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Subject: "On auto focus, any thoughts?" Previous topic | Next topic
Robman3 Gold Member Nikonian since 12th Apr 2010Wed 17-Nov-10 01:30 AM
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"On auto focus, any thoughts?"


West of Santa Monica, US
          

There was a bit of scuffle on one of the reviews, Hong Kong I believe where the shooter was being filmed with a Canon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55MzLcjkahk&feature=player_embedded

Noted so far his take on the setting for microphones, should have been fader adjustable and that the AF doesn't work so well in every instance. Quips about one won't be making a blockbuster movie on it.

I may dissent after time, opine isn't reality and I'll let you folks know after the shooting schedule next week.

I figured out that leaving the mic on auto, allows a milliseconds delay as the signal needs to trigger the device.

So setting it to low, med or high should defeat that lip syncing issue. This also likely uses a tiny bit more battery while being constantly on.

As far as AF, with the variants does anyone here have trouble with the machine tracking and focusing?

Mine so far seem OK as hand held with a long lens (28-70) is fraught with whoopsie and pilot error aside, while mounted onto the Manfrotto 701 HD, the results seem overall very good good. I'll not post, my takes are of family kids and friends of theirs, no permissions etc.

Thoughts?

Rob

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Reply message RE: On auto focus, any thoughts?
Robman3 Gold Member
17th Nov 2010
1
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KnightPhoto Gold Member
18th Nov 2010
2
     Reply message RE: On auto focus, any thoughts?
Chris Ross Leong
18th Nov 2010
3
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Robman3 Gold Member
20th Nov 2010
5
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Chris Ross Leong
20th Nov 2010
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km6xz Moderator
20th Nov 2010
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Chris Ross Leong
20th Nov 2010
8
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Robman3 Gold Member
20th Nov 2010
4
          Reply message RE: On audio, any thoughts?
RRRoger Silver Member
20th Nov 2010
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               Reply message RE: On audio, any thoughts?
Chris Ross Leong
20th Nov 2010
10

Robman3 Gold Member Nikonian since 12th Apr 2010Wed 17-Nov-10 11:38 PM
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#1. "RE: On auto focus, any thoughts?"
In response to Reply # 0


West of Santa Monica, US
          

I did some cursory shooting today, static images, only the hand held camera moving.

My take is the guy doing the review, had not learned the camera very well as yet and somehow was favoring Canon tacitly, just my opine.

The AF works very well, and not unlike any capture device did require an occasional manual adjust, that's what cameramen are for but set for a long shot on say a band from the back of the hall, should be stupid good.

Rob

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KnightPhoto Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Dec 2006Thu 18-Nov-10 04:06 AM
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#2. "RE: On auto focus, any thoughts?"
In response to Reply # 1


Alberta, CA
          

Btw I got the Zoom H4n and am putzing around with it. From a feature point of view it seems great. Had to goto to about 4 shops to get a bunch of 3.5mm and XLR wires. Am triple-booked with chores (and some event shooting) right now plus my wife's harddrive cratered so I have no time to really give the AF and sound recording a solid workout.

Best regards, SteveK

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Chris Ross Leong Registered since 18th Nov 2010Thu 18-Nov-10 05:51 PM
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#3. "RE: On auto focus, any thoughts?"
In response to Reply # 2
Thu 18-Nov-10 05:59 PM by Chris Ross Leong

Sherman Oaks, US
          

Totally agree.

The D7k is simply too new. I've had mine for around a week now and am only just started to get my head around the AF system, how each mode works, exactly.

Autofocus is always a pain in video shooting. I have an EX1 and an EX3 and they both regularly miss the subjects and focus on the backgrounds if you let them. And cameras like those only have one mode. The D7000 live view AF has three.

So most video DSLR people know Canons and the 5Dii is the top of the heap, and people are getting quite gadget happy about it - I was recently on a pro shoot with two cameras, a 5Dii and a 7D, both Hot Rodded with PL cine mounts, with the new Zeiss CP lenses, three people to a camera, one 15ft camera truck with all the bells and whistles - times two. Just for a 5Dii and a 7D.

I've yet to talk with the DP but as far as I can see, in post, the 7D's images intercut well with the 5Dii's.
Which puts a lie to the full frame/cropped frame argument: both cameras worked just fine.

So what does that tell us?

Well, the Youtube D7000 against 7D test clips that show the 7D as being richer? well, I did a quick CC at home and matched those up.
And the bokeh? Well it sure looks like the Nikon D7000 footage was shot on a longer focal length than the 7D's footage, so that's not really comparable.

In other words, the video quality is close enough (unlike before, with the D90 footage, which was a pain in the backside, to be sure, to get to look good) for it not to matter any more, especially in the kind of filming I do, which is story telling. The old adage holds true here - if the audience is wondering what camera and lens you used, your storytelling skills suck.

Audio is a non-issue with me. From the film days, I've recorded audio separately. I use an Edirol R-4 four track digital recorder (three lavs and a boom) but have used a Zoom two track and it's great too. I use the video camera's audio tracks as guide tracks, even when I shoot professionally and have my audio guy feed his audio back into my camera from his station.

Just like I love the D7000's twin cards, which I use for video+backup, I have two sets of audio, one on the video and one separate, just in case.

Now that Nikon's up to speed with all of that, it's my strong feeling that we're just dealing with backwash. People have been shooting DSLR video footage on Canons, so Canons is what they know.

I had a very long meditation period because people said "go Canon, everybody else is", and even after renting Canons on several jobs and using the Photodiox Nikon adaptors, I'd still end up prefering my EX1/Letus setup to get the shots I needed.

Of course that's probably my own comfort zone talking, but the point is that before, I'd be hesitating to take a 7D on a shoot alone. Now I don't know the D7k that well yet but from the little I've learned, I think that may be different. It's better than the D90 and I never had a problem with my D90 at all.

So I guess it's up to us, the Nikonians, to get some very nice video footage up and see about the glass issue.

I used to shoot a Canon New F1 with all L glass back in the day for about a year. Traded everything back to Nikons after that, even though the Canon glass had better specs.

Guess it maybe is comfort zones and personal preferences, after all.

  

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Robman3 Gold Member Nikonian since 12th Apr 2010Sat 20-Nov-10 05:16 AM
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#5. "RE: On auto focus, any thoughts?"
In response to Reply # 3


West of Santa Monica, US
          

Chris,

Welcome to the forums.

Nice to hear your very well circumscribed evals of the "do it cause everyone else is" adage.

I've been in Samys's watching Canon guys, test driving Nikon glass onto the adapter you mentioned.

The camera is so new, and even a novice can feel the fit and finish is pretty well defined on the D7K.

The Edirol was my second choice, and the H4N, can serve as a sketch pad for compositions and songwriting.

At NAB in 09, there were a handful of dealers using the Canon's and Edirol for archiving their booth visits.

I have still, the very first Zoom guitar effects gadget, the one that's not much different in size to the H4N, so I guess partiality came to fore.

Do you rent from VER, Location Sound, Calumet etc?

Just curious.

Rob

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Chris Ross Leong Registered since 18th Nov 2010Sat 20-Nov-10 06:04 AM
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#6. "RE: On auto focus, any thoughts?"
In response to Reply # 5
Sat 20-Nov-10 06:21 AM by Chris Ross Leong

Sherman Oaks, US
          

Rob, hello!
Great to connect with you. I have a sort of a mini one stop shop indie studio affair here in Sherman Oaks, so apart from the actual camera bodies and some memory cards with the Canons, I own my other gear and have done for, oh, longer than I'd care to remember. Also Aaton Super 16mm and 35mm cameras, lighting, and full post.

The main thing that has me excited is really that it's now possible to put one camera body, a laptop and a few cards, a handful of primes, a Zoom, a boom and a short shotgun and a couple lavs in one camera case, with a tripod and maybe a gorilla stand, and an LED or two, and that's about all. Just add story, cast and rehearsals, and we're off to the races.

This simply was not possible before.

And of course it doesn't mean that movies will get any better, any more than word processors meant better authors. That stuff has remain unchanged for millenia - story is still story.

But hopefully we'll see more interesting, innovative, creative stuff come out now that we've finally untethered the moving picture from big money and from the mighty ROI (Return On Investment).

That's the big news that these little cameras really represent, Canon or Nikon or Sony or Pentax. Much the same as the Kodak and the Brownie took the snapshot away from the plate glass large format pro studios and the Daguerrotypists, in the last 2 years the entire landscape has changed entirely, and like Kodak, isn't about to go away anytime soon.

Rentals are another development, Rob. I've been a pro for awhile and so know other pros. So mostly I rent from them at much reduced prices, and in return they rent from me for the same.

That's another thing that just wasn't possible even 3 years ago, because no enough folk actually owned their own gear - it was too expensive back then.

This is a *great* time to be making movies!

Cheers
Chris

ps/ and lest this be seen as a video-only discussion, I'd say that the above goes at least as far for stills, and probably a lot further.

The digital camera has taken our last black art away - you know, the one that started with the inverted image on the plate glass with the black cloth over the head to cut out stray light, and all those chemicals.

Not that I don't love it and practice it still - and I'm teaching my boy all I know, no mistake about it - but the actual image taking has been totally automated from the day that the Kodak said "You just push the button - we'll take care of the rest".

It's just gotten a whole lot more sophisticated, as well it should, 100 years or so into, like the airplane, and most all technology.

But it's the computers and the network and the screens that had meant that paper prints now take up a miniscule proportion of the viewed image, compared to the transmitted light "projected" LCD and LED photos now viewed on computer and TV screens.

Weren't we all complaining about the poor quality of reflected light prints, from Daguerre onwards? Aren't transparencies better than paper prints? Well, now we have our wish. Every single iMac or PC is in effect an electronic light box with rear (transmitted) light source. The pictures are beautiful today.

And it's so easy, right? Just push the button. Look! with the possible exception of the conditions mentioned in this thread, you don't even have to focus any more.

Yes, all true. But pictures aren't photographs aren't images. An automatic camera can make an emotionally powerful and moving image about as easily as a word processor can make a powerful and moving sentence.

And the job isn't any easier these days, with the plethora of pictures flooding the internet every second.

Finding the inspiration, the impulse, the instinct to come up with a truly creative image isn't easier.

But you know what? It's not harder, either.

In fact, you could say that, on that front, nothing much has changed at all.

To be truly creative, to use the tools we have to their greatest extent in order to achieve our greatest potential, well that's what we've always been doing, from the camera obscura onwards - and it's never been easy.

Just pushing the button has been.









  

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km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009Sat 20-Nov-10 07:14 AM
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#7. "RE: On auto focus, any thoughts?"
In response to Reply # 6


St Petersburg, RU
          

Well said.
Songs, stories and images that are compelling and evocative are as rare if not more so than ever. The difference is millions of people adding output that is pure noise in the creative atmosphere. An unknown has a much harder time attracting attention than in the past when little was heard or seen that had not passed some minimal judgement by experienced people because it was a serious expensive endeavor to produce a quality recording, film or gallery print. Only the better efforts made it past the first evaluations. Now, any and all output is essentially without any minimum criteria before being released onto the mountain of similar works where the audience is the first filter. That extremely poor signal to noise ratio numbs the audience and the sheer weight of the useless trash causes the few gems to be too buried to even get heard/viewed.
The audiences are also getting, besides numb, used to inferior output as the norm and have less critical appreciation of the standout work.
The low effort and low cost that is invested in works now encourages an ever increasing number of people to add noise when they really had nothing to say, but instead wanted to busy themselves with doing, instead of creating.
Lack of high tech low cost gear was never a roadblock for talent in the past but now fighting for air amid the mountains of trash, talent can easily be swamped and never seen. Luck, more than ever counts.
The very short attention span of both viewers and backers prevent major shifts in style or subject from taking hold. Quite often an artist is not accessible for a long time until the audience is ready for it. A backer must be committed for the long haul if they really believe in the artist so there is a chance for the audience to learn to appreciate it. In music in particular, genres or styles sometimes took 5-6 albums before the audience got it, and soon after it changes the landscape. Now, that is not going to happen very often because the time frame of access or patience is much shorter. Record companies and film producers are quarterly results oriented instead of product oriented.
Stan
St Petersburg Russia

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Chris Ross Leong Registered since 18th Nov 2010Sat 20-Nov-10 03:18 PM
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#8. "RE: On auto focus, any thoughts?"
In response to Reply # 7
Sat 20-Nov-10 03:47 PM by Chris Ross Leong

Sherman Oaks, US
          

Stan, hello!
Well articulated.
Where I grew up (Hong Kong) the cinema industry has always been backed by gamblers. And Asian gamblers are notorious for having no patience at all.
So unlike the Hollywood movie production machine where it takes about 18 months to make a movie, the HK industry has never been able to wait that long - they want to see if they won or lost within six to 12 months, tops. Hence the chop socky and other fast-food style movies, and probably (although I only worked there a few times) that also describes the Indian film industry.

The standout films from both those industries, well, take a lot of standing out to be noticed in among the noise.

There's another filter at work out there too - the audience must pay to see them. Not so with YouTube.

However, that in turn brings us around again to another factor - and that is that even with the Nickelodeons of the old days, when it didn't cost much at all to see a movie, there was always fierce competition between sellers of film seats.

And that's what Hollywood has traditionally been about. The marketing and sales of movie tickets.

Yes, there have been plenty of bad Hollywood movies made. But every single one of them has been a result of an excellent accomplishment - the Hollywood pitch and deal. We do that better than anybody else on the planet.

So it's never been just about the photographers or the movie makers. Actually that point should be very clear in that there's not one single studio here that's still owned by any film maker, save maybe UA and Tom Cruise.

And I'm not talking about a person who owns a camera, or a studio for that matter, I'm talking about a person who knows how to use it.

Similarly there's never been an art gallery or a publishing house owned by a photographer. And the only magazines owned by them have collapsed.


Therefore, the process of standing out as a photographer or a film maker is a two stage deal at minimum:-

There's the making of the movie, which people know about, more or less, because everybody here is talking about it, and selling equipment to do it, techniques and knowhow abound.

The hidden catch here is that all this part is about spending money to buy elements to blend together to add value to the parts bought, so that the blend (the movie) is worth more than the parts separately bought. And this is the part that everybody knows about because it's the equipment manufacturers who are promoting it, paying for it. Because their ROI (return on investment) is when we buy their equipment. Not their art, their self-expression.


And then there's the making of the deal, which is all about raising money, getting noticed, getting paid, making money with the image or the movie.

And, apart from the obvious (raise the money, sell the picture), nobody ever talked about that.

Because why? Because that part has been controlled by the business people, and they don't talk, they don't share, because that would ruin their business models and economies, like people buying houses to develop and then giving them away.

So that is also a part of image making. That's the part that Nikon, Canon, and all the others don't talk about, won't talk about and insist they know nothing about. They just try to sell us a new camera a year and say "good luck with that".

In other words, Nikon, Canon, and the like are like Rowney, Stabilo, Davinci, Windsor & Newton. Those fine folk make pencils, paint, brushes. Not artists. At least they don't have the gall to suggest that if you buy a Stabilo pen you'll become the next Van Gough. (Well, not until the Auto-Art Stabilo ASS01 is released, late 2011, available at stores near you)


Creativity, technique, business acumen.

That's the new Holy Trinity for this millenium.

Because before now, pretty much all three were impossible to achieve in a single person. It took a minimum of two or more people (producer, writer, director/DP) to make a decent production machine, studio, photo business.

In the morass of mediocre media what I see is the spectacular lack of showmanship.

Everybody is making movies, yes. They're cheap and mostly very nasty, as if everybody's Super 8 collections of yore happened to be collected in one place (Youtube) at one time (last night).

But Youtube is itself making its own pyramid. Based on the marketing talent of its filmmakers. 1x is doing the same thing for stills. Being selective. Now all that remains is that film makers build business acumen (or team up with business partners who have that acumen) and make sure they survive to make more films, to get to that body of work that Stan mentioned, to get themselves developed, matured, and able to stand up stronger and taller.

Everybody has a camera, everybody shoots. Is the same as everybody has a computer, everybody writes.

Mostly people write to express themselves, not to make a living out of it. Doesn't stop them from writing though. The act of writing, of achieving something, gives them satisfaction.

I think that goes for 99.99% of Youtube pieces.

Rising to the top means getting paid. And Youtube and the like, making out like fat cats at the moment, are capitalizing on the 99.99% makers' inability and disinterest to do that for themselves.

All the makers want to do at the moment is to spend money and express themselves. And YouTube is the cinema, and YouTube makes all the money for themselves. 1% payout to the film makers?

Sound familiar?


And we're back to the cream. The 0.01%, the one in a thousand.
Which everyone says they want to be (or already are, people just haven't discovered them yet).

But only 0.1% actually commit themselves to put in enough work and soul searching to find out if they actually have any talent at all. And only 0.1% of that 0.1% actually do have any talent at all.


Wasn't there a saying that Einstein had formulated his basic theory of relativity by the time he was 12, and it took him the next 30 years to express it so other people got it?

So in this day and age more than ever, the persistence of the artist counts for more than the creative instinct.

Over the part 40 years or so, I've seen many very talented pro photographers come and go, make their statements, move on. And then there's folk like Arthur Elgort. Still at it, quietly plying his trade, still innovating, doing outstanding work after 50 years.

He uses whatever camera he likes at the time. Always has, always will. He started in the era of ballroom music, be-bop. And now in the days of rap and jerk, he's still there.

How many other artists can we speak about like that?
What kind of a life must they lead?

To a lot of the youth of today, with their ADD and their constant clamoring for something new, the life that Arthur and folk like him lead must be hell. Boring as hell. They will have needed to move on a long time ago.

Now I haven't met the man, don't know him personally but I'm willing to bet that if I asked him "what's it like, being number one?" he'd look at me askance, at the very least.

Because I'm pretty sure that he's thinking about being 0.01% about as much as Einstein or Hawkings were.

He's just doing his thing, making a living, following his bliss.

Aha. Isn't that a clue there? Doesn't that give us long-timers hope?
Because we all know that excellence only comes through persistence. And that's practice and patience.

Specifically being able to quell our indecision, our impatience, our whim, to tame those and turn those into what we call creativity.

The kids just don't have that today. Precisely because of all this flood of media around us. All this unfiltered choice.

Because the noise in the media is helping to self-regulate the 99.99% of the others.


Which is good news for us more seriously creative folk.




  

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Robman3 Gold Member Nikonian since 12th Apr 2010Sat 20-Nov-10 05:03 AM
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#4. "RE: On auto focus, any thoughts?"
In response to Reply # 2


West of Santa Monica, US
          

Steve I bought the H4N and tested one, two, three with the Samson Micro Airline, and two other headset Omni and Dynamics.

I ran it in mono mode, with an assumptive to be tracking the interview subject with a hand held on track 4, and possible running tethered into the D7K mic in for back up.

The four tracks and three inputs make it viable versus the other brands and over the weekend I will load the files into Studio One (Presonus updated platform answer to Pro Tools and Cubase).

I read one complaint as to hissing on the XLR channels, my guess is perhaps connectors need DeOxit or poor solder joints in the build of the cables.

Something this sophisticated would not pass muster with The Ash brothers and their Zoom team team for ENG push and 24/96 recording, if hissing is present.

The other issue is stated in the manual, some SD cards are not up to the task and may cause hissing etc.

Sounds like fun though.

Perhaps we should post an (Audio on Dk7, thread in the forum so moderators won't have to parse subject and verse)

Rob

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RRRoger Silver Member Fellow Ribbon awarded for his long history of demonstrated excellence and helping other members with equipment, technique and DSLR video in the true Nikonians spirit. Charter MemberSat 20-Nov-10 03:35 PM
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#9. "RE: On audio, any thoughts?"
In response to Reply # 4
Sat 20-Nov-10 03:59 PM by RRRoger

Monterey Bay, US
          

>
>I read one complaint as to hissing on the XLR channels
>
>Rob

I could not use an amplified mic (Tascam) because of the hissing.
Seems there is no way to turn off the D7000 in camera AMP (like the 5D2 can).

To the D7000 credit, the sound with my stereo condenser audio-technica ATR6250 is better.

Other than Live View FF movie mode causing my zoom to pump,
it works great in AF-S mode.
I have no other complaints about AutoFocus.

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Chris Ross Leong Registered since 18th Nov 2010Sat 20-Nov-10 04:00 PM
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#10. "RE: On audio, any thoughts?"
In response to Reply # 9
Sat 20-Nov-10 04:19 PM by Chris Ross Leong

Sherman Oaks, US
          

On Nikon audio, what we have is your classic balanced line against unbalanced line mismatch.

You can't just plug in any old 1/8" mic and expect it to work the same as any other. (you can do that with XLR mics, with a caveat, as I'll set out below).

The XLR plugs and coaxial lines are not operating at the same electronic standard as the 1/4" and 1/8" plugs are. It's not just the physical plugs or cables themselves that's different, it's the actual volume and quality of the audio signal itself that's different.

What you need to get good audio into an 1/8" system (unbalanced) from an XLR system (balanced) is a line converter. You can get those from craigslist or Radio Shack or Beachtek audio, in varying degrees of sophistication (more below), but all of them serve to correct the signal going from one system to the other.

Very simply, the XLR system is designed to work with longer cables and to defeat radio frequency and line noise interference from power lines, radio stations, etc., when, for instance, a microphone on a big stage is being used.

The unbalanced system is designed to connect short cables in domestic or amateur hi fi sets or portable units, like walkmans.

Long cables tend to act as radio antenna. Short ones, not so much.

Also some older and most higher end microphones need 24-48 volts to power them - they don't work without power. So one of the three lines inside an XLR cable carries the power to the mic as well. This power has to be supplied by the recorder, or by something in between, like a Beachtek unit. That's called "phantom power", commonly, mainly because the battery supplying the 48 volts isn't actually a physical battery any more, it's borrowed from other sources, transformers, mixers, etc.

So.

If you have a shotgun mic that's not battery powered and that needs power, your line converter/mixer/recorder must have phantom power supply capability, or the mic has to have a battery system.

And your balanced (notated +10 usually) side has to be able to output an unbalanced (-4) signal to feed into the camera's 1/8" side, otherwise your audio signal going into the camera will essentially be unusable, at least not for professional (decent) purposes.

This is all very well documented elsewhere. I made none of this up.

Now, as far as powered 1/8" mics go, they're a compromise at the moment, made for the one-man crew. They're not standardized, each make and model outputs differently.

So the thing is, until you can defeat the Nikon's AGC (auto gain control), it's far, far better to spring for an external recorder with manual controls, like a Zoom.

Or take the camera into the store, plug all the mics in, see which works best.

But I wouldn't bank on that alone personally, precisely because the AGC/internal preamp is a wild card in the audio chain.

You're in film making territory now, not stills camera territory. Nikon never made audio recorders yet, so don't expect them to know a lot about that side of things.

Plus, read my previous post. Even if they did know how to do that, d'you think they'd risk telling its consumer base to go somewhere else for its audio? Really?

HTH
Cheers!
Chris

  

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