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Old November 22nd, 2009, 06:51 PM   #1
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wireless to camera

Hi All
Looking to invest in a wireless to camera system rather than being tethered (which drives one particular camera woman I work with mad, which in turn is driving me mad)

Nervous and wondering how many problems people have had
Also never used Lectrosonic, (not that popular in ireland) but they seem the standard in the US especially for wire free camera connections so which models are reccomended (the website is a tad confusing)

Especially How do you check return?
How do people find the extra weight

Basically is it worth it?

And sure in for a penny in for a pound, whats everyones favourite reliable IFB /monitor system for a director

Many Thanks in advance for any advice (including dont do it)
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Old November 22nd, 2009, 08:48 PM   #2
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I used to feel the same way but after you use wireless you'll start to see all the downsides. There are situations where you need wireless like wedding vows, moving interviews, etc

1. Batteries: most wireless systems only use Alkaline 9v that are expensive and don't last long and are easy to forget to bring enough for a shoot. Minimum 3 new batteries every shoot that get thrown out after. You also can't stock pile too many batteries otherwise they expire.

2. Weight and size: If you don't think your camera is already cumbersome and heavy to film hand held and keep steady, you've got another piece of equipment to fine a place to attach it to your camera. You wont be able to fit your camera in the camera bag without taking the wireless receiver on and off every time you do so.

3. As distance increases so does your chance for interference and loss of quality. The free frequencies areas keeps getting smaller.

4. Oh did I mention good wireless set up cost a lot and multi mic setup lots more.
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Old November 22nd, 2009, 09:54 PM   #3
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I've been looking at this myself, but will only go with the top quality products and referrals due to the importance of the signal being sent.

Zaxcom Option:

Transmitter = TRX900AA w/ STA150 (2ch adapter)
Receiver = RX900S (2ch)
I was told that a special antenna should be used with this system as well.

Cost is around $4,100 last time I checked, minus taxes.

Lectrosonics Option:

Transmitter = x2 UM400a (They don't have a 2ch transmitter)
Receiver = SRA (2ch)

Most recent quote I got is $4,187, minus taxes.
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Old November 23rd, 2009, 12:48 AM   #4
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I've used Sennheiser G2 systems in several parts of the UK and Europe, and the results have been very good even on the licence exempt frequencies. Mind you I usually manage to keep the bodypack TX and aerial well clear of clothing even if it risks them being in shot as in my experience most of the problems I've had were caused by the aerial contacting clothing or other materials. I normally don't do weddings, and if the events that I am asked to cover need wireless lavs then they get set up so that they work (line of sight if possible and well within range) and "so what?" if you see them. This is a luxury which not everyone can have.

I've had almost no RF interference problems even though I rarely have to adjust squelch, and I now regularly use wireless where most would go wired. I do try to make sure mobile phones are off or on Airplane mode though, iPhones and Blackberries in particular are a menace.

Senny G2 systems use 2 AAs in the bodypack and camera receiver and I find the battery life is very good. The new G3 system is better being diversity but more expensive.

Plenty of other folks have a different experience of wireless so YMMV as the saying goes.
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Old November 23rd, 2009, 12:56 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Colin McDonald View Post
I've used Sennheiser G2 systems in several parts of the UK and Europe, and the results have been very good even on the licence exempt frequencies. ..................................
G2 is now gone (unless people still have units in stock).

G3 is diversity and a lot safer for this use.

For stereo you can use the IEM system (G3 version also diversity) - just be careful with the output level.
John Willett - Sound-Link ProAudio and Circle Sound Services
President: Fédération Internationale des Chasseurs de Sons
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Old November 23rd, 2009, 09:06 AM   #6
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Hi John,

I pretty much have to disagree with Pete on most of his negative accounts. Except that a good wireless system is not cheap. But you get what you pay for.

I don't see any down sides to a wireless camera hop as long as it is a quality wireless system. The keyword here is quality. I own a Zaxcom stereo wireless hop for 5 years and have had excellent experiences with it. I only had one interference problem in 5 years and that was at an inauguration party in Washington DC. I was able to scan and re tune and be up and running in seconds.

I have never had a problem with weight of my Stereo receiver on a small camera. With small cameras I will either use the Jimmy Box or a fanny pack. Since the Zaxcom Receiver is stereo there is only one stereo receiver box instead of two.

As I mentioned earlier interference has not been a problem. I usually do a scan when in a high rf area in with in seconds I am good to go. Range is also not a problem. In fact I can get further away from my cameraman than if I was tethered. Which can sometimes be hundreds of feet. But 90 percent of the time I am with 20 feet of my cameraman. Being able to get further away from my cameraperson and being un-tethered allows me capture better sound than if I was tethered. When I go wireless I insist that the cameraperson is monitoring the audio. If they don't agree then I don't go wireless. Although this hardly ever happens. I also like when the cameraperson is monitoring the audio. It is nice to have some of the shooting directed by what the audio is doing and not just the picture. The Zaxcom is digital so if there is any transmission problem than the audio goes mute. So basically if the cameraperson is hearing audio while monitoring then the audio is good.

I power everything I use with rechargeable batteries. My Zaxcom Transmitter I power off the NP1 which is what I also power my mixer and receivers with. The receiver I will either power off the camera's DC output or if in a fanny pack I will use either a NP1 set up I have or if I am using the Jimmy Box I will use rechargeable AA.

Prior to owning a Zaxcom wireless hop I used Lectrosonics and they worked very well but I really like using the zaxcom stereo system for it's size, weight and ultimately it's cheaper cost. The Zaxcom Receiver is very light weight. With Lectrosonics you can also power everything with either rechargeable 9 volts (ipower) or the camera power. Lectrosonics now has a Stereo Receiver which a lot of people are using for camera hops. Unlike the Zaxcom it still requires two Transmitters.

Pretty much the only time I don't go wireless is for sit down interviews.

In regards to your IFB question, I use Lectrosonic's wireless IFBs. Comtek is pretty much the only other brand that I am familiar with. A lot of people use Comteks and are happy with them. Comteks are cheaper than Lectros but in my opinion not as well made and don't have as good a range.

Here comes my shameless plug.

I do have a Zaxcom Stereo wireless system for sale (Transmitter and Receiver) in Block 29 which is 742.4 to 767.9 MHz Ch 59 - 63. John, maybe those frequencies will work in Ireland. These frequencies technically can not be used in the US anymore but can be used in many other parts of the world. John if you or anyone is interested please let me know. I am asking around $2,200 which includes Transmitter and Receiver cables. Both the Transmitter and Receiver is in very good condition.

I also have Lectrosonics IFBs for sale. They are Block 28 716.8 to 742.3 MHZ Ch 55 - 59 I have one Lectro T2 IFB Transmitter and 3 Lectro R1a IFB Receivers. I haven't figured out a price for them yet. Those frequencies are also not legal for us to use in the US anymore.

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Old November 23rd, 2009, 05:31 PM   #7
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I'll add some caveats to my earlier post:

I have only used an Audio-Technica Wireless system. It costs $1,500 which is cheap/expensive relative to your budget. It only uses alkaline 9 batteries, 2 for the receiver 1 for the body pack.

My other comments aren't meant to scare him, I'm saying you go wireless because you need to not because its easier. There are many issues associated with wireless that maybe other systems address. Here are a few:

Channels: On my system you manually need to set the channels both on the transmitter and receiver. The channel dials are located inside the battery compartment and recessed, needing a small screw driver to adjust. If during a shoot you get interference on a channel, your screwed. You can't stop a live event to adjust your channels. So you say test it before. But there are many situations that either you forget, don't have time, or interference happens while shooting. Bottom line its easy to get interference and when it happens its not good.

Batteries: They're a pain no getting around it. I don't like holding off turning on the body back/transmitter. Turn it on too soon and you could run out of battery power, wait to the last minute and risk forgetting to turn it on. On my units there is no battery indicator which never inspires confidence. I've had the groom turn off his pack because he wanted to say some things private then forgot to turn it back on. Does this happen all the time? No, but it happens enough to make me nervous when using wireless. When I film I like to devote all my attention to filming and don't like any distractions.

Last edited by Pete Cofrancesco; November 24th, 2009 at 08:09 AM.
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Old November 23rd, 2009, 05:49 PM   #8
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hmmm, I've been using wireless audio for more years than I care to think about and honestly rarely have a problem. I've used all sorts of stuff and for the money the best bet IMO (remember for the money) the Audio Technecia 18XXseries is outstanding.
The receiver is light weight enough to carry on your belt if needed (it comes with a pouch that has a belt clip) uses 6 AA batteries has great range and terrific sound. Personally
I use the dual channel so I can and do run 2 mics at ceremonies, and have only taken hits once and honestly it was my fault. I didnpt realize the antenna connections were dirty. I had pulled the antennas off to pack for a road trip. My bad.
The transmitters use 2 AAs and I have run them for close to 6 hours without the batteries going dead. I was using the paks on RF Low-low power and they worked great. My plugin transmitter works as I expected it to. Without a problem. Now I'm not saying the unit is better than Lectro or Traxcom no way BUT for the money, receiver, 2 body paks, plugin tranmitter, were all about $1500. I did replace the stock mics with Countryman EMWs.
As for the batteries, well if you don't replace any batteries in audio gear before a job thenyou are asking for trouble. It's a cost of doing business. I but 36 AA Duracells from a big box retailer for about $13.00 and when I'm done with them (one time use) I give them to my grandkids for their toys, use them in my little flashlights, whereever it's not a critical use.
I've never found the weight to be an issue, it's just part of the job.

Now having said all that, when I get a chance to use hardwire I do but most of the work I do the opportunity doesn't really come up so 95% of what I do is wireless. It's not a big deal. Goes along with the territory.
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 12:20 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by John Harrison View Post
Hi All
Looking to invest in a wireless to camera system rather than being tethered (which drives one particular camera woman I work with mad, which in turn is driving me mad)
Do it.
I recently tried the UWP-V6 kit from Sony.
Sony Product Detail Page - UWPV6/3032

* Great build quality.
* Uses 2x AAs in all units (bodypack transmitter (lav), plug-on transmitter (to make a regular XLR mic wireless) and receiver). Which is great 'cause I only use rechargeables and have plenty of AAs. Just keep in mind the lav and plug-on can't be used at the same time; it's one or the other.
* Great sound quality. Seems on par with wired connections in my limited testing.
* alkaline battery life is quoted at 6-8 hours, depending on the unit and usage. I expect rechargeables to give more.

There is an extra "MONITOR" output on the receiver (in addition to an OUTPUT output) that I found 'pumps' levels. The MONITOR output level can be adjusted from 01 to 24 on the receiver, to monitor the signal from the receiver before it hits a camera or recorder. Anyway, I had it adjusted to the max volume (24) and when someone speaks, it does tend to raise the hiss level while they are speaking (sounds like it auto-gains the level while they speak). Hardly an issue and likely useful to hear things in a noisy place, but just thought I'd mention that. Good news is this doesn't seem to be evident in the receiver's OUTPUT output (where you attach your cam or recorder). Recordings are great.

With all the basics covered, the real benefit is the convenience. It's hard to look back.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 12:36 PM   #10
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I'd have to second Don's opinion.

I'm also using a pair of Audio Technia 1800s. There's no way I could afford Zaxcom or Lectrosonic systems.

These are usually used in the great outdoors but well within range of RF-cluttered locations. And they were recently used during a niece's wedding where almost a half-dozen other wireless units were in use. It was a simple matter of having the AT's auto-scan for clean frequencies.

In my own situation, I'm using up to four wireless mics simultaneously, plus an on-camera AT-4051a to get additional coverage and serve as a backup. They have performed very well and the dual diversity receiver maintains a solid link almost all the time. It's been the next best thing to a hardwire connection so far.

With AT's 899CW mics the audio quality has been very good. The usual caveats apply: mic placement to avoid rub noise; don't let the mic get buried under thick clothing; be aware of wind noise; keep the both transmitter and receiver antennas out in the clear as much as possible.
Dean Sensui
Exec Producer, Hawaii Goes Fishing
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Old November 24th, 2009, 02:54 PM   #11
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If you are a professional location sound mixer I would recommend purchasing a new or if you can't afford it than used Lectro or Zaxcom wireless system over the AT 1800 or most other brands. Most of the camerapeople I work with would not feel comfortable going wireless with anything of lesser quality than a Lectro or Zaxcom. Brand recognition is important to many camerapeople and production companies that I work for. I get hired on to higher-end productions partly because of my skill level & experience and partly because of the quality of my gear. I don't think I would have all the clients I have if I had prosumer type gear. So it is a perception consideration as well as a quality consideration. If you make the right investment the first time you won't have to make it again for a long time to come. Just my 2 cents.

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Old November 28th, 2009, 11:32 AM   #12
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Many Thanks

Hi All firstly Thank you all for the considered reply's, really much appreciated ( and apologies about my delay in responding.... one of those weeks!)

Yes Andy Im a professional Location Sound Mixer, and totally agree about using and being seen to be using Professional Equipment.. Its a (very expensive ) must, if you have a problem, you're in trouble...if you have a problem and your seen to be using prosumer level equipment... you're not coming back, thats my experience anyway even if there is some excellent prosumer kit out there.
As I say haven't seen too many wireless hops in use in Ireland...or the UK .... would probably favour Lectrosonics at the moment and will probably look again in the New Year ( and see how the Diary is going :) ) and think I would only feel secure if I added an SD 702t (minimum) as well..... to be sure to be sure as we say .... which makes it a largeish investment

Loved the tip on only agreeing to wireless if the Camera agrees to monitor sound.... an excellent idea

Again thanks to all for replying and giving me food for thought (and a big wish list)

John Harrison
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