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View Full Version : Servo noise w/ onboard mic normal?



Ed Kishel
10-04-2008, 06:45 PM
Now I don't want to start a defect scare, this is probably nothing. I would just like to run this by some other 150 owners to see how mine compares....

After I set up my new 150 (great cam BTW) I was recording some scenes indoors and outdoors where the setting was pretty quiet. As I played back the footage I started to notice what sounded like the servo zoom that was a little louder than I expected.

The cam was at the factory settings -50db, and the mic dial was set at 5 on the left and right channel, and both set to internal (onboard mic). When I used the zoom in a quite room it sounded much more prominent than I noticed with our other pannys.

Maybe its new owner jitters: I spent so much, I'm nervous to find anything out of the ordinary :) But I would like you all to listen to the two clips I have and comapre them to your 150 cams in the same settings.

I want to use this cam for nature videos where there isnt alot of dialogue to mask servos: in quiet forest shots, mechanical noise can rear it's ugly head. And before someone fires back that I should be using an external mic- I did that and of course it reduces the noise to bare wisper.
But I dont want that to be an excuse for the 150's mic. Its reasonable to want to use the onboard mic in run and gun situations where you dont have time to set an external mic- and still want to use the zoom.

The first clip was shot in my bathroom- the quietest room I could find- where I used the zoom. The 2nd clip shows the 150 compared to 3 other Panasonic prosumer cams with the onboard mics set to 50%.

When listening to the clips (best with headphones) set your media player/phone level at 1/2 and see how this compares to your 150 and/or other cams in its class. Obviously its worse the louder you play it back, but I wanted to keep everything even during any evaluation.

as usual, right click and save as please

http://edwardkishel.com/HMC150%20compared.mpg

http://edwardkishel.com/HMC150%20in%20quiet%20room.mpg

It might also help to record the zoom in similar environments yourself, and see he you feel about it. If the consensus is that its normal or compares to other cams- than I know my cam is the same and its a non-issue. BTW, I was using the rocker control on the handgrip, not the handle button. On the slowest setting it is very subtle and not a problem, but I may need to use the zoom as fast as it goes to get an animal shot etc....

I know all cams can show some servo noise when zooming in a quiet room- and I'm not expecting this cam to have NONE, but when I compare it to other Panny's we have at work- it seems a bit louder than one would accept.

thanks,
Ed


.... and re: the clips- video quality was not my focus here- to keep them small they are just plain 320x240 mpegs. Play them in QT or WMP. Don't attribute any visual quality to anything but compression.

Thomas Lew
10-05-2008, 10:03 AM
I think I am getting the same result as you are by replicating your method. But... I think if you were to change a few settings and such you wouldn't encounter this problem.

First of all it's a lot quieter if you use the manual focus ring. It also comes out looking a lot nicer IMO for shoots in general. Not sure about nature videos though hm....

And I know it's reasonable to want to use the on-board mic since it comes with it.. but I would highly recommend just getting a shotgun mic such as the MC-70 which is what I have.

You won't have these problems then.

johnnyha
10-05-2008, 10:10 AM
I have always heard the zoom quite audibly in my DVX100B as well, if that helps ease your mind. In critical situations I use the manual zoom ring.

jeff9329
10-05-2008, 04:50 PM
I have also noticed camera noise on the onboard mic. For me it is not zoom, but the auto focus mechanism I believe or possibly OIS. Every once in a while, it will start to make noise/buzz for about a second and then settle down. You will hear it every time on the footage if the gain is high or you boost it in post.

Overall, I would rate the onboard mic as poor, and with it picking up camera noise too, that pretty much makes you have to use it with caution. I would certainly use a real mic with a rode NTG-3 shock mount on this camera. I do agree with the OP, that on this level of camera, if it has an onboard mic, it should work well enough for run & gun. I don't think this one does.

Another thing, on my camera, you really have to crank the audio level pots up to 75-80% of max for what I would call typical shooting audio levels with the onboard mic and also to greater levels than what Im used to for my XLR mics. What has been others experience with this?

One last question, is the audio automatic gain control (ALC) really just a limiter of some sort rather than full automatic control like on an XH-A1 for instance? This is not well explained in the manual.

Any audio tips appreciated.

Hidef1080
10-05-2008, 05:37 PM
I have to say I'm not picking it up on my onboard mic although I can hear it when I zoom.
Let me say this, with my audio controls set to "half-way" I cannot hear the zoom but when I turn it up over that I can hear it.

The same with my FX-1, anything over "5" and the onboard mic is no good due to too much feedback [both zoom and focus].

I think the 150's mic is better but I'm not sure any camera mic when placed right next to the lens is going to be of much use with low sounds or turned up over 50%.

Ed Kishel
10-05-2008, 08:43 PM
Yes I have also noticed what sounds like a faint tapping- which I thought was the autofocus. Its most noticeable when going from full telephoto back to wide when the AF kicks in to make adjustments for new view.

The bathroom clip exhibits this. To my ears, this is definitely louder than the DVX100 and DVC80, and just about every other fixed lens cam with an obboard mic that we own. I played the footage back for my roomate and didnt tell him why, and then I simply asked "what do you here" and he said "a buzzing". Its when a non critical average listener picks it up on thier own is when I get concerned.

To work around this, I could train myself to not press the zoom toggle all the way to reduce the speed of the motor- but then I think to myself why am I making excuses for this onboard mic? In crunch time I need good quality onboard sound AND I should be able to zoom quickly.

Now I guess I have to spend more to get another seperate mic. Shucks, was hopin to use that $ for my CS4 upgrade :crybaby:....

With all the shootouts, rez charts, pixelcounts, and everything else related to image quality- we need to hold our cameras up to the same high standard for thier microphones.

This is an awesome cam, the footage is georgeous, great ergonomics- but hey if it keeps on picking up mechanical noise this clearly than perhaps Panny should consider dropping the OB mic, and including the MC-70 in box.

Thomas Lew
10-05-2008, 09:28 PM
Yes I have also noticed what sounds like a faint tapping- which I thought was the autofocus. Its most noticeable when going from full telephoto back to wide when the AF kicks in to make adjustments for new view.

The bathroom clip exhibits this. To my ears, this is definitely louder than the DVX100 and DVC80, and just about every other fixed lens cam with an obboard mic that we own. I played the footage back for my roomate and didnt tell him why, and then I simply asked "what do you here" and he said "a buzzing". Its when a non critical average listener picks it up on thier own is when I get concerned.

To work around this, I could train myself to not press the zoom toggle all the way to reduce the speed of the motor- but then I think to myself why am I making excuses for this onboard mic? In crunch time I need good quality onboard sound AND I should be able to zoom quickly.

Now I guess I have to spend more to get another seperate mic. Shucks, was hopin to use that $ for my CS4 upgrade :crybaby:....

With all the shootouts, rez charts, pixelcounts, and everything else related to image quality- we need to hold our cameras up to the same high standard for thier microphones.

This is an awesome cam, the footage is georgeous, great ergonomics- but hey if it keeps on picking up mechanical noise this clearly than perhaps Panny should consider dropping the OB mic, and including the MC-70 in box.


I feel like all onboard mics are boarderline unusable no matter what camer

Ed Kishel
10-05-2008, 10:37 PM
I dont expect any onboard mic to sound like you have a seperate soundman there with a Neumann shotgun on a boom pole connected to a DAT recorder

I expect the mic to pick up handling noise, button presses, and some motor noise yes- but it shouldnt make itself this noticeable during quiet shots

I found my previous 100A to be acceptable- hell even my HV20 with its mic built ON THE LENS sounds OK with rapid zooms.

MrFluffy
10-06-2008, 12:33 AM
I dont have one of these yet and was planning on ordering one in the next few days.

Is the servo noise noticably more audable when using the cam (rather than recording) over other cameras? If it isnt then surly the problem is that the cam mic is simply more sensitive?

If it is more audable in use, then maybe that is the problem.

Hidef1080
10-06-2008, 03:08 AM
Now I guess I have to spend more to get another seperate mic. Shucks, was hopin to use that $ for my CS4 upgrade :crybaby:....

With all the shootouts, rez charts, pixelcounts, and everything else related to image quality- we need to hold our cameras up to the same high standard for thier microphones.

This is an awesome cam, the footage is georgeous, great ergonomics- but hey if it keeps on picking up mechanical noise this clearly than perhaps Panny should consider dropping the OB mic, and including the MC-70 in box.


I feel you on this one...
I'm waiting to get my grubby little mitts on CS4 too!!:Drogar-Love(DBG):


Sound is very critical to what we do but outside of “borderline quality” I think it's the nature of the beast when you look at on-board mics.
I ordered an MC70 when I ordered my 150 but for some odd reason it has not shipped yet so that another battle I plan on taking up this morning.
Anyway I think smaller “consumer” cams work differently around the lens so that may be why we seem to get little to no zoom and focus noise from them. I'm just guessing here...
I have an old digital 8 Sony in which zoom and focus feedback was never a problem but when I got my FX-1 I learned that you have to have a separate mic or shoot MOS.
My two cents.


@ MrFluffy.


These are very quiet cameras so the auto focus and zoom noise is not noticeable at all to my ears.
I can hear the zooming but it's not loud or distracting on any level. I really cannot hear the auto focus at all.

MrFluffy
10-06-2008, 04:03 AM
@ MrFluffy.


These are very quiet cameras so the auto focus and zoom noise is not noticeable at all to my ears.
I can hear the zooming but it's not loud or distracting on any level. I really cannot hear the auto focus at all.

I'm curious if the noise is actually electrical noise and its coming from the mic circuitry. If you cant hear the autofocus then I would expect that the mic would not pick it up.

Has anyone tried using an external mic and pointing it at the lense assemly while shooting. This would eliminate any electrical noise that might be looping to the mic amp from the mic wiring.

ilauzirika
10-06-2008, 06:07 AM
I'm curious if the noise is actually electrical noise and its coming from the mic circuitry. If you cant hear the autofocus then I would expect that the mic would not pick it up.

Has anyone tried using an external mic and pointing it at the lense assemly while shooting. This would eliminate any electrical noise that might be looping to the mic amp from the mic wiring.

I imagine that the noise (vibration) goes along the chasis to the internal mic which pics the vibration...and you know the rest.....

Ed Kishel
10-06-2008, 04:44 PM
I think its a combination of a couple of things:


Panny added 8db of sensitivity over thier brodcast line making it much more sensitive I guess- which is a good thing.....
...except that the mic attachment point is much more stiff when compared to the DVX100 or DVC80/60
There should always some "give" through the rubber gasket between the capsule housing and front handle. With the 150 this stiff, I think the added sensitivity allows the sound to travel up through the handle attachment (above the lens) with more ease.

I'm no engineer- but to me it sounds logical.

mcsmooth
10-06-2008, 09:46 PM
I think its a combination of a couple of things:


Panny added 8db of sensitivity over thier brodcast line making it much more sensitive I guess- which is a good thing.....
...except that the mic attachment point is much more stiff when compared to the DVX100 or DVC80/60
There should always some "give" through the rubber gasket between the capsule housing and front handle. With the 150 this stiff, I think the added sensitivity allows the sound to travel up through the handle attachment (above the lens) with more ease.

I'm no engineer- but to me it sounds logical.
I didn't know about the added 8db. If this is the case, I would assume it would pick up all noises better (good or bad). I'm not sure why they would make the attachment point more stiff, but if so, I bet people will be modding theirs in the future.

When playing with the camera in a quiet room, I first thought the zoom was rather loud and was also wondering if I had a bad unit. Not just through the mic, but audibly in general. So I checked my DVX and noticed it was pretty much the same.

I don't see any way a mic 2 inches away from this same noise could possibly not pick it up when boosted to that level. Connecting an external mic and putting it near the ring had the same results. On the other hand, I personally never cranked my DVX anywhere near the max setting. Also as mentioned, slow zooms make a huge difference. The problem is most noticeable with fast and jerky zooms. I use run-and-gun style quite a bit, but if you really need that kind of sensitivity (as you would for nature), an external mic will do you nothing but good - zoom issue aside. You've got a beautiful picture, match the audio :)

Ed Kishel
10-06-2008, 10:15 PM
On the other hand, I personally never cranked my DVX anywhere near the max setting

That’s the issue here- its not maxed out. I have the 150 set at 5 (50%). And my DVX100A set at the middle position did not sound this loud with the zoom. Yes you could hear it, but not like this. Now the DVX100B? Maybe, as its mic is more sensitive but I never owned that camera.

If the motor noise was this loud with the 150 set at 10 or 100%, well then of course your going to here it. But if you want to reduce the level so that its not as prominent, well then your talking about a 2 or 3 then what’s the point.

Maybe I'm not as good as a cameraperson as others here- but I may not remember to limit my finger pressure to avoid the noise when trying to get a quick close-up. I don’t want to have to keep a list going through my head of what not to do to make up for the issue.

Good audio shouldn’t make itself present to the viewer; it should blend in with the picture. And with the great picture the 150 gives, its all the more noticeable- and unfortunate.

I don’t think panny should have added the 8db of sensitivity and should have cushioned the mic mount a little better since they did. Hmmm, maybe they will add it to their list for the 150A :)


Oh, and I found this:
http://www.signvideo.com/zoom-commander-zoom-controller-dvx-for-dvx100-dvx80.htm

I guess you could use this to prevent reaching the max zoom speed. More $ though....

mcsmooth
10-06-2008, 11:47 PM
When you said "5", I thought you meant 5 notches right of center, sorry! It's pretty damn noisy when you crank it all the way, so I had to check. I can see still having to worry when you are outside listening to birds in the distance though. Don't forget about the handle zoom, that keeps it pretty quiet with no effort. More importantly, don't neglect manual zoom.

I don't know if I'm understanding you when you say "more sensitive". Usually if someone told me this, I would just tell them to turn the gain down. If you are ever listening to the point where you can hear noise (which I am hearing a ton of doing these tests), it is up louder than you would ever want to play it back anyway, so it might not be an issue at normal levels. Maybe you are saying that it is just more sensitive to nearby or on-camera sounds in particular?

I would also say that my DVX sounds a bit different, can't really say better or worse... but whenever I do close listening like this, I realize that it and every other on board mic isn't any bit as pro as the camera's video is. But I guess I'm more of an audio guy where studios are dead silent these days. Still, the ability to use XLR mics with the camera is very convenient compared to using an external recorder.

A zoom controller will do a much better job than you can on your own, but that doesn't help if you want just the camera body for run and gun. If you are going to spend money and add to the camera, a mic is a MUCH better solution and... well, will give you much better audio.

johnnyha
10-07-2008, 09:11 AM
The camera comes with a little remote that can zoom during recording but only at the middle speed...

Ed Kishel
10-07-2008, 09:39 PM
That’s a bandaid for a broken arm IMO. I have come to the realization that to minimize this issue, I will have to borrow the shotgun from my audio kit and will do the following:

Channel 1: external mic set at 1/2
Channel 2: onboard mic set at about 1/3

for most situations and will adjust the levels accordingly. It will be like having 2 mono mics, with the shotgun doing most of the work and the onboard as backup. I thought I would have to get the MC-70 because of its small size (the Rhode is a little big for this cam and adds more weight) but I didn’t want to spend another $200. Unfortunately I will loose the stereo ability which would be nice in nature shoots.


http://edwardkishel.com/cam1.jpg

http://edwardkishel.com/cam2.jpg

http://edwardkishel.com/cam3.jpg

The azden shockmount does a pretty good job of isolating the mic from the cam- more so than the stock mount that came with the cam

jeff9329
10-08-2008, 01:51 PM
Edweirdo:

I see in your post above that you will set your onboard mic at 1/3 and the XLR at 1/2.

At 1/3 my onboard mic would be very, very low level. When using the onboard mics exclusively, I can routinely set my level pot at 3/4.

What setting generally gives you good sound from onboard mic only?

Do you use the ALC?

Jeff

Ed Kishel
10-08-2008, 04:01 PM
At 1/3 my onboard mic would be very, very low level. When using the onboard mics exclusively, I can routinely set my level pot at 3/4.


Normally, this is what I would have it at as well. But since this cam's OB mic is so senitive that it picks up motor noise while using a full speed zoom (more than most), I dont want that in my audio.

This would be my workaround to compensate for this, along with conservative pressure on the zoom toggle. But yes, I use ALC and generally have my pots set at 5.

Plug in good quality headphones to your 150 and set your audio levels to 3/4, use the zoom, and tell me if you find the motor noise objectionable. If not than this probably does not apply to you.

jeff9329
10-09-2008, 08:22 AM
Ed:

Your audio setup for ambient seems the way to go. I also don't want to spend another $200 on an unknown mic which may also pick up noise if mounted on the factory supplied bracket. BTW, I can't find any specs whatsoever on the MC-70. It is $199 at AVAlive.

I have a NTG-3/SM3 mount which is way too big for the camera IMO but at least I can get some clean ambient and have a backup track from the on camera mic channel.

I may try a Rode Stereo Video Mic later. They seem to be a good mic for ambient sound reinforcement. I neet to find a mini to split XLR right angle adapter first.

FYI, my primary audio always goes from the wireless to a 24bit digital recorder.

toddgeer
01-21-2009, 01:10 PM
Hi, Jeff. I got a question for you if you can spare a minute. I'm seriously considering the hmc-150. I'm borrowing one now from the shop that I'll buy it from. I got it to go through the workflow and see how the images are. One issue I'm running into is that the mts files on the Vegas timeline are very slow. Something like .5 fps, without any effects. Can you tell me what you do for your workflow? I've heard from others that they convert to AVI then load THOSE into the timeline. Thoughts? Thanks!

SPrimeau
01-21-2009, 03:28 PM
Me, I don't find the HMC150 zoom to be loud. I compared it with my DVX100P and the DVX is way louder in slow zoom or fast servo zoom. Probably 2 times louder, maybe more.

I never had problems in real world shooting with my DVX. So, I don't see it as an issue with the HMC.

I always use a Rode NTG-2 and most of the time a wireless transmitter.

By the way, I just received my HMC150 this monday and really like it. It's similar to my DVX with the same weight. Much lighter than the HVX200a.

jeff9329
01-22-2009, 06:30 AM
Hi, Jeff. I got a question for you if you can spare a minute. I'm seriously considering the hmc-150. I'm borrowing one now from the shop that I'll buy it from. I got it to go through the workflow and see how the images are. One issue I'm running into is that the mts files on the Vegas timeline are very slow. Something like .5 fps, without any effects. Can you tell me what you do for your workflow? I've heard from others that they convert to AVI then load THOSE into the timeline. Thoughts? Thanks!

I put the HMC-150 files directly on the timeline and work. Building and edting the project is quick and no problems. When I drop a long file on the timeline it takes maybe 5 to 10 seconds to build peaks.

Estimated render times (I can measure later) - Rendering on a Q6600 machine gets about 15 FPS depending on what settings are used. A Q9650 machine gets 20 FPS or better.

0.5 FPS for a render means you have some type of problem or a extremely slow computer.

Kit_L
01-22-2009, 09:24 PM
@ mcsmooth:


I don't see any way a mic 2 inches away from this same noise could possibly not pick it up when boosted to that level

Inverse square law (double the distance; sound pressure is one quarter—this is all about S/N ratio, remember), plus a quieter shock mount. My shotgun, on a separate, higher shock mount, cannot pick up the auto zoom at desirable recording levels (about 1/2 way on the gain pot.).

hth, kl

Hovander
01-23-2009, 06:05 AM
The bottom line on the servo noise issue is that it is there on all HMC-150s. If I had to comment on the failings of this camera, the servo zoom noise would be the biggie. Yes, doing a slow zooms works perfectly, but fast zooms can generate unacceptable servo noise pickup in a quiet setting. The odd sounds that the auto focus makes from time to time are very real as well. Took some time to get used to it, but overall the noise from the auto focus is not an issue. Panasonic does need to address the servo zoom noise in my opinion. My question of the day is how does the 170 servo zoom noise compare. The camera's body constructions, lens configurations are very similar if not identical. Comments welcome. Outside of the servo noise, this camera is unequalled at it's price point. A true break through in HD video acquisition in my opinion. Happy shooting!

SPrimeau
01-28-2009, 02:16 PM
The servo noise is common on those cameras. It's also there on the HPX170, HVX200, DVX100, etc.