TECH fRameS PeR SecoND
How photographers coax high-quality audio from an HD-DSLR.
By Greg Scoblete
Want to puncture someone’s enthusiasm for hD-Digital slrs? mention auDio recorDing. While
photographers will wax eloquent about the creative (and business) opportunities unleashed by high-definition video
recording on a Dslr, they have a much bleaker assessment of the camera’s audio capabilities. “god awful,” is how
photographer David Black puts it.
manufacturers like canon and nikon have taken some remedial steps to make the audio slightly less god awful
in their flagship hD-Dslrs. a firmware upgrade to the popular 5D mark ii, for instance, delivered the electronic noise
control that photographers had been begging for. But several fundamental hardware limitations remain which make
the internal microphone a virtual no-go zone when it comes to capturing professional-grade sound. among the big-
gest complaints are a lack of real-time head-
phone audio monitoring and Xlr inputs.
complicating matters is that there’s no one
solution to perfect audio recording. instead,
photographers have adopted different ap-
proaches and technologies, depending on
their technical affinity, shooting style and, of
Clock wise from top: The Røde Video Mic Pro,
mounted on a video recorder; photographer Dave
Anderson at work in his “one-man mobile uplink
unit” mode; mixer/adapters from juicedLink and
Beach Tek, which collect audio from microphones
and feed it into cameras.
the ultimate goal with any Dslr audio rig
is to get it to the point where, like the camera, it becomes a natural extension of you,
says photographer and filmmaker Jessica
Dimmock. the photographers we spoke with
have come to rely on three basic approaches.
the “down-and-dirty” method is to simply
attach an external microphone to the camera.
While not ideal, it’s a budget-friendly fix and
can deliver some internet-ready clips, says
Dimmock, who has made videos for médecins
sans frontières and other clients. Black, who
has shot music videos and commercials for
microsoft, has also gone this route on occasion using a røde mic on the hot shoe of the
canon 5D mark ii. “it has some serious down-sides,” he says, “but i test the highs and lows
before i start and get some usable clips.”