Going backwards in time?

I’ve just received an adapteur which will allow me to use my ZEISS lenses from the Hasselblad, on the Z series NIKON cameras.

ZEISS 100mm PLANAR f/3.5 on the K&F Adapteur, FTZ, NIKON Z9

This isn’t really going backwards, even though the lens itself was announced in 1982 and is now discontinued, this was a lens that really lived up to it’s ZEISS name ‘PLANAR’ as it was astonishing ‘flat’ and sharp. The 100mm focal length was almost a ‘standard’ lens for medium format, for which it was designed, but mounted on a 24×36 camera it will be the equivalent to a 55mm lens – the format is roughly 2.5 times larger than 24×36 after all! (The crop factor is .55)

My 150mm ZEISS is equivalent to a 82mm lens on 35mm, and my 40mm ZEISS wide angle will be the equivalent to a 22mm – which suits me as I LOVE wide angle lenses….

Pics to follow…

Christmas?

Sadly, the ‘festive’ season is soon to be upon us – ‘festive’ with a small ‘f’ this year as with fuel and basically everything costing many times more than it did last year, there’s not really a lot to be festive about.

So I had a thought – I’ve produced a limited series of colour prints, sold with a matte board signed and numbered, ready for whacking into a nice frame to offer to someone as a Christmas present. This has been done in conjunction with a local arts and crafts shop which will also handle the mounting, if desired. They have a large selection of different frames at very reasonable prices – I use them and I’ve never been disappointed.

A limited series of 10 prints, each signed and numbered
The rear of the package.

The matte board is A4, the print slightly smaller – looks pretty good in my view.

Nikon Accessories

This is basically a rant about how NIKON can make stunning cameras and lenses, but seem to have their collective heads up someones a***e when it comes to designing the accessories…

Exhibit 1 – Original NIKON tripod collar foot for the 70-200 f/2.8 S lens

The black thing you see above is the thing that bolts onto the lens (in this case, the 70-200 f/2.8 S zoom lens) and lets you mount said lens (and logically, any camera attached to it) on a tripod. Only you can’t – without bolting on another adapter (for the most part of the tripods available today)

NIKON 70-200 f/2.8 S

Still with me?

There is, however, a fundamental flaw with the original NIKON design. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

I shall quote from Wikipedia (‘cos they do it better than I) « Swiss camera equipment maker Arca-Swiss Phototechnik AG developed a quick-release mounting system for their tripod heads. The system is based on 38 mm wide mounting plates with a 45° dovetail rail on the sidesSince 1990 many other manufacturers now utilize this system. »

For ‘many’ read ‘almost everyone’ – so here we are with a host of tripod manufacturers producing tripod heads designed to take the ‘Arca type‘ attachement plate – the now familiar 38mm wide dovetailed plate with a 1/4″ screw to attach the camera, or in this case, lens.

Fly in the ointment time – where’s NIKON in all of this? Somewhere in Japan, where news doesn’t travel fast it seems. In addition, if you were to ever lose this tripod collar foot, it would cost a significant amount of cash to replace from NIKON. So the long and the short of all this, is that you can’t just plonk your new lens onto ANY tripod head, ‘cos it won’t fit.

Exhibit 2 – iShoot tripod collar foot for the NIKON 70-200 f/2.8 S lens

Thanks to computer technology (3D scanning principally) and a keen sense of marketing, a number of Chinese companies make extremely affordable, and very well made ‘equivalents’ for a large number of camera accessories, which very often go above and beyond original accessory specifications.

Exhibit 2 is a perfect example. It’s made from forged/machined aluminium, has three different threaded holes for fixed accessory mounting (1/4″ and 3/8″) AND (and this is the best bit) has the Arca type 38mm dovetail plate, so you can use it on pretty much any modern tripod/ball head. The last fact, that this costs the eye watering sum of 30€ shipped from China, seems somehow insignificant…

Incidentally, this model actually fits the 100-400 f/4-f/5.6 zoom too…

To tie up this rant, NIKON have done this a staggering number of times – the original NIKON battery pack for the Z6ll / Z7ll series costs nearly 400€ so some bright spark in China started churning out cheaper (fully functioning) versions which can be found between 50€ and 100€ is another example…go figure…

Finally some MIST

Lasséran (Gers) Nikon Z9 + 24-70 f/2.8

Sadly not taken with the 14-24, this shot ‘needed’ the 24-70 but I’m hapy with the result – going up much closer just to benefit from the wider angle would have ruined the perspective.

This group of majestic trees is not far from home, and just calls out to be photographed – something I have done with monotonous regularity 🙂

The field slopes down from the road, and there’s a 70 or 80 metre walk before you get low enough for the trees to have a bit of sky behind them. As the sun comes up (this was actually at sunrise, but the thick mist managed to mask that extremely well) it hovers over the upper third of the tree tops and is well worth the wait.

This is what it actually looked like that morning.

Using the NIKON 14-24 f/2.8 S

Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 S – 14mm 180/s f/8 Z9

It wasn’t as misty as I’d hoped, but here’s the first shot using the new 14-24 f/2.8 S

The new bridge (passerelle) over the Gers was inaugurated two days before so I thought that this was a good subject for an early-bird, mist rising photo – sans le mist sadly….

Aside from the reduction in weight compared to the AF-S version, there’s not much to say about this lens – it performs extremely well and is relatively compact. It’s supplied with a monster lens cap similar to it’s older sibling, but this fits the lens hood adapted to take filters – I decided to do what I’ve always done with the older version as it wasn’t possible to mount filters natively, and use the smaller, two petal lens hood with an almost conventional lens cap to protect from muck. This range of focal lengths makes this lens almost my ‘standard’ lens as aside from my work at CiRCa, it’s the lens most generally mounted on my camera.

Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 S – 24mm 250/s f/8 Z9

Here’s the bridge from another viewpoint – and I couldn’t resist playing with the sliders in Lightroom to create a pseudo HDR effect 🙂

Seems to work.

Z Collection

The buying spree has (temporarily!) come to a halt today with the arrival of the last of the famed « f/2.8 trinity » the 14-24 f/2.8 S. I am so looking forward to taking this out on a winters morning, with the mist rising etc…

Current NIKON Z Collection

The new lens is surprisingly light compared to it’s AF-S counterpart, has less of a bulbous front element, and comes with two different lens hoods, one of which finally allows the use of filters, a first for this type of lens from NIKON – albeit 112mm – so at nearly 200€ a shot, you’ve got to be keen!

The 105 f/2.8 MC S is also considerably lighter than it’s AF-S brother, so unlike the 70-200 f/2.8 S will not weigh down the camera bag very much. In terms of ‘front’ weight, the heaviest by far is the 70-200, then the 24-70, followed by the 14-24 and the 105 MC.

All four lenses have the OLED panel that indicates either the focal length, or the aperture, or the depth of field etc. and which is, in my view, pretty useless. None of the Z series lenses is supplied with a ‘proper’ case, as pretty much all of the ‘pro’ series AF-S lenses previously. No doubt down to serious cost cutting, but I don’t always carry my kit in the bag, and on occasion I take an extra lens ‘just in case’ and I’d very much like to put it in something that will protect it.

It’s going to be fun and very interesting to use this new kit – and it’s the first time I’ve had such an important line-up of really top quality equipment – just hope I find the subjects that merit…

Sernesi

Ets Sernesi, the picture framing people here in Auch, have invented an ‘expo wall’ at their shop…

…And I’m the first artist to expose on it! The ‘vernissage’ or first night is on Friday when 12 of my ‘landscape’ series will be framed and hung on their wall – quite chuffed really.

This all came about after a discussion some time ago, which led to Christophe Sernesi proposing the idea back to me (!) – could be fun. The local papers got in on the act and have published an article about the shop/wall etc. so let’s hope they come on Friday too – could do with a bit of exposure (excuse the pun…)

Bye bye AF-S

NIKON introduced their first Z series mirrorless cameras in 2018. I leapt on this particular bandwagon as it finally gave me a tool to use in situations where total silence was extremely important, and DSLR cameras simply couldn’t respond.

Initially it was fairly straightforward to use the Nikon FTZ (F to Z) lens adapter and I had access to my existing stable of AF-S lenses to use on the new cameras. But over the years since the invention of the ‘Z’ mount, NIKON have updated and improved pretty much all the lenses I’ll ever be interested in, so I gradually upgraded to the ‘S’ series lenses until I finally ended up with two of everything.

I managed to unload a first batch of ‘older’ lenses, with the D850, to my Nikon dealer in Toulouse, which pretty much covered the cost of the Z9.

The last day of October 2022 is of note as I drove to Bordeaux and unloaded my 6 remaining AF-S lenses and am now almost exclusively ‘S’. Financially selling material to a shop is less beneficial than selling privately, but I also had to consider the time (and possible problems selling on Internet) and frankly after sometimes more than 10 years faithful service I feel I got back what these were worth. A certain number I don’t even use, as modern zoom lenses cover the focal lengths and are perfectly capable and sharp.

Someone else will now be able to own these lenses and hopefully have as much fun as I did using them. In exchange I picked up the new 105mm f/2.8 MC S and the 24-120 f/4 S which is (thankfully) streets ahead of it’s AF-S sibling – a wonderful range, but the older version just wasn’t up to scratch even though I used it a lot.

All that is wanting now is the 14-24 f/2.8 S which I hopefully be able to get my hands on later in the month. Interestingly the 14-30 f/4 S, which I already own, is a superb little beast and is a perfect ‘travel’ lens as it collapses and even takes filters! (Well actually so does it’s larger brother – but they’re 112mm and VERY pricey!)

I’ve kept my trusty D3s and a small number of ‘special’ lenses which are all in F mount – my 11mm IRIS, the 9mm and 16mm fisheyes etc. etc. so my FTZ won’t be retired yet, but it is nice to think that the current equipment is all very recent, and if it stands up to the wear and tear as the previous stuff did, this will last me out easily!

NIKON Z9 3D tracking

Surnatural Orchestra « PIC » – Festival CiRCA 2022

My Z9 arrived in time for me to start using it for the Festival CiRCa this year. My work with ‘cirque’ was the principal reason I purchased this camera body, and so I was keen to see how the much vaunted « 3D Tracking » actually worked in a real life situation.

It works

The photo above has taken at the end of sequence of dance by the artist, and as she lay on the rope, the auto-focus was glued to her face and the shot is sharp – can’t ask for more.

The up-side is that with a number of artists moving rapidly across the fiels of vision, once a single artist has been ‘chosen’ by pressing the AF-ON buttton, the camera happily follows like Super-Glue.

The down-side, and the only thing I have found from personal use, is that with circus companies insisting on less and less lighting for their spectacles, the auto-focus sometimes has a job to follow and loses the plot. For this I can’t blame the camera as the few situations where this has happened were in almost complete darkness. The shot above was lit by only two lights, with an exposure of 1/125s f/2.8 at 6400 ISO. Given the distance from the lens, the depth of field can’t have been more than a couple of centimetres.

In a well-lit environment I’m pretty confident that the camera would nail it more often than not, so for this at least, I’m not complaining!

Memories (are made of this)

Had a nasty case of diarrhea the other day – probably brought on by a change in my meds – and it instantly made me think of an English chap who lives here in the South West of France. Just ‘thinking’ about him was actually worse than the diarrhea in fact…

« Queer as a nine bob note » as they used to say, he tends to use his homosexuality as a masthead (excuse the pun) to differentiate himself from the rest of us – and then accuses everyone of ‘queer bashing’ etc. – par for the course really.

Anyway, this man (and I use the term carefully here) uses his retirement pension to buy all sorts of weird and wonderful gadgets as his only friend can’t devote ALL her time to his rants and raves, and « one gets SO bored here »

We’ve had video cameras, lighting systems, Apple watches and even a NIKON camera! Although there are those who question how useful this camera will actually be…as one of the sad consequences of years of substance abuse and old age, is deteriorating eyesight.

This became obvious a long time ago on a popular photo site where people go to show off their images. I know it as I’m the worlds worst show-off and plaster my rubbish anywhere and everywhere for all to see!

The images presented were, how can I put this politely? Well, slightly out-of-focus. Although obviously in my position I hate resorting to ‘mitigating circumstances’ as an excuse, I have to state that for the most part, these images were taken using very long lenses which are A: not easy to prevent moving and/or B: not easy to focus.

But enough of being nice – might I suggest spending some of your cash on a decent pair of glasses? I bet you saw that coming…!

Which brings to mind another old adage – proof that masturbation really does make you blind!