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Nik, our features writer has a look at the Necono Digital Camera: I have to admit that when I first found the colourful, cat illustrated box sat my desk any thoughts of looking at it objectively as a photographer went straight out of the window and was replaced by a girly shriek of: "Look at it! It's actually a cat." When I eventually got over the excitement of carrying a plastic cat around in my pocket I did begin to look for signs that it was actually a camera and not an expensive plastic toy. There's no viewfinder and if I didn't have a manual, which surprisingly was in English, it would have taken a while to figure out what buttons did what.
Basically, the viewfinder is in one of the cat's eyes, the on switch is found underneath the cat and the shutter, as well as mode buttons are found on top of the cat's body. There are three modes: single image, video and the option to take a photo every 1-2 seconds and you know which mode you're in by the colour of the LED found on the back of the cat. To take a shot you face your subject, hit the shutter button, release it and the LED light will go off. When it comes back on, the exposure is complete. The cat also has magnetic feet which means you can stick it to anything metal and photograph any unsuspecting passer by or use it to spy on people!
In use, the camera can be a little frustrating as it takes quite a while for it to finish an exposure. Which makes photographing moving objects such as a cat a rather hit and miss process. To make it worse you can't check to see if you got the shot so on occasions where I thought I captured something I'd plug it into the computer to find I actually didn't. It's not great at close focusing and sometimes you can end up with shots that are under or over exposed when a 'normal' digital camera would perform perfectly well. It's not great in dark conditions and people can end up looking like gnomes with overly red cheeks. It also took a while to find a method in which I could guarantee hitting the shutter button and letting it go would take a shot every time. For anyone thinking about buying one, you have to hit the button and quite quickly let it go so the camera registers you want to take a photograph.
A lot of the images I managed to take were rather rubbish as they were either blurry, dark or just not that interesting! Although, there were a few surprises and with a little bit of luck and a creative eye, you can produce the odd keeper. The shots are a little quirky with unusual colours and a slight amount of grain visible in the shots. I did think it would be a great camera for capturing a few candids with and the cute cat didn't let me down, producing a few smiles and puzzled looks from passers by, however as it took so long to take a photograph, the person had usually walked on or turned around by the time the exposure was complete.
It's not a camera for someone who likes to control every aspect of their photography but it is fun to use and the aspect of not knowing what you've taken until you were back in front of the computer slowly became enjoyable. The camera still makes me smile and when one of several friends asked: “Where can I get one of those bad boys from?” it began to make me think that it potentially could have a market in the UK. However, when I told my friends it was currently priced at £120 they were quickly disappointed because no matter how cute and quirky the cat cam is, it's not worth that amount of money.
Photoshop challenge: If you can improve any of the images please post your results here.
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