As we all know the video feature on the 5dmk2 is great but the sound recording options are not. I have only had the camera a couple of weeks and have fallen foul of the poor audio. I have a Sennheiser MK400 mic to go on top of the camera for better sound but it needs to be powered, so if you forget to check that battery you have mute sound. Also the auto gain control on the camera is hideous, if something loud is suddenly heard the AGC crashes the audio down to practically zero then brings it back up again and of course it’s just an on camera mic, so best for b-roll really. I have heard the Rode mono mic is very good. Please click on the images below for more info and pricing.
Now there are two solutions for this. First up is the new Beachtek box that not only gives you XLR inputs but it has it’s own method to soften the audio out so when it goes into the 5d you don’t have the same crash in sound if something loud happens. You also get manual level controls and a headphone monitor! BUT…you are only monitoring what is coming into the Beachtek box, not what is being recorded. There is no way of knowing exactly, if anything, is being recorded onto the 5d without playing back the clip after recording, not great, but that is a limitation of the camera itself, not the beachtek. It’s a good solution for recording sound in camera, although I haven’t seen it yet so we need to see how well it works, it has sold out so that is a good sign. But there is another way…
What the best solution currently out there until we have a decent adaptor is really is to record separately, that may sound old fashioned and very “film like” but it’s a lot easier than you think thanks to a very clever piece of affordable kit and a neat piece of software.
The Zoom H4n is a remarkable little device. It records everything from .mp3 48khz to 24bit 96khz. It has built in stereo condenser microphones and two XLR inputs which means you can record 4 channels of audio at the same time. It records onto SD cards and runs on 2AA batteries for about ten hours. It costs about $349.
If the idea of recording audio to sync in the edit scares you, don’t worry. Things have advanced a lot and you don’t even need a clapperboard! Watch the excellent tutorial from Zacuto and then look at the video below for a remarkable plug in for Final Cut Pro that does ALL the sync work for you. It’s never been easier (apart from recording in camera which is as said above, a really dodgy method!)
This is an excellent video and everything is explained so clearly. Scott also does a great job of showing how to sync in final cut pro..but there is something that helps even more!!
Check out this great plug in for FCP from Singular Software …it’s called “Pluraleyes” and it automatically syncs audio and video clips for you without the need for timecode! I does cost $149 so not dirt cheap, but it is affordable, and don’t forget you don’t have to spend ages synching everything up, and time is MONEY!!
For me, recording sound separately is the only way to get great video and audio for the 5dmk2. Cheap, really good kit, that once again makes things way more affordable and usable than ever before. There are many other audio solutions out there like the Marantz PMD661 which is also highly recommended but a bit more money. The Zoom just seems like the most affordable and practical option right now, especially if you are shooting on your own.