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…


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!

Z9 First Thoughts…

What a beast! I could leave it at that, but I won’t.

The Z9 is physically no bigger than the Z6ll with the MB-N11 battery grip, but the fact that the extra grip format is part of the body actually makes it more comfortable to hold.

The battery door has a lock on it which prevents it opening (like it so often does on the Z6/Z7 ) and quite apart from the fact that it’s not as easy to open as on the Dn series DSLRs (D3, D4 etc.) it’s not something that’s going to be opened during a shoot, so this is fine by me.

The rubber surround for the eyepiece is now locked on, which is a small, but particularly usefull point in my opinion – after having lost a number of these things!

The playback button has migrated to the bottom right of the rear body – excellent move IMHO as I can now visualise a shot in the viewfinder without having to use two hands to 1: hold the camera and 2: press the button. This is particularly useful in a circus configuration as there are more often than not, a paying public sitting behind me who will be distracted if I take the camera away from my face to check an exposure.

The virtual horizon can now be attributed to any of the Fn buttons (and there are now 4 programmable Fn buttons, plus up to two more on certain lenses) – this used not to be the case on the Z6/Z7 and as I quite like to know if I’m ‘level’ this is a good thing.

The built-in GPS is a great idea (finally!) as while it’s not terribly useful in a concert hall, out and about doing landscape work it’s nice to think that the GPS data will at last be recorded without calling on external devices (And yes, I know Snapbridge sort of works by linking to a smartphone, but sometimes the GPS data shows a marked delay which means even after moving a certain distance, the inital coordinates are still being used.) Time will tell if this is more reliable.

Another blast from the past is the two-button card format, sadly lacking from the consumer grade camera bodies like the Z6/Z7 – this is vital, in my book, and such a pain to have to go through menus to do such a simple thing.

Going back to the original ‘Shooting Banks‘ (U1-U3 in the Z6/Z7 ) is also nice -although, despite my initial hesitations, I was actually getting used to being able to change setups simply by turning a dial rather than delving into menus… This can also be attributed to an Fn button, so changing banks is a piece of cake now.

The fact that the camera has no physical shutter makes it a very silent beast indeed – and adding a setting to cut all the external bleeps and indicators was a very good move for me at least. (I manage to achieve this on previous bodies, element by element – thankfully saved into a Un memory location) Well done – but it seems odd that they had to ‘include’ a shutter sound for people to select! I’m more than happy to have a silent camera.

And now there’s the 3D tracking / auto focus which is stunning – testing this is underway but it’s looking very promising. With quick and fast moving performers, this will hopefully come into it’s own. Watch this space.

One final thought regarding memory cards. CFexpress cards are actually cheaper and faster than their XQD equivalents due to licensing the format – the new format is also considerable faster to read and write to – so this is a good thing, however don’t be fooled by the REALLY cheap cards like PERGEAR as there’s a simple reason why they are so cheap – they are not as FAST. A quick comparison between two different manufacturers

Pergear Light 128Gb. 99€. Sustained write – 200 MBs

ProGrade Cobalt 160Gb. 200€ Sustained write – 1500 MBs

This is where the difference is – and if you’re hoping to do video in 8k you’ll need all the write speed you can get.

Big Day Today…

…my Z9 is on it’s way (13.09.2022)

UPDATE: 12.10.2022

I’m now officially a member of the NIKON Z9 owners club!

(Many thanks to Numeriphot (Toulouse) and Nikon Professional Services)

Sadly no-one really knows how long this will take to actually get here, but my pro dealer thinks we’re into the final month.

Makes one think of cats and hot tin roofs….

Annual Kardashian Rant

The Kardashian family, you know the tribe with the combined intelligence of a felt hat, always manage to annoy me, in or out of the news.

So what has Kim « arse the size of Texas » Kardashian done that’s so note worthy recently? Farted? Her sisters would probably bottle that and make another billion…

Er…she went to a launch party for another one of the tribe who seem to be launching more cosmetics for sad, lost people who can’t decide for themselves.

And this is news? Well it seems to be for the Daily Mail – but then whenever has journalism ever got in the way of a few (identical) photos and mind boggling spelling mistakes?

When you think her step father actually had to change sex to escape the family, it really makes one wonder…

Unbeknown to these idiots there are actually far more important things going on in the world – a serious number of countries are having record droughts, and or wild fires. There’s a war going on in a place called Ukraine, and everyone everywhere seems to be striking for more cash.

But don’t worry, the spotlight will be dragged back onto these losers (sadly) and we’ll all be subject to more ridiculous goings-on.

As Kenny Everet (bless him) used to say « All in the best possible taste » – miss him – at least he had talent.

« Meghan Markle would still be a D-list celebrity if she had not married a prince »

Quoted from Angela Levin in an article in the the Daily Mail.

Can’t anybody do something about this person? The only thing she seems to be good at is whining about how hard it is to be what she wanted from the outset – being married to a prince.

The entire world seems to owe her something, but I’m not sure what exactly, and frankly Angela Levins headline is the closest thing to the truth I’ve read in a while.

She whines about a fire in her childs bedroom – which when researched, turns out to be a slightly smoking electic heater which was turned off and dealt with by palace slaves.

She has strong concerns about wasting natural ressources, and them proceeds to jet around the place in private aircraft, burning fuel at an astonishing rate.

It seems she was an actress at some point – most people have never seen the series she appeared in, or would want to, but this has put her in good stead to preach to people in her blog (‘The Itch’, or ‘Acne’ or something), on her podcasts etc. Interestingly the latest diatribe (from ‘Archetypes’ her Netflix money earner) has been almost universaly panned by the intelligent press.

Let’s hope it has a similar effect on her.