Hi everyone !

So it's time for me to invest properly in a DSLR and some lenses.

I'm being called to do some small work in stop motion, so I need quite good material.

So from what I managed to understand from this website and from what I've seen so far on various projects I worked on, the best way to go would be a Canon with Nikon lenses.

I don't think I need to go for the Canon 5D, but then, what would be your choice ?  I'm a bit lost in the middle of all the specifications. Would the 60D be a good choice ? A second hand 40D ? or a 600D ?

Is it better to buy something new, especially when I'm not good enough to know if something is a good deal ?

And then, about lenses, Nikon is really the best way to go ? Does it have to be manual ? because choosing old manual lenses is even harder. Is a zoom a good idea at first, or perhaps just 2 lenses, a 50mm and a 28 mm can do?

And in the end, how do you choose a lens for stop motion ?

I know that's a lot of questions, but if anybody feel like answering even to one, that would be a great help.

Thanks a lot

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I guess I can go through this once more.

First, the Canon body - Canon managed to come out with a DSLR with Live View that didn't switch itself off to prevent overheating, which some of the first Nikons with Live View did.   Animators need the camera on for hours and hours, so this is good. That's why I chose a Canon 40d when I replaced my old non-liveview Nikon D70.

And way before that, Canon seemed to make sensors that produced a cleaner image - Nikon always made great cameras, but sensors are a new thing, the film manufacturer (like Kodak) used to look after that part of it.  So after testing camera bodies and lenses that were available at the time, Corpse Bride went with Canon bodies and Nikon lenses.  Nikon have caught up with image quality at all ISO settings now, but there was a period when they were a bit behind.  

I'm not sure about the overheating issue  with current models - after 4 or 5 years my 40d has developed some hot pixels and I may be forced to get another camera in the future, and I will look into both brands.  I prefer Nikons as still cameras, so I would be very happy to go back to Nikons if that issue is sorted.

Nikon lenses - 

Canon stopped putting an aperture ring on their EOS lenses, relying on the camera's brain to control the aperture.  But we need all manual controls so things stay where we put them, and don't keep adjusting focus, brightness, or white balance each time we go in front of the camera to move the puppet.  Also, many lenses don't always stop down all the way in time for each exposure - the difference is not enough to make a bad photo, but when watched as a movie, it can cause flicker.  Different frames have a slight variation in brightness.   On a Nikon body, I just partly unscrew the lens, to make the aperture stay stopped down all the time, like a cine camera, instead of opening up between shots.  On a Canon, the lens is depending  on the electronic connection to the camera to function.  So using an adaptor and a different make of lens does the job of isolating the lens from the camera's well-meaning pea brain, and also making it stay stopped down all the time.   Nikon do the same with their cheaper kit lenses, leave off the aperture ring, but they kept the same mount as their older film cameras so all the old, solidly built manual lenses are still good on Nikon DSLRs or Canons with a $20 adapter.

To add just a bit that I consider very important - (and I'll start by repeating something Nick said) - Canon  lenses don't have an aperture ring built onto them. Exposure is adjusted only by the camera itself, electronically. We don't want the camera to be able to electronically adjust ANYTHING, so we want lenses that have an actual physical ring allowing you to adjust the aperture. Nikon lenses fit the bill nicely and adapt easily to Canon bodies. 

There is a workaround to let you choose an f stop on a Canon body with a Canon lens (which was detailed a few posts back), but it's fiddly and difficult and doesn't always work, plus you have to go through the whole rigamarole each time you want to change the f stop - it's really so much easier and more intuitive to just be able to twist the aperture ring any time you want to adjust exposure level. 

To Strider and StopmoNick,

I read back through Aaron's 'Aperture and Lens question' post again to see if I missed anything. I had a 'conversation' in my local camera store with the 'camera people' (just that day) and they seemed pretty vehement in saying 'never, ever, do that, you don't put nikon on canon..' etc. So I felt pretty stupid as though I missed something somewhere on the whole, why would you do that?

It skipped my mind about the full manual capabilities - I figured Nikon and Canon lenses were more less the same. As you both say the Canon lenses no longer have the ability to set the aperture ring. Which seems...odd? To me. So, better to go with a Nikon lens for that. However, that's cleared up my otherwise foggy thoughts again. Cheers guys.

It's sad, but a sign of our times that even supposedly highly knowledgeable pros in a camera shop pride themselves on knowing only the latest high tech electronic technology and scoff at (and know nothing about) the old-fashined, low-tech but in certain ways far superior manual technology that was the norm for a hundred years previous. 

Well, now you know that camera techs are the last people to go to for advice concerning something as esoteric and old-school as stop motion. All they know about is fully automatic technology as it comes pre-packaged for 'toay's consumer' (and let it be known that the mega-manufacturers think 'today's consumer' is a total idiot who needs the camera to automatically do everything for him and take away any and all creative freedom). 

Canon is one of those manufacturers - the reason their lenses no longer have aperture rings on them is because they figured essentially "who uses lenses manually anymore, that's like so last decade!" and they decided instead to put all their eggs into the auto exposure basket. There IS an iris in there, but it can only be accessed by the electronic brain of the camera - there's no way for a user to bypass that connection short of the workaround, which is balky and would be very frustrating to try to use regularly. 

Camera store guys probably know about taking stills.  So they say you should get a lens with a big maximum aperture, so you can shoot in lower light.  But that's not an issue for us stop moes. 

And they say you want Canon lenses on your Canon bodies - which you do, if you want to use all the auto features.  But auto features, for us stopmo animators, are like a garlic crucifix on a sunny day to a vampire!

I use dpsreview for finding out about cameras, but I know there are a few things that are of supreme importance to us animators that they, and the camera makers, don't even consider.

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