Lens Testing (Again)

What’s this? I hear you say…another lens to test…could be.

The 14-30 f/4.0 has arrived and… how can I say this…. well, it’s everything I expected, and more. It’s small, light, and makes incredibly sharp (edge to edge) images. I had to go somewhere special to test its abilities…so off I went to the cathedral. (At least we’ve still got a roof on ours…)

The Place de la Cathédrale, Auch

The flare (sunspots looking directly or indirectly into the sun) is very well corrected, and the 14mm ultra-wide angle is made for me! This is also an unusual ultra-wide angle lens because as a general rule lenses of this focal length have a large bulbous front element which prevents the use of filters. Nikon have gone back to basics with this design and we now have an 82mm filter thread which means, for example, that we can now use a circular polarizer filter – something unheard-of before. Yes, the lens is ‘only’ an f/4.0 but I don’t think this will really cause anyone serious problems – the WEB is already alight with the ‘know-alls’ predicting the downfall of Nikon (and the rest of the civilised world…) because it’s not an f/2.8 (which, as it happens, will be coming out next year) but I’ll be happier to A: pay less than the f/2.8 and B: have a more compact (and lighter) lens, and finally C: enjoy using a polarizing filter! The difference in depth of field, particularly at the 14mm ‘end’ of the zoom range will be practically invisible. Yes, this means one ‘stop’ less light, but we also have camera bodies with excellent hi-iso treatment.

La Cathédrale Sainte Marie, Auch

What is remarkable about these interior shots is that, even wide open at f/4.0 the quality is really there – edge to edge. Click on the image to enlarge it.

I will have to do a series of comparisons with the Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 and also the IRIX 11mm f/4.0 – these two will obviously be needing the FTZ adaptor, which is another reason why this new lens is so interesting.

Inside the Cathedral Sainte Marie the stained glass windows are magnificent.

I’m firmly convinced that this lens will fast become my ‘standard’ lens, combined with the NIKON Z 6 body with it’s in-body stabilisation, this is a superb combination!

The « Book Tree », Place de la Liberation, Auch

My next testing series will be with a polarizer…this is going to be fun!

The post « Welcome » decompression

Right well that’s over for another year then. It was strangely quite a lot less stressful than I imagined it was going to be…and not staying until the bitter end each night/morning was a good move too.

The huge poster with my images – 10m x 2.5m

The first evening, Friday, the headliners were a group I’ve photographed before at the Cri’Art in Auch – « La Caravane Passe » – the nice thing about this group of musiciens is that it’s a dynamic set right from the start, which makes it a whole lot more interesting to photograph.

La Caravane Passe – Olivier Llugany

Olivier actually remembered me from their concert at the Cri’Art – possibly because we spent most of our time talking about his home town Perpignan!

Saturday was unusually dry – I can’t remember a « Welcome » weekend where it hasn’t rained – the irony of the situation was that the town of Seissan, where the festival was held, have recently invested a lot of money in covering the otherwise unprotected concrete seating – don’t worry, I feel sure it’ll rain next year…

The headliner forSaturday was the virtuoso guitarist Titi Robin. He had contacted me before arriving to find out if I could do some publicity shots for him and his (3) bands….of course, Mr Robbin!

Shooting – Titi Robin

On stage, it was a different story – much more colourful!

Titi Robin – Ma Gavali

Sunday was THE day – the rather well known headliner arrived very discretely and gave no interviews…but when he arrived on stage, everyone knew who he was…

Emir Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra

In the ‘pit’ where the photographers were, we were all asking ourselves if the Kalashnikov bullets were real…

So all in all a lot less tiring than usual, the food was excellent as usual, and I met up with a great crowd of people that I meet up with every year, as usual. This was my 7th…I wonder if I get a chocolate when I get to ten…

PS With over 5000 images I hd a lot to sort through…and this one popped up after I’d processed the others – I love it, but understand if I’m in a minority…

Emir Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra

How fucked-up can ORANGE really be?

This is the story of how not to get connected to the fibre-optic Internet

Once upon a time a nice salesman working for ORANGE (France Telecom) knocked at the door and asked up if we wanted to get connected to the recently installed fibre-optic cable available in our neighborhood. We said yes as our bandwidth/Internet is excruciatingly slow here, despite not being that far from Auch, and we arranged a date for the work to be done.

The ‘boxes’ (which the technicians connect to the cable once it is installed in our house) arrived and we waited for the ‘fatal’ day when the work would be done. In the meantime, our neighbour told us that her rdv was a few days before ours and so we were keen to see how it all went.

I came home on the day her installation was due to have been completed, only to find that the technicien hadn’t been able to find the original telephone cable that led from a pylon outside the house, and arrived inside the living room – and had left, saying he’d come back another day.

This, frankly, was totally expected of ORANGE who seem to employ people who are a little thick. Anyway, we waited until TODAY, when we had been told the technician would arrive between 8 and 10am.

At 10h15 a van arrived – a man in a lovely yellow hi-visibility vest jumped out and introduced himself. He asked how I was, and I replied that it rather largely depended on his installation of our fibre. He replied that we had a problem, due to the fact that part of the cable the runs to our house from the road, was attached to an EDF (Electricity) pylon, and that he didn’t have the right to touch this. This was the same technician who had visited my neighbour the week before, had closely inspected the same pylon (where her cable is also attached) and hadn’t bothered to do anything about it.

Now we must wait until someone, somewhere decides that this idiot can lean his ladder on the pylon and attach our fibre-optic cable.

I wonder who pays for all the days I have to take off to organise all this?

These people are idiots – if you want a professional job, PLEASE find someone else.

UPDATE 8 days later and we’re still waiting to be contacted to arrange a new date.

UPDATE We’ve now been told we’ll be contacted around the 8th of May. Only just another month to wait… The text message telling us this said « Please be patient » – Do we actually have any choice?

Festival Welcome in Tziganie

Yes, it’s April, so it must be Welcome in Tziganie – and it is.

This is the next event I’ll be cleaning my cameras for – I’ll be spending three days, from the Friday to Sunday the 28th of April in Seissan – it’ll probably rain, but we’re used to it now.

This is the 4th year in Seissan, a village about 20 minutes South of Auch – initially the villagers were somewhat concerned about the arrival of these « hippies » who don’t seem to wash much, live in tents and eat vegetarian food (In the Gers???). But after a very successful first festival there in 2016, they welcome each new festival with open arms – and the municipality go to great lengths to modernise/build/adjust things to help accommodate both the artists and the visitors.

As you can see from the poster above, this year the rather well known film director (and guitarist) Emir Kusturica will be closing the festival on the Sunday evening. His « No Smoking Orchestra » will be interesting to photograph.

I’ve been asked to take some photographs of Titi Robin’s set on the Saturday as he’ll be playing with a new group of musiciens and his publicist doesn’t have any recent shots of him, or them. I’ll do my best – but I hope they realize that publicity shots have to be paid for?

On the Friday there’s a group that I’ve already met and photographed when they played the Cri’Art in Auch in 2016 – La Caravan Passe – great group of guys, so it’ll be nice to meet up with them again. (Thomas, the singer, also appears in a band called Soviet Supreme under the stage name of John Lennin!!)

Sadly my favorite dancer Nuria Rovira Salat won’t be there this year – fingers crossed she’ll be back next year!

The Princesses

Recently received a mail from the Tangram in Evreux (somewhere up in the north of France, between Rouen and Paris) Anyway, they wanted to know if they could use one of my images, taken during a performance of « Les Princesses » (Cheptel Aleïkoum) at the CiRCa festival in 2017. Well of course I said « Yes – if you pay me »

They did – so here’s their poster

The Cheptel are old friends of mine, and if anyone reading this is in the area, « Les Princesses » is well worth the effort!

New Expo Photo

I’ve redesigned my expo posters – the first to benefit is my next expo at the Cant’Auch here in Auch.

NIKON 14-30mm f/4 S

Coming up next on the wish list, this new NIKON lens will start shipping on the 19th April 2019. (Shipping…from where…?)

It uses a similar system as the current 24-70mm f/4 whereby it has a ‘sleep’ setting where the lens folds back into itself for storage. I can’t say I find this very convenient, as I have often fired up the camera, put it to my eye and read the warning that I can’t actually take any photographs without ‘unfolding’ the lens, but in reality this is a very minor criticism.

To the left, Z 6 with the 24-70mm f/4 S and to the right with the 14-30mm f/4 S (Although I can’t imagine how they mounted the 24-70 like that…)

As can be seen, the two lenses are very similar in size, and the outstanding thing for the new 14-30 is the ability (finally!) to mount filters on an ultra-wide angle lens. There’s an 82mm filter thread for this.

The new lens is reasonably light at 485 grammes – considering over 1000g for the 14-24 AF-S version.

Nikon 14-40mm f/4 S ‘closed’.

Nikon 14-30mm f/4 S ‘open’

As already stated, the lens will be available in April but various sites have been able to test pre-production versions and all seem impressed by the quality of the images obtained.

This could be an interesting month…!


I’ve just been reading a few comments from so-called hot-shot pros who seem to think this lens (at 1499€) is overpriced and virtually useless given that it’s only an f/4.0

I find this amusing as I’ve never had any difficulty shooting at f/4 particularly with an ultra-wide. The difference in the depth of field between f/2.8 and f/4 is negligable, as is the difference in exposure. Don’t these people ever change from base ISO?

In terms of the price, yes, it’s not a cheap lens – and no doubt the ‘pro’ f/2.8 version will be considerably more expensive – but what REAL difference will this make to a pro? The existing AF-S 14-24 is around 1900€ new, here in France – sure, it’s a stop faster, but it’s also twice the weight and I can’t put any filters on it. In a few months the price of the new lens will no doubt drop a little, and of course there’ll be no end of « offers » from Nikon to buy the damn things. Just another example of « I’m a pro and know everything so I think I’ll criticise today » Angry Photographer syndrome?

Last but not least, I thought this schematic was interesting to see what’s inside this beasty:

Slagged off on Insta

Funny thing happened today over on Instagram. Magnum, the photo cooperative, published an interesting photo of Gerda Taro with a short text. She was a photo journalist in the period just before the 2nd world war with a tragically short career – she was killed at the age of 26 in 1937. I had heard about her while reading up on Robert Capa some years ago.

It was a pleasure to see that today, International Womens rights Day, that Gerda Taro was being spoken about, however I felt Magnums text was incomplete, not having mentionned Robert Capa – the two had been lovers, and even shared the same ‘nom du plume’ to publish their, collective, images. In fact it turns out that a substantial amount of the work published by « Robert Capa » was by Gerda.

Visibly this was NOT to the taste of everyone – namely a certain Chris Helgren who, on one of the few bits of his web site that actually works, says he is a photographer working for REUTERS. He criticised me for mentioning Capas name saying « …because nothing says Women’s Day better than a reference to a man. »

You got it wrong mate – I think it’s great that someone has finally dug up Gerda Taro’s name for all to see and appreciate her work – I simply mentionned Capa’s name to give context and not in anyway to denegrate the importance of her or the article.

But of course this person says he works for REUTERS, so he must be right.


What is the point?

I’m sorry, perhaps I’m too much of a digital dinosaur, but I cannot, for the life of me, understand why anyone would want to buy this:-

Leica Q2

Well that was silly wasn’t it – I mean, it’s got ‘Leica‘ written on it, so someone, somewhere will be whipping out their credit card…

If it’s you polishing up the plastic, beware that it’s about to take a hefty bang – £4250

This is Leicas latest offering with a 47Mp full-frame sensor, 10fps shooting, and capable of 4K video (but then what isn’t these days) – sadly, the techniciens over in Germany (or was it Japan as most of the ‘technique’ seems to be Nippon with Leica being closely involved with Panasonic these days) decided there was no need to make an orientable rear screen (You vill not make selfies wiz ziz camera!) and if it gets a bit dark, there’s no built in flash.

This is a fixed lens model – yes, it’s a superb 28mm Summilux f/1.7, but you can’t take it off and put on something else. Leica have, however, given the user the option to frame to 35mm, 50mm and 75mm focal lengths – given the massive overdose of pixels in the sensor, digital cropping shouldn’t cause too much loss of quality.

The viewfinder is electronic with3.68 million pixels, so the view should be clear and fluid, and the fixed rear screen is touch-sensitive – pretty much the norm for modern hybrid cameras today.

The reviews are waxing over the sublime quality, the beautiful ‘feel’ etc. Frankly I still think Leica are taking the piss, producing niche cameras – but what the hell, while there are idiots out there willing to pay the price (and as a general rule can’t take photos to save their lives) why not!