Photographic equipment is typical carry-on luggage. The callenge is to fit all the gear into a bag or case that meets the maximum size limit for the airline. Here's the list of things that must fit into my bag:
- FA* 600mm f/4
- DA* 300mm f/4
- DA* 60-250mm f/4
- DA* 16-50mm f/2.8
- DA 14mm f/2.8
- one K-7 with vertical grip
- one K-7 without grip
- Metz 58 AF-1 flash
- 14" laptop
- portable disks for backup
- A few chargers and power supplys
I was quite optimistic at first, because there actually are a couple of photobag solutions that will hold a 600mm and, according to the marketing, fit into the overhead lockers in airplanes. The ThinkTank Airport Security v2 is one such example. It's built specifically to meet the limits for domestic flights in USA.
USA limits, however, are far more generous than elsewhere in the world. Check the wording on American Airlines' website for example. ThinkTank also acknowledge this, and recommend their "international" model for flights outside US. But it doesn't hold a 600mm.
My heart sank a bit, but based on previous experience with various European airlines I decided that I'll probably get away with the USA version anyway, and shelled out the money. Since then I've even brought it from Oslo to London and back with two different airlines without trouble, so my confidence grew. But my upcoming trip will also involve domestic flights in Argentina, so I felt I had to check the allowance there too. Just in case.
That's what I should have checked first. Aerolineas Argentinas have even stricter rules for the size of carryons. 55 x 35 x 25 cm. The good news is that a 600mm will, in principle, fit within these limits. The bad news is that no photo bag exists that makes the most of these particular volume restrictions.
My best answer is an ordinary soft-walled carryon bag from Carlton. It's slightly over the limit on paper, but in practice a tight fit. And the 600mm fits neatly inside.
And bless Pentax for supplying pouches with their lenses. In airports and planes, those pouches are sufficient as padding between the items. With all the lenses separated by pouches, I'll wrap some clothes around the cameras and the laptop, dress up the 600mm in its rain cover, and that's it. I test-packed today and it looks really good. I could even sneak in my passport and a couple of dollar bills.
And I will just have to hope that nobody wants to check the weight of the thing...