Hello, I'm using a Nikon d50 with Dragonframe and would love to be able to have the live view function available. I understand people work around this by pointing a camera directly into the viewfinder of the camera. Would anyone who has experience with this share their thoughts on what camera is choice for doing this? Thank you for any help!

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When I animated with a Nikon D70 and D50, I put a little security camera behind the viewfinder.  It came inside a dome, for mounting on the ceiling.  As you can see, it's just a board with electronics on it, and a simple swivel mount.  I think it would be called a "board camera".  Don't know if they are still around, I got it in 2004 and the spycam shop closed about 5 years ago. The main benefit was that you could get interchangeable lenses, called Board Lenses, at around $10 each.  They were about 12mm (1/2") in diameter, and screwed into the camera.  Focus was done by screwing them in a bit more or less.  The lens that came with it was very wide, about 3.5mm I think, like most security cameras, and would have given me a small picture surrounded by a wide black border.  I replaced it with a 16mm lens that was more suitable.  It did crop the sides slightly, but showed most of what was in the viewfinder.  I'll find the image of what it showed and post that in the next reply.

It was an analog camera, but I had a box with analog input and output in my PC that came with a now defunct editing program.  There are small USB adapters for analog input now I believe.  I used it with StopMotion Pro.

I had a strip of aluminium filed down to fit into the hot shoe flash mount on top of the camera.  I ground it hollow underneath so it would not touch the electrical contacts.  (Probably didn't matter since I had flash turned off anyway, but wanted to be sure.)

Here is what the spycam saw through the viewfinder, compared to the actual frame recorded from the D70.  

I think Leevi Lehtinen used a black and white camera with  much better performance in low light, which would have helped when the lens is stopped down more than f-11.  Since I shot with exposures of 1/2 second or longer, that made the final image bright but didn't help the video cam, so at f-16 the video assist image was pretty dark and I couldn't see much.  Not as bad as when I tried it on a Bolex, even with the lens wide open, but still not so good for gauging the animation.

I don't know what is around now, like USB webcams maybe, you would need a zoom lens or not-so-wide lens to get the right framing so you don't have too small an image or crop too much either.  For the last few years I've shot with a Canon 40d with Live View so it hasn't been an issue any more.

Board lenses appear to still be available, so there may be cameras to put them on:  http://www.m12lenses.com/Board-Lenses-s/12.htm  

Here's a similar camera at eBay, like mine it would need the 3.6mm lens changed to 12mm or 16mm.  I'm not sure what you would see with a 12mm, there weren't any to test in the shop, probably a narrow black border around the image.   http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mini-box-Spy-CCTV-600TVL-Super-HAD-CCD-II-3...

nick that's pretty slick! 

what i did was less ideal for a myriad of reasons, but you can just mount a webcam for reference on top, or off to the side- obviously you won't be seeing exactly what the camera is seeing, but it'd at least give you a reference for animating. 

good luck! 

Yes, that's what I used to do with the Bolex, bolt a video camcorder onto the motor drive support on the side.  Can simply have 2 tripods as close as possible, or rig up a dual mount so the 2 cameras sit side by side on the same tripod.  They still let you judge how your animation is going, which is the main thing.  

A lot of great information, thank you guys!

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