Packing, Part #1

Wow, this is coming up fast.  With only 23 days before my plane leaves, I’ve got to start thinking about packing.

I’ll admit that my call with Dave Black earlier in the fall threw me off a bit.  I had initially planned to “go light” and borrow from the Nikon room when necessary.  But now that I’ve seen maps of the facilities, Dave’s advice to be self-reliant was right on.  There just won’t be time to go back to the main press center between events.

So here’s the camera gear I’m planning to bring.  With only a couple of exceptions, it’s my typical “kit” for a big event.


Three camera bodies :

  • Nikon D5
  • Nikon D850 : Is it a landscape camera? Yes.  Is is an action camera? You bet.  It’s the craziest, best thing that Nikon has come out with in a very long time – ESPECIALLY if you like buying hard drives.
  • Nikon D4s : I’ll use this one primarily as a fixed remote when needed.

Seven lenses :

  • Nikon 300mm, f2.8 : My favorite ski lens of all time.  Sharp as nails.
  • Nikon 70 – 200mm, f2.8 : Years ago when I was shooting my first World Cup, I heard one of the European photographers describe this as a “fighting” lens.  Great all the time, but when a mass start comes down to a fight for the finish, it’s the one that you absolutely want to have in your hands.
  • Nikon 14 – 24mm, f2.8 : A bit of a specialty lens, but another favorite.
  • Nikon 24 – 70mm, f2.8
  • Nikon 35mm, f2 :  If you remove the battery grip from the D850 and add this lens, it’s a remarkably compact package.
  • Nikon 1.4x teleconverter
  • Nikon 24 – 120mm, f4 : This one is new to me.  My hope is that it’ll be a great lens for a fixed remote.  And frankly, it’s been a permanent fixture on the front of my camera since I bought it.

Assorted :

  • Three Pocketwizard Multimax with custom IDs
  • Manfrotto Magic Arm with a Hejnar Arca-Swiss plate.
  • Really Right Stuff Pocket Pod & Micro-ball Head :  RRS’s price points hurt just a little, but this was worth it.  At most races, I’ll shoot with one camera and use another as a “walking” remote – I’ll move it to different spots during the race.  After trying a bunch of pocket tripods/heads over the years, I’ve found that this is the only one that doesn’t creep from the weight of the camera.
  • Nikon SB700 flash : I’ve got some team shots to take and will use this for a little fill.
  • Nikon SU800 flash commander – Allows the flash to be used remotely.  And the very talented Joel Marklund taught me a few tricks with this at last year’s World Junior / U23 Championships in Soldier Hollow.

If anyone has any suggestions, please send them along.  And if someone wants to buy me this new Nikon lens,  please know that I will be eternally grateful.  Email me for a shipping address.

USANA 2017 FIS Nordic Junior & U23 World Ski Championships
Here’s a “walking” remote shot from last year’s World Junior/U23 Championships in Soldier Hollow, UT.  Photographers weren’t allowed to stand in this area, but we could put cameras here.

Magic Arms and Arca-Swiss Clamp Heads

This will be — without question — the single most boring post in the history of blogging and suitable only for the most discerning gear head.  But if you use a magic arm, I might be able to save you a little time.

A Manfrotto Magic Arm is just that.  Want to mount a camera on a basketball backboard?  You need a Magic Arm.  Hang a camera from rafters?  Magic Arm.  Tuck a flash up near the ceiling?  You know it.

The challenge is the connecting clamp.  I moved to Arca-Swiss style plates a long time ago.  Each camera has one mounted on the bottom.  Which means if I wanted to use my 244RC arm, I needed to stack a Manfrotto plate on the bottom.  Inconvenient for sure, but also unstable.

So as I started thinking about the Olympic trip, I thought about replacing the clamp with something Arca compatible.  And that, my friends, proved more difficult that you’d imagine.  The Magic Arm has an “anti-twist” flange that sits in a groove on the clamp.  Works great, but it also means that — for patent reasons or otherwise — most 3rd party clamp heads don’t work.  I tried a couple from Amazon with no luck.  Asked the kind folks at B&H and they didn’t have any suggestions.  Ditto with Really Right Stuff.

Then I found Chris of Hejnar Photo.  And quick email exchange later, I bought this clamp.  Fits perfectly.

Chris doesn’t call out the 244RC in the copy — which I hope he charges — but if you’re looking to replace a magic arm clamp, this is the way to go.