I got my new 5D Mark II a few days ago and I haven’t been as thrilled by new machinery as I have been about this in quite awhile. Without getting into all the really cool things that make this camera great (see any one of a million articles already published on the internet or in magazines), I have my own needs for this device and one of them is the ability to shoot 1080i HD video with my own compliment of Canon glass and get luscious, shallow DOF shots. Mostly I will be using the camera to shoot episodes of the firehouse cooking show Feeding The Fire, and the biggest concern for me has been sound, so I found a solution that works best for me.
The problems with sound on the 5D mark II is the tiny internal mic that picks up everything in a large radius around the camera, which is not good for recording dialogue, or anything else you want to use as a soundtrack for that matter, and the camera’s lack of control over audio recording, leaving the user with the less than desirable auto-gain only. The latter seems to be solved by a firmware update being offered by Magic Lantern. I say that is seems to be solved because the firmware is not quite ready for general release (see their wiki for more info), but it looks very hopeful as the option to give us audio control until Canon comes around to the idea, but if the history of the L1 sound issues are any indication, they will be in no hurry.
The solution for me seemed simple enough: I have a short shotgun mic that has been working great for me for years, and so I got a hot-shoe mounted shock mount to hold the mic above the lens, but needed a power supply for it. I wanted to stay away from the manufactured adapter boxes by Beachtek and Juiced because I think they are pretty pricey and relatively noisy. So I went with a clean sounding PSC 48V phantom power supply and a balanced to stereo mini plug adapter made by the good folks at Coffee Sound in Los Angeles. This gave me the ability to record clean audio, but the physical setup was to have the 48V PH on my belt with cables going from mic, to belt and back to the camera. I immediately thought of the high repair bills as I imagined all the ways this setup could cause the little mini plug to be ripped from the camera, not to mention the sheer inconvenience of it all, especially shooting documentary style when speed is all important.
So I opened the 48V PH box to get a look at where the electronics where and where I could punch some holes. A couple of minutes with some drill bits, a 2″ 1/4-20 screw and a locking ring to keep it from falling out, some flat cork, and I had a way to attach it nicely to the bottom of my camera. One more hole and a 1/2″ screw and I had the quickplate for my tripod attached to the bottom of the box and I was ready to go.
I just shot an episode of Feeding The Fire in River Grove, IL and this setup worked great. The images are incredible: the shallow depth of field give it a rich texture and the sound is just perfect.