Gadget Monday: Rode VideoMic Pro
Remember what George Lucas says, “Audio is 50% of the movie going experience.”. In my opinion, the VideoMic Pro is the microphones with the best performance for it's money on the market.
Why You Want This
The most important thing: Sound Quality! I have to say, this device delivers very, very good quality audio. A 3.5mm mini-jack allows you to plug the VideoMic Pro directly into your HDSLR, camcorder, or external recorder. Combined with for example a Zoom recorder, you get production quality sound in situations where lapel mics are impractical. When *gasp* directly plugged into your DSLR, the quality of the sound is greatly improved over the build in microphone. Actually, being a proponent of ignoring the in-camera sound recoding facilities, I have to admit I am impressed with what you can get out your cameras sound when using this microphone.
A three-position decibel switch (-10, 0, +20), that when used in conjunction with the manual gain setting on for example the Canon 60D and 5D, gives very good control over audio levels during recording.
The microphone has a build in 80 Hz high pass filter, which really works when working around the hums and buzzes of events. The microphone is very directional (has a supercardioid pickup pattern).
The microphone works with a standard 9V Battery which lasts - according to Rode's spec - up to 70hours in the field. I never get more than 50 out of one battery, but that's still plenty! Speaking of batteries and power: A simple feature that is sadly missing on many other condersors are indicator lights for power-on and battery status. There is nothing worse than having to worry about your batteries crapping out giving up in the field, or forgetting to switch all your gear on before you start (I am - unfortunately - prone to these things).
On top of it, it's truly light and compact and fits nicely in any gear bag, and looks great and very professional on your camera :-)
What's Not So Good
The microphone is by no means sturdy, and Rode doesn't ship it with a case. This microphone being pro-level gear and a long term investment, you have to invest in a proper hard case, which adds to the price.
Changing the battery is difficult, especially with cold fingers: You have to futz around with the front cover which latches onto a groove under the actual barrel of the (foam covered) mic itself and then push up to latch the bottom. One really has to practise that a few times to be able to do this in the field, with stiff fingers, under low light conditions.
This is a great microphone which, with a bit of care, will serve you for many years to come. My favorite setup consists of a RODE VideoMic Pro plugged into a Zoom H1 and split into noise cancelling headphones (to control the audio during a shoot). I also sometimes use it boom or tripod mounted, and have even used it for quick IPhone video, with very very pleasing results.