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JonG

Camera Hops

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I’d like to revisit this old but still very relevant subject to see what people are using. 

 

I started out by using G2/3’s, which worked fine for the most part. I then used the Lectro 100 series units because I thought that they might be a good solution, but scrapped that idea when the Zaxcom IFB100/ERX2TCD system came out. Hop and sync in one box? Awesome. 

 

The problem with that system is that the IFB100 has a fragile antenna and can’t be anywhere near other devices in your bag such as a Comtek transmitter because it bleeds a squelching sound that is very nasty. The IFBs are rather large, poor build quality, and if you don’t get the Audio Dept mod, then you’re using a Y cable to come out of the mini jack which will put stress on the connector and cause it to break. 

 

The worst part about it is that it operates on 2.4gHz. This wasn’t awesome when it came out but it worked ok. That was before every other person on set had some wireless device competing for the same frequencies. Now it seems that if I get any more than 10 feet away from the camera, it starts experiencing dropouts. 

 

Since there are no other hop/TC systems that I’m aware of, I am looking to re think things and move away from the Zax system. I’m happy that Denecke joined the world of the micro sync box. But what about the hops? Well I still have my old G3s, but I’d love to find something that operates outside of my talent wireless spectrum (470-23). I like the idea of the Lectro VHF IFB system but the only transmitter available is a base station. 

 

What is is everyone else using, and how are you preparing for the eventual big squeeze in the UHF spectrum (in the USA) once 600mHz is no longer legal?

 

I’m looking at size, affordability, available frequencies, output power, power options (battery, battery eliminator, etc). 

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Hey Jon,

 

I noodled this through the beginning of this year with the impending spectrum crunch and my re-blocking of some of my units as well as investing in 4 new Lectro SRC systems in the last 18 months.  My concerns were having flexibility to have my dedicated hops away from my inbounds depending on what bag/cart and how many I was using as well as other factors.  In the past I was using two SRC's w/ batt sleds, or AES bottoms (which I absolutely love).  I'm still primarily using Comtek 216 for IFB's with Lectros in the mix every so often so that isn't my big concern.  I was hopeful/waiting for something Lectro that I had in mind would fit the bill but have since run into a critical time crunch to address the issue so here's what I arrived at and I am very happy so far.

 

Priorities were size (smaller cameras and grumpier ops), Analog and AES (for Amira's & F55s), battery eliminators and internal options (DSLR's and C300s), spectrum flexibility and output power (both high and low).  I ended up hands down, no questions unanswered, with the Wisycom ENG52 units and the MTP40s Band 7 TX's and here's why I think they are the best option right now (for me) for camera hops:

 

Size:  Bigger than G3's but smaller than my SRC's especially with bat sleds.

Outputs: Analog, AES and a headphone 3.5mm that I have attenuated successfully for mic in to Red cams

Power:  The battery eliminators for the RX's and TX's are expensive, but essential for me.  And the RX's can immediately take 2 AA's for those cams that have no DC out.

Spectrum: 470-663, and higher up to 1160?? in the RX (requiring different TXs).  So I have full spectrum to move around whatever inbounds on my bag/cart I'm using that day as well as access to the guard band and duplex gap (Power limitations addressed in TX's)

Power: MTP40s Band 7 Linear TX's cover 470-663, have 10mw, 20mw, Linear 20 (ie narrow band), 50mw, 100mw).  I don't need 50 or 100 mw in a bag going to a cam 10' away and don't want any excess spray. Plus, to use the guard band TX's will be limited to 20mw or less and these address that issue.

 

There is a learning curve with all the settings and customization available (squelch, wide or narrow band, multiple companders, etc.) coming from Lectro (turn it on and it works without input).  The scan functions and spectrum data is phenomenal on the RX and attached to a .......  well, you'll see someday soon.  That all being said, I recently bought two full sets (2 RX, 4 TX) and a full complement of cables and battery eliminators (not cheap) and have been using them in the field.  Recently with hops on two different Reds (with internal batteries), and a pair of F55's (with battery eliminators) just yesterday and today.  I couldn't be happier so far.

 

It all depends on your client base and workflows but for mine, with many clients I have still wanting broadcast quality audio on cam, these fit the bill to a tee.  And, a big plus, is Wisycom USA is now based here in Alexandria, VA with tech support, etc... Geoff Baynard is whom you should reach out to directly and there are Wisycom groups now on Facebook.  My $.02 cents.  Your use may vary.  

Cheers.

Wisy F55.JPG

Wisy Red.JPG

Wisy Scan.JPG

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Still back at the cheap Sennys.  They just work and work, and run all day even on years-old Eneloops.   The Zax solution is v. cool, but I have a very small compacto bag so can't deal with the TX fallout.  Not interested in 2.4 GHz for this purpose.  Maybe the replacement to the Sennys for this purpose will be the Deitys if they pan out--but I'm waiting out the version 1.0 thing with them.  Price appropriate for ref audio hops though.

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I use a Lectrosonics LR combined with a Tentacle.

 

Small, light weight, reliable and never had a complaint from the Camera Dept.

 

The photo shows this combo side mounted on an Alexa Mini but can be mounted on top just as easily...........

IMG_3134 - Version 2.jpg

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G3s for the hops...good enough for reference audio, and every camera guy has seen it before so they don't have an aneurysm when you approach the camera with it.  As Philip Perkins said, with Eneloops, I can leave it on the camera all day and never power it down.  BUT I would never use the G3s as hops if the client absolutely insisted on using the camera feed as the main audio.

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I use a Lectro LR with Tentacle as well. Awesome mono hop. I have 2 and put one on 2nd cam when we have one. I don’t love using 2 on the same camera for stereo mix. Quite bulky. Works but looks awkward. If I did more work that required primary audio on camera i probably would have gone for an SRc but it’s rare I need that

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@thenannymoh why wouldn’t you use G3s for primary audio on camera? I used them for reality shows back when clients just wanted a mix to cam and no multitracks, and it sounded fine. Those shows went to broadcast and won the production company emmies. Granted they don’t have the range that Lectros or Wisys, but they aren’t bad for this purpose. 

 

Those of you using Lectros, what are your talent frequencies vs. your hop frequencies? What are your plans for the future?

 

What do do people think of the older Audio Ltd. EN2 series? They look small enough to be great for today’s tiny cameras. How’s the range on them? Any problems with them at all?

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@JonG I can see what you're saying...but the noise floor of the G3 is higher than I can hear coming into my ears from my mics and Lectros on my recorder, and the thought of anything less than that hitting the editing room would drive me a little nuts.  Plus, most cameras have terrible preamps and audio hardware.  However, I'm often bag-and-booming, so a precise mix takes a back seat to raw quality of iso tracks...so that's probably my bias.

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I've been using a couple of different solutions since I've been running rental gear a lot. The Lectro VHF transmitter isn't actually bad in a bag, it's about the same size as a 411 receiver and it doesn't weigh much. The VHF whip antenna can be a bit ridiculous though, but it has worked quite well the couple of times I've used it. Personally, I like Sennheisers. They're rugged and they sound pretty good. Now that the G4s have come out with wider tuning ranges, they're even more interesting. I'm getting my own hops and TC solutions soon-ish, probably going to combine Sennheisers with Tentacles, especially now that the Sync E has wireless capabilities.

That LR/Tentacle combo does look pretty nice, though...

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I’ve used countless different hop systems over the years and a few months ago I doubled down on my old G3s and bought a bunch of IEM recievers so I can consolidate down to one TX for camera and IFB. 

 

FWIW— clients have been loving the IEM sound and range.

 

Cheers,

Evan

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9 hours ago, JonG said:

@joinwooHK Yes you are right. That is why I am asking people what they are using AND WHY. Please share your thoughts. 

I just bought secondhand RX 900 S if i need on single system, It is bit bulky and i got timecode system USO for TC,If i have spare budget , i will defiantly go for RX 200 . Zaxcom sound quality of camera hop can;t beat...and it use AA batteries .I am using Camera link in my bag transmitter UHF and zaxnet 

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Those Wisy's look interesting! Another happy G3 user here for hops. I find them to be perfect for reference audio to camera or for playback.

 

The G3 output can be pushed to feed a line level input like the Alexa but I find it brings up the noise floor in the receiver. Most of my clients go double system so this isn't an issue.

 

I also have a Srb5p for talent that can be repurposed for hops but this rarely comes out...

 

I looked long and hard at the lectro LRs but I heard the battery life was not that amazing with rechargeables. Another plus for the sennys is that while they're not wideband they do have a wider tuning range which adds more flexibility.

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Sony UWP D11 for hops, and IFB monitoring as well. Two AA, 12 -15hours running time. Not even bother to turn them off in the middle of the shoot. If it’s Fs7 or even A7s, their Sony hotshoe could go cable-less on cameras. 

And I could swap them around for hops and listening. 

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The G2-3 thing is just ok as a "cam hop they will use" thing.  They do have that special sort of distortion (remember the key jangle test?) and I was burned on a few tough RF environments (like science labs etc) with them vs SRBs, with no return monitoring to know if they are taking a lot of hits etc.  (So they had to use the BU recording, yes.)   And mounting 2 of the Senns on a camera kind of sucks, awkward.  But for mono ref audio--ok.  Mine are quite long in the tooth, so will replace them soon, but don't know with what yet.

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6 hours ago, hiro nakamura said:

Sony UWP D11 for hops, and IFB monitoring as well. Two AA, 12 -15hours running time. Not even bother to turn them off in the middle of the shoot. If it’s Fs7 or even A7s, their Sony hotshoe could go cable-less on cameras. 

And I could swap them around for hops and listening. 

 

I plan on purchasing the Sony UWP D11. With hot shoe compatibility it is a no brainer. 

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@Dalton Patterson very compelling. These are priced the same as G3s but are true diversity, and are available in the new block 90. This is the sort of inexpensive solution I have been looking for. The only thing I don’t really like is the size. I really wish that someone would figure out that we need hops, they need to be small, robust, reliable, and are able to operate on frequencies other than our talent wireless. I’d really love digital transmission too, but one can only dream. 

 

The idea of using Lectros, Wisy’s or Zax seems like too high of a price point for myself. But who knows, that may change down the road. 

 

What else are people using?

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I'm still a fan of Lectrosonics IFBT4 transmitter for my IFB's, with a Sennheiser G3 set to the same frequency on cameras for a "hop".  Just turn the pilot tone off on the G3 and you're good to go / have way more range than a stock G3 transmitter.  Sounds pretty damn great too.

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On 9/26/2018 at 7:24 PM, JonG said:

What do do people think of the older Audio Ltd. EN2 series? They look small enough to be great for today’s tiny cameras. How’s the range on them? Any problems with them at all?

 

Any thoughts on this system? I like how small it is, but how does it sound? Is it reliable? Seems like this just came and went without anyone noticing. Probably because it was over priced for “introductory ENG”, that’s my guess. 

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On 9/28/2018 at 8:15 AM, berniebeaudry said:

They make a two channel receiver as well.

But only with one ch true diversity works, which is a huge deal in my books, but in general, the cheap Sony works brilliantly for the price in my experience.

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Wisycom MPR52 looks really interesting (especially at the US price). I read something about "Country specific saw filters:" - is this something the user can set (to work with the TX available eg Senny G2000)? 

I thought perhaps Lectro would offer a dual LR (similar to MPR52) as I can see MPR52 being very popular, even for the bag, despite the (display orientation). If anyone was to offer (an analogue) dual I/P TX in a similar form factor it would also cross compatible? Sony still have the most RX options for a given system though and probably the best solution for DSLR shooters. 

I guess we are close to the last of the analogue systems. Perhaps the MPR52 will be the legacy RX because of its versatility.

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