Not blown away (in a good way)

The Nikon D300s ready for ACTION! with an Audio-Technica ATR55 Telemike. (c) Photo by Rich Copley.

I was ready for the sound to suck – seriously ready.

It was a Wednesday night when I went out to Buster’s Billiards and Backroom to shoot some video of Lexington-based Emarosa for, to preview their two-show stand Feb. 11. (You can see the video by clicking here. Unfortunately, VMIX and don’t seem to get along.)

Video is not a service I am offering through this little enterprise yet, but it is something I am enjoying working on for the day job using the Nikon D300s.

The 300s is not a Canon EOS 5D Mark II – the pioneering video DSLR. A, it is not a full-frame camera and B, it does not have the user controls the 5D sports. There is some control over exposure, but for the most part you are on auto-pilot. You are also shooting through Nikkor lenses, which is pretty sweet. I have not had a chance to use the D3s or D7000’s video yet, though I hear they are upgrades on the D300s – sadly, the D300s enjoyed a very brief stay atop the Nikon DX sensor heap before the D7000 passed it. The 300s is still a heckuva camera, and I think all Nikon shooters interested in video are looking forward to seeing what will be in the next generation of Nikon DSLRs Nikon Rumors keeps telling us will be announced later this year.

Anyway, sound was what concerned me on this night.

What concerned me was this was a rock band in a really live room – basically concrete and steel. So I was worried the sound would overwhelm the camera’s audio processor. I went ahead and mounted the reliable Audio-Technica ATR55 Telemike in the hotshoe, and also set-up my Olympus LS-10 audio recorder make a backup track.

I learned after an experience last fall to make a backup audio track in case there are issues with the one on the camera – like maybe it picked up something you didn’t want.

Doing some test shots while the band warmed up, I was fairly pleased with the sound, but it’s hard to tell on the camera. One feature I really wish the D300s had was an earphone jack so I could get a better sense of  what the camera was recording than what you hear from the microscopic onboard speaker. But it was sounding good, and I was making a backup, so I shot away.

When I got home and started assembling the video, a broad smile washed across my face. The D300s had performed better than expected, evening out sounds such as drums that I found overwhelming even in the hall. It even outperformed the LS-10 which – sonically – cracked quite a bit recording the same music from a greater distance (I had set it back at the soundboard in the club, while I was frequently very close to the stage with the camera, primarily shooting with a 17-35).

I knew the sound performed well on the D300s overall. I’ve recorded a bunch of opera with it, and a soaring soprano can be as big a challenge to an audio processor as a drumkit.

But now I will go forth with this bad boy, knowing it’s ready to rock.

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