Sony FDR-AX53 (SV-E10?) and Shure VP83F with Dead-Cat v. Wind

VidThreeNorth

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I recorded a Remembrance Day Ceremony Nov. 11 using my Sony FDR-AX53 and Shure VP83F microphone/recorder (with dead-cat) and it gave me an interesting opportunity to compare wind noise reduction methods. The Globe and Mail did not forecast wind, so I was unprepared, but that can happen in outdoor live activities. Wind was recorded E 22 - 37 km/h at Toronto, Pearson weather station for 11:00, which is quite strong.

The Sony AX53 camcorder has a special microphone package which uses multiple microphones and processing in a few ways. It seems probable to me that this either the same microphone set, or something very similar to the set found in the new "SV-E10". One thing it can do is reduces wind noise. Another feature is "zoom microphone" which is essentially a "variable cardioid" response pattern. The "SV-E10" appears to have the same wind noise reduction. It is not clear to me if it also has the "variable cardioid" response "zoom microphone" capability.

On the AX53, I used ALC set at -24db, which was the default, wind reduction on and "Zoom Microphone".

The Shure VP83F has a high-pass (bass cut) setting to reduce wind noise, but since I had the main recording set up for wind noise reduction, I decided not to use the high-pass. This is one of the benefits of having two completely independent recording systems. Since I had the ALC set on the camcorder, I used headphones to monitor the sound through the mic, which is necessary since the mic/recorder has no ALC.

The overall results worked well. I set up the camcorder using "Soft High-Key" which has the least contrast and best dynamic range, and manual exposure with Zebras at 100%, and auto-focus with face detection and active stabilization. So manually, I was controlling the camera recording, the camera zoom (which is linked to the "zoom mic"), the exposure, and on the Shure VP83F, the audio recording and the audio recording level. In general, I found that this was just enough automation v. manual control to not overwhelm me, which could be a disaster.

The problem areas: The biggest problem I had with this setup was that I tend to lose the camcorder's recording indicator. Lately some cameras have started to use more obvious recording indication. The fact that I am not always aware of recording combined with the record button characteristics has tripped me up before, and for this project, I found that I had turned off the video recording accidentally twice during the ceremony. The problem is that the record button on the camcorder can be easily depressed, and there is no good "rest spot" for my thumb near, but safe from, the record button. But again, the doubled sound recording system came to my rescue.

You might wonder why I do not "simply" adjust my grip, but that option is limited because I need to keep the right hand in reach of the zoom control on the top of the camcorder, and within the limits of the hand strap, which I cannot re-adjust in the middle of a recording. In the end, I did have the dead sections "covered" with the Shure mic recording, so I can put "B-roll" in those sections to cover it, if I decide I want it.

Because I did not use the high-pass to reduce wind noise in the Shure, I had to keep the level down to avoid clipping and its overall level is lower than I wanted, but I only need it to cover those sections that I botch the video recording, so it is fine. Next time I will know better, and I will use the high-pass.

While I like the AX53, I am disappointed that Sony has not been developing their consumer camcorder line. This is clearly a result of the customer interest in using "hybrid" ILC cameras. And that is, in turn really a function of the ignorance of the current crop of video people who for whatever reason believe that such cameras are necessarily the better way to grow a video system.

There is room to improve on the AX53 with modern chips. I would like to have level indication either with or without automatic correction. Moving around, it is easy to lose your vertical. Later chips might allow a touch screen for tracking locks, and perhaps modern eye locked focusing. Rolling shutter is not horrible on this camcorder, but it would always be nice if it could be completely eliminated. And a proper set of controls for sharpening and contrast would be nice. Exposure compensation beyond +/- 1 stop would also be appreciated. And while Zebras at 100% work well enough, the next adjustment point is 75% which is probably aimed for use on skin tones. I would probably prefer a 95% setting, which is, again used to avoid high clipping, but gives a bit of leeway.

I should emphasize that Canon and Panasonic both have more modern camcorders in the $1000 - $2000 US price ranges, and while I was happy to get the AX53 at a good price (on a sale) I believe that I would have been just as happy with these newer models.


"AX53-C0011-01-Crop1600-C1.jpg"
- an unadjusted detail crop from 890,1250
- includes the wreaths on the left and the shrubs on the right, and concrete which could be used for white balancing.

"AX53-C0011-02-Rsz1600-C1.jpg"
Corel Smart PhotoFix
Brightness
Overall 28
Shadows -10
Highlights 20
Saturation 8 [Recommended 16]
Focus 52
Black 2
White 28

[2021-11-28 02:16]
More coverage of the Sony FDR-AX53 at:
"Sony FDR-AX53 Camcorder"
"Sony FDR-AX53 Camcorder"
 

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VidThreeNorth

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How I Setup The AX53 Using the Shure Mic and a Monopod

"1113-01-G85-rsz1600-C1.JPG"


- the record button location
- my index finger controls the zoom using the lever on the top of the camcorder
- since I used the microphone this time, the rest of my fingers are interfering with the microphone's isolation mount.
- the battery does not allow me any space to move my thumb away from the record button
- notice the monopod is mounted -- this is the way that I almost always use the camcorder. If it is not on the monopod, then it is on a tripod. I do not really "handhold" it.

"1113-02-G85-rsz1600-C1.JPG"

- my actual grip:
- again, because my index finger needs to be on the zoom control lever
- hand strap cannot practically be adjusted while recording
- my left hand (not shown in these pictures) is going to be holding the control ring on the lens, manually controlling the exposure
- this picture shows more clearly how big the battery is, and why it "forces" my thumb to stay on the record button, which is why I accidentally turn off the recording sometimes.
 

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VidThreeNorth

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More From the Remembrance Day Ceremonies:

I am just adding another frame from a later clip, and also the data from the Shure WAV file:

"C0014.MP4" [not uploaded]
Laying of Wreaths, starting at Canadian Legion

Size 3,291,264,949 bytes
Created November 11, 2021, 11:11:53
Video
Length 07:46
Frame width 3840
Frame height 2160
Data rate 54,716 kbps
Total bitrate 56,254 kbps
Frame rate 29 frame/second [sic]
Audio
Bit rate 1537 kbps
Channels 2 (stereo)
Audio sample rate 48 khz
VLC:
Stream 0
Type Video
Codec: H264 - MPEG-4 AVC (part 10) (avc1)
Resolution 3840x2178
Display resolution 3840x2160
Frame rate 29.970029
Decoded format Planar 4:2:0 YUV
Stream 1
Type Audio
Codec PCM S16 BE (twos)
Channels: Stereo
Sample rate 48,000 Hz
Bits per sample: 16

- Caps @ 43 sec.

"01a-C0014-00-43--Crop1600-C1.jpg"
Detail Crop from 1550,1570
- Focus looks wrong to me. But depth of field saves it.

"01b-C0014-00-43-SmrtFix-C1.jpg"
Corel Paintshop Pro Smart Photo Fix
Brightness
Overall 28
Shadows -30
Highlights 20
Saturation 15 [Recommended 15]
Focus 46
Black 14
White 8


The Shure VP83F file:

"TRACK02.wav"

Size 244,555,820 bytes
Created November 11, 2021 07:22:32 [sic]
- actual time was about 10:40, it loses the time if the battery is changed.

Length 28:18
Bit rate 1,152 kbps
VLC:
Stream 0
Codec: PCM S24 LE (s24l)
Type Audio
Channels: Mono
Sample rate 48000 Hz
Bits per sample 32
 

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