Evening all!

I was hoping to get a little advice. I have a couple of stop motion projects coming up and wanted to improve on my home set up as to produce a more professional standard of work.

I'm currently using a Canon 450D but will eventually get something better. In the meantime, can anyone recommend a good lens for this model?

Secondly, I don't really know too much about lighting. Until now, I've always just set up a couple of lamps and tried to wing it but I was wondering if anyone could point me in the direction of a good starter kit or give me an idea of the type of lights that I should be using? I've been following this class online (below,) which is great, but he focuses a lot on portrait photography and using your cameras flash which I wasn't sure really applied to stop motion.

http://strobist.blogspot.co.uk/

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance. 

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In this post I'll concentrate on lighting, then I'll make another for lenses. 

For stopmotion you need continuous light, not intermittent like a flash, and you don't want it to be attached to the camera. You want the freedom to be able to move your lights around. Lamps are fine - in fact you can get a long way just using desk lamps and floor lamps. Depending on what kind of lighting you want you could learn about techniques for modifying your lighting if you want more atmosphere. Or if you want a bright overall cartoon style light then no need for that, but an important thing to keep in mind (especially if you want the atmospheric lighting) is it's important to pay attention to where you're putting shadows just as much as where you're putting light. Anything you do to tailor the lighting will hep create a nice effect. Ways to accomplish this are by moving lights closer or farther, which affects how broad of an area they illuminate as well as how bright the light will be - blocking light using something like shaped pieces of cardstock placed in front of lighting units and positioned by means of some kind of jointed arm or a thick piece of wire, so you can create shadows where you want them - or rather than cardstock you can put colored filters in front. It's surprising how much just a little of this will make your lighting start to look a lot better. 

If you want to read up on methods of controlling light, check out the:

Lighting Control Thread

As for lenses - it isn't really important what model of camera you've got, what you need to pay attention to is what kind of lens mount it has. Really though you don't need to even know that these days, if you search Amazon using the name of your camera and the type of lens you want to use it will tell you if there's an adapter for it (though you need to be sure to check - often the first few entries will actually be for your lens mount and after that they're just showing you less relevant stuff). 

In a nutshell, you want to not use a kit lens or an autofocus lens (kit lenses are autofocus). You need the focus and exposure to stay exactly where you put them and not go changing automatically every time you put your hands in shot to animate. Yes, when you take your hands out it will change again, but not to exactly where it was before - there's always a little bit of latitude and in the video that will result in flicker. Or worse if it's autofocusing - it'll look like an earthquake. 

The best way to ensure your lens won't do any of these things is to get an older lens that's fully manual. The older lenses usually need a lens adapter to fit on newer cameras. And as I mentioned earlier, you want to first know what lens you're getting and then look for an adapter that will fit it onto your camera. 

You COULD get an older manual zoom lens that covers a range of different focal lengths, so you only need one lens, but older zoom lenses weren't very good (newer ones are far better in many regards, but are always auto-everything). So generally what you want to do is get 2 lenses so you'll be able to get close and long shots. The recommended focal lengths are 24mm and 50mm. 

I usually recommend getting used lenses off eBay. Tell you what - I'm going to link to an earlier thread where we went into great detail on all this stuff - 

Canon FD to EF mount adapter thread

With the Canon EOS cameras, the usual practice is to use an older, fully manual lens from another maker, instead of the Canon kit lens that came with the camera.  Or any of the Canon lenses - not that they are bad, but they don't have a ring on the lens to set the aperture. 

Nikon lenses are good for fitting to a Canon body, with an adapter that costs less than $10 these days, shipped from China with postage included.  You want the simple one with no electronic connections like Focus Confirmation.  There aren't as many of those on eBay now, since for most still photography it is an advantage letting the camera control lens settings, but there are a few if you look.  Here's one for US $10.99:    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mount-Adapter-For-Nikon-F-AI-Ai-S-Lens-to-C...   I've seen them for less in the past, but that's the first one I found.   Aha - here we go, $5.98, still with free shipping:   http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-AI-AF-Lens-to-Canon-EOS-EF-Mount-Came...

There is also an adapter for Olympus OM mount lenses, which I have one of, and several other makes like Pentax K mount.  I can see an adapter for M42 thread mount lenses as well, on eBay. You can also use 3rd party lenses like Sigma made for the Nikon or Canon mounts.   The handy thing is that Canon mount their lenses closer to the sensor (or film plane) than other makes -  so the other lens that was designed to be further away, plus the thickness of the adapter, means they are the right distance for that lens and work perfectly on the Canon with the full range of focus.

My main two lenses are a Nikkor 28mm for wider shots - because the second hand 24mm lenses are a lot more expensive in my country than the more common 28mm - and a Nikkor 55mm Micro (Nikon-speak for Macro) for closer shots.  It can be moved much closer, using the macro setting,  than a standard 50mm lens like the ones that used to come with every SLR camera.  I later picked up a 24mm from eBay in the USA, where the price was much lower, but I still use the 28mm slightly more often.

Here's a 55mm micro like mine:   http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-Nikkor-AI-S-55mm-f2-8-Micro-Lens-55-2...

One of the ones I can see in the "similar items" is a non-AI lens, don't go for one of those.  Another one is priced at only $65, might be ok, haven't checked it out.

This 24mm at $150 is in "good working order", but that's all they claim -  I'm not sure the lenses are clean and free of scratches.  Some are priced quite a bit higher than that.  (Mine was much less, but had a sticky iris that was slow to stop down when you press the shutter, a disaster for normal photography but not an issue for stop motion where I stop it down at the start of the shoot and it stays there.)  http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-Nikkor-24mm-f2-8-AI-Mount-manual-focu...

My 24mm, with an adapter:



Strider said:

In this post I'll concentrate on lighting, then I'll make another for lenses. 

For stopmotion you need continuous light, not intermittent like a flash, and you don't want it to be attached to the camera. You want the freedom to be able to move your lights around. Lamps are fine - in fact you can get a long way just using desk lamps and floor lamps. Depending on what kind of lighting you want you could learn about techniques for modifying your lighting if you want more atmosphere. Or if you want a bright overall cartoon style light then no need for that, but an important thing to keep in mind (especially if you want the atmospheric lighting) is it's important to pay attention to where you're putting shadows just as much as where you're putting light. Anything you do to tailor the lighting will hep create a nice effect. Ways to accomplish this are by moving lights closer or farther, which affects how broad of an area they illuminate as well as how bright the light will be - blocking light using something like shaped pieces of cardstock placed in front of lighting units and positioned by means of some kind of jointed arm or a thick piece of wire, so you can create shadows where you want them - or rather than cardstock you can put colored filters in front. It's surprising how much just a little of this will make your lighting start to look a lot better. 

If you want to read up on methods of controlling light, check out the:

Lighting Control Thread


Thank you for getting back to me! I really appreciate your advice. Until now, I've been using desk lamps but moving forward I'd like to allow myself more space on the animating table and so floor lamps, or lights that I can attach to an arm/stand seem like a good way to go. I'll have a play around and see how I get on.

I'll have a look through the lighting control thread as well - that looks really helpful.

Thanks again for helping me out. Much appreciated! 



Strider said:

As for lenses - it isn't really important what model of camera you've got, what you need to pay attention to is what kind of lens mount it has. Really though you don't need to even know that these days, if you search Amazon using the name of your camera and the type of lens you want to use it will tell you if there's an adapter for it (though you need to be sure to check - often the first few entries will actually be for your lens mount and after that they're just showing you less relevant stuff). 

In a nutshell, you want to not use a kit lens or an autofocus lens (kit lenses are autofocus). You need the focus and exposure to stay exactly where you put them and not go changing automatically every time you put your hands in shot to animate. Yes, when you take your hands out it will change again, but not to exactly where it was before - there's always a little bit of latitude and in the video that will result in flicker. Or worse if it's autofocusing - it'll look like an earthquake. 

The best way to ensure your lens won't do any of these things is to get an older lens that's fully manual. The older lenses usually need a lens adapter to fit on newer cameras. And as I mentioned earlier, you want to first know what lens you're getting and then look for an adapter that will fit it onto your camera. 

You COULD get an older manual zoom lens that covers a range of different focal lengths, so you only need one lens, but older zoom lenses weren't very good (newer ones are far better in many regards, but are always auto-everything). So generally what you want to do is get 2 lenses so you'll be able to get close and long shots. The recommended focal lengths are 24mm and 50mm. 

I usually recommend getting used lenses off eBay. Tell you what - I'm going to link to an earlier thread where we went into great detail on all this stuff - 

Canon FD to EF mount adapter thread

Again - really helpful! Thanks for taking the time out to reply. For my last couple of films, I've set up in Dragonframe, switched to autofocus and adjusted the focus within the programme to make sure that everything looks clear, then gone on to shoot. I haven't had any flicker or focusing problems yet, but may just be lucky. 

I'll look into getting a couple of manual lenses. This will benefit me in broadening my range of shots as well so I'll look forward to seeing the different outcomes.

Thanks again Strider! Do you have any stop motion work that I could check out?



StopmoNick said:

With the Canon EOS cameras, the usual practice is to use an older, fully manual lens from another maker, instead of the Canon kit lens that came with the camera.  Or any of the Canon lenses - not that they are bad, but they don't have a ring on the lens to set the aperture. 

Nikon lenses are good for fitting to a Canon body, with an adapter that costs less than $10 these days, shipped from China with postage included.  You want the simple one with no electronic connections like Focus Confirmation.  There aren't as many of those on eBay now, since for most still photography it is an advantage letting the camera control lens settings, but there are a few if you look.  Here's one for US $10.99:    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mount-Adapter-For-Nikon-F-AI-Ai-S-Lens-to-C...   I've seen them for less in the past, but that's the first one I found.   Aha - here we go, $5.98, still with free shipping:   http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-AI-AF-Lens-to-Canon-EOS-EF-Mount-Came...

There is also an adapter for Olympus OM mount lenses, which I have one of, and several other makes like Pentax K mount.  I can see an adapter for M42 thread mount lenses as well, on eBay. You can also use 3rd party lenses like Sigma made for the Nikon or Canon mounts.   The handy thing is that Canon mount their lenses closer to the sensor (or film plane) than other makes -  so the other lens that was designed to be further away, plus the thickness of the adapter, means they are the right distance for that lens and work perfectly on the Canon with the full range of focus.

My main two lenses are a Nikkor 28mm for wider shots - because the second hand 24mm lenses are a lot more expensive in my country than the more common 28mm - and a Nikkor 55mm Micro (Nikon-speak for Macro) for closer shots.  It can be moved much closer, using the macro setting,  than a standard 50mm lens like the ones that used to come with every SLR camera.  I later picked up a 24mm from eBay in the USA, where the price was much lower, but I still use the 28mm slightly more often.

Here's a 55mm micro like mine:   http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-Nikkor-AI-S-55mm-f2-8-Micro-Lens-55-2...

One of the ones I can see in the "similar items" is a non-AI lens, don't go for one of those.  Another one is priced at only $65, might be ok, haven't checked it out.

This 24mm at $150 is in "good working order", but that's all they claim -  I'm not sure the lenses are clean and free of scratches.  Some are priced quite a bit higher than that.  (Mine was much less, but had a sticky iris that was slow to stop down when you press the shutter, a disaster for normal photography but not an issue for stop motion where I stop it down at the start of the shoot and it stays there.)  http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-Nikkor-24mm-f2-8-AI-Mount-manual-focu...

My 24mm, with an adapter:

Thanks for your advice Nick! This is a great basis for me to start looking. I'm in the UK so will check out what's available on ebay here. I appreciate your help - before now I wouldn't have even know that I had to buy a mount!

Really helpful stuff.

About using DF to handle the camera settings - I've never had a camera that would allow that, so I have no experience with it. Some people seem to have good luck with it. Personally I've had the same thing happen that Nick experienced - I had a camera that would not flicker for some time until all of a sudden it started, at which point I bought some manual lenses and adapters and haven't had a problem since. Well, a flicker problem anyway!  

Here's my stopmotion playlist:

Heymykee Stopmo Tests and Practice

i would add to download a programm like black magics davinci or adobe premier if you want to pay. davinci is free. and can work with after affects on lightning and gradiants etc 



sebastian Potts said:

i would add to download a programm like black magics davinci or adobe premier if you want to pay. davinci is free. and can work with after affects on lightning and gradiants etc 

Thanks Sebastian!

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