Everyday ENG with the 5D3
The Canon 5D Mark III is the household name for DSLR video. Some love it, some hate it, some ignore it, but when it comes to full-frame filming, it delivers what I am looking for: impressive low-light performance, quality codec (with the right tools in post), the ability to film in raw and, last but not least, gorgeous pictures.
Without a doubt, I have to admit that it takes some passion (and budget) to transform this camera into a usable ENG camera. Some people would call me crazy to go around and even try to do that kind of jobs with a DSLR. I recently took it to the test and used it to film some reports for local TV.
Taking a look at my 5D3, it is easily recognizable that it doesn’t really look like a photo camera anymore. Let me do a quick pull-down of the components you see in this picture:
• SmallHD DP4 EVF viewfinder / monitor
• Zacuto Axis EVF mount, Axis adapter & Z-Rail
• Redrockmicro DSLR ultraCage /w top handle & HDMI wirelock
• Redrockmicro grips, carbon fibre rods & remote holder (for Canon remote)
• Genus Mattebox
• Wooden Camera rod clamps & safety NATO rail
• Ikan dual rod mount for Canon BP batteries
• Power2000 AC-LPE6 DC Coupler Kit (to power the DP4)
• IDX DC-DC Cable (to power the 5D3)
• Canon 5D Mark III /w Walimex 35mm prime (I normally run around with a Canon L 24-105mm)
Was the 5D3 ever meant to do motion picture recording? Probably yes, because it does proper binning of the fullres sensor data and no line skipping like most of the other DSLRs. Or maybe that was just another *public* beta for the cinema line… who knows.
In any case, working with the standard LPs will not take us very far. And as I prefer to work with a proper screen / evf like the SmallHD DP4, I would have to carry a ton of LPs with me. My power solution setup is easy and efficient: I bought one of the Ikan dual rod mounts that don’t occupy a lot of space and work with the “standard” Canon BPs that also work with the XF305 or C300. I removed the converter panel inside the battery (that boosts the voltage to 12V for the BMC) and soldered my own Barrel & Powertap connectors that feed both the IDX DC-DC adapter (for the 5D3) and the Power2000-adapter (for the DP4). For a while, I had the Barrel connected directly to the power input of the DP4 but the connection became loose after a while (I like to reposition my EVF far too much), so I thought that it was safer to go with a DC-to-LP adapter.
With this setup, I can run for about 6 hours of shooting with a single Canon BP-975.
Whenever I am without a sound tech, I am relying on a Rode Videomic and a Sennheiser EW112 G3 System with Voice Technology lavaliers. A Sony PCM-M10 external recorder comes in handy in case I need stereo ambience. All of those components are mounted on the top rails with Redrockmicro microMounts. Both of the audio signals that are recorded in-camera (EW112 receiver & Rode shotgun) can be connected to the 5D3 via an analog Y-Adapter, thus recorded on separate tracks.
In my opinion, the Videomic has an incredible *price vs. performance* ratio and thus sounds really convincing, especially for voices in front of the camera. As long as we run on manual audio levels inside the camera, the signal-to-noise ratio is quite acceptable. Problems will definitely pop up once auto-gain is enabled as the auto gain circuitry is pretty aggressive, which means undesirable noises will be amplified very quickly.
How does it look like and how does it sound?
Well, here’s a shorter version of one of my recent works for a local TV station: