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