For the benefit of others, I'm CC'ing a copy of a conversation I had in PMs on another site, in case it helps out other readers/members of this site.
This was my original question:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf
Based on XXXXXXX [text redacted] it seems you may have some decent mic knowledge.
I just got my Nikon D3s, and this is going to be my first outing with video recording at this level. I've always been a video editor, not really a video shooter. (Long-time film/digital still shooter, however.) I don't really count my S-VHS, S-VHS-C or DV work as anything serious, just fun playing around.
Anyway, I want a mic to better record audio than the little drilled-in hole that comes on the camera body.
What do you think? In terms of the company brand's reputation, the specs, etc -- not necessarily its use with this specific body. Mic's are a bit out of my normal area of expertise.
Appreciate any comments, if you can find a few moments for me. Thanks.
And here's the excellent response I was given:
Originally Posted by Cornucopia
Rode in general is one of those smart+new companies that produce economical yet quite decent quality mikes, so it's usually good bang for your buck.
However, that particular model gives me just a few small causes for concern:
1. It uses a 9V battery, instead of the usual phantom power from the camera (although your camera, the D3S IIRC, doesn't have that anyway - moot point)
2. It uses a SuperCardioid polar pattern. For camera-mounted mikes, you PROBABLY would more likely need a Shotgun (line, Lobar) mike to be more sensitive toward the exact front of where you're pointing your cam.
3. It doesn't have a STEREO mini plug (what's expected on the D3S).
4. It's not "zoomable"
5. It's fairly low noise, but has a tiny bit of "granular" distortion built in (in my experience). This isn't a problem unless you shoot low level and then remix and/or normalize alot.
Compared to the In-camera mike, you can't do wrong by it. You'll probably need a 35mm Mono (F)-to-35mm Stereo (M) adapter plug or cable, or you may possibly end up with sound being recorded on only 1 channel.
One level up from this is the Rode StereoVideoMic (US $249). Same specs, just stereo, so should be direct plug compatible.
If I were doing this, I'd choose the mike based on the requirements of the scene:
1. Wired lavalier for sit down interview
2. Wireless lav for roving main speaker/talent
3. Stereo pair of studio mikes on a stand for concert/event recording
4. Wired or Wireless shogun mike on a boom pole for live/street/news recording
5. Shotgun fitted to a parabolic reflector gun for nature/ambient recording
...Just something to consider.
Some of those "stereo" and or shotgun mikes are "zoomable", which allows adjusting both the polar patterns and M/S formula for greater or less sensitivity on the front vs. sides/back. This can be very handy, but it costs a little more.
I'm partial to Sennheiser for their shotguns, but the best ones are quite pricey (~$2500+). They have EXTREMELY low noise, high output level, low distortion, and EVEN response. That, with their matching portable power supply, and an XLR-to-35mm Stereo mini adapter, all using a boom pole with a "sock", would have been the way I'd like to go.
Work backwards by thinking what KINDS of stuff you'd want to shoot, and what SITUATIONS you'd find yourself in.
Then, based on budget & logistical circumstances, choose your mike(s) to best capture the sound. Remember, since SPL drops at a SQUARE of the distance, the CLOSER, the BETTER. This can be tweaked with mikes of differing polar patterns (sensitivity). Then, it's just a matter of form factor and whether wireless is necessary (as it is less reliable, and adds quite a bit of noise & distortion). It's best to have a varied arsenal.
But, if you're just stepping into Audio with Video, the Rode is a much better choice than things like AudioTechnica or Azden, or some worse name brands.
And thus begins my education into microphones for shooting.
It'll take me a while to digest that one. For now, I'm learning the video part of the camera, and working off in-camera mic. Once I feel that skill requires, and budget allows, I'll use this info to help make decisions on what comes next.