Possibly the DSLR world’s worst kept secret was officially unveiled today. It gives the 5DmkII video mode 24fps (actual 23.976fps) and 25fps which filmmakers and newsgatherers alike have been calling for, it also changes the 30fps option to the NTSC video standard of 29.97fps. There is also a new feature of an onscreen histogram option to help gauge exposure.
The firmware also gives users the option to manually fix the audio level using an onscreen level meter, a complete godsend for News shooters who have been wrestling with Auto Gain Control, external audio recorders, hacking the camera with Tramm Hudson’s Magic Lantern firmware, or using accessories like the Beachtek DXA5D or Juicedlink DN101/CX231 combo to get useable results. Now this doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to plug just any mic into the 5DmkII, it will still need to be a powered model such as the Rode Videomic or Sennheiser MKE400. Additionally the mic gain circuit in the camera is known not to be of the best quality, so for really good results an external pre-amp or audio mixer is still recommended. Adjusting the levels on screen will not be easy on the fly either, so for run and gun I intend to fix the 5DmkII audio level at minimum and then use the output of a mixer or audio recorder to provide the audio gain – with the added bonus of being able to adjust the levels with proper control knobs. The mixer/audio recorder method will also allow you to monitor what sound is being sent to the camera as even with the new firmware there is still no way to plug headphones into the 5DmkII for live monitoring. For the paranoid like myself I will also continue to record separate audio to a recorder and sync with Singular software’s Pluraleyes for important assignments and interviews so I can be really sure I have a good quality audio track.
Now the other big question is whether Canon will add this new audio functionality to its flagship news camera the 1DmkIV or indeed the highly popular 7D. There will surely be an outcry from owners of these cameras if no announcement is forthcoming.
Full details from Canon here
*Added – link to Canon sample video showing new firmware here