Go Pro

December 27, 2020, 10:20 PM · Anyone here that uses a Gro Pro for recording themselves play? I'm currently looking for a setup to use for recording myself for practicing purposes and developing a portfolio of my playing that I can use for auditions, festivals, and such down the line. I'm aware that the Go pro probably isn't going to have the best audio, so I'm looking into getting either the Zoom H4n, H5, or H6 for audio, and then I will use something else for the video and put it together in either iMovie or Final Cut Pro. I know I could just use my iPhone XS, but I'm looking for something with a wider view and the go pro seems like it could be the solution. I looked into the Zoom Q2n and Q8 but I wasn't very satisfied with the video quality that I was seeing.

Kind regards,

Replies (16)

December 27, 2020, 11:13 PM · I've been pretty satisfied with my Zoom Q4n, both in terms of audio and video. You can set the video on Zoom cameras to higher quality if you're willing to eat more storage space on your SD card.
December 27, 2020, 11:45 PM · Oh, I didn't know that thanks for the info, Lydia. All the samples I'd seen of Zoom Q2n, Q4n, and Q8 cameras were all pretty bad but I guess it might've been because they had them set pretty low in terms of video quality.
December 28, 2020, 10:13 AM · It also depends on what you're trying to do. If you're trying to make a professional music video, you need something higher resolution than the Zoom recorders with integrated mics, which are only 3 MP at max resolution (but that'll still get you YouTube HD quality, fine for most casual applications, including auditions).
Edited: December 28, 2020, 11:13 AM · I still use the Zoom Q3HD. The more recent models have a ghastly fish-eye image, and I suspect the GoPro is the same. No straight lines!

One good feature of the Zoom cameras is the Concert Lighting mode: a low light option but with reduced contrast so that stage light, daylight through windows etc, won't blacken the whole image or burn a hole in the screen!
I'm not sure many "real" video cameras have this.

December 28, 2020, 10:28 AM · The problem with higher video quality is that you generate enormous files that can be unwieldy. But YouTube will take just about anything.
December 29, 2020, 2:40 AM · I think it depends on what you want. And if you're making a porfolio, you probably want the result to be semi-professional. And in that case, I think you need to get both a good image from one source, and (the most important) a good sound from another one.

For the image, phones and gopros can do the job if the lighting is good and the budget is limited, but if possible, I'd personally use a good photography camera, like a DSLR or a mirrorless one (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Lumix or Fujifilm all make great cameras). The quality of the sensor and the lenses make a difference compared to the phone, specially when you're not recording yourself outdoors in a nice and bright day.

For the sound, I think your best bet is to record it with a good external microphone, and incorporate the sound when you edit the video. I have no idea of microphones, nor I know their price ranges. But sound is the most important part of a violin video, so it's worth the effort.

December 29, 2020, 2:54 PM · Note also that the Q2n has been replaced with the Q2n-4k, which, as the name might suggest, can do 4K video. However, it does not, as far as I know, support the same kind of lighting presets as the Q4n.

The Q4n has been discontinued, which is really unfortunate, since it was really a best-in-class, reasonably-priced device.

December 29, 2020, 6:14 PM · I think it'll be nice if Zoom starts including 32-bit float recording on more of their devices (and other vendors).

While I'd agree with Miguel in theory about the low-light capabilities and greater flexibility of DSLR's, I think the additional cost and complexity is probably not worth it for someone who doesn't already have such equipment and knowledge. And in a controlled location, you'd be better off trying to improve the lighting and visuals than getting a better (much more expensive) lens and sensor and trying to use them effectively. Moreover a smaller sensor naturally has greater depth of field, so more is in focus with less effort. (Conversely if you want highly selective focus, you'd want a larger sensor, brighter lens, and probably somebody to manage the camera.)

"I know I could just use my iPhone XS, but I'm looking for something with a wider view"

From what I've found, and not necessarily for video, the iPhone XS has a 35mm equivalent of a 26mm lens on wide angle, which is fairly wide (35-50mm is considered "normal", 24-28 the threshold of "true wide-angle", anything less than 24 towards "ultra-wide"). If you need a wider lens than that, beware that you may get a visual proximity effect - because the lens is close to you, and will apparently exaggerate the parts of your body or instrument that are closer to the lens than others.

In other words, you might be better off looking for other solutions to placement / location than getting a camera with wider field of view for self photography.

December 29, 2020, 10:36 PM · Be aware of file size if you are planning to use a cell phone or even a dSLR camera for capturing video. In practice you are often limited to 2 GB which will only give you 20 minutes of video. If you are wanting more than that in a single take you will need a proper video recorder. For sound, a decent analog Mike and an audio interface to a pc or Mac is the way to go, in my opinion
December 30, 2020, 12:17 AM · All good advice, thank you all.

Miguel, you have a good point. Funnily enough after you said that, I looked at how much it would cost to get the zoom recorder, a go pro, and all the other things needed like storage for both devices, and a tripod and such I realized it might actually be better to go for an actual camera and then get something else for sound.

Lydia you are correct I was mainly looking at the Zoom Q2n-4k

J, at least in my experience after trying to use my iPhone I was often wishing I had a wider view. Perhaps if I was able to find a good phone tripod I'd be able to have more freedom in where put the device since I was mainly putting it on a music stand at the height that I needed. A phone tripod would still probably be better.

Matt, I think 20 minutes would probably be more than enough for a single take unless I needed to record an entire sonata, concerto or the like in one take as I'm not sure what would be wanted based on where I'd be sending the video files. If I was able to do each movement at a time and fix it later then it wouldn't be an issue. I did consider a video recorder as well, but I'm not sure how to go down that route. And I think using a good xlr mic with an interface is probably the best way to go for sound

Edited: December 30, 2020, 5:10 AM · "Perhaps if I was able to find a good phone tripod I'd be able to have more freedom in where put the device"

This is an easy problem to solve - there are numerous options.

Somebody recommended the Shure MV88+ mic kit for a phone in another recent thread. The "+" seems to be a little Manfrotto-sourced tripod kit - a phone clamp with tripod and mic mounts, a little extention cable, a little table-top stand. Probably too short for your needs, but it's one starting point, and you could source a phone mount and tripod (or two) from Manfrotto yourself if you wanted (or any other vendor). Or just another tripod in addition for greater height. Shure's kit holds both the phone and the mic - together. You might want the two to be separated for ideal placement individually, or perhaps combined for convenience.

Note however that the Shure MV88 isn't as flexible as the MV88+ as it's iOS-only and mounts directly to the iPhone, so the "+" isn't just the tripod mounting kit.

December 30, 2020, 2:08 PM · You never want to record with a phone on a music stand, especially a metal one, which will resonate slightly with the music if you're playing at sufficient volume, and result in a slight buzz in the audio.

You should be able to get a perfectly decent field of view with an iPhone, depending where you place it. There are tons of cheap lightweight phone tripods on Amazon, or you could buy the basic Amazon Basics tripod (which is compact, sturdy, and cheap) and get a phone mount to go with it.

By the way, the compactness of the Zoom integrated set-up is convenient for many venues where you want to be able to put the thing somewhere it's not in the way of the audience. There's a nontrivial chance that whatever setup you do gets moved or bumped; I find it to be a common problem when I record my own concerts.

I have a 128 GB memory card in my Q4n. I highly recommend getting the biggest card you can, for convenience.

Given that most people are recording for online posting -- whether YouTube, Facebook, or a portfolio upload associated with an online application system -- you're going to be dealing with compression. I'd be more inclined to record at 1080p and have that display natively than have something process and compress 4k down to 1080p. Also, unless you're making a music video where the background is part of the entertainment, tighter framing and thus better visibility / larger scale of your body is generally better; it will certainly be preferred for auditions.

Edited: December 30, 2020, 10:59 PM · After thinking about it for a little bit, I think I'm going to start out by using my phone with the Amazonbasics tripod and a phone mount. I'll definitely want to eventually get a good camera for this purpose down the road, but since I'm just now getting into this I don't want to dump a lot of money into this right at the beginning like J was talking about earlier. I do want a better source for audio though. So if anyone can tell me the main pros and cons of using a USB mic, zoom audio recorder, or xlr mic with an interface that would be great.
December 31, 2020, 5:22 AM · Be aware that the quality of the recording depends also on the quality of the play back! I found that I can get pretty good recordings just using my Android phone - but listening to the output using excellent earphones.

BTW look out for 'audio compression' in the recording software. What it does is to adjust the input gain to the volume (its there to ensure effective capture of speech) - which means that all your attempts at dynamics are undermined to give a dymanically flat recording! I found this the hard way by trial and error. I use RecForge II Pro on my Samsung Galaxy Note 9 - it takes a bit of getting used to but the recording quality is pretty good.

Edited: January 1, 2021, 10:24 AM · "if anyone can tell me the main pros and cons of using a USB mic, zoom audio recorder, or xlr mic with an interface that would be great."

The question is very broad, as it covers a very wide variety of devices, including ones which cancel out respective pro's and cons. (E.g. "Zoom" audio recorder - some (if not all) can be used as an audio interface, but would be more portable. But add XLR mic's, and it's not as portable. Blue Yeti - a USB mic, but also has XLR support in the "Pro" version, so how do we categorize it?)

The interfaces will not necessarily have specific sound characteristics as there's no technical reason that e.g. a USB mic can't be as good as a separate mic and a USB interface.

Moreover, with any interface there will be numerous choices of mics, which will cover the gamut from bad to good to excellent, with vintage options also thrown in some cases.

Finally, as the following videos show and others claim, even some phone mics can give good enough results. They are home recording videos by Mateusz Wolski, concertmaster of the Spokane Symphony, via the Youtube channel "The Violin Tech". He also has a few others that go into more detail of device usage and location experimentation that might be useful.

Comparison of iPhone 11, Zoom H5, and Rode NT4 for violin recording:


iPhone 12 Pro vs Rode NT4:


January 8, 2021, 4:29 PM · I use a GoPro Hero 7 Black for my videos. When I want better quality audio, I utilise my large diaphraghm microphone, and record into reaper, then sync the audio and video files. A clear clap before playing makes it very easy to sync. If you're filming in 4K, your only option is the wide, fish-eye lens, however if you reduce the resolution, you can have the option of a linear shot. I'm currently recording in 2.7k Linear, but editing in 1080p, so I can zoom in a bit without reducing quality.

Hopefully, sometime this year I'll be able to upgrade to either having an audio interface for the gopro (via mini-HDMI) to stop the need to sync, or a proper camera and mic set up. But for the simplicity of a quick set up to to get some practice footage, the gopro will probably stick around for me.

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