I spent an evening in York the other day (see previous post), and knowing that I'd be on foot, shooting hand-held in low-light, I took my current 'walk-round' outfit. Now I'm generally no fan of zooms, preferring instead fixed focal length (prime) lenses with a decent fast maximum aperture.
On this occasion I went equipped with a Nikon D7000, an old Nikon 20mm f/2.8 Ai-S manual focus lens, a Nikon 35mm AF-S f/1.8 DX lens and a Nikon 85mm f/1.8 AF-D. You'll notice that these are all fast, but not the fastest available, and there's 2 good reasons for this: cost and weight.
As an example, the 35mm f/1.8 weighs some 400g less than it's f/1.4 cousin, and costs over a thousand pounds less. OK, the f/1.4 is the better lens under some circumstances, but it also serves to demonstrate what great value it's slower cousin is - but only if you are shooting DX of course!
I was really pleased with the results from this little outfit, and it made me reflect on how this harks back to the sort of gear you might have had, or hankered after, 30 or 40 years ago when 35mm SLRs came to the attention of mainstream consumers. Chances are if you had a Zenit, Praktica, or if you were really fortunate like me, a Pentax ME Super, then you would have started with a 50mm, added a 28mm wide angle, and perhaps a 135mm telephoto. Fast forward 40 years, and that's pretty much how my 'compact' outfit stacks up: the equivalents are 30mm, 52mm and 127mm.
In terms of portability, quality and value (if you purchase the 20 & 85 used), I think this trio will take a lot to beat. Provided that is, it suits the style of photography you want to practice with it.
Two other essential pieces of equipment needed for a rainy shoot - lens hoods and a clear shower cap. The shower cap goes over the camera (it's best to remove the strap), protecting it from rain but allowing you to see and access controls and LCD, but I found it best to pull it off the viewfinder to compose.
If you keep the lens pointed slightly down, lens hoods protect the front element from rain spots. The hood for the 85mm is a bit bulky, so I used a Hoya rubber one, which also happily fits the 20mm and can be extended or retracted to suit either lens. The smaller plastic hood supplied with the 35mm did the job perfectly.