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Testing the new 5DmkII 2.0.3 firmware on a news assignment

5DmkII firmware 2.0.3 audio test from Dan Chung on Vimeo.

Yesterday I had the chance to test the new 5DmkII firmware 2.0.3 in a real news environment. It that adds 1080/24p and 25p recording, Tv and Av modes for video and manual control of the audio levels in the camera. I used it on a bustling doorstep interview by visiting UK Foreign secretary David Miliband. Above is a very short test clip shot at 25p.

The audio was fed from a reporters mic with a Sennheiser SKP 100 radio transmitter to my very lovely Sound Devices MixPre audio mixer, then to a Pinknoise systems custom made XLR to minijack -45db PAD cable to the 5DmkII. The Pinknoise cable is necessary because otherwise the output of the mixer’s XLR’s is too hot for the camera’s mic level input.

The 5DmkII with Sound Devices mixer and Pinknoise cable

The 5DmkII with Sound Devices mixer and Pinknoise cable

The beauty of this setup is that I can monitor what is being sent to the camera using headphones and on the mixers brightly lit LED meters. Once the correct level is set in camera I don’t have to touch the 5DmkII again as all the adjustments can then be done on the mixer instead. The preamps in the mixer are of far higher quality than those in the camera and so a lot of the hiss I would get before is removed. I can also use an XLR mic with Phantom power like the Audio Technica AT875R shotgun mic shown here.

I’m not convinced of the strength of the minijack connection in busy news environments like this and I’m worried it may fall out or become dislodged too easily. For that reason I actually set the record level in camera at just under half way on the meter. This is a compromise I’m trying for news so that if the jack does fall out I still get some sound from my internal camera mic. There is some slight hiss due to the camera’s noisy internal preamps, but I can live with it. Using the mixer I can also output to an audio recorder at the same time for insurance.

In a more controlled environment I would want to reduce the in camera level to near minimum and use the better quality pre-amps in the Sound Devices mixer to boost the level.

So far this is the best (and most expensive) option I have used for news audio. Other cheaper options I like that offer similar functionality are the Juicedlink CX231 with DN101 adapter attached , or the Tascam DR-100 recorder with a Pinknoise cable on the line output.
If you haven’t already installed the new firmware you can hop over here to download it.

I’m not going to go into all the detail on the firmware here but there a couple of great reads , one from Phil Bloom here and another from Planet5D

Here’s a quick run through of the new firmware’s features from Mitch at Planet5D

Guide to the Canon EOS 5D Mark II “cinema” update 2.0.3 from planetMitch on Vimeo.

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Posted on March 16th, 2010 by Dan Chung | Category: Audio, Canon Eos5DmkII, DSLR video news |

17 responses to "Testing the new 5DmkII 2.0.3 firmware on a news assignment"

  1. Michel Says:
    March 16th, 2010 at 4:19 am

    Does anyone knows if Canon plan to bring a new firmware to the 7D specially about that auto volume annoying thing?

  2. jan sonnenmair Says:
    March 16th, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Hi,
    I am confused about your mic usage. Did you use ONLY the sennheiser mic (i am assuming it was held by a reporter when you said a “reporters mic”) or was the mic on your camera? I am just wondering if you were only using one mic why you needed to use the Audio mixer.. thanks for your post!!

  3. Dan Chung Says:
    March 16th, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Jan, good point – for the test you are only hearing the radio mic but I had a shotgun on the camera that I ran at the same time for backup. Clearly the sound from this was not as good so I removed it and put the radio mic track on both channels in Final Cut. This is a fairly standard news configuration and I should have made that clear.

    The mixer is also important because it allows you to monitor the levels with a proper VU meter and give you headphone monitoring too.

  4. jan sonnenmair Says:
    March 16th, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Hi Dan,
    So the sound from the camera mic was not as good because it was not as close? I am still wondering if we can use a nice sennheiser shotgun mic alone, on camera, without the mixer now that the new firmware allows for auto gain (i am just learning all of this stuff) Where do you put your mixer while you are shooting?

  5. Dan Chung Says:
    March 16th, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    Jan, In a nutshell yes. A shotgun on top of the camera is not the answer to all you audio prayers, the reason why you people use mics on booms or radio mics is to get the mic closer to the subject. A mic like the Sennheiser MKE400 on top of the camera is a good start and if you are careful to set the level manually in the camera it will be OK for many things. A mixer or audio recorder gives you the next level of control and better amplification and monitoring. For this shoot the mixer is in a bag on my chest.

  6. Rainer Behrens Says:
    March 17th, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Great insight, thank you.
    How do you customize the XLR cable.
    Went to the pinknoise website, which cable did you use?
    Can the customization be done by a non professional?
    Thank you.

  7. David Hogsholt Says:
    March 20th, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Great to see the Mixpre up and running. I got one myself a while back but still not decided how much padding would be needed. If possible, could you tell me app. how much you have to turn the levels up in cam w.o. the trick your’e doing to safeguard in case the cable gets pulled out. It does seem like one should be able to go with even less padding such as to hardly turn up the cam levels at all.

    All best and as always enjoying the work you produce,
    David

  8. cabasner Says:
    July 17th, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    I know this is an old thread, but maybe Dan or someone else can answer my stupid questions. I have a 5D Mark II, and would love to capture the best possible audio. I have an Edirol R-09H field recorder that I purchased to record higher quality audio independent from the 5D Mark II, intending to merge the audio and video in post production. I would like to use a high quality mixer such as the Sound Devices MixPre or 302. Here come the questions:

    1. Are the red/green XLR connections in the image the Pinknoise cable referred to above, and do these 2 cables end up in a single 3.5mm stereo plug that goes into the camera?

    My Edirol has two 3.5mm inputs, one labeled ‘Mic’, the other, ‘Line’.
    2. Could I use that same cable to connect to the external 3.5mm Mic input on my Edirol?
    3. Would I need the ‘padded’ cable going into the Line input (instead of the ‘Mic’ input on my Edirol, or could I use a ‘non-padded’ cable?

    You said you were using a single microphone.
    4. Is output of that single microphone going to both the L and R channels of the output on the MixPre, thus giving you a mono signal, but on both channels?
    5. Can you use 2 mics and get ‘real stereo’ into the MixPre that could also feed my Edirol?

    Sorry for the questions, but as you can tell, I’m new to all this…

    • Dan Chung Says:
      July 18th, 2010 at 5:02 am

      Hi, In order of your questions:

      1. Yes you are correct.
      2. You could use it to connect to the Mic level input of the Edirol but you might be better of just feeding line level with a regular 2 xlr to minijack cable without the PAD
      3. You can use a non PAD cable to go from Line out into the Edirol
      4. Yes, in this instance – although more often I use 2 channels, one for top mic and one for radio mic
      5. Yes

      Hope that helps

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