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Micro / POV Camera Systems
Covering the GoPro HERO and other small Point-Of-View video cameras.


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Old January 20th, 2012, 09:28 AM   #1
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The best audio?

Here's my objective...I'm planning a hike in Israel--the 600-mile Israel National Trail. I'll be carrying my rather bulky old Sony HC-3 along with all my camping gear and 6 liters of water (heavy) on my back. But I'd like a 2nd camera (therefore it must be light, which is why I'm thinking POV stuff) to strap onto either my chest (not dorky looking) or head (definitely dorky looking) for those occasions where I'm either (1) dangling from a ladder while scaling a cliff or (2) simply interacting with other people and recording their conversation.

Now, I ordered VIO's "POV HD" to check out but I am not happy with its bulk. (One bulky camera is enough!) With head strap, the total unit weighs over one pound and you're always dealing with a rather stiff cable (though admittedly the LCD screen is convenient). I'll be sending this back.

Here's my question...given that all POVs by definition seem to offer 160 degree angles of view for blindly capturing everything in front of you..is there ANY unit that offers decent (I can't hope for great, can I?) audio? Obviously I'd like to record conversations (see #2 above). If it sounds far-off or tinny, what good is that

Or are bad audio and great wide angles simply the way it is?
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Old January 21st, 2012, 06:51 PM   #2
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Re: The best audio?

Hi Lynne

I was quite surprised how clear the audio was on the Hero2 when you put on the skeleton door back...audio is even better with the full skeleton housing but in the outdoors probably the non-waterproof door is good enough.
Regardless of camera..if you are going to semi-waterproof it in a housing then you cannot expect perfect audio but it still should be good enough without having a clip on lav mic when talking to people!!

What chest mount camera are you deciding on eventually???

Chris
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Old January 22nd, 2012, 10:13 PM   #3
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Re: The best audio?

I'm not sure but I checked out these Eye 720HD glasses (sounds wacky but the demo sounded and looked pretty good) and that might solve my problem of trying to shoot and record audio without people being aware of what I'm doing. The chest cam and head cam aren't so inconspicuous.
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Old January 23rd, 2012, 02:54 AM   #4
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Re: The best audio?

Hi Lynne,

given good weather, even if you only hike half a day you'll be more than fully occupied with the hike. Then eating, resting, sleeping, showering and washing clothes take a lot of time. Other people do the same and are not inclined to interact when engaged in those activities.

Instead I'd look at a basic monopod to stabilise the HC-3 and to get usable footage as a record of the trip, bone weary and handheld cameras don't go together.

Also take small compact stills cam as back up. Don't forget you'll need AC power to charge your batteries.

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Old January 24th, 2012, 07:54 AM   #5
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Re: The best audio?

Never having handled a GoPro, I don't understand why having a skeletal housing around the camera would improve the audio? Wouldn't it do the opposite, muffle it? Or is there some sort of reflective principle operating here...it serves to "collect" sound and direct it towards the mic (which, if I'm correct, is on the back of the camera...what's up with that??)?

I agree that backpacking makes it difficult to be creative. I've found my shots are almost always taken early in the day when my creative juices are still flowing.

I'm intrigued by the light weight of cameras like GoPro. But I'm wondering if once all the necessary accessories (housing, mounts, ext. mic, tripod mount, harnesses) are included, the weight's right back in the Sony HC-3 category (of about 1.5 pounds). Can't win!
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Old January 24th, 2012, 08:25 AM   #6
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Re: The best audio?

Lynne:

The standard GoPro housing is a sealed, waterproof unit, so any sound has to get through the housing first. The skeleton housing has several openings for being able to connect USB cables, TV playback cables, etc...plus allows open air transmission of natural sound into the teeny tiny little mike opening in the GoPro camera.

Audio is not that great under the best of circumstances with a GoPro, but it's much less tinny and muffled with a skeleton housing. Just remember it's NOT water proof!!
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Old January 24th, 2012, 11:51 AM   #7
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Re: The best audio?

POV wasn't really meant to capture quality audio. My ContourHD 1080p cameras have a little tiny hole for the microphone. My advice is to get the camera that you want to wear given the available mounts/straps and worry about the audio in post. There is a lot you can do in post to make it bearable.

Below is a video I made with my ContourHD 1080p held in my hands while balancing my bike, please excuse the fumbling noises, from 20' away. When I heard the source I had pretty low hopes of fixing it. But, with Adobe Audition, and lots of After Effects stabilization, I was able to lower the noise and raise the voice and add some bass to make it bearable. GL

SDBC 12th Annual Cecy Memorial Ride - 2011/09/05 (remix) - YouTube
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Old February 2nd, 2012, 10:56 AM   #8
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Re: The best audio?

The trouble with image stabilisation in post is that it makes the CMOS jello horribly obvious. I reverted to keeping the shaken footage from my Extreme cam rather than have the wobble.
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Old February 3rd, 2012, 05:24 PM   #9
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Re: The best audio?

Well, I just got the Hero 2 to try out for 30 days so I'll find out how bad or good the audio can be. I'm surprised to find out the mic is located on the top of the camera. When inside the housing, skeletal or otherwise, the plastic enclosure is basically within millimeters of the mic. The only way sound will reach it is either THRU the plastic or through the holes they've created in the back of the housing or the side. Bottom line, the audio is reflected off the sides of the housing. So I'm not anticipating much of anything good from this arrangement. Seems like an ext. mic is the best hope.
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Old February 6th, 2012, 09:16 AM   #10
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Re: The best audio?

Has anyone here discovered the "best" ext. mic to use with the Hero 2? Especially as a "wearable" style (meaning a mic that sits on the side of the camera but doesn't project into its field of view)?

I tried a tiny dynamic mono mic I had (about the size of 1/2 my little finger) but that didn't even pick up at all. I have a Sennheiser shotgun that operates on a watch battery but it's mono and it's an awkward size. Suggestions? Or are there no mics that really fit the size and shape of such a camera?
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Old February 6th, 2012, 07:16 PM   #11
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Re: The best audio?

The audio problem with Hero 2 is strange indeed. I tried a couple mono mics (one dynamic, one condenser) and only the later one worked (barely...sounded distant). Then hooked up a stereo mic (broadcast quality Sennheiser) and that didn't work either.
What is the problem with GoPro's audio? No gain controls? High impedance? Did they release that ext. mic jack "improvement" before it was really ready?
Their customer support is enthusiastically vague about all this. They are unwilling (or unable) to recommend a mic they deem workable.
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Old February 7th, 2012, 03:10 AM   #12
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Re: The best audio?

The silence in response suggests not many GoPro heros have tried an external mic, Lynne. Thing is, all the mics you mention are near-field mics, that is they're designed to be used close to the sound source. Even if you plugged in an expensive K6/ME66 it still works best close-up, the 'shotgun' tag simply meaning it rejects sound outside its acceptance funnel.

All of us here know pictures are easy and sound is hard.

tom.
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Old February 7th, 2012, 07:17 AM   #13
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Re: The best audio?

I feel like starting a thread called "GoPro's Dirty Little Secret!"
I've got 30 (now 23) days to try the Hero 2 and it's like I have to reinvent the wheel. I realize from the get-go it's tough integrating an ext. mic with the camera if for no other reason than it's going to protrude into the frame if it's a shotgun.
Attaching a bracket as some have suggested is not an acceptable solution as that defeats the mobile nature of the camera. Nor do I want to use a separate audio recorder for the same reason...too much fumbling around with extra devices.
Surely there is a "peanut" omni-mic who's internal characteristics mesh well and whose design at least puts the mic elements outside that muffling plastic housing. But what is it? Does one exist? Mum's the word.

You're right...audio is fudged by most users because everything's music-driven these days. Shoot and make a music video out of it. What ever happened to cinema verite?
I
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Old February 8th, 2012, 10:56 AM   #14
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Re: The best audio?

Have up looked at the Sony ECM-DS30P Compact Stereo Microphone with 1/8" Stereo Mini Connection.

You have to use the skeleton housing and it has a swivel point where it almost points forward once inserted in the GoPro and comes with a windscreen.

Sony ECM-DS30P - Compact Stereo Microphone ECMDS30P B&H Photo
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Old February 8th, 2012, 02:14 PM   #15
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Re: The best audio?

Funny how the GoPro customer service folks simply drop the ball on this issue. They're supposed to get back within 24-48 hrs...well, it's been like 4 days and I'm still waiting.

Anyway, funny you should mention the Sony mic. I just ordered that this AM along with the Olympus ME-51S to try out. (I get the impression the Sony mic's going to project waaaaay out, being as long as the GoPro camera itself is! The Olympus, on the other hand, is more T-shaped but without a windscreen.)

There is not an easy solution. Shotguns aren't practical. Cheap give-away thumbtack mics (like $1) hardly seem worth considering. Of course, the weak link may very well be NOT the mic but the camera's audio processing. Maybe that's why a one-dollar mic can actually be considered a legitimate contender! Jeesh, what a world we live in.
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