Which mini-shotgun mic is best for HDSLR use?

by planetmitch23 Comments

Are you trying to decide on which mini-shotgun mic to use for your HDSLR? This post may help, but it won't answer the question directly. It is hard to know which to pick – especially if you aren't a mic expert (and not many of us are – I sure have a lot to learn and I'll bet most of you do too). This morning, the folks at RØDE tweeted this video and so I gave it a watch – and if you're looking for mics, this might help you decide. It comes from Chad Johnson (whom I've not contacted) and I'll present it just as Chad did – letting you decide if it helps you make a decision.

Redrock Micro

The shootout

Shootout of the Mini Shotguns! from Chad Johnson on Vimeo.

Here's a little shootout I did between 4 miniature shotguns. The Sennheiser MKE400, Rode VideoMic Pro, the Que Audio Micro Shotgun, and the Rode VideoMic. Who sounds best? Who has the best side rejection? Listen and you decide. Additional Audio Tests of these mics as audio files here: precisionintermedia.com/chadswebstuff/

My notes

I don't have a great deal of experience with a wide variety of mics – but I do own both the RØDE VideoMic Pro and the RØDE VideoMic as well as the Sennheiser MKE400.

I haven't ever tried to do a side by side test only because I don't have enough experience to know how to do a proper test. I initially bought the RØDE Stereo Mic and learned that for some of my usage (especially when making videos at shows like NAB) it's sound profile gathered too much audio from the sides – which is ok, as long as you learn what situations that is good. And then I broke the shoe mount by dropping it. This was at about the same time as I was learning more about the different kinds of mics and realized that for things like interviews at shows, I should be using a shotgun style mic.

So I bought the RØDE VideoMic. My main objection to that mic was that it sticks out the back when it is mounted on the shoe of the camera and since I shoot stills and video, getting my eye up to the viewfinder on the camera to shoot stills just doesn't happen. The mic hits you in the forehead.

Next, I bought the Sennheiser MKE400 because it allowed me to shoot both stills and video without bumping my head.

Recently, RØDE sent me the RØDE VideoMic Pro for evaluation and it is much better at letting me shoot both stills and video (tho it still sticks out the back just a bit). It has performed very well tho at the NAB show, when I was taking it off the camera at the end of the day, the screw that holds the shoe mount to the mic popped off somewhere and I couldn't find it. I was lucky I had the Sennheiser as a backup. I have reported the incident to RØDE and they are looking into it. I really didn't expect it to separate as I haven't put the mic thru that much use yet – but I'm very impressed with their interest in checking into the situation. Has anyone else had that problem?

I was very glad to bump into this comparison that Chad put together – it is very helpful to hear the differences in the mics – especially if you're listening thru headphones. It may help you pick a mic – and it may help you decide that for your project, you'll need something more advanced or a different kind of mic – so it is good to learn something new!

What are your mini-shotgun mic experiences? Which sounds better to you after watching?

Blogger's Disclaimer: as I point out in the story – RØDE has sent me a RØDE VideoMic Pro for evaluation. I have purchased all the other mics on my own.

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)

Zeiss Cinema Lenses


  1. Wow, the Sennheiser sounded pretty disappointing when going through the Moku – but I liked it how it sounded direct into the DSLR.

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  4. I too was surprised at how thin the MKE400 was sounding in my MOTU test. To make sure there wasn’t something wrong I went back into the project to re-record the whole MOTU segment, just in case I had the low-cut engaged on that mic. It turns out there was nothing wrong with the original test. I recorded some more MKE400 stuff at the same settings with and without the low-cut engaged, and the results were the same. I’m not sure why it seems to sound worse with the MOTU. I even used a different channel, and it sounded the same. Here are further tests using various preamps, going into a Sony D-50: precisionintermedia.com/chadswebstuff/

  5. I originally bought an MKE400 because of the compact size, but then the VideoMic Pro came out — still compact, but it was said to filter out nearfield (camera/operator) noise better. The boompole mounting feature was also nice, for when I get to that point.

    So I sent the Sennheiser back and got the Rode. It would have been nice to do my own hands-on comparo, but I couldn’t return the MKE400 if I opened the package.

  6. I think the Rode VMP has better side rejection than the MKE400, so the VMP will definately reject camera noise better, as evedenced in my Shootout of the Mini Shots video.

  7. The RØDE VideoMic hot shoe mount can be moved to one end of the cradle. In this position the microphone does not interfere with normal photography.

    Unfortunately the microphone must be turned around in the cradle, it must be removed from the cradle and remounted the other way. The rubber bands are a little fragile, I broke one when I performed this operation on my VideoMic. The microphone comes with spares, so this was no problem.

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  9. I own three of those mics. But the real test is not ready copy one foot away. Get on the other side of the room and let’s see what they sound like.

    1. Chuck the thing is, no mic sounds good from across the room. Any mics operational distance is usually within 2 feet. Using it beyond that is going to result in roomy audio. But there are plenty of videos of people misusing the mics. I do have one with the mic on the camera and talking to my niece from between 1 and 4 feet away: www.vimeo.com/20903625

  10. Hi CHAD, thanks for the comparison test. After playing around with the video Mic a year ago I unscrewed the hotshoe mount that sits in the middle of the mic and I screwed it backwards on the sled so now I don’t bump into it everytime I take my Viewfinder and want to take some stills. It’s quite easy to do and saves you from buying the Video Mic Pro, which IMHO sounds pretty much the same…

  11. I have used the Older Rode , but now own the Sennheiser, straight into the DSLR ( 5D / 7D ) and its great! I love how compact it is, it doesnt show up on super wide angle lenses !

    1. Hi Chad,

      I’m having trouble viewing the video so excuse me if this was covered therein. My question is whether it really matters what mic you use if it doesn’t address the AGC. You state the Senn is great, but what does that mean for DSLR audio recording in particular? Seems like the best way to record ANY audio in DSLR land is by going old school with a separate recorder, or maybe tinkering with Hudson’s hack and the juiced link. Either way, that opens the door to XLR inputs and a vast sea of pro shotguns and wired lavs. Or is it just a cost issue that you think DSLR shooters may be concerned with? Do you have any thoughts on the production-level mics like the NTG series, etc?

      1. I did a series of extensive tests between the Rode videomic, and videomic pro. No difference in sound quality between the videomic and videomic pro that I could tell. If you read the Rode literature carefully, at no point do they claim any difference in sound quality between the videomic and videomic pro. If the ‘pro” was better, you’d think they’ed just discontinue the videomic.

        Speaking as an older, experienced guy. The bigger mic on the videomic is better because it impresses clients, who see the tiny Canon EOS as a toy. I agree its nonsense, but the clients do like the dog-n-pony show.

        1. Some clients are pretty dumb when it comes to audio. The smarter ones won’t care WHAT mic you have on your camera, because their main concern will be that you’re using the mic … mounted to the camera! I saw this happen at an NAB show interview. This guy walks up to his subject with his t2i and videomic and starts shooting and asking questions (handheld, of course, and no headphones). The subject told him to come back when he learns how to properly record an interview. Ouch. (It probably didn’t help that the subject was a microphone accessory exhibiibitor)…

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  13. Hi! I’m interest to buy a shotgun mic and I need an advice. I’m going to use the mic on my 5d MkII only. I read the technical specification of sennheiser mke 400 and of rode video mic pro…but I’m not expert on sound. I like the mke 400 for his metal construction, his size, warranty, life battery….but the sound? Please give me an advice. If I buy an mke400 it’s a good idea Or not?

  14. Hi! I need a shotgun mic for my 5d mk2 … I like the sannheiser mke 400. Could you suggest me if it’s the good solution? I’m going to use the mic Just on the dslr. Could you suggest me the right mic tu buy? Sennheiser Or rode pro?

  15. Pingback: Which mini-shotgun mic is best for HDSLR use? | answers @ planet5D

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