From: jo dery (email suppressed)
Date: Sat Nov 21 2009 - 15:02:28 PST
Hi - I've been using a digital SLR to make animation for a few years. Here are some thoughts:
Yes, the SLR camera has a certain life span. The shutter is only a piece of plastic, and will eventually give after thousands of photos because its not built for such heavy use. You can buy insurance through stores like Ritz Camera, where they will replace (or upgrade) your camera if it breaks... Not too expensive - about $100 a year. Kind of sneaky, maybe, but helpful if you know you are going to push your camera to its limits.
There can be a few reasons for the shift in picture that you are describing, besides the printer itself:
1. Using a computer to remote capture stills from a digital SLR ensures that it doesn't shake when you take a picture, even the slight press of the button can move the camera sometimes, and I suppose - the printer too. I use a Nikon, and they make a program called Camera Control Pro. I connect my camera via USB and it works great.
2. Another reason you would get a shift frame to frame is because of the auto-focus motor in lenses. Even if the camera is set to manual focus - the auto-focus motor interferes. You can get around this with tricks: by not securing the lens completely in the mount, but just enough - or you can buy an old manual focus SLR lens, and put this on the camera. Lenses with auto-focus motors will also interfere with consistent exposure, because the aperture opens between each picture taken, and never quite returns to the precise spot of the last picture. The result looks like a slight flicker.
From all my research (online and at camera repair shops) - Nikon SLRs are looked on well, and I have had this one for 3+ years. Many good things: complete control of your process (no offense to film labs), long-term cost benefits, big resolution - HD and/or transferred to 35mm, fun to use with After Effects, etc. etc.
A great resource for reading about the use of digital SLRs is stopmotionanimation.com, this page specifically:
Also - I think CalArts had some digital SLRs hooked up to printers when I toured the school a few years ago, and many college/university animation programs are putting these kinds of cameras on animation stands, so you might get more advice there!
One more thing - animating or rephotographing with these cameras can involve a good amount of Photoshop work, depending on what you are after. Just a heads up.
All best, Jo Dery
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