Basic High Quality Audio Package for a DSLR
I bought my audio equipment based on research I had done on websites like cheesycam and Philip Blooms blog as well as RODE workshops I have attended. There are equivalent options to my recommendations but I’m only going to mention the items I own. All the following links, pictures etc will take you to Amazon.com. If you buy the item by following the link you don’t pay more for the item but I get 2% of the sale price. I figured if you buy a Zoom because you read my post why shouldn’t Amazon pay me $5.20. So, apologies for the pictures also being ads but if you follow the links you will also find loads of reviews written by people who have bought the items… some of them are quite entertaining
I knew recording audio with the Panasonic GH2 was not going to be good enough for every situation. It might be good enough for ambience or in an emergency but if I wanted to capture clear voices I would need a separate audio recorder. I started off buying the Zoom H4N a four track digital audio recorder with built in stereo microphones. It records to SD cards same as the GH2 so I don’t have to carry two types of recording media. The quality of the recording is mind blowing! The last time I recorded my voice was in the 80s with a tape deck. Anyone who has done that will wonder at the wizardry that must be inside the Zoom to make the spoken word sound so good. I even use this at client meetings so I have a hard copy of everything said.
I attended the Rode/Philip Bloom workshops and had a look at the (then) new Rode VideoMic Pro it’s small form factor and recommendation by Philip Bloom sold me on it. It works great and looks pro especially with a Rode DeadCat on it. It comes with a 10 year warranty and mine came with the dead cat (wind muff) for free. The wind muff muffles the wind (funny that) – a must when shooting outdoors or in one of the windy fart camps that are popular these days.
I also bought a Rode Micro Boom Pole and a Rode Extension Cable. I’ve not used either of these. I bought the boom to use the VideoMic Pro in narrative films because at the time I thought you needed a dedicated sound guy for that. If you live in NSW Australia and want to collaborate please contact me.
Interviews are also a good place to use the Rode on a boom pole with a dedicated boom swinger (operator). I’ve always used lav mics in interviews because getting the microphone very close to the mouth makes it easier to get clean audio with less background noise. I read a Cheesycam post that recommended the Audio Technica Lav mic and for $22 how can you go wrong?
I also bought assorted connectors a 3.5 to 2.5mm stereo right angle connector to convert the GH2s 2.5mm headphone jack to the more common 3.5mm. I had to trim the plastic around the 2.5mm end with a knife to plug it into the GH2 so make sure you have a little length to play with just in case. Three 3.5mm to 1/4″ mono jacks to plug the lav mics and Rode into the Zoom. I also bought a short 3.5mm male to male lead to go from the headphone jack of the Zoom to Headphone/Microphone jack of the GH2.
Plugging the output of the Zoom into the GH2 helps when you sync the audio from the Zoom H4N to the footage you have shot with GH2 because the audio wave forms will look similar. There is also software called Plural Eyes that can do the sync automatically.
I have a RedrockMicro rig that I use to mount them together for portability. The Zoom has a standard 1/4 inch mounting hole and Redrock make a small adapter that connects to a 15mm rod. I put the Rode on the GH2 flash bracket. The camera, camera mount and rods can attach to my Tripod, Monopod or shoulder rig via Arca Swiss mounting plates and quick releases.
I have wired people for sound with the lav mic and just popped the Zoom H4N in their pocket but its a little big for that. So I ended up buying a zoom H1 as well. Its only a single track recorder so your a bit more limited than with it’s big brother but it’s just incredibly handy. I have started taking it everywhere if I’m on a train and I like the ambient sounds I will grab a couple of minutes of audio. You can put it on the end of a boom pole or plug a lav mic into it and put it in someones pocket; it’s very light. The next step might be wireless mics so you can monitor the audio levels while recording but you want to spend $500-$600 on wireless so they really are a big step up.