Best Shotgun Mics for DSLRs in 2018 – Record High-Quality Audio
If you’re into DSLR videography, you probably know that there’s more to it than just having a good camera. You’re a storyteller, and you want to make sure your audience can experience your story in the best way. To make sure this happens, having a good microphone can be of equal importance.
The shotgun mic is among the most popular choices of videographers. This is because they ensure the clarity of the sound you’re recording. And since this can make a world of difference to your work, it’s important to choose the right mic.
The number of choices out there is huge, so you might have to do quite some research. To make this process easier, I’ll review some of the best DSLR mics.
8 Best DSLR Shotgun Microphones - Don’t Neglect the Audio
Mind you, the best things in life don’t always have to be cost no object. You’ll find a few awesome shotgun mics here that happen to offer the best value.
Table of Contents
- 8 Best DSLR Shotgun Microphones - Don’t Neglect the Audio
- Why Use a Shotgun Microphone?
- How to Choose a Suitable On-Camera Mic for Your DSLR
Rode is a go-to brand of many hobbyists and professionals, so seeing a couple of their mics on our list shouldn’t surprise you. The first one is the Video Mic GO, which can be a great option for beginners, as well as anyone on a budget.
It’s simple to use, since it doesn’t have any complex settings or mechanisms, so it’s a great starting point for aspiring videographers. It doesn’t require batteries, since it’s powered by the external microphone input of your camera.
Another strong point of the Rode VMGO is how lightweight it is. At only 0.16 lbs. (73g), it won’t add much to the weight of your camera. The build quality is surprisingly good for the price, and the mic features a Rycote Lyre shock mount, which will ensure isolation from vibrations and bumps.
When it comes to sound quality, you will get clear directional audio, if not the best in the business. You might have to spend quite some time on equalization after filming in order to get the most out of this mic.
The TAKSTAR SGC-598 is another affordable option that has a number of features that make it worth considering. It might not be packed with premium features that professionals need, but it can still be a great mic for beginners who want to experiment with new equipment.
This one requires batteries to work (1.5V AA alkaline batteries) for up to 100h of playtime. In most cases, you won’t have to recharge or replace the batteries that often, so you don’t have to worry about the mic letting you down when you need it. There’s also a low power indicator, so you can have the replacement ready.
The SGC-598 does a great job of reducing mechanical noises, thanks to the shock-proof design. It also features an aluminum housing, which will ensure EMI (electromagnetic interference) resistance. It uses the standard universal connecting mechanism, so you can connect it to your camera easily.
The sound quality of this mic is decent. Nothing too exciting, but definitely good enough for the price. You need to be pretty close to your subject in order to get high-quality sound, which might be a bit inconvenient and limit the variety of uses.
On the other hand, it does offer some neat features like 200Hz low-frequency attenuation, as well as 10dB sensitivity enhancement. This can help with getting a crisper sound and removing surrounding noises.
If you’re looking for a high-end microphone, this one may be your choice. It’s packed with useful features for professionals and hobbyists. If you’re willing to spend a bit more on a shotgun mic, the Shure VP83 can be a great solution for capturing high-quality sound.
An important thing about this mic is that it offers a variety of uses. It features different controls that you can adjust according to your environment in order to get the best sound. Thanks to the super-cardioid polar pattern, you can capture the sound from the source without catching unwanted audio.
Thanks to the all-metal construction of the mic, you’ll be protected from RF (radio frequency).There’s also the Rycote Lyre system, which prevents unwanted mechanical noises. It’s also battery-powered, and it will allow for up to 125 hours of playtime using an AA alkaline battery.
Since this is a more complex option, it might take some time for you to master it, unless you’re already a pro. Also, if you’re not doing this for a living, there are cheaper alternatives out there.
This is the same wildly popular Rode VideoMic except it comes with the Fuzzy Windjammer Kit. The Rode is a medium-range mic, which offers a lot of handy features.
As far as the mic goes, it’s a fairly good one. It features a super-cardioid polar system, the Rycote Lyre Mount, so you can rest assured that it will focus on the sound from your source without distractions.
You can also select an attenuation level of -10 or -20dB. This will allow you to record very loud noises without getting a distorted sound. For low-end noise removal, you can you can use the built-in 80Hz high-pass filter. With this mic, you can adapt to different environments and record various types of content.
As for the fuzzy windjammer kit, once you try it you’ll be sold. That’s if you shoot your videos outdoor. But then, this kit almost doubles the price of this mic, so you’d think that it’s pretty good. But wait till you try it. You’ll never have to worry about wind speed again. No problem either if you have to shoot in the wind tunnel (straight lane flanked by tall buildings) of Manhattan.
The VideoMic doesn’t require batteries. As an added bonus, Rode offers an extended 10-year warranty if you decide to register your device.
This is another mic that offers great bang for the buck. Despite a couple of downsides, which are expected from a shotgun mic in this price range, the Comica CVM-V30 offers a lot of useful features that can satisfy the needs of an average videographer. It works on two AAA batteries.
What might come as a pleasant surprise is the super-cardioid polar system, which is usually seen in more premium options. It provides good off-axis noise reduction, so you can focus on your subject more easily.
This feature, paired with the low-cut filter, makes the mic pretty versatile. The 10dB sensitivity enhancement comes in handy in all kinds of situations. Like many other great mics, it also has a shock-proof design, which adds more in terms of eliminating unwanted sounds.
Probably the biggest downside of this mic is the materials used. The plastic feels fairly cheap, and you might experience some issues with durability. Also, due to the plastic housing, there’s no EMI protection, which might affect the quality of your work.
On the other hand, it does feature a shock-proof design, which will ensure that there are no mechanical noises. This is especially important if you’re using the mic for projects like interviews, or any similar project where the emphasis is on the voice of your subject.
Now it’s time to talk about one of the premium options from Rode. The VideoMic Pro R+ is without a doubt among the best shotgun mics for DSLR cameras for it’s loaded with features that ensure premium audio quality.
First of all, there are three different power options, so you can rely on this mic wherever you go. You can power it using the Rode LB-1 lithium-ion battery, two AA batteries, or using a Micro USB. This way, you’ll have enough power for all your projects and won’t have to worry about the mic dying when you need it. There’s also the Automatic Power function, which will turn the mic off when you unplug it from the camera.
For added convenience, it comes with built-in battery door, which will make battery replacement easy, and will ensure that you don’t lose your batteries.
Another impressive feature is the digital switching, which can save you a lot of editing time. There’s a 2-stage high-pass filter, which is used to reduce the amount of unwanted low-frequency sounds. At the same time, you can use a 3-stage gain control, that has a +20dB function. This can significantly improve the audio recording quality of sounds that are otherwise hard to pick up.
Digital switching also includes the high frequency boost, which ensures higher clarity and details of the recording. Lastly, there’s a safety channel that protects the signal from clipping in case of unexpected spikes.
Of course, all these features come at a price. If you’re willing to invest real money on a good mic, this can be a great choice. However, the Rode VideoMic Pro R+ might be a bit too much mic for beginners or hobbyists.
The Rode Video Micro is, as its name suggests, one of the smallest shotgun microphone options available. It is only 42 grams (1.5oz) and 8cm (3”) long. The microphone features a metal body and is available in non-reflective black. While not exactly the most affordable mic out there, it is a great option for casual use.
The Video Micro has the cardioid polar pattern with a frequency response of 100Hz to 20kHz. Its maximum SPL is 140dB so the loud audio won’t crack up, while the sensitivity is -33dB. The package includes a furry windscreen for increased noise and wind protection when out of door. The microphone connects to the camera via a 3.5mm jack.
The microphone is passive and requires no batteries. The power is supplied by the camera and it needs to be at least 3V. The Video Micro comes with a Rycote Lyre shock mount which is made of durable thermoplastic to significantly reduce operating noise levels.
8. Movo VXR10
Movo’s VXR10 is a great little shotgun microphone, one of my favorites in the compact class. It has an aluminum construction and weighs 86g (3oz). It is 8.1cm (2.2”) long and 2.2cm (0.81”) in diameter.
The VXR10 has a cardioid polar pattern, which is standard fare for its class. The 8.1cm length doesn’t give it an impressive range, though the quality of the captured sound is very good. This points it towards indoors use and somewhat quieter settings. That being said, the VXR10 does come with a pretty good furry windscreen and a reliable, sturdy shock mount.
Thanks to the 3.5mm TRS and 3.5 TRRS connectors, the VXR10 can be paired with DSLR cameras, smartphones, tablets, audio recorders, and laptops. The exceptional connectivity makes it great for users who are on the go and don’t always have their preferred recorder at hand. It is a phantom-powered mic, meaning it’s powered by the device it is mounted on.
On the technical side, this little shotgun mic has a 35Hz - 18kHz frequency response range. The sensitivity is -42dB, so the volume will be a bit but it’s quite good at not picking up too much noise.
Why Use a Shotgun Microphone?
A shotgun microphone is often the choice of film and video-makers who want to capture high quality audio along with high-quality video. The main strength of shotgun mics compared to other types of microphones is that they’re strong at picking up on-axis signal, while filtering out noise reaching the mic from the sides. There are several major reasons you would want to opt for a shotgun. Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent.
A shotgun mic is an excellent alternative when you simply can’t have a microphone in your shot. Some of the situations might include filming a short (or a full-length) movie or making a promotional video for your product. Some professional vloggers prefer shotgun over conventional microphones, as well.
Another viable reason to use a shotgun microphone is when a conventional microphone doesn’t have enough reach. A great example where the superior range of a shotgun microphone will give you better results is when you’re covering a sports game or a concert. With a shotgun mic, you will capture the field or stage action while filtering out most of the crowd noises and cheering.
In contrast, lavalier microphones are a great solution for interviews, especially if the participants don’t move around too much. But sometimes they are simply out of question. If the interview is being done outdoors (while walking down a busy street) or in a crowded studio, the focused directionality of a shotgun microphone might save the day.
How to Choose a Suitable On-Camera Mic for Your DSLR
Now that you’ve seen my favorite picks, it’s time to decide which one would suit you the best. In order to do that, you first need to take a couple of things into account. Here’s what to keep in mind:
Depending on what you need the mic for, you will choose different features. This is important because not adapting the mic to your needs will either make you waste money on a mic with features that you don’t need, or end up with one that lacks the features you need.
For example, if you only need a mic for a single project or occasional use, a high-end device packed with all kinds of features might be a bit of an overkill.
You might be better off with an affordable option that will serve you well enough. However, I understand that sometimes people get something that’s more than they need – I do too at times – so don’t hesitate to go for the best if it makes you happy.
In a shotgun mic, directivity is one of the main features. Depending on the environment, as well as the application, you can go for one of many directivity characteristics. The mic you’ve seen here either support the cardioid or the super-cardioid directivity, as these are the best options.
If you manage to successfully find the right directivity characteristics, you’ll have a better chance at getting a high-definition sound with less unwanted noise pickup. This can save you quite some post-production and editing time.
Here are some of the main characteristics of pickup patterns commonly found in shotgun microphones.
Hypercardioid pattern is the most prevalent pattern found in small shotgun microphones, a.k.a. mini-shotguns. Aside from the prominent frontal pattern, hypercardioid microphones pick up significant signal from the sides and from the rear.
If you have one of these, it is very important to be silent while operating the mic (or camera, if the mic is mounted on it). These are great for recording musical instruments, low-noise indoor settings, and documentaries.
Supercardioid pattern is most commonly found on standard-sized shotguns. Supercardioid microphones have a similar pattern to hypercardioid microphones but pick up significantly less noise from the sides and the back. Due to their size, they also have a better reach than their mini-sized siblings.
Nonetheless, if your supercardioid mic is mounted onto the camera, be careful to reduce your operating noise to the minimum. These are good for use on film sets, stage, and TV studios.
Lobar pattern is sometimes mistakenly referred to as unidirectional. While there are no 100% unidirectional microphones, mics with lobar pattern are as close as it gets. They have a very narrow frontal pattern which might make them tricky to use on film sets or where the participants move around.
Lobar mics are better than both cardioid types at filtering out noise from the sides and also pick up the least amount of noise from the back. You should use these only on controlled sets.
Size of the Microphone
One of the most important things to consider when buying a shotgun microphone is its size. You should choose the size, as well as other characteristics, depending on your needs. Here, we’ll compare strengths and weaknesses of long and short shotguns.
Short microphones are less directional. This means that they will pick up more noise from the sides and the back, as they are almost exclusively hypercardioid. They have a shorter pickup range due to their reduced size. Generally, short shotgun microphones are made for indoor use.
Long shotgun microphones are available in supercardioid and lobar variants, which grant them higher directionality than the hypercardioid mics. That same directionality takes more precision and skill to operate successfully.
On the flipside, they also perform better in loud settings and have a wider frequency response range. Thanks to their increased length, they also have a greater pickup range, meaning you will be able to record from a greater distance or on a boompole.
As you’ve seen here, most shotgun mics have features that set them apart from the others. The features you’ll need will depend on your skill level, intended use, and budget.
If you’re filming a lot outside, you’d probably want to go with the longest battery life, or different power options. If you need to adapt to different environments, noise reduction features and settings might come in handy.
I hope this guide has provided you with what you need to know to make an informed decision on buying a suitable shotgun mic for your DSLR. Since these are all very good options, the one you go with will mostly be a matter of personal preference.
Take a look at the criteria for choosing the right one, explore the available options, and you’ll be one step closer to producing videos with supreme sound quality.