Shotgun Microphone Shootout

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Our good friend Chuck Jones over at theCameraForum posted this excellent video from Chad Johnson on Vimeo featuring a shootout of 4 of the top Shotgun Microphones of the past couple of years.

As the new era of Hybrid Photography emerges and video becomes more integrated with the work that every day photographers do, great audio quality will become more and more important.  After all, when shooting video, audio is half of the game.

What kinds of mics can I use?

There have been great advances in onboard camera microphone technology, but none to date will produce the quality of audio needed to be your “Main Mic”, especially when considering the varying circumstances and background noise scenarios under which you’ll have to shoot.  As a result, you’ll find that many of today’s top Hybrid Cameras come equipped with external microphone jacks that will allow you to tie in several varieties of external microphones, such as…

Lavaliers – These are typically small, inconspicuous wireless microphones that will clip on to your subject’s Lapel or garments.  Great for set shooting or lectures.

Boom Microphones – Mics that are attached to the end of a long extension pole and suspended above your subjects on scene (either hand held or on a stand)

Shotgun Microphones – Like the ones in this test.  They’re usually mounted to the hotshoe one your camera or camera rig, but you can also mount them to an extension pole for use as a boom mic.


What else do I need?

Any of the above microphones can be tied into your cameras onboard microphone input, but what if your camera doesn’t have one or what if you need to capture audio from more than 1 microphone?  There are actually several options that will solve either of those problems.

1.  A Universal Audio Adapter like the BeachTex DXA-2T or the JuicedLink CX231 will allow you to tie multiple microphones into your camera’s input or to an external audio recorder.

2.  An External Audio Recorder like the Zoom H2n (2 Track Recorder), the Zoom H4n (4 Track Recorder), the Tascam DR-40 (4 Track Recorder) or the Tascam DR-05.  All are very portable, can handle multiple audio sources and record straight to SDHC cards or micro SDHC cards.

BeachTek DXA-2T

BeachTek DXA-2T

Zoom H4n

Zoom H4n

Editor’s Note:  I personally use a Zoom H4n as the main audio source when shooting, especially when using the Panasonic Lumix G5, which doesn’t have an external audio jack (but it kicks butt for shooting video!).  I’ll use the audio from the camera’s onboard mic as a reference file, then sync with the audio from the H4n in post.  I recommend using a clap board or just clapping your hands 3 or 4 times before you do a take to give yourself an obvious reference point and make it easier to sync your audio in post.  You can also use Audio Synchronization Software such as PluralEyes to automatically sync your files for you.

By the way, in my opinion, the best sounding mics in this test were the Rode VideoMic Pro, the Que Audio and the Rode VideoMic, while the Sennheiser was a distant fourth, which is surprising because Sennheiser’s Lavalier mics are great.  What do YOU think?  Leave a comment below…

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Check out the  The Sennheiser MKE400, The Rode VideoMic, The Rode VideoMic Pro and The Que Audio Micro Shotgun Here


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