But which colour?

Watch this space…

Not much to say really – as a previous ‘iPhone’ user, the gestures haven’t changed and the phone just ‘works’ straight out of the box. It’s nice to have a bit of extra space, so the fact that it comes with 256Go is a huge improvement (to my last, an iPhone 5 with 32Go !!)

FaceID helps tremendously – no more clicking and fingerprints etc. and the ApplyPay integrated means I don’t even have to get out a credit card to pay for my sandwiches anymore…

The Mag Safe charger is new (to me) and is another ‘wireless’ option which improves the general usability of the thing. Nice just to be able to arrive home and plonk the unit down on it’s little magnetic pad and off it goes.

Hugely expensive for a simple phone, but I consider it more as a pocket sized camera (48Mp – AppleRAW with wide, normal and telephoto lenses) which can also make phone calls.

Physically slightly smaller than the Samsung A52 – fits in the pocket a treat, and stays there when you get in the car as it automatically connects to the entertainment system for making/receiving calls, music playlists etc.

Fun will be had !

A New Billingham

I’d had a few Billingham bags, over the years, and one thing that is impressively constant – the build quality.

I purchased my first Billingham bag in 1979 just after they came onto the market in the UK. I was living and working abroad and went to Leeds Camera Services in London with three large supermarket bags full of different camera gear, and asked if they had any camera bags that didn’t look like camera bags. I came away with my first one that day.

Since then, they’ve come and gone, with one of my most recent purchases the Billingham Hadley (Small Pro? No idea) which I use exclusively for my NIKON Z6ll and it’s associated f/4 lenses when I’m on my holidays. Everything fits – it’s waterproof, and protects my stuff.

I’ve started carrying a small bag – wallets, telephones, keys, and other dross which one likes to have available, is just getting too much for my trouser pockets, so I’ve been having a look around the Billingham site. The model that caught my eye was the Stowaway – of which there are three – the Airline, the Compact and the Pola – they are all the same price, and more or less the same sizing, some more square than others…I chose the Airline as it was the taller of the three – my Ulanzi table top tripod and ball head fits perfectly – even if this was NOT intended as a camera bag…

Obviously the only bag size/colour combination I wanted wasn’t available in France/Europe so I decided to order directly from the UK – BIG mistake. Yes, they take OFF the VAT, but then UPS declare the package at French customs so you pay the French TVA but ALSO a 25€ fee for doing (essentially nothing as it’s all done by computer) the ‘work’. So yes, you have to WANT one of these buggers if you go that route…

This image seems elongated – click on the picture to see a correct representation

This is it, and it fits EVERYTHING I think I need at hand – beautifully made – and waterproof – I’ve decided to sleep with it by my side. It’ll be a whole lot better after a few months when things start ‘wearing in’. The Billingham Airline Stowaway in all its glory !


August is here, with the normal run of stupid things happening in the world press, which most people forget within minutes.

Closer to home, the Z8 seems to be getting bad press from a series of ‘incidents’ involving strap lugs – I personally have not noticed any extra play etc. but people have had their cameras fall off their shoulders when one of the strap lugs comes out of the body.

Nikon have not officially recognised this, but as there’s already a recall in operation for another ‘fault’, they are sure to be checking for that too – people in the know seem to think this may have been an error with the mounting pins in a very early batch of bodies.

UPDATE: Nikon have announced a recall – 07/08/2023 (Based on a range of serial numbers)

Someone has tested the serial number check on the Nikon site, and has suggested that ALL the shipped bodies (up to 10,000 units may be affected) – I’ll check mine…

I have never relied simply upon the strap lugs, as I tend to slap an ‘L-plate’ onto each new body A: to let me attach straps to that (if needed) and B: to have an ARCA mounting plate available in both axes for mounting on my tripod.

This is the one I purchased from Smallrig – almost half the price of Really Right Stuff etc. it does a perfectly good job, is adjustable, and VERY well made – it also has mounting ‘eyes’ for my Peak Design camera strap connectors. Very well thought out piece of kit from Smallrig.

I’ve been out and about with camera (!) to prepare for a ‘photo day’ for which I’ve invited a close friend – he (and his son) don’t know where we’re going, but suffice it to say they’re both prepared to get up at 5am so that I can take them to a special place to photograph the sunrise, and then on to two other places I doubt they even imagined exist! As he ‘follows’ me on social media etc. I can’t publish any of the images I’ve been taking while I put this all together (frustration!) but my time will come! With a bit of luck the weather will be suitable in a few days – watch this space.

And finally, for all fans of colonoscopy and hooks in garage ceilings, our (un)friendly local deviant and founder member of the BABBA, has decided to ban everyone (or more to the point, everyone who counts) from his social media, Flickr accounts etc. Joy to the world! We’re having a party next week to celebrate – we feel somehow blessed 🙂

Ironically – it seems that this person has been having quite serious health problems, and the phrase « a pain in the arse » has really taken on a ‘hole’ new meaning… if you get my gist…

Happy holidays

Old Friends

My chums Nicolas and Julien from the Collectif Petit Travers, were back in Auch this week – the collectif were in residence at CiRCa with the Debussy Quartet for a new production titled ‘Nos Matins Intérieurs’ (« The mornings inside »)

It was great to see them again as we’ve been collaborating since 2014 – and they still use some of my original images from that time.

Petit Travers & Quatuor Debussy « Nos Matins Intérieurs »

The new production is huge compared to most of what they’ve done before – 10 artists on stage AND a string quartet playing live. All new!

They still have a nasty tendency to avoid lighting – a few years back they performed by candle light ! All in all a well rounded production – which we sadly won’t see here for the time being.

Petit Travers & Quatuor Debussy « Nos Matins Intérieurs »

Life goes on…

Been active recently, which is nice to be, as birthdays tend to be a bit of a downer…

Anyway, despite criticism from the « BABBA » (Benders and Bum Bandits Anonymous) my wedding photos seem to have gone down very well – however I won’t be repeating the experience – bit of a ‘been there, done that’ sort of feeling really, and it was promised as a one off.

The ‘8’ has arrived and been put into use – I’m fortunate to be able to say mine doesn’t suffer from the dreaded problems which have resulted in a recall of certain serial numbers.

What a week – changing a windscreen wiper motor, front brake pads AND repairing a rear door electric window, I now feel my stint as car mechanic will hopefully also draw to a close.

Another thing shortly to be pensioned off is my Flickr feed – I don’t think I’ll be publishing anymore over there. What’s the point? I don’t ride a ridiculous folding bike or photograph cauliflower so I feel strangely out of place. I will, obviously, remain in contact with the few friends I’ve encountered there, but it’s a bit like changing email address – great way of weeding out the dross, and dross there is, in monumental quantities.

The wedding of the year

The ‘dreaded’ wedding has been and gone – the relief is enormous.

In hoesty, the only ‘dreaded’ bit was not producing images that were appreciated by the newly married couple – which seems not to have been the case as I’m receiving almost daily messages of thanks and joy!

Like most of my ‘work’ the images are, for the most part sharp, bear no refgerence to how skilled (or not) I might be at riding a bicyle, and for the most part, don’t concern trains and/or Bordeaux.

This was probably a great relief to the couple as their wedding took place in Auch…

They are a lovely couple and, to my certain knowledge, don’t have any hooks in their garage ceiling, which makes them so much more appealing. The remit was basic – ceremony at 16h at the town hall in Auch (civil ceremony – 20 mins and your out mate) then off into the wilds to the ‘Fou Gascon’ a wonderful place for the reception with excuisite decoration, food and drink – top marks to the young couple who run this – it really was 1st class from beginning to end.

A wide open remit is oki, if you know the pople you’re working for – it helps to have an idea of their taste as some newlyweds are very keen on the classic, very ‘posed’ wedding shots – luckily this couple were simply looking for a discrete photographic record of the entire sequence – which I think I provided.

Here are the three ‘teaser’ shots I sent them before the actual album…

I fully realise that these are all crap, to some, but….wait a minute….do I care?

Marathon Photo Déclic 2023

It’s nearly all over – we spent Saturday the 3rd of June here in Auch – and despite the fact that there were only 53 participants, I think it was a good year.

This year I decided to make a couple of changes – the morning would be given over to a workshop, in our concert hall, and the two themes for the afternoon would be announced together to enable people to wander off and spend their afternoon freely looking for inspiration.

The workshop was a tough one – I have spent the last few months ‘developing’ a fold-up pinhole camera! This is great fun – you start with a simple box, make a few holes, add a piece of photographic paper and bingo!

And despite the fact that there were 53 people totally lost, we all managed to A: make the cameras, B: take a photo with each camera and C: come back and develop the photos!

Naturally, two groups didn’t like this and complained that « this wasn’t the spirit of Déclic » and « we prefered it before » etc. etc. well darling, you try inventing new things every year – it’s REALLY easy to criticise, but a whole different ball game when it comes to putting on a show. Needless to say, these people WILL NOT be invited next year.

The jury takes place today, Wednesday 7 June and the winners will be announced on the site tonight…

Could be interesting…

Well it was…and this image was one that caught my eye (although I couldn’t vote) and managed to win the prize for the 5th Theme « Le Vélo dans le Paysage Gascon » (« The bicycle in the Gascon Landscape« )

Well done to Laurent VEYSSET

So what is ‘Monochrome’ ?

(And is it better?)

Over the years, Leica have evolved from film to digital cameras, much like all the other camera manufacturers. This said, they’ve always shown a preference for black and white photography, and to this end, have recently started producing a ‘Monchrome‘ version of their camera bodies – to the extent that there is even a monochome version of the ‘compact’ Q2 series.

So what does ‘monochrome‘ actually mean?

In a conventional colour sensor, there is a filter layer in direct contact with the sensor itself. This is called the ‘Bayer‘ filter, named after it’s inventor.

Bayer filter for digital photography – source: Wikipedia

Each photo-site has a coloured filter over it, thus only allowing certain wavelengths of light through to the sensor itself.

Light from four adjacent photo-sites makes up one pixel. Thus in the example of the Bayer filter above, the first pixel is made up of light values from one blue, one red and two green photo-sites. This approximates to what the human eye ‘sees’ in terms of colour – the mixture of these four light values gives the ‘colour’ of that particular pixel. The greater the pixel, or photo-site density, the more accurate the rendered colour will be, but with the disadvantage of receiving much less light as the density increases – the photo-sites are physically smaller, and thus receive less photons of light.

For the second pixel to be recorded, the group of four moves over 1 photo-site, and records 4 photo-sites again. This continues all the way to the right hand end of the sensor, then moves down one photo-site, and starts all over again. Obviously, this actually happens in real-time over the entire sensor area, and is almost instantaneous.

This is the reason why sensors are often stated as having an ‘effective’ pixel value GREATER than the quoted pixel value. The ‘borders’ (pixels on the edge of the sensor) are not counted as part of the picture itself, merely used to create the 4 photo-site grid.

The resulting information is ‘rebuilt’ by the image processing engine to create a colour image.

In a monochrome sensor, the Bayer filter does not exist. The pixel information is combined in one of two different ways – either the four adjacent photo-sites are ‘summed’ together as in a colour image (which gives greater dynamic range overall, as 4 times as many photons are recorded) or single photo-sites are recorded as individual pixels.

The removal of the Bayer filter creates a more authentic ‘colour’ depth (or grey tone between white and black) as there is no ‘mixing’ of different filtered light values – this means that the overall difference between the levels of grey is far more subtle, something which cannot be reproduced by simply using a colour sensor (with Bayer filter) and choosing « B&W » in the capture menu of the camera.

It should be noted that Pentax have now launched their ‘Monchome‘ camera, based on the K-3 APS-C reflex camera. At €2500 (body only) I imagine that it’s not something people will buy just to ‘try out’ but I think it’s a step in the right direction. I would very much like to see a monochrome version of the NIKON Z6 or Z7. Sadly there is no reasonable way to remove the Bayer filter and reprogramme the recording software to be able to undertake this after the camera has been made.

Leica price the monchrome version of their full frame M11 at €9540 where the traditional ‘colour’ version only costs €8750 – why nearly €1000 no-one knows….perhaps simply because it’s a Leica?

UPDATE : I wrote to Thom Hogan and asked if it was really so unreasonable to imagine a monochrome version of the Z6/Z7 could exist one day?

His reply, short and to the point :

« You can imagine it all you want ;~). Not difficult at all. 

You can even buy one (from a third party, maxmax), but at much higher cost and the phase detect autofocus layer is removed ;~(. »

Thanks Thom – I’ll keep it in mind 😉

Trials and Tribulations

I photograph circus companies. On a regular basis. I must be good at this, as some even ask me to come back. For the most part, these companies are happy for me to follow the evolution of their work, and they let me in to see what’s going on. I make an album of photos, and often use some to hang in the circus restaurant etc.

The other day I contacted the current company in residence here, and we agreed that the best day would be the following Monday (as I was not working – it was a bank holiday). I duly contacted them on the Sunday – or tried to – they didn’t reply. Eventually, the next day, they got back to me saying that instead of the day we’d agreed on, they’d be ready the following day.

I had already explained that this day would be difficult as I was only available in the early evening. Their response was remarkable « Oh I thought you were more flexible »….

We eventually met up, only to be confronted with the arrival of a man supposedly checking things out for a proposed video shoot (another day) – after a lot of faffing around we finally got started (late) and I had to try to make images with two women who spent 90% of the time (over an hour) talking into a microphone and/or rolling around all over the floor.

I did my best – sent them the link to the album – and 24 hours later received « OK thanks »

Makes you wonder why I bother…


…the new NIKON Z8

NIKON Z8 – Front
NIKON Z8 – Rear

First impressions?

Sensor – sadly, we’ve got the 45mp Z9 sensor….which is very good, but a shame they didn’t ‘push the envelope’ a bit here and go for a larger density sensor. This said, they have decided to include the protective shutter blind – this is a good thing. I wonder if it’ll ever make it into later versions of the Z6/7..?

Size – 144 x 118 x 83 which makes it bigger than the Z6/7 (134 x 100 67) by a centimetre or two, but significantly smaller than the Z9

GPS – No there isn’t a GPS – which seems odd. The NIKON site states « GPS – Via Snapbridge app ». I’ve tried this – it’s slow….

Price – 4599€ which makes this camera 1500€ less expensive than the Z9, with very similar specifications.

The top plate is like the Z9 (surprised?) with a mode dial to the left, and a large screen to the right – this said, the mode dial is not exactly the same as the Z9, and is in fact much thinner/lower to the body – which presumably means that the choice of single/continuous/multiple shots, self timer etc. are now displaced into menu items…

NIKON Z8 Top plate

Another good thing carried over from the Z9 is the eyepiece protection which clips in (release button lower left) rather than sliding-on like on the Z6/7 (which falls off regularly on these models), so this is a good move.

Two button card formatting is still there too – so much easier than having to delve through menus, and illuminated buttons too – things are looking up !

For me, it’s sad to lose the built-in grip – and that huge EN-EL18d battery which allows me almost 4000 shots on one charge which simply can’t be matched by the two EN-EL15 in the new add-on grip. However I fully understand that a lot of people don’t need this kind of autonomy.

Storage is also different – with one CFe/XQD and one SDXC slot, but then, this is a pro-sumer model…

The grip is the MB-N12 which here in France will cost just shy of 400€ – like the MB-N11 for the Z6/7 ll it’s a ‘replace the battery’ type grip which I find frustrating – sure, you can hot swap either one of the two batteries, like on the Z6/7 ll, but it makes the whole thing quite large. I would have preferred something along the lines of the D850, without the battery box ‘spike’

NIKON MB-N12 grip for the Z8

At the end of the day, what you’re actually getting for 1000€ more than the Z7ll is a better auto-focus and a shutter blind…in a slightly larger body. Duh….

And finally, I still consider sticking to the 45mp sensor limiting…in the long run. But then of course, it just allows NIKON to come out with another model in a years time….

Fun part – I posted a comment over on the Nikonrumors blog…which was immediately treated like bait, and all the bottom feeders zoomed (excuse the pun) in to criticise the fact that I had dared to mention that I was disappointed in the new toy (regardless of the fact that the vast majority would never actually own one, or know what to do with it if they ever did purchase…) I was simply expressing my opinion, that I thought it sad that there was no GPS, and my comments on sensor size from this post.

Visibly ‘self expression’ is frowned on over there – sad for Peter (who runs it)

To sum up, this is going to be a total winner for NIKON – size, weight, specs – it’s all there and if I hadn’t already ‘invested’ in a Z9 this would be seriously interesting, and I’d recommend this to any serious photographer. For the bottom-feeders, and garage ceiling crowd, you’ll have loads of things to moan about – like for all the other camera bodies you never buy.

Available from the the 25th of May 2023 it’ll be interesting to see how long people have to wait to see their orders. (The Z9 waiting list was initially an entire year)