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Camera Setup and Troubleshooting

The first step to working with Dragonframe is setting up your camera. We want to make sure you know how to set it up properly, and that you can resolve common camera connectivity issues that you might run into. If you do experience an issue with your camera while you are filming, please come back and review this page before you write or call support.

If you are new to the program, you will want to make sure that your camera is supported. Our supported cameras are listed here.

Using a Current Version of the Program

Make sure to use the latest version of the program that your license permits. We have to update the program every time a new camera comes out. For example, when we say the 3.5 supports the Canon EOS 70D, we mean that the latest version supports the 70D. The 70D was not introduced when we released 3.5.0—we added support for it in 3.5.2.

If you have a Dragonframe 3 license, the current version is 3.6.0.
For Dragon Stop Motion 2, the current version is 2.3.8.

Setup Instructions

We have setup instructions for all of our supported DSLRs. You should double-check these settings before you get started:

Using a Manual Aperture Lens

Note that we strongly recommend using a manual aperture lens (such as a Nikon lens) with a Canon body. With a digital lens, the aperture will close down to slightly different positions for each shot. This is not a problem for still photography, but for stop motion or time-lapse it creates "flicker".

Here is a blog post from Adobe that describes the issue.

Connectivity Issues

Your camera is supported and set up properly, but the software is not detecting it. Or the software sees the camera but then stops working after a while. There are a variety of connectivity issues that people experience, but the causes are usually the same. So we will start with likely causes first:
  • The USB cable is too long.
  • The USB cable is defective.
  • The USB port on the computer/hub or camera is damaged.
  • The power supply to the camera is interrupted.

As you can see, many of the problems have to do with USB connectivity. Therefore, when you have camera issues, we recommend that you switch back to a simple setup and test the camera and software:

  • Use a short USB cable (preferably the one that came with the camera).
  • Plug the USB cable directly into the computer (not through a hub).
  • Power the camera over AC.
If this setup works, slowly change your configuration to identify the problem.

Issue: Dragonframe never detects my camera

The first thing you will want to verify is that the computer itself can see the camera. If you are on a Mac, use "Image Capture", which is an application that comes with the computer and is located in the "Applications" folder. On Windows, you can see if the camera connects when you plug it in, since Windows always pops up a message for new devices. If you have a Canon camera, you can also use "Canon EOS Utility" on either platform to detect the camera. If you have Nikon Camera Control Pro 2, you can check that as well.

If the operating system or other programs can see your camera, but Dragonframe does not, you should definitely send in a camera test (see Dragonframe Help menu) and also contact support. If nothing can see your camera, try using a different USB cable and port, and possibly try your camera with another computer.

Anti-virus software blocking camera detection.

If you have anti-virus software, make sure to white-list Dragonframe so that it can access the camera.

Issue: Dragonframe detects the camera, but then freezes after a few seconds/minutes

This issue always seems to be related to the USB connectivity issues we describe above. For some reason, the Canon and Nikon libraries both freeze when there is poor USB connectivity. You can actually see the same problem in Canon EOS Utility as in Dragonframe. We have notified Canon and are also exploring alternate solutions. The solution for you is to use shorter USB cables or buy a better USB extension cable.

Issue: I have to restart Dragonframe every time to detect my camera

This is an issue that has been happening lately with both Canon and Nikon cameras, due to changes by Canon in their libraries. We have resolved the issue in our 3.5 release, so please update to it if you can.

Live View Issues

Your camera is set up, Dragonframe detects it and says it has live view, but you are having issues with it.

Issue: The live view is black

Usually this is just a matter of camera settings and/or lighting. Start by going into the Cinematography workspace and adjusting the camera settings. The most important and the three sliders for Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO. (If you are using a manual lens, the Aperture slider will be grayed out.)
  • Make sure the lens cap is off.  ;)
  • Increase the shutter speed (to at least 1").
  • Open the aperture (go to a lower number). If you have a manual lens then open it up all the way.
  • Increase the ISO.
  • Increase the amount of light in the room.
If the live view remains black, send in a Camera Test through the Help menu.

Issue: The focus doesn't match between the live view and the high-resolution images

If you are using a digital lens (not a manual aperture lens), then the live view and high-resolution images will have different aperture values, and therefore different depth-of-field and focus range. This is because the camera keeps the aperture wide open during live view, giving a shallow depth-of-field and a small focus range. If you high-resolution image has a stopped down aperture, like f/22, it will have a large detph-of-field and large focus range.

Possible solutions:

  • Switch to a manual aperture lens with a lens adapter.
  • If you are using a Canon camera, you can set the live view to use depth of field preview. In Dragonframe, press Command-K (Ctrl-K Windows) to open the video settings. You can turn on depth of field preview.

Issue: The exposure doesn't match between the live view and the high-resolution images

First of all, it is super important to understand that the live view and high-resolution images are different. In the cinematography window you set up your high-resolution capture settings and take test shots to make sure that your final images will look correct. In the animation window you are typically working with the video assist images from your camera, although you can switch to review your high-res images.

Possible Cause #1: Using a Nikon DSLR

Most of the Nikon cameras do not have live view "exposure simulation". This means that their live view exposure level auto-adjusts all the time, and does not reflect changes in camera settings. In this case, you will have to live with the difference. Make sure to check your high-resolution images early and often.

Possible Cause #2: Exposure Simulation is turned off

The Canon live view DSLRs all have exposure simulation. It is either "always on", or there is a setting to turn it on. If there is a setting, it will be called out in our setup instructions. Just make sure you've followed that step.

Possible Cause #3: Using a manual aperture lens on a Canon body

We recommend using a manual Nikon lens on Canon body, because this avoids flicker. The downside is that this can affect the live view exposure simulation of the Canon cameras. Usually you can adjust the live view to match the high-resolution images by adjusting the "Exposure Preview Offset" in the Cinematography workspace's Camera Settings. You can read more about the problem and see another solution here.

Sometimes the internal live view calculation is thrown off by the last digital lens connected.
Here is a possible solution:

  1. Attach a Canon digital lens to the camera.
  2. Open the aperture as much as it can go (lowest f/stop number).
  3. Take a picture.
  4. Power down the camera and then try your Nikon lens.
If you still can't get close with the exposure preview offset, let us know.

Sometimes the internal live view calculation may be thrown off by the last digital lens connected. Here is a possible solution:
  • First, try placing a Canon digital lens on the camera and opening the aperture as much as it can go (lowest f/stop number).
  • Take a picture.
  • Power down the camera and then try your Nikon lens.
If you still can't get close with the exposure preview offset, let us know.

Possible Cause #4: The sensor isn't getting enough light.

We often get calls from people who are on a dimly lit set, with their aperture stopped down to f/22, and with "Exposure Preview Offset" set all the way to "+4", and they want to know why the live view doesn't match their high-resolution image. This is especially problematic for manual aperture lenses, since the aperture is always stopped down.

The reason is simple: the lens doesn't have enough light. You have exceeded the limits of the live view exposure simulator (inside the camera).

Here are some possible solutions:
  • Increase the lighting on your set.
  • Open up the aperture.
  • Use a bash light (also called a work light). This is a light that is on for the animator and video assist, but off for the high-resolution capture.
There are a few ways to set up a bash light with Dragonframe:
  • Use the DDMX-S2 to control a bash light through DMX.
  • Use the DDMX-S2 to control a bash light through a relay.
  • Go to Preferences : Capture and set a capture delay of several seconds. Turn a light off after you press the shoot button, and then back on after the high-resolution image is captured.

Issue: The framing doesn't match between the live view and the high-resolution images

In the Animation workspace you typically are looking at the live view and stepping back to other video assist images you already captured. These should always line up perfectly.

Now, you switch to view the high-resolution proxies in the animation window, because you want to see your "real" images. But when you step between live and the other frames, the image doesn't line up perfectly.

There is no real solution to this problem. Dragonframe gets the live view and the high-resolution images directly from the camera. Unfortunately these are not framed exactly the same, and so they will just be off. But that's why we have the live view, so you can animate with it.

If this is super important to you, there is something you can try. You may find that certain image sizes have framing that more closely matches the live view. You can adjust the image size in the Cinematography window's Camera Settings, and compare to the live view. For example, the Large JPEG might use a slightly different section of the sensor than the Medium JPEG. You can experiment to see which matches the best.


Camera Settings and Operation Issues

The camera is connected, but there issues setting it up properly in the Cinematography workspace, or there are issues with it firing.

Issue: Shutter speed won't go slower than 1/30th of a second

If this happens, your camera thinks it is in movie mode. That's why it's limiting your shutter speed range. Make sure to follow our camera setup instructions.

For Nikon cameras you need to turn off Manual movie settings in the Movie Settings.

Issue: External flash doesn't fire

This is a common issue for Canon users trying to use an external flash.

This is actually a limitation of the camera, described in the camera manual (most models):

Cautions for Live View shooting
A non-Canon flash will not fire during Live View shooting.

Dragonframe provides a workaround. In the Cinematography workspace set External flash to On. Dragonframe will disengage the live view prior to capturing the high-resolution image, allowing the external flash to fire.

Issue: Camera fails to capture (and it used to work!)

Sometimes the camera and program are working great, and then all of a sudden, every capture fails.

This usually is caused by a disk failure:

  • Check if the hard drive is full. You can fill it up quickly shooting RAW files!.
  • Check if someone moved or renamed the folders out from under you.
  • For an external or network drive, check if was removed or disconnected.
  • Check if the permissions for the folder/drive are not allowing you to write to it.

             
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