What am I giving up in terms of sound quality and sound recording between something like the canon Canon VIXIA HF R500 ( entry level consumer camera that I assume has a 1/8 mic input ) and a prosumer camera with XLR inputs?
I've worked with a Canon XL1 many years ago and need an HD camera. I can possibly borrow something like the VIXIA HF R500 for the time being, but I've never used a consumer level camera before so I am not familiar with what I can do with it audio wise. Picture wise the r500 should be adequate. Thanks.
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If you're hooking up an external microphone and using it properly, you'll have overcome the biggest hurdle already.
One would expect that a camera with XLR inputs will also have an external volume adjustment mechanism in addition to auto gain control, and perhaps better preamps for the mic inputs. The consumer one could leave you stuck with auto levels, and if you're serious about your sound, you won't want that.
Outside of overriding the automatic gain control and setting your own levels, I don't expect you'd experience a significant difference. The big factor in this case should be what you're recording with, not so much what you're recording on.
With the little canon, it says "Audio settings can also be custom set to meet your shooting needs." To what extent I do not know.
Of course, there's always the next-level greatness of using a good mic and an external recorder and doing the sound sync in editing. If you're shooting in a controlled environment, that'd be my first choice.
There seems to be manual override in AE/P mode, though it looks like it is easy to accidentally set it back into auto.
My guess is that the PreAmp & A->D in that kind of device is more noisy, with less overload overhead, than a pro-level device. Freq Resonse, etc would probably be equivalent enough, as bigass says.
For the nth time, with the possible exception of certain Intel processors, I don't have/ever owned anything whose name starts with "i".