Marathon Photo Déclic

When I started this particular ball rolling back in 2011 I was a long way from imagining that it would last this long – I was fairly sure it would run out of steam after a couple of years…how nice to have been proven WRONG!

As you can read in this years poster, we’ve got to ’14’, which I think is pretty damn good.

As with each of the other years posters, the image used was one from the previous year – more often than not one which wasn’t chosen by the jury, or awarded a prize. There’s a simple reason for this, the image is chosen with the text overlay in mind, and this one suited it’s purpose in many ways – the reflection (looking back) the location (the cathedral) etc. etc.

One very sad element was that just after finalizing the poster, and sending a copy to the author, we discovered he had just recently passed away – as a participant in our little marathon this hit hard as we spend time chatting with the people taking part each year, and over the years he had taken part, we’d grown friendly. This poster will be our tribute to his regular contributions to Déclic, and our thoughts go out to his wife and son and the rest of his family in this very difficult time.

This years event will be on the 25th of May and the participants are in for a radical change – as the marathon is not taking place in Auch. For once we have been invited by one of the community of communes around Auch to spend the whole day with them – they have also proposed to offer us all lunch – now that’s the way to do it !

The name of the commune won’t be released until two weeks before the date of the marathon, at the same time as the 5th ‘optional’ theme is announced on the 11th of May.

So far, two weeks after opening the inscriptions, we have 25 participants – four more weeks to go…

Firmware Updates

I’m thinking uniquely of NIKON here, as in the last couple of weeks we’ve had a slew of firmware updates for different cameras.

The latest is for the D6 – yes, this camera body is still current and available new – and there have been minor updates for the mirrorless Z30 & Z50 too.

The last important firmware update was the ‘2.0’ for the Z8 in February. This activates the ‘Pixel Shift‘ options which are linked basically to the sensor software. (See below)

As the sensor is the same as the Z9 we’re now waiting to see if this will also be available as a firmware update sometime soon on this model.

How Pixel Shift works. (Taken from Nikon Technical Article/Z8 tips)

The resulting images are then vertically ‘merged’ (Photoshop, NX Studio etc.) to create a much higher pixel density image.

Hasselblad offer this possibility on their 100MP sensor and the resulting files are HUGE! NIKON offer the possibility to record 4, 8, 16 or 32 images. Treatment of the images does not interpolate between pixels. Worth remembering that each RAW image ‘weighs’ around 35Mo (depending on content, camera settings) which would make a whopping 1120Mo of data (before the merge) – I’m keen to test this !

Is size important?

This obviously rather largely depends on what we’re comparing, but in terms of modern digital cameras, sizes vary enormously.

I dug up a tape measure and got to work…

Copyright Nikon Rumors
Copyright Nikon Rumors
Copyright Nikon Rumors

I should mention that these images were stolen from Nikon Rumors – there’s are much better than mine…

These are my NIKON digital bodies, from the left a Z6ll, the Z8 and the Z9.

It’s not too surprising that there are small differences in size between different models, but in this example all three bodies house full frame (24×36) sensors, and even the Z6 and Z8 use the same battery.

So why the differences in size? The principal, and most obvious, is the size of the Z9 – this is mainly due to the integrated grip (which allows a much larger capacity battery).

Despite inaccuracies in my photo montage, the rear screens are all identical 3.2inch diagonal.

A new functionality in the Z8 (which will no doubt soon feature in a firmware update for the Z9 which has the same sensor) is Pixel Shift – this may account for NIKON needing a bit more room around the sensor mount.

The single most important factor for me is the ergonomics of any camera body. I personally can’t get used to Canon, but it’s the shape and button layout and not the capacity of the camera that puts me off. I wouldn’t ever say that I would NEVER be able to use a Canon camera, but after so many years with a NIKON in my hand, I’m used to where everything falls and I can use the camera without looking to see where things are. (To some extent this is moot as I only rarely use anything other than the on/off switch when I’m out and about with a camera !)

I suppose it’s back (again) to horses for courses – if you’re comfortable with the size, shape and weight, then where’s the problem? The increased capacity battery pack of the Z9 is a very positive advantage for some shooting situations, particularly when you have a days shooting a long way from a charging point.

As for size, the street photographers would obviously appreciate a smaller, more discrete, camera body. And I shouldn’t think landscape photographers cared one way or the other, given that for most of the time their cameras are mounted on a tripod.

On a personal level I have to say that in the past I prefered a larger DSLR camera body as I felt it absorbed the mirror vibrations etc. better. But given that two out of my three current bodies don’t even have shutters (or mirrors!) this is less of a concern.

More of the same…

I mean, you must ask yourself the question – how many 24mm zooms does one man need?

Horses for courses – there’s always a good excuse to buy another lens, but in this situation is does seem slightly bonkers to own four 24mm zoom lenses – here’s my story.

These are ‘my’ four – and I’m certain that I can convince (myself) why I need all four.

24-70 f/4 S

This was my first foray lens purchased on my first NIKON Z6 – I admit to having doubts about the quality from the outset after having used the excellent AF-S f/2.8 on my DSLRs for some years. The first results put my mind completely at ease – stunning from a so-called ‘budget’ lens, there’s nothing budget about the quality of the images. Added to the fact that it’s a remarkably compact design (and no, I don’t like to have to un-lock it to use it!) this was a very pleasant surprise and I use this regularly.

Recommended for travel (compact, light)

24-70 f2.8 S

This was the first of the ‘Holy Trinity’ f2.8 zooms that I purchased – well before the 14-24 and the 70-200. And it stood up to all the reviews I’d read – excellent quality, nothing much to say aside from the fact that it’s a large, heavy lens, which more than makes up for these little quibbles with the quality of the images, even wide open.

Recommended for it’s high quality.

24-120 f/4 S

This is an f/4 too, but still an ‘S’ lens – people still have the AF-S version in mind (not so hot…) but this lens has worked very well for me. I purchased it to have that little bit extra reach – which for concert or circus photography can be REALLY useful when you can’t move around a lot.

Recommended for use in ‘difficult’ environments, stage, concerts etc.

24-200 f/4-6,3

This is my most recent purchase, and while not being considered by NIKON as an ‘S’ lens, the results I’ve seen (and the general ‘noise’ on Internet) show that this gives very good results. I purchased this as strictly for travel – I would love to be able to cart around a host of f/2.8 lenses but frankly I haven’t got the stamina for that now, so a wide to medium telephoto seemed like a good idea – I appreciate the perspective compression at the 200 end, and the few tests I’ve down so far show I’m on the right track.

Recommended for travel (compact, light)

NIKON have recently announced a 24-400 F/4-8 super zoom which is also not an ‘S’ lens. It’s 141mm long which makes it actually longer than the 24-70 f/2.8 S so I’d have hesitations calling it a ‘travel’ lens, but then there’s the 400m end which makes this a 14x magnification!

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 »


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…..


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.


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…