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Old July 6th, 2014, 03:42 AM   #16
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Re: DSLR with good audio?

Nice rig, looks very compact, do you use this also handheld or only on a tripod?
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Old July 6th, 2014, 04:12 AM   #17
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Re: DSLR with good audio?

Hi Noa,

Most of the day its on a Manfrotto monopod or the Steddiepod. It can be used handheld.

The worst part is it is hard to put down because the QR plate on the bottom is offset, so it wants to fall over. It needs a foot added to the bottom.

I usually use the add on monitor (Lilliput 664 O/P) on a tripod.

PS: I wish I hadn't read about your recent experiences with the GH4 :)
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Old July 6th, 2014, 04:39 AM   #18
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Re: DSLR with good audio?

I have not done any real testing but so far the internal audio doesn't seem much better then the gh3 so you still need a good external solution, I use a tascam dr60 to feed the sound directly into the camera and record to the dr60 simultaneously. The sound recorded to the dr60 is much cleaner then what goes into the gh3 (haven't tried it with the gh4 yet) but for weddings that quality is definitely usable, for more critical clients I wouldn't use the sound from a GH camera anyway.
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Old July 6th, 2014, 06:43 AM   #19
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Re: DSLR with good audio?

Hey Mark

A genuine Steddiepod?? I was looking at one and then decided that I would make one instead.. Just used a Bogen Monopod and fixed the legs from an old mic stand to the base and put a bunch of counterweights on each leg. It worked quite well actually ...the grip was made from a PVC retic fitting I had. Sadly my camera at that time was a bit too heavy for it!! I eventually used it as a basis for a DIY rig tutorial

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Old July 6th, 2014, 01:09 PM   #20
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Re: DSLR with good audio?

Joe -

Going back to an earlier post:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Riggs View Post
So even with a GH3 you need a juicelink to get good audio?

Remember the mini handycams that you could plug a mic via an xlr adapter to 1/8 inch?

I'm looking for something like that in a DSLR, which will deliver good audio without the need for any external devices? but there's nothing out on the market I guess.
Here are some thoughts:

With a video (or movie) one is telling a story, a story that has a plot with a beginning and an end, and some other key points along the way (climax, etc.). I don't remember the details but something like 85% of a good movie is the storyline/plot (or whatever) and a huge chunk of that is the casting. Of the 15% that's left, 2/3rds of that is good audio (according to what one big name director said), so basically, what this means is that video is a pretty small piece of the pie.

The numbers aren't science, just something to work from (I really don't want to get into an argument over the didgets). For example, I'd assume family movie and "The Great Race" percentages would be a lot different. Anyway, we're talking "good (or better?) audio." Not the best, right?

Thought #1:
There is a saying for musicians and that is "You play to the audience." Something similar may be said with regard to audio. If the video (movie) is, say, of a family nature, then the audio is probably not that important. If the video is of a piano recital, then the audio will likely be pretty crucial, depending on the skill level of the artist.

Thought #2:
With regard to "without the need for any external devices," and I presume that means some add-on preamp or the like, what about something like a Røde Stereo Video Mic? Sure, it's an "add-on" but it should be able to improve the audio over the built-in camera mics, and one can put a wind muff (Røde calls it a dead cat but there are some that take offense to that).

The Røde takes a 9V battery and has it's own built-in preamp with a couple switches and will attach on the hot shoe. For family-type videos, vacation videos and the like, this would be a good mic to have and I use mine a lot. Easy to put on and take off and the wind protection (muff) is very helpful. Actually, let's say "required".

Thought #3:
For audio, mics are akin to artist's paint brushes. An artist can't paint with just one brush - they have a whole quiver of brushes. Same with someone who records audio, more than one mic is needed. Let's make that "NEEDED'" (emphasis added).

Add-on device. Question: is the reluctance due to the extra "stuff" on the camera or to the cost? If it's cost, there are used preamps on eBay and yesterday I looked at some of the Sold prices and some buyers got what I think are some good deals. So buying used is certainly one alternative. Check to see if the little mini patch cord is included, or maybe the allen wrench.

The beauty of the add-on preamp is one gets much better electronics, controls, and versatility, something that if the camera manufacturers included it, they would have to charge a lot more. As a rule, all the good mics will have XLR connectors so if the goal is to have better than "good" audio then a preamp has to be in your future. That doesn't mean one has to get one now, the Røde SVM will provide "good" audio, but in the future, if "better than good" is desired, including a lot more controls over the audio input, then a preamp will be needed.

For what it's worth, a couple days ago I was talking to a pro who runs a video company. He uses DSLRs (and camcorders) in auto shoots (sport/racing cars), and he said that audio is very important.
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Old July 6th, 2014, 02:42 PM   #21
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Re: DSLR with good audio?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Riggs View Post
So even with a GH3 you need a juicelink to get good audio?

Remember the mini handycams that you could plug a mic via an xlr adapter to 1/8 inch?

I'm looking for something like that in a DSLR, which will deliver good audio without the need for any external devices? but there's nothing out on the market I guess.
I guess you're right.

A DSLR is a stills camera first. The vast majority of the R&D went into making it work as a stills camera. The layout and controls are all stills-based. They added video as a feature to help sell the stills camera. It's a feature -- that is, a small part of the much bigger camera. So they spent a lot less on it. And unfortunately for them, to make the video worth something as a sales feature for a stills camera, they had to add audio functions. This, they spent as little time and money on as they could, and still cursed up a blue streak about what it does to the layout and the way the camera works. If you're lucky, your DSLR has a few USD worth of audio chips in it. And it shouldn't surprise you that it doesn't have balanced XLR inputs or manual controls for audio. Because it's a stills camera.

Those "mini handycams" have better audio because they have better video. They aren't stills cameras, they are video cameras. So they work like video cameras, have video camera layouts and controls, and have better control over audio. The teams that design them know that to video camera consumers, audio is important. So even my little $600 USD Canon handcam has manual control of audio. Actually, the audio in that little handycam is pretty good. I would have loved to get that in a GH3. Didn't happen, because the GH3 is a stills camera.
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Old July 6th, 2014, 03:32 PM   #22
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Re: DSLR with good audio?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Riggs View Post
So even with a GH3 you need a juicelink to get good audio?...Remember the mini handycams that you could plug a mic via an xlr adapter to 1/8 inch?... I'm looking for something like that in a DSLR, which will deliver good audio without the need for any external devices? but there's nothing out on the market I guess.
This belies a commonly misunderstood idea that a DSLR is a video camera. It is not. As stated by others, it is a stills camera with video and audio capability. This is why there are so many cages, boxes etc to cobble together better components into a rig for quality film making. If as much human ingenuity and effort that has been put into making DSLRs work like a proper video camera surely had been channeled elsewhere, we'd surely have solved world hunger by now. But I digress.

Classically, a video camera consists of 4 major components:
1) lens
2) imaging block
3) audio block
4) recording block

The inability for any one of these to deliver satisfactory results is why there are so many external boxes, hacks, I/O ports etc such as recorders, XLR adapters and so on.

Bypassing a camera's audio block is not new. Sony's venerable PD150, PD170, VX1000 ilk notably spawned the Greg Winter modification (yes I am that old) and fed a firestorm of accusations that Sony deliberately made the PD150 preamps noisy so as to prevent the cheap PD150 from eating into sales of it's more expensive cameras. Much hand wringing and knashing of teeth was vented on that topic. Here's one:
PD170 Audio Mod

In my experience, modern day cameras deliver much better audio than the prosumer DV cameras so in that sense, you are ahead of things already. You *may* find the GH3 perfectly adequate for your needs but it's ergonomics and electronics are minimal as it's a stills camera (albeit one that tries to do video better than the others). When you get to the point you want to connect XLR mics to a DSLR's 3.5mm stereo input jack, external boxes like the Juicedlink or Beachtek are needed. Quality preamps like the Juicedlink are the better ones. Ironically, that is the component the Greg Winter modification bypassed that Sony supposedly crippled. But I digress.
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Old July 6th, 2014, 04:05 PM   #23
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Re: DSLR with good audio?

Here's a video comparing a Zoom H6 and the audio from the GH3. The GH3 is being fed by the line out of the GH3:

Here's a blog post that accompanied the video, with links to the audio files for a more detailed comparison: Lumix GH3 Audio vs Zoom H6 | Homebrewed Music

Fran
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Old July 7th, 2014, 08:17 AM   #24
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Re: DSLR with good audio?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Whittle View Post
To William:

Expensive? I would't call $329 expensive. This is quality USA made gear.

juicedLink RM222 Riggy-Micro Dual-XLR Preamplifier RM222 B&H

Mine's the RM333 which is $399. Still excellent value IMO.

It's all relative. Here in Australia we get ripped off for everything, and our cost of living is beyond NYC levels, so maybe we are resigned to pay whatever it costs.
That looks like a good little box however the box I was referring to is this: juicedLink RA222 Riggy-Assist Dual-XLR Preamplifier RA222 B&H. It goes for $400US and comes with the important AGC circuit. The body of a GH3 now costs around $1000. It's a little ridiculous that these relatively simple audio circuits are nearly half the price of the amazing technology package in a GH camera body. The Zoom gives you more technology for less money.

Unfortunately, and I'll admit this, the Zoom recorder is clumsy to use as there is no camera mount for it that is as easy to use as the JuicedLink or Beachtek. If either JuicedLink or Beachtek came out with a SD recorder integrated into their units and they kept the price reasonable (under $400), I would be getting one.
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Old July 7th, 2014, 03:57 PM   #25
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Re: DSLR with good audio?

Lots of good responses here ... but I'd like to add one important detail. Much of the professional DSLR video workflow was built up around the Canon 5D which had several audio challenges. In fact, without the 5D the Zoom H4N would still be a guitar gadget (it has built in guitar effects for musicians, the original target audience).

There are several other DSLR cameras available that have user-controllable audio levels, built-in headphone jacks, and relatively clean recording.

I own a Sony Z5 as well - but for the past 2 years, I've been shooting almost exclusively with a Nikon D600. I record the two outputs of my wireless Sony mic to the camera and a Tascam DR40 (their version of the Zoom H4N without the guitar effects for $100 less). In all this time, I have never needed the tracks from the DR40 - the audio from the camera is clear as a bell. But it's nice to have a backup.

Sam
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Old July 7th, 2014, 09:51 PM   #26
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Re: DSLR with good audio?

Fran - that was some really nice guitar pickin'. One can really hear the richness of the strings.

One thing I noticed was that acoustic guitar players tend to have a real ear for how things sound. Because one can't have too many mics and because there are several instruments and vocals I want to video and get good audio with, I've visited one acoustic guitar web site where there has been some really good discussions about various makes and models of mics to use for various purposes. That was last winter and I kinda got sidetracked with other things.

Anyway, that was some nice playing.

Sam - As an old SLR Nikon guy it was nice to read your post about how the audio in your camera sounded so good. I wish Nikon would make a serious video camera, though, and maybe something along the lines of the old Photomic T cameras with interchangeable everything. I still have a lot of gear from my old system and might even be able to put some of it to use with some modifications.
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Old July 8th, 2014, 01:23 AM   #27
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Re: DSLR with good audio?

With the right equipment and technique, one can get issue-free audio from a DSLR. I'm not talking about pristine, best-of-class, audiophile quality. I'm talking about recording audio where no typical user will notice anything negative.

The D90 started it all and the 5D Mark II followed quickly, transforming the whole landscape. Initially, the 5D2 didn't do manual exposure video, let alone manual audio control. AGC was the only option. Before long, Magic Lantern launched and manual audio became a reality. At roughly the same time, Canon provided manual exposure and eventually, 24 fps and manual audio control. Audio is recorded at 48 kHz at 16 bits. Of course, the front end includes a 1/8" unbalanced stereo input and a cheap mic preamp, so the camera needs some help.

Add a powered preamp and you can accept a balanced input and provide phantom power. If the preamp is strong and clean (I've had excellent results with juicedLink products), you can turn down the camera's preamp and get a low-noise result.

For good results, use the Canon firmware, turn the audio level to one tick above minimum, and crank the preamp (or use a Rode Videomic Pro, which includes an active signal boost). Signal to noise will be good (about as good as an H4n), but you can do better.

The stock Canon firmware cranks the analog gain from the camera's preamp and manages the overall gain digitally. With Magic Lantern, we can turn down the analog gain in the camera and manage the digital gain separately. This reduces noise by another 6 to 9 dB by my measurements. With a juicedLink, this gets the noise very close to the floor for a 16-bit recording. There's no need for a cleaner external preamp as we've pretty much hit the S/N limit for the system.

There remain, however, two limitations. One problem is that the 5D2 includes a bass cut. This is fine for recording dialog (and removing handling noise, wind, etc), but is terrible for recording full range music. Last I checked, Magic Lantern wasn't able to disable the bass cut. That might have changed in recent versions. I'm not sure about the 5D3.

The other problem is that the sound is somewhat harsh. Maybe this is due to pushing the input preamp so hard. My gut feel is that the harshness is due to the lack of a good anti aliasing filter. I'd love to test the audio after inserting a good anti-aliasing filter between the juicedLink and the camera. That could smooth things out but would add yet more cost and another component. (Though it could be wired into the juicedLink box with a bit of soldering.)

So the best you can do with a 5D2 is a low noise (nice!), poor bass (not nice for music), somewhat harsh (possibly solvable) result.

Personally, I like recording into the camera with the stock firmware through a Videomic Pro or a juicedLink preamp when shooting solo. It's not the best possible quality, but it's simple and nearly foolproof. When recording doco-style like at a trade show, this is as good a quality as I need. I'm more limited by background noise and mic placement than the equipment.

When an audio person is available, I prefer recording into an external recorder. In this case, I'm glad that the internal mic and AGC are there as I get an sync track without even thinking about external boxes and setting gains. In our case, we use the Fostex FR-2LE, which is a modest step up in price from an H4n, but which delivers a cleaner result. It's not the most robust recorder around, but it sounds great for the price.
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Old July 8th, 2014, 04:13 PM   #28
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Re: DSLR with good audio?

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Nantz View Post
Fran - that was some really nice guitar pickin'. One can really hear the richness of the strings.

One thing I noticed was that acoustic guitar players tend to have a real ear for how things sound. Because one can't have too many mics and because there are several instruments and vocals I want to video and get good audio with, I've visited one acoustic guitar web site where there has been some really good discussions about various makes and models of mics to use for various purposes. That was last winter and I kinda got sidetracked with other things.

Anyway, that was some nice playing.

Sam - As an old SLR Nikon guy it was nice to read your post about how the audio in your camera sounded so good. I wish Nikon would make a serious video camera, though, and maybe something along the lines of the old Photomic T cameras with interchangeable everything. I still have a lot of gear from my old system and might even be able to put some of it to use with some modifications.
Hey John, I don't think Nikon will ever step outside the form factor of an SLR for video, but have you taken a look at the D800, new D810 or D610? They are serious video cameras. I'm an old Nikon guy too - I started out with my grandfather's Nikon F. I still have the body and 3 non-AI Nikkor lenses (35, 85 and 60mm micro). In fact, I had the micro lens modified several years ago to work with current F-mounts. All these years later, the Nikon camera logic and control layout is still more sensible to me than Canon. Everything is right where it should be on my D600. I shoot with my Sony Z5 when I'm on the move, but for controlled environments you can't beat the image quality of a DSLR.

I know this thread is about audio - I'm also a musician with a sensitive ear for tone. Perhaps I've been lucky so far, but the audio level produced by my Sony UWP-V1 wireless receiver, Audio-Technica AT897 wired lav and and AT899 boom mic are sufficient for clean audio on my projects without a need to drive the gain. The gain range on the camera is 1-20, and I normally set it at 7.
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Old July 8th, 2014, 11:37 PM   #29
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Re: DSLR with good audio?

Sam - I've given some thought to having a DSLR to go with the camcorder. The problem is I just have real difficulty dealing with the DSLR layout and form factor but the big glass for low light is what would get me to get one. A good video-cam camcorder upgrade is the current numero uno item on my list. I will check out the models you suggested, though. And if the glass that I still have can be made to fit with a replacement of the bayonet ring that'd be awesome. Then the 52mm filters would work. 4-tack bellows? Hmmm....

You're fortunate to have started out on a Nikon F. These were really trouble-free cameras. I started out a few years before you on a 120 box camera than as a teenager I got an Argus C3 "brick". Took a photography class with a TSLR and Graflex 4x5. Got a SLR and a Weston light meter, bought film in 100-ft reels and loaded it into cartridges using a changing bag. Did my own B&W developing. The Yashica was constantly breaking down so I got the Nikon. Really trouble free. Still have some of the gear - can't throw anything away.

For mics, I've got a fair selection (including the AT899 wire lavalier) and looking for more but right now the camcorder replacement is the main item. Seems the rolling shutter may not be as severe a problem as I thought. We'll see. Really don't like spending a few thousand on something that turns out to be not what I need.

The good thing about good mics is they hold their value much better an the cameras do, so they're a good investment.
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Old July 9th, 2014, 07:48 PM   #30
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Re: DSLR with good audio?

Listening to Fran's comparison through some nice speakers and it is apparent the GH3 has a fair bit of HF noise. Having said that, recording acoustic music is a torture test for every link in the audio chain and I think the GH3 holds up pretty well.

I can't say I've noticed that noise in my GH3 but in the environments I work, the preamp noise would be lost in the background noise anyway.

When I use it for clean speech, such as interviews or testimonials, it is fine. Thanks Fran, I will keep an ear out for that noise for critical sound - it is simple & fast to filter out with a DAW (Adobe Audition in my case).

I also use a Rode Videomic, mostly on my GH2 and it is pretty good as on camera miss go. It's only for nat sound. The GH3 with the Juiced Link has a Rode NTG1.

William - you don't need the AGC killer on the GH3. The AGC doesn't appear to work when the level is set to 1. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong).
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