Zoom H5 Review + Why It’s Useful in Video Production

There are several budget-friendly audio recorders available that are capable machines for recording sound in video productions, and the Zoom H4n and the Tascam DR-40 stand out as popular favorites. The new Zoom H5 recently arrived on the scene, and I finally had the chance to use it. On paper, I was aware of the new features it offered video people before I ever touched the thing. When I used the H5 for an extended period, I discovered a few more things that make it more attractive for video production, and I found some things that could be improved as well.

For starters, the most obvious thing that sets the Zoom H5 apart from the pack is its interchangeable microphone module port Continue reading Zoom H5 Review + Why It’s Useful in Video Production

First Thoughts on the New Zoom H6

At long last, Zoom has announced the follow up to their popular H4n Handy Recorder, the new H6. Recently, when I shared my opinion on the new Tascam DR-60D, the first thing I looked for was more than two XLR inputs, and unfortunately, I didn’t see them. You can’t see the four inputs on the Zoom H6 either (in the press photos—at least), but they are there. So that’s a good thing.

Continue reading First Thoughts on the New Zoom H6

First Impressions of the Tascam DR-60D

I just found out about the new Tascam DR-60D camera-mountable audio recorder. I read the description and specs thoroughly on Tascam’s website, and I figured I’d share my initial impressions with you. First of all, let me explain exactly what this thing is

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The Basics of Video Microphones

The microphones used to capture sound for video productions are a pretty deep topic, however, the basics are fairly simple, and that’s what I’m going to cover in this blog post. If you’re not in the mood to read, I also cover all of this information in the following video:

I’ve written about on-camera microphones a lot on my blog, however, for the most part, they’re not very good tools for sound capture in video. Continue reading The Basics of Video Microphones

Shotgun Shootout: Sennheiser MKH 8060 vs. Rode NTG-3

Comparing the Sennheiser MKH 8060 to the Rode NTG-3 is similar to racing a Porche Boxster against a Volkswagon Golf R. Even if the the VW performs impressively against the Porche, it won’t sway the decision making of the people who buy these cars. These microphones are for two very different kinds of users. Generally, the people who buy the Rode NTG-3 are looking for the best sound you can get for under $1000, and the people who buy the MKH 8060 are willing to pay a premium for premium sound.

Continue reading Shotgun Shootout: Sennheiser MKH 8060 vs. Rode NTG-3

How to Set Audio Levels

People regularly ask me how to adjust the settings on their audio equipment so they can record the best sound on their productions. It’s a perfectly reasonable question, however, I can never supply the answer they want. I can’t instruct them to turn the gain on their audio recorder to 7, and set the camera input level to 3. Why? The variables will often be different, and where these adjustments need to be set will change. There is no short and sweet answer. What’s needed is real instruction, so, instead of authoring a paid eBook on the topic, I’m going to try to spell it all out in this blog post, using language that camera people can easily understand.

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Review of the New Sennheiser MKH 8060 Shotgun

In preparation for the upcoming Great On-Camera Microphone Shootout 2011, I had the chance to give the new Sennheiser MKH 8060 shotgun microphone a good, solid test. You can read this entire blog post and watch my review video, but I’ll go ahead and spoil it for you right now… This is one great sounding microphone!

One thing I’ve noticed is that the compact size of the MKH 8060 doesn’t really come through in pictures and on video. Even though it appears to be a somewhat average-sized shotgun microphone on screen, don’t believe what you see. This microphone is much shorter than the average shotgun. Check out my review video to hear how nice it sounds:

The mic was plugged into my Sound Devices 302 field mixer, where it was supplied with 48 volts of phantom power, and then plugged into my Panasonic GH2 camera. What’s remarkable about the sound in this video is Continue reading Review of the New Sennheiser MKH 8060 Shotgun

Overview of the Nikon ME-1 Camera Microphone

For decades Nikon has been one of the leading camera manufacturers on the planet, but, since the announcement of their new ME-1 Stereo Microphone, the question suddenly becomes: how good of an audio manufacturer is Nikon? Still images and audio fidelity are two very different arenas. I recently had the chance to crack open an ME-1 in preparation for my upcoming project entitled: The Great On-Camera Mic Shootout 2011. I figured I’d give you a little overview of this new, camera-friendly microphone.

Before I get down to the nitty-gritty of this cool little mic, I wanted to remind you to check out last year’s mic shootout: The Great On-Camera Mic Shootout 2010. It was inspired by Zacuto’s big camera shootout video series. I’m looking forward to creating this year’s installment, but unlike Zacuto’s 2011 camera shootout, The Great On-Camera Mic Shootout 2011 will be made entirely with HDSLR cameras. Here’s a little teaser video about the ME-1 to get you all pumped up for this year’s shootout:

So, as you can tell from the video, I didn’t let you hear what the mic sounds like. Sorry! You’re just going to have to wait for The Great On-Camera Mic Shootout 2011 to be published to hear the ME-1 in action. I’m a jerk.

Sound quality aside, the basic attributes of this microphone seem quite nice. I love the fact that it Continue reading Overview of the Nikon ME-1 Camera Microphone

Wireless Mic Shootout: Sennheiser G3 vs. Lectrosonics

Sennheiser G3 and Letrosonics SM transmittersIf you’ve ever looked into buying a wireless microphone for a video camera or an HDSLR, you probably figured out pretty quickly that the best entry-level system is the $600 Sennheiser G3, while the professionals use higher end Lectrosonics systems. Most people are kind of bummed that there isn’t decent entry-level system for under $600, and the next step up in quality above that is over $2000 more.

Basically, if you’re looking for a battery-powered wireless lav system and you’re on a budget, picking out a model is a drop dead easy decision. Without question the Sennheiser G3 is the best choice. The bad news is that you have to cough up $600. If you’re curious how the the Sennheiser performs quality-wise against the Lectrosonics, I made this little mic shootout to give you an idea:

I’d just like to state again (like I did in the video) that comparing these two wireless systems is a bit silly. Lectrosonics are more expensive for a reason. They’re built without compromises for professional situations where there’s no room for error. However, with that in mind, it’s still impressive to hear how well the Sennheiser G3 performs in this shootout. Continue reading Wireless Mic Shootout: Sennheiser G3 vs. Lectrosonics

What’s Cool About the Beachtek DXA-SLR for HDSLR Video

Canon DSLR and BeachtekThere are lots of ways to plug XLR microphones into an HDSLR camera now-a-days. You can use a juicedLink box, a Studio 1 Productions adapter, or even a new Sound Devices MixPre-D with the mounting accessory. But if you want to keep things relatively simple yet still get great sound, one of the best options is the Beachtek DXA-SLR.

For ages the name “Beachtek” was used much in the same way that the term “Xerox” is used for copies. When you needed to plug an XLR microphone into your camera, people told you to use a Beachtek. They certainly wouldn’t say “Use a Camcorder XLR Adapter,” even though, technically, that’s what these boxes are called. In recent years Beachtek has faced lots of healthy competition from the likes of a new-comer called juciedLink. But Beachtek didn’t rest on its laurels, and recently developed the DXA-SLR specifically for HDSLR video shooters. I recently got my hands on one, and gave it a little test drive:

There’s a lot more going on with this box than I get into in the video. I just didn’t have enough time to go over everything that makes the DXA-SLR cool. I’ve been busy as a nut lately. I just went five weeks between blog posts – NOT GOOD! But thankfully there’s such thing as the written word, and in this post I’ll make it clear why the DXA-SLR is a pretty cool little audio solution for DSLR video.

Continue reading What’s Cool About the Beachtek DXA-SLR for HDSLR Video