Stop Motion Emergency!
April 26, 2011 3:59 PM   Subscribe

I'm making a stop-motion film, and my camera (a Nikon D40) died mid-shoot. A friend loaned us a different camera (a Nikon D300), and I'm having trouble figuring out what settings I need to change in order to get the same look as my old camera had. Please help me, metafilter!

I've shot a lot of the film already on my D40 and was really happy with how the images were coming out. Here's an example.

I got the D300 (using my same lens, lighting setup, etc) to the right position, but the photos I'm taking look like this.

How can I get the D300 to take photos that look like the ones my D40 was taking? Please tell me how to change the settings on the D300, too, if you can. I've not used this camera before and don't have a lot of time to lean before I have to finish this project. Thank you all so much in advance!
posted by hansbrough to Technology (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you checked your white balance?
posted by naturalog at 4:00 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: No. I totally had not! Thanks. I just tried setting it to automatic and it did improve the situation. I'll keep playing with it.

Still open to further advice if anyone has anything -- thank you!
posted by hansbrough at 4:06 PM on April 26, 2011

The two things that differ are white balance and focus (which is off on the second image).

Are you shooting jpeg or raw? (raw will give you a lot more latitude to change things after the shoot). For stop motion you will never want automatic white balance as the camera will drift the white balance back and forth as the contents of the frame change -- pick something that best matches your lighting and set it there.

If you're shooting jpeg then perhaps you have a shot of something white that you can use to determine what white balance was set on the D40. If it wasn't custom (you might remember setting it if it was?), then go through the pre-defined settings and see which one is closest.
posted by devbrain at 4:14 PM on April 26, 2011

You might compare the EXIF data for each image - it will show you which settings differ (you need to upload the original images to a tool like this), or inspect them on your local machine.
posted by misterbrandt at 4:16 PM on April 26, 2011

(sorry about the dysfunctional) parenthetical
posted by misterbrandt at 4:19 PM on April 26, 2011

Response by poster: I definitely didn't set WB on the D40. The only thing I did was use shutter priority to slow down the shutter speed.

I don't really know much about white balance, so it would be awesome if someone can walk me through exactly what to do here? The stop motion set is lit with a work lamp covered with a piece of blue tissue paper, if that matters. There is some actual white in the set though.
posted by hansbrough at 4:50 PM on April 26, 2011

There are a lot of issues at play here. Firstly, as misterbrandt noted, you should get the EXIF data for the shots you've already taken. You want to get the exposure/aperture from those and then set your D300 in manual and input the same settings.

Secondly, you should change your white balance, not to automatic, but through the various options until what you see on your screen matches the previous photos. This is a pretty solid explanation of white balance but you don't even especially need it.
posted by ejfox at 4:57 PM on April 26, 2011

Unless you are really pale (or dark) you can usually get a good starting white balance by metering on the palm of your hand. I'm not familiar with your particular camera, but there should be an option for custom white balance. Just pick that, put your hand where the lighting shows your hand, and take a picture of your palm. It may not be perfect, but it will give you a starting point.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:31 PM on April 26, 2011

White balance is definitely the main culprit, but also check your metering method, and make sure to set it the same on the new camera. For example, if the D40 is set to "matrix metering" and the D300 is set to "center-weighted" you will get different results.
posted by The Deej at 5:34 PM on April 26, 2011

Just a warning, you don't want to white balance so that anything white that's in your lighting reads as white, you DO want a bluish cast based on that first image. What would be best is trying the different white balance modes on the D300 until you get what is the closest match.
posted by Brainy at 8:21 PM on April 26, 2011

nth on comparing EXIF data on both. While white balance is the likely culprit I also wonder if the camera is post-processing the saturation.
posted by MillMan at 11:14 PM on April 26, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you SO much, everyone!! I was kind of freaked about my camera breaking, etc., and I knew y'all would help me figure out the basic things I was forgetting to check. "EXIF data" was the term my brain was forgetting in my semi-panicked state! I got that, fixed the white balance, and played around with settings until everything matched, and now we are good to go. Thanks so much for saving this film, metafilter!
posted by hansbrough at 8:02 AM on April 27, 2011

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