Thursday 3 April 2014

Top Gear (Part 1)

So there you are with your camera nice and steady on your foot taking lots of pictures, but frankly you are starting to feel that your current camera just doesn't cut it.

Well that's OK, because this weeks Fursday Foto Tip is all about choosing a new camera. And, you will not be surprised to hear, this fourth tip is without doubt the most important tip I will give you...

Bunny Photo Tip #4

"Well, I've got the camera now, so let's see how YOU binky!"

This week's tip:

Buy a good quality camera. A good camera may cost a lot of money but our memories of our bunnies are priceless.

Yes it's that simple, buy a good camera. But before I go any further I need to give you a serious warning:

If you don't have lots of money spare to buy fancy electronic toys, you may wish to stop reading right now.

Any amateur photographer will tell you that buying camera gear is addictive. No, seriously, I mean REALLY addictive. Once you've started, you will soon find yourself chasing the next new thing, or a different kind of lens that you are convinced will revolutionise your photography. Until the next one. It's a slippery, slippery slope. YOU. HAVE. BEEN. WARNED.

So anyway, what is a good camera and why do you need one? Well the "why" is easy - with a better camera you can take better photographs and photographs are memories. We all want to capture good memories of our bunnies to treasure forever, right? Right. So now the "what".

The invention of camera phones means that everyone is now carrying a camera round in their pocket. But once you start trying to use it to take pictures of bunnies, you soon discover that it doesn't cut the mustard. Outside, during the daytime, sure it's not bad at taking pictures of the garden, but it doesn't do so well in lower light or with moving subjects, which bunnies invariably are. The problem comes down to size - engineering a lens and sensor (the thing that receives the picture, where the film would be in an old camera) that small is bound to result in a compromise in quality.

So for taking decent pictures of bunnies, we need an actual purpose-built camera. But the technology can be confusing at first and to understand what you are buying you need to know quite a bit about aperture, ISO, shutter speed, focal length, megapixels, sensor size and a whole host of other things. It's all very complicated, and even if a camera manufacturer gets all the numbers right, the result doesn't necessarily result in a good camera. So here's a very important sub-tip:

NEVER buy a camera until you read expert reviews.
There are some great sites out there, like DPReview, TechRadar, ExpertReviews and many others, where they use and review large numbers of cameras and therefore have a good perspective of what works well and what doesn't, so use them. They will tell you much more than the reviews you see from customers on shopping sites that have very little to compare their new purchase to and may be comparing it more to their expectation than the other cameras on offer for the same price. Even if you don't understand the details, most of the reviews will feature a summary with the most important information.

On the expert sites, check out their "Gear of the Year" features, which appear regularly and are a good place to start. For example, Pocket-Lint's Best of 2014 article or DPReview's What To Buy feature. Even if they are listing cameras out of your price range, the issues they discuss will give you an idea of what sort of things you want. Once you have an idea, pick some possible cameras you can afford and just Google/Bing/Yahoo search for the model and the word "review". YouTube is also a good place to find camera reviews, though again you need to make sure you stick to the seasoned reviewers.

That's really all I want to say this week - you will really benefit from buying a decent camera and you should read the reviews before purchasing. To finish off though, it occurs to me that you may be wondering what I use. I have two cameras I use for the Rescue, but the camera I personally consider to be the best compact bunny camera currently available, and highly regarded by most of the sites I mentioned, is the one Whisky is modelling above - the Sony DSC-RX100. Sure, there are some bad things about it:

  • At around 380 quid, it's not cheap for a compact camera.
  • Being a couple of years old, it lacks some of the features we take for granted now in modern cameras, like WiFi and a flippy-up screen (there is also a newer version with some of these features, but it will cost you a whopping 530 quid).
  • It seems like no thought went into the practical design of the thing - it lacks any sort of grip on the front for your fingers making it necessary to always use the strap, the shutter button is flush with the top and can be hard to hit when you are trying to take a picture in a hurry and the video button is located such that your thumb will accidentally activate it when you are trying to take a picture.

But if you can look past those things, here is why it absolutely rocks as a bunny camera:

  • It is small, so you can have it with you in your pocket, bag or belt-pouch all the time, you need never miss a special moment again.
  • It is small (did I mention that?) and quiet so bunnies don't get spooked by it.
  • The picture quality is just amazing, thanks in the most part to the 1 inch sensor Sony somehow managed to cram into it.
  • It has a good maximum aperture of F1.8 at the wide end of the zoom, allowing you to capture stunning portraits with shallow depth of field and take reasonable pictures in relatively low light.
  • Once you get the hang of it, you can use it in manual mode and set everything yourself
  • It can shoot in raw format for maximum recovery of detail when you are processing photo's on a computer after.
  • It has a number of actually quite useful "effects". Normally I would ignore these on a camera, preferring to add them in Photoshop after, but some of the ones on here are quite fun and well implemented.

It is a truly great camera and one that I have really enjoyed using. Testament to it's awesomeness is that ownership of the thing has spread like a virus among my photography-enthusiast friends - once they experienced it, they all needed to have one. So that's something.

Well there you go, another hopefully useful tip and one which I may elaborate on in future posts. As always, please feel free to add your comments and questions below. See you back here tomorrow for more Tiny Tales!


  1. Some great tips Again,love the photo of Whisky,xx Rachel

  2. You know, it might help some of us who feel a bit challenged, if you had included the picture of your binky by Whiskey. If Whiskey can do this, well maybe so, no never mind. However, for those of us still working on our binkies, such a photo might still inspire. The shutter button versus the video button resonates deeply with all who are trying to face the world bravely.