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Canon XF Series HD Camcorders
Canon XF305, XF205 and XF105 (with SDI), Canon XF300, XF200 and XF100 (without SDI).


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Old June 18th, 2017, 08:22 AM   #1
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what level of db to record

Hey guys,

I'm new to using professional cameras. I bought myself a canon xf300 and an external mic (rode ntg3), however, I'm slightly confused by what decibel (db) I should record the sound during interviews. Any recommendations?

Thanks.
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Old June 18th, 2017, 09:03 AM   #2
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Re: what level of db to record

I recommend that you set your audio levels so they peak within the gap between -20 and -10.
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Old June 18th, 2017, 11:08 AM   #3
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Re: what level of db to record

Just do whatever Doug says.

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Old June 18th, 2017, 12:34 PM   #4
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Re: what level of db to record

Reason: You can always add some gain in post if the record level was low (within reason of course, dictated by the noise floor) but you cannot undo clipping if the record level was too high.
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Old June 18th, 2017, 01:03 PM   #5
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Re: what level of db to record

To answer your question, what Doug says. I would aim for dialog peak levels at around -12dBFS. This gives you some headroom for the unexpected (like someone setting a cup on a glass tabletop, a loud exclamation like a shout, etc.) while still providing a decent signal-to-noise ratio.

That said, I absolutely would (and did) buy a mixer for an audio front end to the camera. Why? Better sound quality from the mixer's mic preamps, decent limiters to make clipping nearly impossible, and better metering so you have better control. I would (and did) pick up a used Sound Devices MixPre-D. Outstanding little mixer, and a step up in audio quality from just about any camera's built in audio preamps. And the limiters have saved me on more than a couple of occasions. Out of all the camera and audio gear I've bought (and sold) that little MixPre-D is still with me and still my favorite. Just sayin'.

Alternatively, you could buy a small recorder like the new SD MixPre-3. But if you are just starting out at this level, adding a sync workflow on top of all the other learning curves probably isn't worth it. You gain enough experience and you'll know when you need to go separate system, so I wouldn't worry about it yet.
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Old June 19th, 2017, 10:55 AM   #6
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Re: what level of db to record

Pg. 99 of your manual shows how to setup a test tone and color bar so you can preset your recording levels to -20 below the 1 kHz tone. Learn how to do this and you should always be in good shape.
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Old June 24th, 2017, 12:10 PM   #7
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Re: what level of db to record

Thanks for your responses guys.

@Doug Jensen - What I have done is simply adjust the external microphone’s sensitivity in the submenu to -12db by going through [Audio Setup] > [Audio Input] > [XLR1 Mic Trimming] . Would that be correct and would the -12db be ok? with db gain in post production?

If you could please let me know if I'm doing things right that would be great. Many Thanks.
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Old June 26th, 2017, 06:13 PM   #8
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Re: what level of db to record

Anthony,

I think might be confusing two different things. You are supposed to use the external rotary dials on the camera body so that peak audio hits between -10 to -20. And that is all you should normally have to adjust for audio recording levels. You should never, or very rarely, ever need to adjust the trim menus at all. Those menus are there in case you have a microphone that is too sensitive or not sensitive enough to give you a comfortable range of adjustment on the external dials. The trim menu settings can almost be considered the the audio equivalent of ND filters.
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Old June 26th, 2017, 07:18 PM   #9
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Re: what level of db to record

Like Doug said leave the menu at it's default setting and instead use the external dials. The non technical way is to keep an eye on your meters if you see red you dial it back. Things that change their volume dramatically require more attention.
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Old June 27th, 2017, 02:55 AM   #10
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Re: what level of db to record

Those trims also allow you to connect higher level devices that while using XLR connectors are not mics - just adding a pad to the input to allow for the weird ones - like using a dynamic interview mic in a nightclub or race circuit where the levels are VERY high, and your knobs are right at the very bottom of the travel - turn the gain down, then the knobs can work in a better range.
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Old June 27th, 2017, 03:28 PM   #11
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Re: what level of db to record

Yes, as I said earlier - those menus are like ND filters for audio in situations of high sound levels.
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Old July 1st, 2017, 08:03 AM   #12
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Re: what level of db to record

All the above digested?

For some situations/users the use of AGC may even produce acceptable results, and potentially better than misapplied manual control.

Now get out and do some practice shoots in venues with similar sound profiles to your target shoots to determine how they work for you and - what works best for you.
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