Simply Mimi

black cat on bed

Simply Mimi

Mimi naps on the bedspread in the afternoon, sunlight reflecting from the white fabric onto her face, gently defining her delicate details.

This is one of the photos I took Saturday with the new little point and shoot camera I decided to purchase. I took photos of all the cats and of flowers and lots of other things, and out of it all I had intended to create a slideshow. But I’m tearing my studio apart, cleaning, painting and moving in new storage furniture so that I can actually work in there; the slideshow will have to wait. Still, Mimi stole the day and this is only one lovely photo of her.

I can’t carry the “big one”, the DSLR, around the house all the time, it’s just too physically and sometimes mechanically cumbersome, and it’s too big an investment to drag it everywhere. I go through these little point and shoots in about 18 months because I do carry them everywhere, in my pocket, around my neck, around my wrist, they take a beating and they take thousands of photos. I purchased one last spring that was disappointingly slow in focusing and shooting though it took decent videos, but the battery door was already beginning to wear out and I was constantly disappointed with its ability to just take the picture—now!

I wanted a fast shutter, of course, but I also wanted one that could handle the type of photos I take—action without blur, brilliant color that doesn’t oversaturate, contrast because I love light and shadow, and one with a good sense of black for, of course, trying to focus on several black cats in one photo. Without studio lights, this can be a real problem. I also wanted one that could take video saved in a some common file format so I can play around with it.

This is truly not possible in a point and shoot that doesn’t have more manual controls than they usually offer, but learning any camera’s limitations is just as important as knowing its assets and in time anyone can take clear and beautiful photos by knowing what the camera can do.

I was considering one of the cameras intended to take a beating—waterproof, shockproof, coldproof and so on, and while reviews showed they performed admirably for these qualities, they lacked in color quality, speed, even fast shots and marginal light, opting to increase the ISO instead of truly metering for the light and possible blur, which creates a photo with a lot of “noise”, or graininess, in the dark areas or even all through the photo.

I also wanted one that could take regular old batteries I could buy off the shelf in a pinch, like if I was at an event and my battery died, but most cameras have proprietary batteries now. That’s because we demand this kind of speed and clarity, and regular batteries can deliver that but at the cost of battery life. Manufacturers design batteries best suited to the camera’s needs. I don’t like it, but everything is a compromise.

So if you’re curious, I got a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH27, moving away from my loyalty to Pentax because I’m not happy with their point and shoots, though I love my DSLR. The shutter is satisfyingly fast so I’m getting the shots I’m planning, though the recovery time is a little long, and for the most part there is little blur and fast action and low light are handled with agile blur correction and very little film grain.

And it’s good with color. Looking at the photo of Mimi, though the sun is shining the room is dark because I had the blind pulled down. There is no camera shake evident, and this camera even managed to capture the delicate tones of brown in both Mimi and the mahogany headboard. I had to open the shadows a little in Photoshop because they were a little bit saturated, and the brightest areas have lost their detail. But this camera handled this shot better than most of the previous point and shoots, even handling the focal length without distortion. For a shot like this, instead of getting up close to my subject, I back up a little a zoom in so that she isn’t foreshortened.

Slideshow to come some time this week, but at least here’s one report. Now back to the second coat of paint on my studio walls.

4 Comments on “Simply Mimi”

  1. Susan Stoltz says:

    Beautiful Mimi on the white bedspread! I love your compositions of black cats and especially with the contrast of black on white. They seem to know how great they look on the cool, clean color. Mine surely gravitate to it.

    Thanks so much for sharing your new point and shoot camera choice. I really like its features and my last camera, Canon Power Shot, needs a replacement since it’s been dropped one too many times and now every picture has a gray blob in the middle of it.

    Good luck on your studio and I look forward to seeing your slide show!

    • animalartist says:

      Susan, it’s also the best way to photograph a dark animal because of the reflected light. I’ve always had a white or light bedspread because my room tends to be dark, but I’m converting all my surfaces to lighter ones!

      Mimi is a little more challenging because she has so much mahogany in her fur and its okay if she looks solid black but it’s not really true to her coloring. I’m not really concerned with what breed my cats are since I know they are mixes though it’s fun to look for clues, but I think Mimi has some Burmese in her background–she has nearly every feature of a Burmese cat.

      And for the camera, one of the other things I forgot to mention was that I wanted it to be completely flat when “off”, meaning it would have a minimal lens. I chose the Panasonic in the end simply by some intuituve thing, but there was an Olympus VG-120 that also met all the criteria so check that one out as well. I had a hard time choosing and almost bought them both just to actually try them out.

  2. Such a pretty picture of Mimi. Is she ever tempted to play with all those “popcorn balls” on the bedspread?

    • animalartist says:

      Christine–they look huge because the camera lens still doesn’t focus like the eye does, but those popcorns are just little bumps about the size of an apple seed. I think they like the nubby texture. It’s the sort of thing that when humans sleep on the bedspread instead of under it they awaken with a strange pre-historic diagram impressed into their cheek!

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