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External Recording on DSLR-myth or reality?

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Mike Thomas
External Recording on DSLR-myth or reality?
on Feb 4, 2012 at 7:08:18 pm

For I don't know how long now I've been reading rumors of recording uncompressed clean video from a dslr. Seems like every time a new model comes out that's the big talk. "This camera promises a clean hdmi signal for external recording...etc..etc" That was the talk with the GH2 and now the new Nikon D4. I was just wondering if ANYONE has actually found the right camera and recorder and has actually done this SUCCESSFULLY. I always hear talk but see no prove. It's a dreamy idea to be sure.

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Kevin Allmond
Re: External Recording on DSLR-myth or reality?
on Feb 5, 2012 at 3:42:40 am

I can tell you from experience. Every time I have recorded audio with my internal mic, I have been very disappointed in how it came out (Nikon p7000, Nikon d3100 & canon vixia. Hf m40- this one proved to be the best of the 3 though). Camera noise, peaking, background noise, etc...

I use a simple, yet wonderful $99 dollar recorder. The Zoom H1. it records high quality mp3 or WAV files through its on board x/y mic, or any 3.5 external stereo mic.

I would always suggest recording externally when possible, just for the cleaner, quieter sound, no matter what camera you have. There is a reason Hollywood does it....

Hope this helps.

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Kevin Camin
Re: External Recording on DSLR-myth or reality?
on Feb 5, 2012 at 2:36:27 pm

Why don't you just shoot with a RED?

Best regards,

Kevin Camin

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Jonathan Ziegler
Re: External Recording on DSLR-myth or reality?
on Feb 5, 2012 at 3:24:26 pm

None of the Canons I've worked with do or they are sorta (on playback, they give you a more or less clean signal, but not during live shooting - considering these cameras are being asked to do WAY more than they were ever designed for, its pretty logical). Supposedly, the new Nikon (don't remember the model # as I'm a Canon guy) with give a clean signal and the camera runs about $6k - too little to late, I think as there are more full-featured, large sensor video cameras out now and that trend will continue and for that money, you can pick up a couple 7Ds with lenses.

For that kinda money, I'd say rent a Red, an AF100, or the C300 when they come out. If you really want to test, most of the major Canon, Sony, Panasonic and Nikon DSLR models are available for rental for very little money for a weekend so its easy to do some fast side-by-side comparisons.

Jonathan Ziegler

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Kevin Schumacher
Re: External Recording on DSLR-myth or reality?
on Feb 5, 2012 at 5:26:12 pm

It's a total myth, as of this date (02-05-2012).

The GH-2 comes "closest", but the real question becomes "why would you ever want to record the GH-2's HDMI-out signal"? It's true that it's devoid of metadata overlays, but Panasonic crippled the signal itself by creating a non-standard one.

For example, during a slow pan, you can not get "smooth motion", due to motion judder...making it (almost) impossible to record anything that's moving without very noticeable "jumps" from frame-to-frame.

I know, after using a Sound Devices Pix 240 to record the signal. The other problem is the video recorded by the Pix 240 from the GH-2's HDMI-out appears slightly soft, as though it's been scaled. Comparing it to the GH-2's "in-camera" recorded video in it's native AVCHD format, the "In-camera" video is significantly better.

Yesterday (Sat., Feb 4th) I attended a Sound Devices seminar on the Pix 240 at the LA Schools of Film's theater...they showed one slide that confirms they have not found even one D-SLR camera's HDMI-out signal that's worth recording, as of this date. They are aware of the Nikon D4 (I sent Jesse an email asking them if they've tested the D4, and advising them of Nikon's claims), and they're HOPING it will be "the first".

I had one (a D4) on pre-order, but cancelled, pending confirmation the HDMI-signal is WORTH RECORDING. It has to be AT LEAST AS GOOD, preferably BETTER than the "in-camera's video", to justify the cost/complexity of doing it.

In my opinion, Nikon really missed the party releasing a $6k D4 that only records 1920 x 1080, 4:2:2 8-bit video out the HDMI port. If it was 10-bit, and coming out a HD-SDI port...they could have taken over the entire HD-SLR market...

It's too little, too late.

Oh, and while Nikon's WT-5a plug-on WiFi adapter (for the D4) is really cool, it's price ($875) is a TOTAL ripoff for what should be a $250 item!

For comparison, look at Sound Devices "CL-WIFI Interface for 788T" WiFi adapter here, and you'll quickly understand:

If Nikon can't design & build "cutting edge" tools for professionals, at reasonable and "industry-competitive" rates anymore, I fear that they'll die a long, slow death. (I've been a Nikon shooter for three decades, and own the Pix 240...that really works well with higher-end cameras like the Red Epic and Scarlet...and other cameras above the $10k mark with really clean SDI-out signals).

Cheers, and good luck.

–Kevin Schumacher

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Noah Kadner
Re: External Recording on DSLR-myth or reality?
on Feb 7, 2012 at 5:12:04 pm

+1 for the Zoom H1. I use that with a Sanken COS 11-D lav mic and it works like a charm every time. Also I find in general DSLR video looks pretty great on its own out of the camera when well exposed, etc. Truth be told most DSLR camera do not have HDMI output suitable for outboard recording. You really need to step up to a camcorder with either clean HDMI or better HD-SDI for that. That'd be your EX3 AC160 class camcorders. Or say a Panasonic AF100. You can have most of it for cheap but you can't have it all.

Here my example- a Canon 7D and T3i for video with the Zoom H1 and Sanken Cos11 lav here:

and here's an example of taking the HDMI feed directly out of a Panasonic AC160 into an ATOMOS Ninja ProRes outboard recorder:


Call Box Training.
Featuring the Panasonic GH2 and Panasonic AC160/130.

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Nigel Thompson
Re: External Recording on DSLR-myth or reality?
on Feb 7, 2012 at 10:54:39 pm

Hey guys:

I dont see 8bit out HDMI as opposed to 10 bit out sdi on a DSLR missing the mark at all.

ITS A DSLR for Christ sakes it wont have SDI anyway .... these things are STILL cameras that can do video really well.

Even the $16K C300 gives 8bit out its SDI.

I think the D4 and now D800 will be forces to recon with and lets wait to see what canon and panasonic come up with next.

But for now they are the only two DSLR cameras that offer true clean uncompressed output via HDMI albeit in 8bit. Ill get it in a heartbeat

High End, Production & Post Production
in the Caribbean

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Brent Dunn
Re: External Recording on DSLR-myth or reality?
on Feb 9, 2012 at 6:39:47 pm

Zoom H4n has great audio. Yes it works.

Brent Dunn
Owner / Director / Editor
DunnRight Films
Video Marketing

Sony EX-1,
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 7D
Mac Pro Tower, Quad Core,
with Final Cut Studio

HP i7 Quad laptop
Adobe CS-5 Production Suite

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