Hey

I'm currently on the hunt for a new camera compatible with Dragonframe. I'm hoping to find something less than $400-500 that allows me to shoot for stop motion *and* live action film. I'm not sure if any DSLRs/SLRs fit that description?

A friend of mine recommended a Canon Rebel T, however it does not have autofocus for when filming live, which would prevent an issue. I realize though that manually controlled focus is a must for stop motion. 

Does anyone know of a good camera for this purpose?

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Hi Cadmus. There are quite a few cameras that fit the bill.

But first, autofocus is not necessarily a good thing when shooting movies. You may want to maintain focus on the foreground while panning, and autofocus will try to find the thing you are looking at. And filming e.g. someone walking diagonally towards camera, the autofocus will adjust in a series of jumps and pauses. I prefer to adjust focus manually, ideally with an assistant operating a focus control ring ( you can create one of these super-cheaply using the devices sold for getting the lids off jars).

The difference between live action lenses and those for stopmo is that the former need to open up very wide, whereas we can use quite slow lenses because of long exposure times.

Back to the camera question. Even the basic Canon cameras do full HD, which is 1080p, as opposed to HD at 720p. Check out the Dragonframe compatibility chart, as even if you don't have it yet, it would be a pain to have to change cameras just to be able to use DF.

But be warned. The footage you shoot will not look quite the same as a stopmotion image sequence shot under the same light. This is because of the compression applied to squeeze the movie information into a small enough format to transfer. But you can adjust in post.

I bought the Canon 600d (Rebel T3i) some years ago, and it has been brilliant for both live action and stopmotion. The latest version is the 700d  or 750d, and they will interface with DF no problem.

You'll also need a mains adapter, and spare batteries.

As for lenses most people start out with the basic kit lens. You could buy second-hand prime lenses for both stopmo and live action. Plenty of YouTube videos on suitable lenses.

Hope this helps!

I don't use auto focus, ever, so I would agree with Simon.

I do use HD video for filming some live elements like waterfalls or smoke against black, but I still prefer to set the focus where I want it, not where the autofocus is likely to jump to.  

Although I can now shoot video on the same camera and lens (Canon 7d) that I animate with, like Simon said it doesn't look quite the same.  As well as the compression, the exposure time is shorter - it has to be, since you are taking 24, 25, or 30 frames per second, and it needs some time between exposures, so it's likely to be around 1/60th of a second.   I take 1/2 sec to 1 1/2 sec stills for animation, so if the lighting is the same, when shooting live video I have to open the lens up to compensate.   That gives me a much shallower depth of field.  So mostly I am using the video for very different things, not for shooting on my stop motion set.

For stop motion, my essential equipment for animation, besides the camera, is an AC power adapter - I have a cheapie (under $20) from China for the 7d, and a genuine Canon adapter (over $100) for my older 40d.  The cheapie makes a message flash up on the camera when I switch it on, "cannot communicate with their battery",  I click "ok use it anyway", then it works fine.  The genuine one works without that minor hassle.  Up to you what you want to spend.  And I use a couple of Nikon manual lenses, bought secondhand, and the basic Nikon-to-Canon EOS lens adapters from eBay, the kind without any electronic connections so everything is set manually and stays there.  And a tripod.

I've used someone else's 600d, and also a 650d once, and they worked fine for animation, with a great picture.  (They aren't called T3i or Rebel in my country, but they are the same entry level DSLR camera range.)  I haven't seen the later models, but I see them priced under $400 on eBay in the US.  With the newest ones I would check the Dragonframe site to make sure they are on the list of compatible cameras -  sometimers there is a little delay between a new model coming out and DF writing the software so they can work with it.

I was just about to post the same exact question! 

I hope to buy a camera body that is 100% compatible with Dragonframe within a couple of weeks.

The camera recommended to me a year or two ago was the Canon EOS 40D.  I am glad to see that you talk favorably about it Stopmonick.

I will keep up with this tread to see what else is recommended.  I am not on a tight budget but buying a camera and lens that is a few years old appeals to me and I am finally ready to order mine.  :)

canon 550d or 600d is a good choice for start, i bought my 550d for 250$ and it's rly cheap for this thing :3

When the Canon EOS Rebel T3i is set to "live view" does it disable the mirror, letting you view all through the led screen or do the mechanics still operate?

Or is the mirror left in the up position to let you shoot directly to the censor like a video camera?


With all of the DSLRs, you can't see anything through the camera viewfinder, or on the LED screen, while the camera is connected to Dragonframe. You see the live view continuously on the computer screen. But the shutter mechanism still works to take the picture with the right exposure time.

The 40d is out of production now, so you would probably only find one as a used camera. So it might be at a good price. It does not shoot video, if that matters to you.
I got a 7d because I had dirt on the sensor of the 40d which the camera service centre was not able to clean off completely, and I had a professional stopmo job to do. Also there was a 7d for sale at a very good price, about $200 under the camera shop prices. With the 7d I do get the advantage of being able to shoot 1080 HD video as well as stills. I still shoot with the 40d as well, the 2 little dirt spots on the sensor only show up when the lens is stopped down to f-16 or f-22.
The 600d that a friend brought to my studio got results just as good as either of my mid-range cameras.

Thak you all for the input. It's clear I have some things to consider. I'm not quite sure though if I made my point clear enough- I'm looking for I guess a dual purpose camera: manual focus for stopmo and I guess auto or something else for live action (for example vlogs and documentaries.) 

What is HD video btw? (I know it means high def) but Does it affect or alter the way the camera takes in footage?

A couple more things to consider. The 7d is a metal-body camera designed for long hard professional use, so it is reckoned that it will reach something like 200,000 shutter operations before failing. The Rebel T3i or similar is a plastic-body entry level camera (with pretty much the same sensor as the expensive models) that may reach 50 to 100,000 shutter actuations. You pays your money, takes your choice!

No reason why you can't take stopmo frames and do video with the same DSLR - I do exactly that with my Rebel T3i (600d). HD video is a video format that is 1920 x 1080 pixels. When the camera shoots HD video it will crop the picture to 16:9 shape. Obviously it also shoots video without using the shutter.

When you edit your stop motion frames in e.g. Premiere, you will probably have taken stills that are over 5000 pixels across (this is what "18Mp sensor" means - lots of fine detail.) But you will ultimately export your stopmo film as HD, so you need to shrink the picture down to 1920 x 1080. The excess means you could just select one part of the frame instead of the whole thing, or do a zoom or pan in the editing, so you have lots of freedom to alter your framing. But you are taking a still that has four times the resolution of an ordinary HD frame....a bunch of these will start to take up significant storage space, so you could shoot your frames at a lower resolution if you wish, taking up less memory space, and still have a bit left over for cropping down to HD.


Oh ok. That's really great to know. I'd forgotten to bring shutter life into consideration! 


Simon Tytherleigh said:

A couple more things to consider. The 7d is a metal-body camera designed for long hard professional use, so it is reckoned that it will reach something like 200,000 shutter operations before failing. The Rebel T3i or similar is a plastic-body entry level camera (with pretty much the same sensor as the expensive models) that may reach 50 to 100,000 shutter actuations. You pays your money, takes your choice!

No reason why you can't take stopmo frames and do video with the same DSLR - I do exactly that with my Rebel T3i (600d). HD video is a video format that is 1920 x 1080 pixels. When the camera shoots HD video it will crop the picture to 16:9 shape. Obviously it also shoots video without using the shutter.

When you edit your stop motion frames in e.g. Premiere, you will probably have taken stills that are over 5000 pixels across (this is what "18Mp sensor" means - lots of fine detail.) But you will ultimately export your stopmo film as HD, so you need to shrink the picture down to 1920 x 1080. The excess means you could just select one part of the frame instead of the whole thing, or do a zoom or pan in the editing, so you have lots of freedom to alter your framing. But you are taking a still that has four times the resolution of an ordinary HD frame....a bunch of these will start to take up significant storage space, so you could shoot your frames at a lower resolution if you wish, taking up less memory space, and still have a bit left over for cropping down to HD.

Shutter count applies particularly to Darren's question, as it look like he might get a secondhand camera. Anything that has done 30k to 60k shutter actuations had probably been used professionally, i.e. hard. A shutter count of around 7k, which is what my 7d had on it, suggests amateur use over several years, and therefore is likely to have had a gentle life. 

Not sure I would go for a secondhand entry-level camera, unless it was one of those never-used unwanted present type deals. 

Secondhand vintage lenses are a great deal, ranging from about £15 to £150 depending on what you go for. Most primes for stopmo come in at well under £100, and some are very cheap. A simple adapter ring is all that is needed to fir them to the EOS mount.

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