FAQ – Camera Questions

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    Profile photo of mrgraff

    [2] Camera Questions
    [2] Camera Questions
    [2-1] Which camera should I use?

    [2] Camera Questions

    [2-1] Which camera should I use?

    This section was written by Stefan of Yellowhead Studios and contributed to the main brickfilms website. The article includes links to the camera manufactures as well as examples of films made with each of the cameras listed. Follow this link for the full article with pictures of the cameras, links for purchase, and sample films made by each: http://www.brickfilms.com/viewresource.php?id=6

    If you know of a camera not listed here or have more information to add, please let us know by posting in the forums.

    What camera should I use?
    Many, if not all, aspiring Brickfilmers are faced with this question. Some very early, some after their first few films. This document tries to give these people some ideas to base their choice on. Basically there are three different camera types that can be used for stopmotion animation. I’ll shed some light on the advantages they have, and the differences between the various brands and types. I will focus on webcams because these are used most often, and not as expensive as the other types.

    Webcams are the cheapest option available, and by far not the worst: some of the best brickfilms around here have been created with ordinary webcams. They work well with the software that’s available, and their small size makes it possible to put them in the middle of the action. The disadvantage is that they are very light, and the cable is not too long and flexible, which can make it easy to move it while filming, This limitation can be overcome with a little ingenuity however.

    The main difference between webcams is the light-sensitive chip found inside. Most webcams, and all the cheap ones, have a what is called a CMOS chip. This one is not as sensitive as the higher quality CCD chip found in the more expensive ones (PHILIPS ToUcam Pro, Kodak DVC325 and Logitech Quickcam Pro 3000 (and 4000), and the Intel CS330 are some examples). The result of this:

    • cheap, CMOS based webcams are more grainy
    There are several ways to work around this. The most obvious one is better lighting. Daylight usually works best, but tends to change too quickly for your film. Two 60 Watt light bulbs are a bare minimum when filming indoors, usually a halogen lamp gives much better results. Frame averaging is also a possibility, but there’s not much software around to do this
    • they can not be adjusted as well
    • the most clearly seen difference – they have difficulties with live motion (they adopt to changes in light intensity much slower). Those who own a webcam: open the preview window, and set the frame rate to the maximum value. Then wave your hand frantically in front of it. If it becomes a blur before it starts hurting, you have a CMOS chip inside it. Otherwise it’s CCD.
    CCD cameras can exhibit this blur effect on fast moving objects too, but they are less susceptible to it
    For more reading on this, visit http://www.howstuffworks.com/ .

    Digital photo cameras
    Digital (photo)cameras also usually have CCDs, but they are much more expensive because:-

    • they are self-operational and portable
    • they have better lenses (glass and aspherical instead of the cheap plastic used in most webcams. Also adjusting the focus is not the same as unscrewing the lens from the camera as is the case with webcams.
    • Many models support optical (“real”, leans based, not digitally interpolated) zoom.
    • They have higher resolutions.
    • They have lots of internal software.
    This last point is exactly what makes them less useful for Brickfilming: the software is not very exact, so focus and even lighting may change considerably from frame to frame. With the exception of some very expensive models, where all can be set manually, they are not too useful.

    A final reason that makes them less useful, is that there is no camera I know of that can store the pictures taken directly on the computer. It will always store them on an internal memory, and when connected to the computer it will appear as a disk drive. So instead of storing your frames on your hard drive as your film, you must periodically, and repeatedly stop animating, connect the cameras to the computer, transfer your stills, empty your cameras memory, and begin shooting again.

    (Digital) video cameras
    Digital video cameras are probably the best you can get: they can be connected to the computer to store the images directly, and have all the advantages like high-quality lenses, manual focus, zoom and – not unimportant – a standard socket for a tripod (though some webcams also have this). Also they can be used for other (vacation) purposes. Unfortunately they are terribly expensive, and you will usually need a capture card, firewire or in some cases USB2, for your computer before you can use it for stopmotion. For analogue videocameras you must have a Video card that has Video input on it . The main difference between analogue and digital videocameras is the way they store film on tape. The digital cameras have much higher quality there. You won’t notice this difference, however, if you capture directly into a computer.

    So, to conclude, if you want to limit the amount of money you spend on equipment, go for webcam. Keep in mind the following points, that determine its quality:

    • chip (CMOS/CCD, CCD being the superior by far.)
    • Maximum resolution (640×480 is usually very satisfactory for online distribution)
    • tripod socket/stability (an unstable, or wobbly base will lead to much frustration while stopmotion animating, though there are ways around this, see “Making a LEGO compatible base for your Webcam” in tech guides from the main resource page)
    • manual focus (essential for a sharp picture. This is not always mentioned on the box, so look for a ring around the lens that can be turned.)
    Also ask in the shop if you can try it out and return it when you are not satisfied. In the Netherlands this is usually no problem if you repack it neatly, and return it within 2 weeks. Also ask for the amount of guarantee, and how this is settled in your shop.


    Profile photo of The Red115
    The Red115

    Is the Pro 9000 OK

    Profile photo of BertL

    Yes, the Logitech Quickcam Pro 9000 is a fine webcam for animating.

    Profile photo of AJVfilms

    What happened to the link (under [2-1])
    to the article with pictures of the cameras, links for purchase, and sample films made by each?
    Because I am looking to buy a new higher quality webcam at an affordable price that will work with monkey jam and windows movie maker.

    Profile photo of Weasley

    these topics are old and the site has since been rewritten. However a perfectly good camera is the Logitech Quickcam 9000.

    Profile photo of Greggard

    hi, i’ve heard that the Microsoft life cam cinema web cam is better than the logitech quick-cam pro 9000.Although i’m not sure about it for animation…
    :) :brickmiss:

    Profile photo of jacquelina

    I am majoring into photography, and i really like the old school cameras, the black and white kind. I had an old Olympus camera but it broke and it cost more to fix it and some parts were impossible to get, i only used it that once.i am really serious about this i have always loved it and i want it to be my profession. Which camera will work best for an aspiring photographer with no experience or knowledge?
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    Profile photo of Jmusial

    Hi, I’m new, and I have a problem. My video camera doesn’t have a “Shoot frame” mode. What should I do? I don’t have Enough money to Buy a new camera. It’s A Sony HandyCam DCR-HC52 if that helps.


    Hi, after reading this,I realized that I have a digital(photo) camera, and I can’t and don’t want to buy a webcam, so I need to know how to capture on monkeyjam with a digital camera.


    I think just downloading them from your camera and then importing them into monkey jam should just about cut it.

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