Both the EOS-1D X and EOS 5D Mark III cameras introduce a new feature which allows the video shooter to make changes to exposure or audio settings in-camera, but without the risk of clicking sounds being picked-up as dials are turned during recording. It's Silent Control, and it's available whenever these cameras are recording video.
Canon has engineered "touch-pad" technology into the existing Quick Control Dial on the back of the camera. Without changing any aspect of the dial's normal operation, this new underlying technology makes it possible to use the dial to adjust during video recording – without making a sound. Instead of turning the dial, you literally touch the inner surface of it with a finger. You can tap the dial lightly to move one step at a time, or simply touch and hold your finger lightly on the dial's surface to move a setting continuously for more significant changes to a given setting.
The Silent Control option on these two cameras allows users to make adjustments fundamental exposure settings, as well as to manual audio recording levels. Here's what's available, depending upon the exposure mode the camera is set to for video recording:
Manual exposure mode:
Shutter speed, lens aperture, ISO, Audio Level*
Aperture-priority mode (Av):
Lens aperture, exposure compensation, Audio Level*
Shutter-priority mode (Tv):
Shutter speed, exposure compensation, Audio Level*
Program mode (P):
Exposure compensation, Audio Level*
*If sound recording has been set to Manual on camera's menu
By default, Silent Control of the Quick Control Dial is disabled when either of these cameras is shipped from the factory. Here's what's necessary to activate and use it:
- Set the camera to its video recording mode
- In the red Shooting Menu area, the last two menu screens (4 and 5) are dedicated to video settings, and only appear when the camera has been pre-set to video recording mode. Locate Silent Control in the 5th shooting menu.
- Set Silent Control to "Enable".
- Press the START button and begin video recording.
- While video is running, press the rear "Q" button to call-up the Quick Control Screen on the camera's LCD monitor.
- With the Quick Control Screen visible, lightly tap or touch the TOP or BOTTOM of the inner surface of the Quick Control Dial. (Don't try to rotate or spin it.) This lets you highlight one of the available settings – whatever is highlighted will appear in blue.
- Lightly touch or tap the LEFT or RIGHT of the inner surface of the dial to actually change the setting of whatever item is presently highlighted in blue. Again, don't try to turn the dial.
You'll find you can make adjustments throughout the available range of settings, and do so in virtual silence, even if you're using the camera's built-in microphone for sound recording.
As a practical matter, once you've enabled Silent Control, you can leave it active and apply it by simply beginning to record a video file, and then applying steps 5~7 above.
The new Silent Control option on the EOS 5D Mark III and EOS-1D X cameras only applies to the Quick Control Dial, and only when it's been set-up as described above. Simply rotating this dial, or any other dial, definitely can produce audible clicking sounds that may be picked-up on your video files.
Silent Control is only active when you're actually recording video.
If recording is paused or stopped, Silent Control is momentarily disabled, even if you press the "Q" button to call-up the Quick Control Screen. (In that case, you can highlight any available setting using the Multi-controller, and turn either the Main Dial or Quick Control Dial to change the highlighted setting.)
Silent Control is only available when the Quick Control Screen is visible, after pressing the "Q" button.
So there's little risk of inadvertently touching the Quick Control Dial and having your settings change without your knowledge during normal video recording. The screen remains visible for roughly 8~10 seconds after you've last used Silent Control; you can remove it entirely by pressing the "Q" button again.
Silent Control can't be applied during still-image shooting, whether using Live View or the eye-level viewfinder.
This isn't a headline-grabbing feature, but once you've tried it, you'll certainly see opportunities to use it during video recording. It's an example of the refined character Canon is infusing into its second-generation SLRs with EOS Movie capabilities. However, it's not entirely obvious how to activate and use this new feature, so it's worthwhile to go through the steps above and practice with it a bit. Silent Control of exposure settings and audio levels isn't always necessary when you're "rolling", but it's certainly nice to know it's there when you suddenly realize you need to make a quick change, without interrupting video recording.
The CDLC contributors are compensated spokespersons and actual users of the Canon products that they promote.
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