If you use your DSLR or mirrorless camera to shoot video for weddings, vlogs, interviews, whatever it may be, you’ve no doubt noticed that the sound quality provided by the camera’s built-in microphone leaves something to be desired. You can solve this problem, however, with the use of external microphones, like shotgun mics. With a shotgun microphone, you’ll be able to filter out unwanted noise so you can focus on capturing the sound you want.
As photographers, we naturally focus on the image side of things. But for those of us who have ventured down the videography road, we know the importance of capturing great-sounding audio. Terrible sound quality can completely ruin a production. So no matter what you’re shooting, or if you’re an up-and-comer or a seasoned pro, you’re going to need a good microphone if you want to create a solid video.
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Which On-Camera Microphone Do You Need?
Choosing the right external microphone can be tricky. How do you decide if you go for the shotgun mic or a handheld, lavalier, or stereo mic? If you’re shooting outdoors or in large, open spaces, and want to home in on the dialogue, or a specific sound, this is where a shotgun microphone will really make a difference. Shotgun mics can be mounted to your camera’s hot shoe or on a boom pole and pointed at your target to capture sounds you want to focus on.
If you’re shooting a concert, however, where you want to get the best sound quality of the music and crowd, then you’d be better off with a stereo mic. Lavalier mics are for the more discreet moments where a standard handheld microphone would invade the scene.
So if your video production requires a directional mic that will eliminate surrounding sounds, it’s time to choose the right shotgun microphone to fit your camera and needs. We’ll compare some of the best shotgun mics available today and go over the advantages and disadvantages of each.
1. RØDE VideoMic Pro+
RØDE is definitely a leader in the audio department and deserves the top spot on this list. The VideoMic Pro+ excels in both sound quality and price, making it a fan favorite.
The RØDE VideoMic Pro+ is a professional-grade shotgun microphone specifically designed to be used with DSLR, mirrorless, and consumer video cameras with a standard hot shoe fitting. You can achieve both broadcast and studio-level sound quality with this mic, which provides a two-stage high-pass filter to ensure clear audio.
This high-pass filter can be switched on at the back of the device and will help cut out background noise at lower frequencies. This means the voices you record will be crisp and clear. You can also adjust the mic settings to accurately capture unusually loud sounds, which is great when recording at sporting or live music events.
Its shock mounting system reduces any rumbling or vibrating sounds that may get picked up normally, so you can get relatively noise-free audio in any environment. Even if you’re walking around, the mic won’t pick up any banging noises as you move.
However, while the foam windscreen filters out environmental noise in lighter winds, anything stronger than a moderate breeze will likely require you to use an extra windsock. The mic will clearly record audio at about 20 feet, but any farther and you’ll end up with more background sounds, like traffic.
You have two different battery options with the VideoMic Pro+: two AAs or an LB-1 lithium-ion rechargeable battery. Or just keep it continuously powered with the micro USB cable. Battery life is good, lasting about 100 hours, and the mic has a low battery indicator to let you know when it needs replacing.
2. Sennheiser MKE 600
A great choice for videographers, newscasters, and YouTubers. Its nice short design makes for incredible versatility and handling. You’ll get pro-level sound quality, but may need extra noise protection in windy or overly loud conditions.
The Sennheiser MKE 600 is a short shotgun microphone, which is very flexible and simple to use. The microphone’s design provides exceptional directivity, meaning that if you have it mounted to your hot shoe, you will clearly record sounds from the front of the camera while reducing unwanted noise from the sides and the rear. It’s also incredibly simple to set up, which makes it one of the best shotgun mics for field recording.
You’ll notice this microphone’s rugged, all-metal housing, providing coverage and ensuring the mic functions even in outdoor environments. There’s also a shock mount system to prevent outside noise from being picked up by the microphone. However, you may want to use an external shock mount to reduce this noise more effectively.
It comes with a foam windshield that will help limit wind noise or other environmental sounds, or you could opt for a hairy cover for extra noise cancellation. If you need even more noise protection, you can switch on a low-cut filter. This is especially effective for recording interviews and other dialogues, as well as when shooting outdoors. Many users find that this microphone does provide a clear, true reproduction of natural sound.
An AA battery will power this microphone for approximately 150 hours, but it can also be phantom-powered. This is especially convenient for videographers who prefer not to carry around additional equipment on shoots. Users have noted that the microphone behaves consistently no matter which power source the user has selected.
The MKE 600 is ideal for videographers, broadcasters, and newscasters. And it’s one of the more affordable shotgun mics that will still provide high-quality results.
3. Shure VP83
This LensHopper camera-mount condenser mic is a compact, all-in-one audio solution for the hobbyist or beginner videographer. You’ll get great battery life and easy control, but the sound can be tinnier than with other shotgun microphones.
The Shure VP83 LensHopper camera-mounted condenser microphone is designed to be a compact, all-in-one audio solution. You can record audio directly to your camera using a 3.5mm audio output cable and the controls are easy to navigate. This rugged shotgun microphone provides reliable, detailed, and natural-sounding audio – no matter what kind of recording environment you might encounter.
The VP83 provides an estimated 130 hours of battery life on a single AA battery. And even after the sensor turns red, you’ve got plenty of time to finish recording before the device shuts itself down.
The external microphone also boasts a long-lasting, dependable metal construction that is still lightweight and easy to carry. You’ll also get a foam windscreen, which provides excellent insulation from the wind and other environmental noise.
However, some users have indicated that the recorded sound is tinnier than other shotgun mics, even some cheaper options. This could be due to the microphone’s protective screen, which does significantly reduce background noise and ensure a clearer recording. The camera mount attachment also seems to be somewhat delicate, so users will need to be careful when removing or attaching the device.
Another downside is that the microphone doesn’t come equipped with a separate output for headphones. So users who want to monitor the audio while filming will need to use the headphone output from their camera or digital recorder.
4. RØDE VideoMicro
Great for anyone who needs a small, easy-to-carry shotgun mic to use on the go. This simple design requires camera plug-in to be powered, but that elimates the need to carry spares. Don’t expect pro-level sound from this compact mic though.
You can get surprisingly good audio with the compact little RØDE VideoMicro. At a teeny-tiny 80mm long, it still manages to minimize most surrounding noise while focusing on the subject positioned directly in front of the camera. You still may need to do a bit of audio editing in post-processing though to get really clear sound.
While you won’t get professional-level sound quality, it does its best to provide decent sound right out of the gate. Thanks to the Rycote Lyre shock mount suspension, your recording will be free of any rumbling or vibration due to movement.
You’ll also see reduced wind and environmental noise, thanks to the mic’s furry windshield. However, as can be a problem on some shotgun mics, users have noticed wind noise recorded from the back of the mic, where the jack input connects to the device. Keep this covered if you want a quieter, clearer recording.
Along with a standard-sized shoe mount, this external microphone comes equipped with a 3/8-inch thread on the mount’s base. You’ll be able to easily mount the mic to a boom pole or tripod to position it whenever needed.
Plus, you won’t need to worry about carrying extra batteries, as the VideoMicro is powered when plugged into your camera so it doesn’t require a battery. While this shotgun mic is ideal for point-and-shoot cameras and DSLRs, you can also opt for the RØDE SC7 cable to attach it to your smartphone.
5. Shure VP83F – With Integrated Flash
An upgrade from the VP83, the integrated digital flash recording and playback is a convenient bonus. You can record WAV files and monitor incoming audio with the mic’s dedicated headphone output. The major downside is the short battery life, of only 10 hours if in recording mode.
The Shure VP83F is different from the VP83 above in that it offers integrated digital flash recording and playback, so you’ll be able to record uncompressed WAV files to MicroSDHC cards up to 32 GB. And you can monitor the recording audio thanks to the mic’s stereo headphone output.
Like the no-flash option, the VP83F is compact and exceptionally easy to use. This makes it an excellent choice for photographers who are just entering the world of videography. You can start recording with the push of a button or navigate through the intuitive adjustment menus to customize your audio settings. The LCD screen provides you with complete activity monitoring even as you record.
You can adjust the 60dB gain range by 1dB increments, and apply a low-cut filter to help the microphone adapt to a range of recording settings. Vibration and mechanical noise are reduced through a robustly insulated shock mounting system. However, this shotgun mic does tend to pick up ambient noise.
This is convenient if you’re recording voices coming from multiple directions, as you won’t have to point the mic directly at the speaker. However, you’ll end up with added background noise from traffic, air conditioners, or even a buzz from fluorescent lights. This can be removed in post-processing if you don’t mind putting in a bit more work.
Note that this shotgun microphone will only get you 10 hours while in “record mode” on two AA batteries. This reduced battery capacity means you’ll need to keep a set of backups handy, particularly on longer shoots.
6. Saramonic VMIC
A cheap solution without skimping too much on quality. Nice, versatile design for easy transporting and use. But doesn’t produce the pro-level sound some videographers will need.
Another small and compact option, the Saramonic VMIC offers good sound quality but at an even cheaper price than the RØDE VideoMicro.
With a high-pass filter, high-frequency boost, and three-position level control, the VMIC is a versatile shotgun microphone giving users the freedom to record accurate audio in a variety of different settings. You can easily mount the external mic to the camera hot shoe, boom pole, or tripod.
While you can connect the mic to the camera, you can also record directly to an internal microSD card, giving you additional freedom to move and edit audio files. You can use cards up to 32GB, which provides plenty of space for hours of recording.
The stable and reliable shock mount system isolates the microphone from external mechanical noise and vibrations. At the same time, it’s a lightweight solution that is convenient to carry around or attach to the camera. The windshield is also quite thick, making it especially effective at blocking the wind and other unwanted environmental sounds.
As with other shotgun mics, the Saramonic VMIC is most effective when recording from sources directly in front of the camera. However, it does tend to register additional sound from the sides and behind the mic. When recording off-axis sounds, there is a noticeable drop-off of higher frequencies. But the polar pattern is wider than you’d find with other options.
Still, this microphone does provide flexibility and functionality and is a great choice for amateurs and hobbyists. But a professional videographer may want to consider one of the higher-grade options above for more reliable results.
Shotgun Mics for the Best Sound
There’s a reason shotgun mics are a common staple on a production set. While some shooting situations call for different external mics, having a shotgun microphone on hand will prove useful in most. They’re great at only capturing the sounds you want, which will make your video production run more smoothly.
We hope this guide helps in your search for the best on-camera microphone for your needs. When shooting professional videos, you wouldn’t settle for anything less than superior image quality, so why settle for less-than-perfect sound?
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