Cameras and iStop Motion

I’d like to buy six cameras for my high school animation class but I want to make sure they will work with the iStop Motion program. What are the least expensive cameras that will work? It appears that there is one model of Canon that will work but it is very expensive. Should I just buy less expensive video cameras? Last year, I used video cameras and took still pictures with them but I can’t use those cameras this fall.

I took the published list that you have on the website to B&H Video this week but many of those cameras are not made anymore and many of the new ones are not listed. What factors do I need to consider in buying the cameras?

Thank you.

If you want to go cheap, have a look at USB webcams from Agama. They should also be more robust than a DSLR or video camera. We made good experiences with those, and there is even one that has a manual focus ring and HD.

We recently featured a few USB based cameras on our weblog. Maybe one of them suits your needs:
http://boinx.com/chronicles/2011/5/10/ipevo-camera--the-best-istopmotion-usb-webcam-/
http://boinx.com/chronicles/2011/3/25/testing-the-hue-hd-webcam/
http://boinx.com/chronicles/2011/3/17/spotlight-on-panasonic-ta-1-flip-cam/

thank you! Now, I’m looking at Canon FS40 - what do you think of that? How important do you think it is to be able to zoom in making claymations? Do we have to use iMovie to add audio? Thanks for your help! I need a tutorial… any ideas?

Let me answer the last question first. There’s a fairly new book out that we love to recommend: http://www.acumen.net.nz/pages/NMSSMHandbook.html
For the other questions:

  • I don’t know the Canon FS40 and have never seen it, but it is an MPEG-2 based device with USB and no Firewire, so I assume it will not output live video through USB. This makes it pretty much useless with software like iStopMotion, which needs live video. Looks like you could use the composite output with some additional hardware, but that might be too much hassle.
  • You can also zoom by moving the camera closer or further away.
  • You can import audio into iStopMotion (requires at least Express version). I would nevertheless recommend using iMovie (or other) to produce the final audio mix. Our audio functionality is geared to be an animation aid.

wonderful thank you! Now I have one more question. I spent time today at B&HVideo looking at the cameras - the links that you noted above. The webcam IP that has manual has only a 2 megapixel camera while the webcams that have 8mp images are only auto-focus. What is more important? Everyone keeps showing me this: http://www.logitech.com/en-us/webcam-communications/webcams/devices/6816 but it does not seem to have a manual option and I wonder about zooming in and out. I will look for and post some more options.