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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hi-Tech Studio: Shotgun!

If you’re going to be shooting video with your DSLR, you’ll want to add a dedicated microphone to your setup

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Sony ECM-CG1
There are a few kinds of plugs for a microphone. The most common are 3.5mm and XLR. Shotgun mics are condenser microphones. They have a diaphragm that's powered by batteries in the microphone body or by phantom power, which is provided via the XLR inputs. As we go to press on this issue, there are no DSLRs that accept XLR inputs, so if you use one, you'll need to record directly to a separate recorder or you can use an intermediate device like the ones made by juicedLink (www.juicedlink.com). The XLR mics tend to perform better, but since they require the use of another device, costs can go up in a hurry.

Their versatility makes shotgun microphones the most common type in production. One important thing to keep in mind when using a shotgun microphone is that because of the pickup pattern, shotguns often capture some sound directly behind the mic. This is a problem when used in interior settings where you can get echoes and reflected sound off of hard, smooth surfaces.

Here are some examples of shotgun microphones that are popular with DSLR video shooters.

Sennheiser MKE 400
One of the most versatile mics around is the Sennheiser MKE 400. Its compact and rugged design makes it a natural choice for DSLR users who want to have a mic in their bag at all times. The MKE 400 is powered by a single AA battery, which gives you approximately 300 hours of recording time. The mic is switchable for long-and short-distance recording, and there's a built-in wind noise filter that can be turned on or off. The 3.5mm stereo mini-jack is compatible with most DSLRs. A number of pros shooting HD DSLR video swear by the Sennheiser MKE 400 for its combination of quality, durability and portability. Estimated Street Price: $199. Contact: www.sennheiserusa.com.

RØDE VideoMic Pro
RØDE VideoMic Pro
Using a built-in, 9-volt battery for 70 hours of recording time, the RØDE VideoMic Pro picks up where the original VideoMic left off. It has an integrated shock mount and an integrated foam windshield. You can control the input via a three-position switch, and it plugs into the camera via a 3.5mm dual mono mini-jack. The VideoMic Pro is compact and lightweight, so it can be carried easily, and it won't weigh you down when mounted on the camera. Estimated Street Price: $299. Contact: www.rodemic.com.

Audio-Technica ATR6550
Designed specifically for use with video cameras, the Audio-Technica ATR6550 has a normal and a "tele" setting to capture close or far away. Its combination of very reasonable price and high performance make it especially attractive if you're on a tight budget. The unit comes with a camera mount, stand clamp and a foam windscreen so you can set it up for use in a variety of situations. It connects to the DSLR via a 3.5mm mini-jack plug. Estimated Street Price: $55. Contact: www.audio-technica.com.

Sony ECM-CG1
Called a "gun" microphone, the Sony ECM-CG1 offers performance and versatility in a compact package. The mic is very lightweight, in part because it doesn't have an internal battery. The ECM-CG1 needs plug-in power, which is similar to the phantom power of an XLR input, so to use it, you need to have plug-in power in your camera, and not all DSLRs do. Check your camera's specifications to confirm if yours is compatible. Estimated Street Price: $229. Contact: www.sonystyle.com.


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