Hi I'm making a short that is a combination of stopmotion and live action. I plan to use dragonframe (unless you can suggest something better). I'm considering buying a Nikon D600 because as far as I can tell it seems to be good value for money, having decent video, a full frame sensor, and good quality lenses.
But I'm relativity new to cameras and stop motion (been a CG animator for a while ), so I'd love some advise from you guys.
Thanks so much
Sounds like an excellent camera from what I can see: http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon-d600/nikon-d600VIDEO.HTM
Full-frame DSLR, can capture 1080p video @ 30, 25 or 24 fps, allows either autofocus or manual focus while shooting video. Sounds like it has great options for miking and even wearing headphones while shooting to hear what you're recording.
One problem according to that web page is moire patterns. I don't know if that would be an issue for the kind of work you plan to do (I really don't know much at all about moire patterns in digital video). I looked at the video sample of a dog running and it looked good to me, didn't notice anything strange (didn't watch fullscreen though either). Seems solid to me.
Also, as far as I Know DragonFrame is as good as stopmotion framegrabbers get.
After using both, I have a preference for Stop Motion Pro HD Studio. It's easier to find where things are to begin with. There are some tiny cryptic icons in Dragonframe that you would never notice, or know what they do if you did see them, and I had a couple of days of cursing and reading the vast PDF manual trying to find a couple of crucial things. But once you've worked it out, the two programs work equally well. But if you want to do it on a Mac and don't want to install windows just to run SMP, Dragonframe is the one to go for.
I did find the previous version, Dragon 2, was really good for loading dialog and animating to it when I worked at someone else's studio. So I didn't need to use Magpie or make up exposure sheets to break down the phonetic sounds frame by frame before I started the shot, like I usually do. I just loaded the wav file and worked straight from the voice track in Dragon, looking at the waveform and hearing the sounds coming up before I animated the next frame, and it's the best lipsynch I ever did. I haven't had occasion to use it in Dragonframe 3 yet but I presume it works the same.
I like Nikons more as cameras than Canons. The controls make sense. Not an issue whenanimating, but I prefer my old Nikon D70 when holding it in my hands and taking stills. I'm thinking about what to do now that my animation camera, a Canon 40d, has some persistent dirt on the sensor and developed a few hot pixels (bright white pixels that stay in one place) as well, and if I do end up getting a new DSLR I would love to go back to Nikon. The only thing I'm not sure about is whether current models still shut themselves off to prevent overheating when used continually for a long time, as we do in stop motion. When I got the Canon it was because the developers of Dragonframe used a Canon and Nikon side by side for a shoot, and the Canon kept going while the Nikon kept shutting off. That was 5 years ago so it may well have changed.
The other thing I might look into is what the maker's policy is on hot pixels and dead pixels when the camera is new. Do they consider a few of them acceptable (as they might be for still photos)? Or that if there are any at all, even one, you should be able to exchange the camera for a new one (which is what I would want).
I have no particular desire for a full frame DSLR, but Live View is essential, and HD 1080p video from the same camera would be a useful addition for the occasional live shot or live element like a waterfall for compositing. And manual focus is just as important for video as for stills, it's so much easier to focus the lens where I want by just turning the ring on the lens, than wiggle the camera about trying to trick the autofocus into focussing where I think it should instead of where it wants to. The resolution of 24 megapixels is overkill, and could make it hard for me to load all the original images into TV Paint for resizing without seriously slowing down my computer. If there is a Small Raw option like my Canon 40d has, that would fix it.
As I understand it (if I do) moire patterns come from the grid of the pixels in the sensor interacting with fine patterns like striped shirts to create a third pattern. I it moves, or the camera moves, the moire pattern moves in a diagonal direction. It's similar to what can be done with 2 clear sheets of plastic, printed with different fine patterns of black lines, where you slide one over the other. ( I've seen some amazing animated water effects done just with that.) But on video, seeing those animated patterns can be distracting. I know I turned up for a TV interview wearing a fine striped shirt once, and they sent me to wardrobe to borrow a plain shirt, to avoid moire patterns on camera.
Film, with it's random grain, doesn't suffer from moire patterns, but once transferred to video it might. I would think all digital cameras or analog video cameras with the pixels in rows could show some moire patterns if the size of the pattern and the scale of the pixel grid clash. But more, finer pixels should help. From that review it sounds like the moire effect is happening when shooting video, not stills.
Ah yes - forgot completely about the Nikon overheating issue! And also about the dead pixel thing - I believe David Geister has a Nikon, doesn't he? I don't remember what the service center said about his dead pixels, but I do remember it wasn't possible for him to fix them himself, and with Canons there are ways you can do it yourself. I'd need to check his dead pixels thread again to refresh my memory on it though. In fact let me look that up real quick.. back in a jif!
Here's the thread: New shot from "Goblin"
He does have a Nikon and he was unable to fix the stuck pixels, though in some cases some people were able to get them unstuck by showing their Nikon a special video. Weird, right? It's all in the thread. From my quick scan of it though I didn't see an answer as far as Nikon's repair/return policy for dead pixels.
Here's another thread about pixel problems with Nikons: Tiny, bright colored spots appearing in my images - not from the lens.
Still no word on whether Nikon will fix them, but several software options for dealing with the problem.
Thanks so much guys. This is great info. You really went out of your way to give me a lot of info. The Nikon looks great on paper but when I buy my next camera its probably going to be Cannon. Fortunately I won't have to invest in a new camera right away. A friend just offered to lend me his 5D!!!
5d - yep, that would do it! And a lens adapter so you can fit non-Canon manual lenses with an aperture ring, like Nikon, Olympus, or Pentax. Anyway, glad we could help.