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The very beginning of the discharge has been studied in the PACO dense plasma focus (DPF) device. Electrical and optical diagnostics (ultra-fast photographs of emitting light) have been employed to describe the plasma in the breakdown and also when the plasma sheath (or current sheath) did part of its coaxial travel. The plasma shape in its earliest stage and in more advanced stages are related between them for characteristic working pressure regimes. Using other diagnostics such as neutron emission detection, the breakdown features and the apparatus performance were correlated.