Howdy all -

I'm getting to the point now where I've started looking into buying a camera and a few lenses of my own (currently borrowing from my sis). I've been told by photography hobbyists that lenses without a lowest F-stop of at least 2.8 aren't worth buying, but as I've started looking - to get anything in that F range is pretty pricey. Prices seem much more reasonable for lenses with an F-stop around 5ish (I realize these are not "professional" lenses), but I have relatively little experience with photography...

So I'm curious what you folks, with some experience under your belts, have to say about this.

What lenses do you shoot with? Is the aperture setting that crucial in Stop Motion? Any suggestions on which lenses are a necessity when starting out?

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You don't need the really fast lenses (big apertures that let in a lot of light fast). What the  large apertures do is basically 2 things - let you work handheld in lower light and get really shallow depth of field. The original purpose of them of course was to allow handheld photography in low light situations - if you get enough light in fast enough then a slight movement of the hand or the subject) won't ruin a shot because you can get the exposure in a fraction of a second. The extremely shallow depth of field thing seems to be a side-effect that has only been exploited recently during the digital camera craze when people figured out how neat it looks. But unless your last name is Quay you probably don't want a depth of field about as thick as a piece of typing paper. 

So that leaves fast exposure time to think about. But the reason you'd need it is for low light situations where you're not using a tripod (and your subjects are holding perfectly still - puppets are the perfect photographic models) - if you are using a tripod then you can just use a longer exposure time and get as much light in there as you need, however long that may take. Ergo - really no need for super-fast lenses in stopmotion. 

That said, I do like to modulate depth of field to some extent - no more than is used in most movies when they want to throw the background out of focus and put emphasis on a face in close up for example. But since I fell into the same trap you were starting to and bought lenses with really low f-stop numbers, it's hard to say what apertures I mostly use - I usually don't bother to check. I just twist the ring on the lens until things look good. Ok, actually that's not entirely true - in reality I pay attention first to depth of field - set it where I want it, and then I adjust exposure time to get the level of brightness I want. But I know that I frequently use the second or third f-stop (I haven't memorized what the numbers are - probably a 2 and 2.8 or something). One advantage to letting in more light is you get a brighter framegrabber image, though this has to be balanced out by the shallower DoF that goes with those bigger f-stop numbers. Always be sure to use your depth-of-field preview (most pro and semi-pro cameras have them) when setting up a shot to see what it will really look like.

So while there's no need for a superfast lens like 1.8 or 1.4 or whatever the actual numbers are, I'd probably want at least a 2 or something close. Maybe 3.

5 seems a bit too slow to me. I'd think you'd have trouble getting a bright enough grabber image to work with. Not sure though, as I've never tried limiting myself to a 5. Another thing to consider - the really slow lenses, as you said, aren't professional, and were made to be cheap - so they aren't precision ground and often don't have good optical coatings. Yes, its true, you don't need the fastest lenses made, but it's never a good idea to go for the cheapest either. 

I think your photographer friends' advice is not wholly applicable to stopmo -- we've got a lot more leeway with shutter speed than they do, which can make up for the light limitations of slower lenses.  Unless you're going for super-shallow DOF, you can probably work just fine with an f/5ish lens, provided the camera can't mess with the aperture between shots.  That being said, there are some decent and not-too-expensive prime lenses in the f/2.8 range out there -- if you're looking for a zoom lens that fast, that can get pricey (although there are some inexpensive ones out there too).

My own lenses were chosen based on advice from much more experienced animators in this community -- manual Nikon lenses with an adapter for my Canon body, which means you can set the aperture and the camera can't change it.  The two lenses I use most for animation are an old 24mm f/2.8 and a 50mm f/1.8.  I've also gotten some decent mileage out of a Tokina 28-70mm f/2.8 zoom.  Not super-high-end lenses, but they get the job done.

EDIT: Ninja'd by Strider.  Listen to him.  He's smart.

Couldn't resist posting this cool ninja animation - but I wanted to add - Thomas is super-smart and much more succinct than me - I was just faster! 

If a lens opens up to f-3.5, that's as much as you are likely to want for stop motion, or at least if you are shooting in a miniature scale.  (OK, as much as I want, some people go for a shallower focus look than I do.)  With miniatures, you already get the effect of a shallower depth of field compared to full scale real world shots, so you don't need to open up to f-1.4 to soften out the background.   For many shots I tend to stop down to f-11 or f-16, to help get more depth of field and make it look less like a miniature.  For closeups where I do want to focus on the character and drop the background out of focus, f-5.6 or is often enough for me.   It depends on the lens - the 55mm Nikon macro I use for closeups has less depth of field than a 24mm or 28mm wide angle anyway.   

Unless you use a full frame DSLR, the size of the sensor is smaller so some of the faults of cheaper lenses which occur around the edges are chopped off.  And because you are shooting at higher resolution than you need for HD video, re-sizing it down will help if the lens was a little bit less sharp than the expensive lenses.  So medium quality lenses can give good results for animation, where they might not be so good for stills.  Not sure about the real cheapies, I would need to test it first before trusting my hours of work to it.

Hi guys,

Quick question for Thomas on the links provided for the 24mm & 50mm lenses. The 50mm is both auto & manual focus. Can auto/manual Nikon lenses be used with a Canon Rebel T3i with the adapter? Can any Auto/Manual lenses be used for that matter?

Thanks!

Thomas Nicol said:

I think your photographer friends' advice is not wholly applicable to stopmo -- we've got a lot more leeway with shutter speed than they do, which can make up for the light limitations of slower lenses.  Unless you're going for super-shallow DOF, you can probably work just fine with an f/5ish lens, provided the camera can't mess with the aperture between shots.  That being said, there are some decent and not-too-expensive prime lenses in the f/2.8 range out there -- if you're looking for a zoom lens that fast, that can get pricey (although there are some inexpensive ones out there too).

My own lenses were chosen based on advice from much more experienced animators in this community -- manual Nikon lenses with an adapter for my Canon body, which means you can set the aperture and the camera can't change it.  The two lenses I use most for animation are an old 24mm f/2.8 and a 50mm f/1.8.  I've also gotten some decent mileage out of a Tokina 28-70mm f/2.8 zoom.  Not super-high-end lenses, but they get the job done.

EDIT: Ninja'd by Strider.  Listen to him.  He's smart.

I don't know if there are any adapters out there that match up the electronic connections necessary for auto-focus (and I suspect there might be different protocols used by different brands as well, but I don't know anything about that).  The adapter I use does not, and that 50 works great as a straight manual lens on my T3i.

Thanks Thomas. I think I may have phrased the questions wrong but I think you still answered what I was trying to ask. I just wanted to make sure I could purchase a Nikon 50mm f/1.8D 1.8 AF Nikkor Autofocus Lens 50 mm and still use it on my T3i with the Nikon adapter as a Manual Focus only. All StopMo here - so no need for the AF to function. It sounds like that will  work, correct? Thanks again!

Essentially the whole point of using an adapter is to disable automatic functioning, so the camera can't work the focus or aperture anymore. These auto functions are the cause of camera-based flicker, and are what we're trying to eliminate. 

If you're wanting to also use the camera for regular photography with the auto functions intact, then simply buy the 'right' lenses for that (get lenses manufactured specifically for that camera, that don't require adapters) and use those for the regular photography, but be sure to use lenses via an adapter that disables electronic connection when doing stopmotion. 

Strider - thanks & yes...understood.  I am a newbie to Stop Motion so I apologize for any confusion. I will be using the camera for StopMo only. I have the Nikon Al F Lens to Canon EOS EF Mount Adapter Ring to use Nikon with my Canon to avoid the flicker issue. I just wanted to make sure the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D 1.8 AF Nikkor Lens would work for StopMo in that setup since it is sold as an Autofocus lens, but sounds like it has the ability to be focused manually. I am looking to buy a 28mm & a 50 or 55mm. I have been trying to make sure I do this right, based on all the info you guys so generously post here! Thanks again.

Strider said:

Essentially the whole point of using an adapter is to disable automatic functioning, so the camera can't work the focus or aperture anymore. These auto functions are the cause of camera-based flicker, and are what we're trying to eliminate. 

If you're wanting to also use the camera for regular photography with the auto functions intact, then simply buy the 'right' lenses for that (get lenses manufactured specifically for that camera, that don't require adapters) and use those for the regular photography, but be sure to use lenses via an adapter that disables electronic connection when doing stopmotion. 

Ah ok - I see.

I know the Nikon AI and AIS lenses will work - but I can't determine if that's one of them or not - I don't think it is. The mount is an F type - not sure if the mount style is what AI and AIS refer to, but I've looked at that lens at various sites and can't find any indication that it's an AI or AIS lens. I suspect it's not. 

You should do a search for Nikon 50mm AI lens (AIS lenses will be included in the results) on ebay or something. Then you could also do a separate search for the same, but substitute 55mm for 50. Here's the search for 50mm lenses: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p5197.m570.l1313&_nkw=ni...

That F mount lens definitely works as either autofocus or manual - I saw that on several different sites. But the information I have is only about AI or AIS lenses. Personally I would keep looking till I find one that specifically states AI or AIS.

Will do. I'll stick with the AI & AIS then. I don't want to take a chance. Thanks!

I've been looking into this a little more, and actually I think that lens you posted will work with an adapter. I found a couple of adapters on Amazon that say they'll adapt "any" Nikon lens to a Canon EOS body - and this one specifically says it will work with a Nikon F lens. 

So it looks like maybe we can expand the range of Nikon lenses that work via adapter. I'd still be very careful to make sure a particular lens will actually work with the selected adapter though - you never know when some technicality will trip you up. 

Yeah, here's another one that definitely states it will adapt a Nikon F mount lens to a Canon EOS body: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=674547&a...

So you should be fine to get that lens if you want to. 

D'oh! And now, looking back at your post, I see you have the the Nikon Al F Lens to Canon EOS EF Mount Adapter Ring... 

Guess I shuld have paid more attention to all those little letters and numbers!

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