11.14.2017

One step closer to "perfection." The DMW-XLR1 for the Panasonic GH5.


We're shooting a project on Friday and Saturday that calls for a bunch of interview footage and we've decided to use a couple of GH5s and one G85 for our production cameras. While my partner and I both have standalone digital audio recorders, and we both have pre-amplifier interfaces of various types, I decided to bite the bullet and buy the audio interface that Panasonic made exactly for their flagship m4:3 video camera. It arrived last week and I put it through its paces in anticipation of the upcoming project.

What the hell is this thing? It's an audio interface and pre-amplifier which adds the capability of using all kinds of professional microphones, which require connection via balanced XLR plugs, with your GH5.

This means that it works with pretty much every professional microphone you'd want to use; with one small caveat.  It works with my Aputure Diety shotgun microphone, all manner of Rode shotgun microphones, my hyper-cardioids, the Sennheiser radio mics and many more. Where it falls down, in terms of universal compatibility, is with less sensitive dynamic microphones. It's fine with my Rode Reporter microphone (a handheld dynamic) but my large diaphragm, side address microphone, the Audio Technica AT2035, requires lots and lots of gain and that pushes up the noise. It's fine for me but some clients are really sensitive to audio noise so --- approach with caution if you are dead set on pairing up the Panasonic DMW-XLR1 with inefficient/dynamic microphones.

This unit allows XLR cables from two different microphones to be plugged in, supplied with phantom power, if your microphone requires it, provides precisely controllable gain, even high pass filters, and sends the resulting signals to the GH5 directly through the hot shoe connections. It's small, sturdy and light.

The unit is not self-powered but depends on power from the camera, supplied through the same hot shoe contacts. There is a green light on the rear of the unit (where you'll have a hard time not seeing it...) that lets you know your unit is powered up. I haven't measured the run time of the unit + camera shooting at 4K and also providing phantom power to two microphones, but Curtiss Judd has and he found it to be about 2 hours and 15 minutes. Coming from the tiny Sony camera batteries this performance seems miraculous.

Why are we shooting with GH5s instead of an (available) Sony FS7 video camera? Pretty straightforward answer, I think.  We want the files coming out of camera to be "final look" in case we need to hand them off to the client's people for editing (over which we might have no control) so we'd like to get them as close to what we want to end up with as possible, right in camera. Experience tells us that we'll have an easier time getting the flesh tone and general look we're shooting for with the Panasonic cameras. We're sporting light meters as well as in camera scopes so we're pretty sure we're going to nail exposure. We're lighting our important interior scenes so were almost certain to manufacture lighting that matches the dynamic range of the (non-Log) camera files and, we're both going to carry Lastolite white/gray targets so we're hoping to keep white balance between our three cameras close.

Also, we don't have access to two more Sony FS7s, dedicated batteries, etc. and want to make sure that all our sources have the same basic family color science --- in case we wind up doing the edit.  Just to make it easier on ourselves...

This is also why we're using a DMW-XLR1 audio unit to capture main audio from Sennheiser or Rode wireless microphones. Recording primary sound to an external recorder would add a step of potential failure for some other editor. If we deliver good, clean audio right on the SD cards, bundled with the video, it's one less thing someone needs to sync up in post production.

That's the reason for the DMW-XLR1's use on this week's job.

We have another project coming up in early December that will require me to video document a stage presentation  by a celebrity in the medical field. I've been asked to capture the presentation. I'll be able to use the DMW-XLR1 via its "line in" setting to record the audio for the event directly from the sound board at the venue while also running a wireless microphone, attached to the speaker, as a safety. All in one unit that won't require extensive cabling or extra batteries. Since the GH5 will run as long as the internal battery and memory card allow I should be able to record the hour long presentation with no sweat.

Fun when a product pays for itself in one or two days of shooting....


Be sure to order fun camera equipment for yourself and your loved ones for Thanksgiving. 
Use the link above to get to Amazon.com and then search for the perfect self gift. 
I'll be as happy as you that you did...




13 comments:

Mike Rosiak said...

just this: Cool!

joel said...

If you really want to use that dynamic a "cloud lifter" should give you enough gain. http://cloudmicrophones.com/products/cloudlifter-cl-1/

Eric Rose said...

Does that work on the G85 as well?

Eric

Kirk Tuck said...

No. At this point it only works on the GH5. Sadly.

Wolfgang Lonien said...

Kirk,

as you might probably know I'm (or rather: I used to be) also a musician, and I worked as a technician (sound engineer) in recording studios as well. I'm pretty sure that the AT 2035 is a condenser mike, like my Røde NT-1A (about the same price range). Maybe it just needs phantom power to work well?

Kind regards,
Wolfgang

Kirk Tuck said...

Mr. Lonien, You are correct. It is a condenser that needs phantom power. I just checked. But it is a very inefficient mic based on the gain it needs. My mistake.

Michael Matthews said...

It looks like an added layer of complexity, sitting atop the camera. But, as explained, it apparently simplifies things. The question then becomes: are you going to use any form of redundant audio/video recording as backup for the internal SD cards? Or is that my inner Henry White whispering away in the background?

Kirk Tuck said...

MM, it's much less complex than attaching a separate digital audio recorder, wiring that to the camera, syncing up the separate audio in post production, etc. As to redundancy we do have two card slots on the GH5s so we can record two sets of files. We can also attach a video recorder like the Atomos Ninja Flame or Shogun to the full size HDMI port and record all the material onto SSD cards. But maybe I am missing something in your question... ?

ODL Designs said...

Very cool, it is incredible how small it is!

TMJ said...

Are the Sonys all mothballed now?

neopavlik said...

C'mon Kirk; I thought I'd properly gear lusted you into the MixPre6 that I bought ;)

Its a bit more expensive and slightly heavier but it can do the same thing that can plus power phantom mics, have a backup version recorded, and time sync with the GH5.

Kirk Tuck said...

Neoplavlik, We do get Phantom power to the mics with the DMW-XLR1... This device is easy to learn, easy to use and....well....I have to leave some stuff out there to aspire to later....

Michael Matthews said...

No, Kirk, you got it right. My question was just poorly stated. I can see that having one unit mounted in the camera hot shoe is a whole lot simpler than hanging devices off a cage and running wires here and there. My question about backup recording was the product of ignorance: I did not know that the GH5 provides the option to double-record on a second card in the camera. Little by little, I learn. Maybe.