Cyclotography and the Sony RX100

Taking photos from a bicycle presents challenges. You’re shooting a moving target while in motion yourself. In New York City, it’s perfectly legal for motorists to door, injure, cripple, or kill bicyclists, you have to pay attention. On top of that, I adhere to a kind of cycling code that treats bikes differently than cars and pedestrians – see this article from last Sunday’s NY Times.

As someone afflicted with the need to take photos while riding, I’m constantly trying out different cameras as the budget permits. Everyone’s been raving about the new Sony RX100 for its fast focus, shutter speed and sensor size. So I got my hands on one and took it out for a spin today on the outrageously popular Summer Streets car-free Park Avenue ride.

This fellow came out blurry, but not because of his blazing speed.

 

Passing over the shoulder shot of dog and basket…

 

When you’re riding with one hand on a camera, you get a lot of accidental shots like this:

 

Much of the time, I’m looking for oncoming shots, so I fiddled with left-handed camera work. The RX100 senses that it’s upside down and automatically flips the shot for you in camera – a nice feature. But getting a comfortable hand position can be tricky. Shoot with camera upside down and thumb on shutter? Or right side up with left index finger on shutter…an awkward and somewhat tiring hand position. What is this guy doing?

 

In charge and on top of it:

 

Three shots of the same dog/basket/rider. The first, I’m stationary and so is the target. The photo is cropped and retains lots of nice detail. The second, we’re on the move again and a little blur enters the picture. Probably my fault – I’m shooting left-handed and no doubt my hand is unsteady. Finally, the third: puppy is staring me down. Would have been a great shot but for the blur. I don’t blame the camera but my unsteadiness with left-handed shooting.

 

 

 

 

I switched to the Sports/Action mode and this got this shot. The first is the crop/zoom. The second is the original.

 

Two out of three. Rare male rider rear basket combo, a young cyclist doing the cone slalom on a bike I’d want, and a crushing disappointment on the side by side riders with dogs in front baskets.

 

Another dog in a rear basket and a series of scenes from yesterday, Summer Streets.

 

I passed this young rider furiously pedaling with his mom cheering him on the hill leading up to Grand Central Terminal. I said that he was doing an incredible job on a tough hill. “And this is his first time out (riding on streets),” she said.

 

So, is the RX100 the camera for cyclophotography? Probably yes. Most of the bad shots were because I didn’t get set for the shot – always a challenge anyway – or I didn’t use the right camera setting. If it has a con, there isn’t great tactile feedback from the shutter. You can’t hear it over road noise unless the camera’s near your face, so sometimes it’s difficult to tell if you’ve taken a shot or not. Pros: lens is sharp, bright and clear, the menus are simple enough for me to use, fast focus and shutter, and the thing is pocketable.

 

Final images from the ride…

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