Blast from the past

Finally getting around to reducing camera bodies and lenses that no longer really serve a useful purpose.

This month, it’s the Hasselblad stable that has taken a hit.

This is the 503CW Millenium version – a sort of limited edition version of the standard 503CW. This one comes with a winder (which replaces the winder knob) and gold dark slides with a logo engraved.

It was fun while it lasted, but the practicalities of developing 120 film and then scanning the negatives gets tedious when you’re used to current digital offerings. The digital back for this model costs in excess of 6000€ (and it’s not a full 6×6 either…)

The ‘stable’ contained a few lenses and heaps of accessories – which are all finding new homes. Another camera body which I purchased in 1978 got me thinking – it’s 46 years old and still working like the first day. Will we be able to say the same for a lot of the gear we are using today??

It was fun, but times change and I’m more than happy with the digital equipment I’m using today – and it’s much better adapted to the use I make of it.

Next up will probably be a brace (or two!) of NIKON film cameras…

Change of dimension…

I was going to visit the Welcome in Tziganie Festival again this year, but somehow our schedules got muddled and we’ll be in our dearly beloved Hérault that weekend (Our first this year, and well deserved!)

I thought that this would be a good opportunity to get the Z8 out and see what I could come up with but that will have to wait another year now.

Nuria visited us in here in Auch in late March, and it was great to see her again, and also see how she performed on our microscopic stage! She needs space when she dances!! In the end she solved the problem by moving off the stage and into the public – brilliant move.

Concert Cri’Art Auch 22.03.2024

She came with the Haïdouti Orkestra and I imagined that as this was a warm-up concert prior to this years Welcome, that we would see them back at the festival at the end of April – not the case – neither she nor the orchestra will be here this year.

However, La Caravane Passe will be at Seissan – and I’m slightly sad to miss them – very dynamic and very good musicians.

La Caravane Passe

The only other thing of note is I’m pretty sure I can hear someone wrapping up a large box in Toulouse and preparing it for a short ride with Chronopost….what could this be?? A clue…

This is the ‘Z’ and ‘S’ version of the old AF-S 80-400 zoom. Virtually identical in size to the 70-200 f/2.8 S this will confirm the title of this article – a change in dimension. As a general rule I’m very much a wide-angle fan, and buying a lens that goes all the way out to 400mm is a huge stretch for me!! This model is optically a lot better (according to Thom…) than the previous AF-S version, but as I didn’t own the older version I have nothing to really compare it to.

One frustrating thing is the tripod foot – NIKON just can’t seem able to design a tripod foot with ARCA chamfering – and it seems so simple. So off we go to eBay and spend 30€ on a Chinese version of the same foot, but with an ARCA base. (As it happens it’s the same as that used on the 70-200 S f/2.8 lens) Of course, the fact that I got 150€ off due to my NPS discount helps pay for that!!

I’m keen to try longer lenses – I can’t hold them still, so they will be on a tripod obviously, but I like the compression of the images and we’re blessed to have such wonderful countryside here, particularly towards the south with the Pyrénées in view – I feel this could be interesting…time (and good light!) will tell.

Storage File Naming

This is not a rant, but I have to admit the system NIKON has adopted is far from ideal for the 5 photographers who actually bother to use it.

NIKON allow the user to change three of the digits in the storage file name, to enable different file sequences etc. This is all very well, and for the most part used by most photographers who shoot, then download their work the same day – who cares where the files are stored.

But there are some people out there who tend to shoot over longer periods…days, weeks even, and having the possibility to change the file name, for example, to include a date…would be extremely useful.

Added to this the new functions where the camera becomes entirely automatic, even down to when it chooses to record the image – in these situations the camera could be alone for days at a stretch.

Another way of approaching the ‘problem’ would be an auto increment – choose a three digit number and then when the internal clock detects it’s after midnight, increment the chosen number by 1 – in this way when the card is connected to a computer, the different (sequential) files could be easily identified.

I’m sorry NIKON but when you see the zillions of menu items, adding a date sequence to the storage file selection doesn’t’t seem like rocket science…

Simple question really…

…how many images can I get onto a memory card?

Well, ok, at first sight, it seems very simple – divide the capacity of the card by the size of the image files and hey presto!

Except no – you can’t just do this. For a start, despite the fact that cards are shown with a capacity in Giga bytes (or Giga octets) this number needs to be modified.

A single gigabyte is in fact 1024 Megabytes of space. So now we multiply the indicated card capacity by 1024.

For a 128Gb card : 128 * 1024 = 131072 Mb

Now take of up to 7% of this space for the directories and space needed by the car to reference everything written on to it and we’re left with

131072 – 7% (9175 Mb) = 121896 Mb

Now we can take our ‘average’ file size (I estimate 33Mb for my 24 megapixel sensor – this changes with file type RAW or JPEG, compression, loss or lossless, 12 or 14 bit etc. and also the detail in the image…)

121896 / 33 = 3693 images

According to the official NIKON manual for the Z6ll I should be able to record 2400 image files on a 128Gb card – this calculation (confirmed by other sites) indicates a 30% increase…

I’m off to the Highlands in the fall – with a bit of luck, and a 512Gb memory card, I won’t even need to do a backup while I’m away. But, of course I will as I don’t trust ANY memory card system, and a simple download to my NVMe backup will reassure me 🙂

PS The answer seems to be « in excess of 14,000 images on a 512Go card »

UPDATE

Interestingly, I posted this question on the NIKON RUMURS forum – naturally no-one has responded (the people there don’t actually own any cameras to make images, so they’re incapable of knowing how many ‘virtual’ images they would be able to get on their ‘virtual’ memory cards).

I also mailed Thom Hogan – and received a reply – I rest my case. If you need information, go to the pros – thanx Thom.

Further Update

It seems the answer was in fact hiding in plain sight…

Here’s the control panel of one of my NIKON cameras and even switched off it displays how many (approximately) images can be stored on the card (in this case a 512Gb)

Sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees…..

Incoming…

Introducing the PGYTECH Card storage & reader

This is a recent addition to PGYTECHs range of memory card cases – with the added bonus that it includes a card reader, which makes the thing a whole lot more interesting.

The storage/reader part slides out from an alluminium housing, covered in a green (or black) rubber/neoprene protection.

There are 2 versions – CFExpress A and B – as the ‘A’ type cards don’t seem that popular (and as such are way more expensive) and my cameras use the ‘B’ version, we’ll concentrate on that version.

As can be seen in this image, there are card storage slots for 2 x CFE B cards and 3 x SD cards. (Also microSD and SIM).

The slots for the card reader are at the top, on the opposite side. A neat USB-C cable unfolds from the case and the whole thing is dust proof and protected from water (when closed) but NOT waterproof. I’ve never actually been tempted to try to download a card underwater, so this is hardly a huge concern for me.

An additional USB-C slot allows to connect an externe power source (useful if, like me, you download your cards to a phone/external disk in the field) – good move this.

At around 90€ this is not cheap kit – and I’m trusting it lives up to expectations.

UPDATE

It’s arrived and it’s a very well built/designed bit of kit. It’s supplied with a microSD/SD adaptor and a SIM card ‘key’ / screwdriver.

I’ve tested the card reader, and not surprisingly it reads my CFEexpress cards but not my XQD cards (which is of no importance to me – I have 4 or 5 which need to go…) The interface is fast (USB-C) and the cable is neatly stored in the unit itself. Recommended.

(Purchasing advice – buy this on the PGYTECH site and you’ll end up paying 40€ less than the recommended price on Amazon – yes, it ships from China but mine arrived in 2 weeks, at no extra cost.)

Can’t they just leave her alone?

Hot news (worldwide apparently) is the new photograph published by Buckingham Palace to celebrate Mothers Day.

She is a competent amateur photographer, but in this instance it was her husband, the Prince of Wales who actually pressed the shutter. When the image was published the press had a field day, criticising some Photoshop fails, and asking why?

This prompted a swift apology from Kate Middleton who admitted that her Photoshop skills were limited, and that she shouldn’t have messed around with the image in the first place.

What I can’t understand is why people are making such a fuss? Very few images are published wihout a few ‘corrections’ – the simple fact that it was an image of the future Queen doesn’t, in my mind, make any difference.

True, had a ‘pro’ photographer taken (and edited) this image there would be little or no trace, but what the hell? Hasn’t she got enough on her plate without these idiots criticising her?

Closer to home (to me here in France) we have heard of an idiot (known for tying up his guests and suspending them from the garage ceiling…prompting the expression ‘Just off to hang around at Michels place’ ) who considers himself Gods gift to photography, and wouldn’t hesitate to use all the sliders and effects on his editing software in an attempt to make his fearfully drab images look ‘wonderful darling’ – doesn’t work, but he’s happy. (Apparently moves are afoot to ‘discourage’ him from attending the local photo club for doing the one thing he does with consumate ease – pissing people off.)

Personally I can’t see why a few ‘corrections’ can really change the ‘soul’ or purpose of an image like the one in question – no-one is out to fool anyone, no wool, no eyes…

Are we / they missing the point?

For the first post of the new year – and we’re already nearly into March – a tiny grumble.

I peruse the photographic web sites fairly frequently – some are just for laughs like Ren Kockwell, others to try to glean info for prospective lens / camera purchases. Sadly, I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that despite some of the highly respected names out there, that alot of ‘photographers’ seem to be missing the point. Obviously, this is all relative to my position – I couldn’t agree more, but I still feel that the comment is justified.

An example – I have two camera bags – one for ‘pro’ work, the other for everything else. I will shortly be travalling to the Highlands of Scotland and for obvious reasons would prefer to have as little to carry as possible (in the ‘everything else’ bag). I’m looking for a lens which would extend the range of my 24-70 f/4 (for which I can’t use a teleconverter…)

I’m not particularly comfortable with any lens longer than 200mm, but I admit I love the compression that this focal length can bring. After a bit of hunting around, I came across the NIKKOR S 24-200 f/4-6.3 VR

This lens checks a whole slew of boxes – light, huge range, really short (physically) barely 1cm longer than the 24-70 f/4 – perhaps a good contender for a travel lens.

So I started checking the reviews…

The people whom I respect (Thom Hogan etc.) have reservations, Ricci (confirmed NIKON nut in the UK – also on their payroll it seems) is head over heels in love with it (and manages to say this three times in as many minutes on one of his videos) and in between singing the praises of Canon, and trying to sell headphones, Ren Kockwell just suggests that it’s the only lens he’ll ever need.

For a brief moment I even considered reading the Nikon Rumors Forum, but as most of the people present on that particular forum wouldn’t know a camera or lens if you hit them over the head with it, much less actually know what to do with one, I ruled that option out. The info that Peter posts is valuable, and for the most part very accurate – it’s the members who create the doubt…

So who to believe? And what criteria do they use to choose or base their observations?

Ironically, the most ‘reasonable’ is Ren Kockwell who simply posts zillions of images taken using the lens – sure they’re sharp and contrasty, but when you check his shooting settings, and the extensive post-production, they should be! But, the lens seems to work as I would expect.

No images from Ricci but a few close ups of a colour swatch card and comparison photos with other NIKON zooms with similar ranges. His choice was more guided by these comparisons than by actually using the lens to make images in the field.

Tom Hogan is the most reserved, which surprised me, as I consider him much more of a real ‘photographer’ who goes out and makes images… visibly he is too busy to actually use the lens and bases much of his comments on MTF charts and comparisons with the NIKON f/2.8 lens which are supposed to be considerably higher quality.

Haven’t you missed the point here? The lens is :

A: considerably cheaper than the 70-200 f/2.8 – lighter and smaller too

B: has a range that means it can effectively replace the 24-70 f/4 meaning I can reduce my kit to 2 lenses instead of three.

C: produces results that are very sharp (before any post processing) and despite the f/6.3 aperture at any focal length from 85mm upwards, focuses rapidly and silently with the in-camera vibration reduction and lens VR to produce excellent results.

The point of my criticism of these people evaluations is based not on the technical merits of the lens, more the use to which it will be put. To me it’s pretty obvious that in a high performance sports environment a ‘rapid’ (f/2.8) and high optical quality lens is essential. This is not the case, or less essential for landscapes or even ‘street’ photography where an increased ISO can often solve the problem of a ‘slower’ lens, and / or low light.

Sure the 24-200 is probably not as good as the 70-200 f/2.8 or the 24-70 f/2.8 but then it’s considerably cheaper, lighter and much easier to carry on holiday… even the fact that it’s a variable aperture doesn’t really phase me, based on the conditions under which I will be using it, and I’m certainly not looking for a portrait lens to take into the field, or wonderful Bokeh (another pet grumble – why oh why has this become so important?) I want a versatile lens that I can leave on the camera pretty much all of the time, which is small and light – this profil works for me!

My choice is made – and made even easier by the fact I was able to purchase a ‘like new’ example from the MPB site in Germany for almost half the price of a new one.

Join the MVMT

MVMT are recent (10 years already) to join the plethora of watch ‘brands’ on the consumer market, the main difference being that they’re still here.

They are based in California and design (and have manufactured elsewhere) a series of reasonably priced mens and women’s watches – for as little as 100€ there are watches to please most tastes.

This is what interests me at the moment – it’s a matte green ceramic – and it should be arriving in a few days!

I started with a white one – which I love, and then was given the blue version – very classy, which I also like it a lot. I had a slightly embarrassing moment with the white one while visiting my daughter last year – I took it off while walking, tripped and dropped it onto a tiled floor. One of the fundamental problems with ceramic materials is that they are VERY brittle – the strap smashed into a number of pieces (strangely, the watch itself was unharmed.)

I sent a mail to MVMT to ask if I could buy a new strap – which sadly wasn’t available. Instead they sent me a whole new watch, free of charge – excellent service.

Knee jerk reaction?

Not really – but since the ‘Meta-verse’ has decided it’s going to bring in subscriptions for people who don’t want to see publicity on their social network platforms, I (and millions of others it seems) are questioning if it’s really worth staying…

I left Facebook some years ago – they didn’t notice, much less I, so I’m pretty sure I won’t suffer too much… there are people who pretend they have no interest, then go bonkers when someone likes their bike videos…

It’s going to cost nearly 13€ for the ‘right’ to use Instagram on a telephone, less if it’s on a PC. I frankly can’t see the point – I have a few followers there (435 it seems) but there are probably only 5 or 6 who look at my posts on a regular basis, and 4 of those are family.

Probably time to call it a day – which will give me more time to do other things…

Cie Raoul Lambert

The week of the Festival is drawing to a close, and on before I left for the Thursday evening performance, I had a quick look at the details for the Cie Raoul Lambert on the site of CiRCa. I had bemoaned the fact that for my last two ‘real’ performances, I didn’t know the companies etc. etc.

Turns out I was wrong – Mathiew (Despoisse) and Marine (Fourteau) are old friends – and Marine was even born in the Gers! So off I went and it was great to see them again – one of the things I had to get used to at a very early stage in my ‘career’ photographing circus artists, is that EVERYBODY kisses EVERYBODY – men, women, horses – the lot! And nothing changed last night!!

This image is from my Instagram post (haven’t treated the other 700 images yet….) – very entertaining hour and twenty minutes – there are several magic tricks and things that the company don’t want to divulge to the public, so the album might be shortish…this will be fun trying to sort it out!