 28-400mm range which can later be extended by:
1.4x TC to extend its range to a 560mm f/4.9 in 35mm terms.
buying the ZD 12-60mm to give higher quality 24-120mm range
personally I would go for the 50-200mm lens over a combination of 50mm macro and 70-300mm which would end up being a similar price, as the quality of the 50-200mm is better than the 70-300
the twin lens kit is the best budget kit lenses out there and with IS built-in makes a very light, compact outfit which will satisfy many people and cover 28-300mm range
for those needing more range and cannot afford the ZD 50-200mm lens, then the ZD 70-300mm lens which gives a very versatile 140-600mm equivalent image stabilised range at still good image quality for the price.
for portrait and macro work, the brilliant ZD 50mm f/2.0 macro makes a great travel lens, particularly if you can't afford the 50-200mm.
Canon APS-C outfit:
personally, I am not a big fan of the lenses designed for Canon's 1.6x cropped sensors and they cannot be used on a 1.3x crop or full frame, so I am not keen on such an outfit, and the leading Canon cropped dSLR, the 40D, is no match in features for either the Nikon D300 or the Olympus E3.
even though Canon has improved their kit lenses they still fall behind in quality compared to Olympus, so you would need to look at buying a decent standard zoom.
the budget dSLRs (450D, 1000D) lack IS built-in, have a miserable +/- 2EV exposure compensation instead of +/- 5EV, only 30sec max. timed exposure instead of 60sec, and use SD cards not CF cards.
having said this, they take great photos, its just that I think there are better options.
Canon 40D or Canon 450D +