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Canon EOS 5D Mark II - Firmware 2.0.3
Audio Comparison Test (AGC vs. Manual)

Review by Ron Risman -- March 2010

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Canon 5D Mark II Firmware 2.0.3

Canon today released the long awaited firmware update for the Canon EOS 5D Mark II that finally gives the EOS 5D Mark II the cinema-like 23.97 (24p) frame rate, a true 29.97 frame rate, as well as manual audio controls for adjusting the sound recording level up / down 64-levels.

Here is a full list of updates and enhancements:
  • Adds 23.97 frame rates to 1920 x 1080 and 640 x 480 resolution modes
  • 30fps is now actually 29.97 frames per second
  • Adds manual audio control for adjusting sound recording up/down 64-levels
  • Ability to display the histogram (brightness or RGB) when shooting movies with manual exposure
  • The audio sampling rate was increased from 44.1 to 48 Khz
  • Fixes a problem caused by firmware version 1.2.4 where communication between the camera and the attached lens was sometimes interrupted after manual sensor cleaning.
  • Adds Shutter-Priority AE mode (Tv) and Aperture-Priority AE mode (Av) to the shooting modes when shooting movies.

Information about the audio test video below
The video demonstration below was recorded at the new 24p frame rate at 1080p resolution. The purpose of this video is actually to demonstrate the sound quality difference when using manual audio control versus using the Automatic Gain Control (AGC) that we were forced to use before the release of this firmware.

The audio test compares AGC to Manual using both an external microphone (Audio Technical ATM410 Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone) and the internal microphone. The lens used on the camera was the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens. The lens does not offer stabilization and it was put into manual focus mode so that motor noise of any kind would not be present in the audio.

The audio quality using manual controls is much cleaner than using AGC (as it should be) - in both comparisons. I plan to do additional testing outdoors in the next day or two and will post the video on this page. Please check back in a day or two or follow Cameratown on Twitter where I'll send out a tweet once the other video is live.

Outdoor Testing
The indoor test above had no background noise so the overall results were not glaring. If you put on headphones and turn up the volume you can definitely hear the difference when I was using the desk microphone. The camera's built-in microphone showed very little quality difference due to the lack of other ambient noise that would typically force the AGC to lower the volume.

In the outdoor test (below) I used both a wireless lapel microphone and a hand held microphone to record audio while standing near a busy road way. When using automatic gain control (AGC) the wireless lapel microphone picked up more wind noise, compared to when I switched the audio mode to manual. Using the hand held there was quite a difference in background sound when I stopped talking. Using AGC, the camera automatically increased the volume during these times, trying to pick up whatever it could - whereas in manual mode, the volume level stayed constant, resulting in better quality and quieter audio.

Notes from Canon
Firmware Version 2.0.3 is for cameras with firmware up to version 1.2.4. If the camera's firmware is already version 2.0.3, it is not necessary to update the firmware.

Movies captured using EOS 5D Mark II cameras with Firmware Version 1.1.0 to 1.2.4 can be played back on cameras updated with Firmware Version 2.0.3. However, if you try to play back movies captured with a camera with the new firmare on a camera with a previous firmare version, a message, Cannot play back image, appears on the camera's LCD monitor.

It is recommended that you use the latest Canon applications*1 to edit movies captured with EOS 5D Mark II cameras that have the latest firmare because some previous versions do not support movie-editing functions and the frame rates that are added or changed by the latest firmware. You can download the latest Canon applications from our Web site.

*1 ZoomBrowser EX Version 6.5.0 or later (compatible operating systems : Windows XP/Vista/7)
ImageBrowser Version 6.5.0 or later (compatible operating systems : Mac OS X v10.4/10.5/10.6)

In addition to the enhancements to the movie function, the accompanying instruction manual has also been revised. Users are asked to download both the latest firmware and the latest instruction manual. You can proceed to download the instruction manual by clicking the [I Agree] button from the bottom of this page.

Canon 2.0.3. Firmware Download Page

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