I bought my audio equipment based on research I had done on websites like cheesycam and Philip Blooms blog as well as RODE workshops I have attended. There are equivalent options to my recommendations but I’m only going to mention the items I own. All the following links, pictures etc will take you to Amazon.com. If you buy the item by following the link you don’t pay more for the item but I get 2% of the sale price. I figured if you buy a Zoom because you read my post why shouldn’t Amazon pay me $5.20. So, apologies for the pictures also being ads but if you follow the links you will also find loads of reviews written by people who have bought the items… some of them are quite entertaining
I knew recording audio with the GH2 was not going to be good enough for every situation. It might be good enough for ambience or in an emergency but if I wanted to capture clear voices I would need a separate audio recorder. I started off buying the Zoom H4N a four track digital audio recorder with built in stereo microphones. It records to SD cards same as the GH2 so I don’t have to carry two types of recording media. The quality of the recording is mind blowing! The last time I recorded my voice was in the 80s with a tape deck. Anyone who has done that will wonder at the wizardry that must be inside the Zoom to make the spoken word sound so good. I even use this at client meetings so I have a hard copy of everything said.
I attended the Rode/Philip Bloom workshops and had a look at the (then) new Rode VideoMic Pro it’s small form factor and recommendation by Philip Bloom sold me on it. It works great and looks pro especially with a Rode DeadCat on it. It comes with a 10 year warranty and mine came with the dead cat (wind muff) for free. The wind muff muffles the wind (funny that) - a must when shooting outdoors or in one of the windy fart camps that are popular these days.
I also bought a Rode Micro Boom Pole and a Rode Extension Cable. I’ve not used either of these. I bought the boom to use the VideoMic Pro in narrative films because at the time I thought you needed a dedicated sound guy for that. If you live in NSW Australia and want to collaborate please contact me.
Interviews are also a good place to use the Rode on a boom pole with a dedicated boom swinger (operator). I’ve always used lav mics in interviews because getting the microphone very close to the mouth makes it easier to get clean audio with less background noise. I read a Cheesycam post that recommended the Audio Technica Lav mic and for $22 how can you go wrong?
I also bought assorted connectors a 3.5 to 2.5mm stereo right angle connector to convert the GH2s 2.5mm headphone jack to the more common 3.5mm. I had to trim the plastic around the 2.5mm end with a knife to plug it into the GH2 so make sure you have a little length to play with just in case. Three 3.5mm to 1/4” mono jacks to plug the lav mics and Rode into the Zoom. I also bought a short 3.5mm male to male lead to go from the headphone jack of the Zoom to Headphone/Microphone jack of the GH2.
Plugging the output of the Zoom into the GH2 helps when you sync the audio from the Zoom H4N to the footage you have shot with GH2 because the audio wave forms will look the similar. There is also software called Plural Eyes that can do the sync automatically.
I have a RedrockMicro rig that I use to mount them together for portability. The Zoom has a standard 1/4 inch mounting hole and Redrock make a small adapter that connects to a 15mm rod. I put the Rode on the GH2 flash bracket. The camera, camera mount and rods can attach to my Tripod, Monopod or shoulder rig via Arca Swiss mounting plates and quick releases.
I have wired people for sound with the lav mic and just popped the Zoom H4N in their pocket but its a little big for that. So I ended up buying a zoom H1 as well. Its only a single track recorder so your a bit more limited than with it’s big brother but it’s just incredibly handy. I have started taking it everywhere if I’m on a train and I like the ambient sounds I will grab a couple of minutes of audio. You can put it on the end of a boom pole or plug a lav mic into it and put it in someones pocket; it’s very light. The next step might be wireless mics so you can monitor the audio levels while recording but you want to spend $500-$600 on wireless so they really are a big step up.
Well this is interesting, who would of thought we would have not one but two affordable Raw cameras in 2012. Over at the Digital Bolex HQ comparisons are already being made. One of the kickstarter supporters Nikita Pavlov has already put a direct comparison chart on his blog I have pasted the same relevant stats below. The cameras are quite comparable, with a slightly bigger sensor on the Blackmagic and a wonderful looking touch screen. There are similarities between them CinemaDNG, a removable SSD and a SDI out. The Digital bolex has a SSD and SDI (in a separate unit) but they decided against a removable SSD because it’s not designed for frequent removal. The SDI is supposed to arrive on the Bolex via an add on $3000 unit, I’m not sure what effect the news of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera will have on this.
The Bolex comes with a mini HDMI port, WiFi and USB3.0 and Raw conversion software in the pipeline. The Blackmagic Cinema Camera comes with some wicked software Ultrascope and Davinchi Resolve as well as a Thunderbolt connection for live waveform monitoring with Ultrascope. As you can see the cameras are just begging for a head to head test, we just need them to be released.
The Blackmagic seems to be aimed towards Mac users and admittedly has an ace up it’s sleeve. The ability to compress the footage in camera to Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD. This is fantastic addition and I wish the Digital Bolex could do this but I understand why it can’t at it’s current price point. On a final note Blackmagic have gone with a slightly bigger sized sensor than Super 16. So Cinema glass designed for super 16 like my Zeiss Super Speeds will not fully cover the sensor of Blackmagics Cinema Camera.
Digital Bolex Specs
Resolution 2048 x 1152 (Super 16mm mode) + 1920 x 1080 pixels (16mm mode)
Format Adobe Cinema DNG, TIFF, JPEG Image sequences
Colour depth 12 bit – 4:4:2
File size 2 to 3 MB per frame in RAW
Sensor Kodak CCD: 12.85 mm (H) x 9.64 mm (V) – Similar to Super 16mm
Pixel Size 5.5 micron (compared to the 4.3 micron size of many DSLRs)
Framerate up to 32 fps at 2K, 60fps at 720p, 90 fps at 480p
Sound Balanced, 2 channel, 16 bit, 48 kHz via XLR
Viewfinder 320×240, 2.4” diagonal, with Focus Assist
Video out 640 x 480 B&W via ⅛” video jack (HD-SDI avail in separate unit)
Ports ⅛” video, headphone, USB 3.0, Audio XLR (2), 4-PIN XLR
Data Storage Dual SD card slots, SSD (buffer drive)
Power Internal battery, 12V External via 4 pin XLR port
Body Magnesium and hard plastic
Size (body) Approximately 12.7cm H (without pistol grip) by 10.2cm W by 20.3cm D
Size (grip) 12.7cm H by 5cm W by 12.7cm D
Lens mount C-mount comes standard; Optional PL, EF, B4
ISO Options 100, 200, 400
Also in the box pistol grip, USB 3.0 cable, internal battery, 4 pin XLR Battery, cable, video cable, transcoder/raw conversion software
Blackmagic Cinema Camera Tech Specs
Sensor Resolution 2592 x 2192
Raw Resolution 12-bit RAW files recorded at 2432 x 1366
Shooting Resolutions 2.5K RAW at 2432 x 1366, compressed at 1920 x 1080
Frame Rates 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 30p
Sensor Size 16.64 mm x 14.04 mm
Sensor Size - Active 15.6 mm x 8.8 mm
Dynamic Range 13 stops
Focus Focus button turns on peaking
Iris Control Iris button automatically adjusts the lens iris settings so no pixel is clipped
Lens Mount EF and ZF mount compatible with electronic iris control
Screen Dimensions 5” and 800 x 480 resolution
Screen Type Integrated LCD capacitive touchscreen
Metadata Support Automatic camera data and user data such as shot number, filenames and keywords
Controls Onscreen touch menus and physical buttons for recording and transport control
Microphone Integrated mono microphone
Speaker Integrated mono speaker
Mounting Options 3 x 1/4” thread mounting points on top of camera.
1 x 1/4” thread tripod mount with locator pin.
Power Integrated Lithium-ion Polymer rechargeable battery.
12V-30V DC port for external battery power or use included 12V AC adapter.
Battery Life Approximately 90 minutes
Battery Charge Time Approximately 2 hours when not in use.
Camera Dimensions 166.2mm by 113.51mm x 126.49mm excluding detachable sunshade and turret dust cap
Camera Weight 1.7 kg / 3.75 lb
Storage Type Removable 2.5” SSD
Storage Format Mac OS Extended format. SSDs can be formatted on any Mac or use Mediafour MacDrive (not included) on a Windows PC.
Storage Rates 5 MB/frame in RAW 2.5K fits about 30 minutes of 24p video on a 256 GB solid state disk. Compressed HD formats fit more than 5 times the amount of RAW video.
Uncompressed Recording Formats RAW 2.5K CinemaDNG
Compressed Recording Formats Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD. All compressed recording in 1920x1080 10-bit YUV with choice of Film or Video Dynamic Range.
SDI Video Output 1 x 10-bit HD-SDI 4:2:2 with choice of Film or Video Dynamic Range
Analog Audio Input 2 x 1/4” jacks for professional balanced analog audio, switchable between mic and line levels.
Analog Audio Output 1 x 3.5mm stereo headphone output
SDI Audio Output 4 channels in HD-SDI
Remote Control 1 x 2.5mm LANC for Rec Start/Stop, Iris Control and Focus Control
Computer Interface Thunderbolt port for capture of RAW video and audio.
USB 2.0 mini B port for software updates and configuration.
External Power 12V-30V DC port for external battery power or use included 12V AC adapter.
SDI Compliance SMPTE 292M.
SDI Audio Sampling 48 kHz and 24 bit.
Software Included DaVinci Resolve grading software including Resolve USB dongle for Mac OS X and Windows.
Media Express software for video capture from the camera’s Thunderbolt port.
Blackmagic UltraScope software for waveform monitoring from the camera’s Thunderbolt port.
Accessories Detachable sun shield, camera strap, turret dust cap and 12V AC adapter.
Product Warranty 12 Month Limited Manufacturer’s Warranty.
Camera Handles Blackmagic Cinema Camera Handles