Photography Gear Reviews

Rode VideoMic Pro Review

Is the Rode VideoMic Pro the king of the video microphones?

When you enter the market looking to purchase a microphone it can be a daunting place. The terminology is immediately confusing with talk of condensers, dynamics, cardoids and directionals. It feels like you're like a child walking into the middle of a movie with no frame of reference.

If you are reading about this microphone it is likely that you want to shoot some video and capture great sound. With Rode now being such a respected manufacturer of microphones it is safe to trust them that this is the right kind of microphone to do that. And indeed it is, it is a directional, condenser microphone that will capture the sound from the direction it is pointing in.

The Rode VideoMic Pro is specifically designed for use with a camera. It attaches to the hot shoe flash mount and has a 3.5mm jack that will attach directly into your camera or portable audio recorder like a Zoom H4N.  It comes with an included shock mount to reduce some of the clicks and knocks that naturally occur from the camera, like focusing and zooming. If you buy the Rode VideoMic Pro today it ships with the new and improved Rycote® Lyre® shock mount.

The actual microphone is covered by a foam cover and this cannot be removed. It sits nicely on the shock mount and has this short wire to connect to your camera or audio recorder. Many reviews mention the flimsiness of this wire. Whist it certainly isn't a robust wire I have had it for a few years now and I have never had any issues and there is no sign of it breaking or snapping.

Round the back and it reveals the biggest strength of this camera that makes it perfect for shooting video with your camera. It has a switch that will add 20db of gain to your audio. This lets you manually turn down the gain in your camera, effectively reducing noise that is normally created by the poor audio circuits in your camera. This is a killer feature and for many the sole reason they buy this mic. You can also reduce the mic gain by 10 db to properly record very loud audio sources like concerts.

In addition to this it also has a selectable hi-pass filter that reduces low end noise such as traffic and other background sounds and this is just another nice little feature that will improve your overall sound.

These features do require power though and this brings me onto the only real weakness of the Rode VideoMic Pro. This is a portable microphone so a 9v battery is used to power it up. Although it claims to have 70 hours of use there is no auto-off feature so when you’re finished filming if you forget to turn it off you can be left without power the next time you come to shoot.

This has happened to me a few times before and can be potentially prevent you from capturing the moment. I now just carry a spare 9V battery so it never happens again.

So all in all this is an excellent video microphone that gets a full 5 star review from me. There are smaller and cheaper alternatives out there. There are also video microphones out there that do not require power so if you think the batteries may be a problem for you it might worth looking at alternatives such as the rode video micro or the Sennheiser MKE 400 Shotgun Microphone.

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Unboxing the Perfect Vlog Setup

The best gear for your vlog setup.

Vlogging is becoming increasing popular with more and more people starting it up everyday. The concept is simple. Record aspects of your life in video and share them with the world. Family vlogs have taken YouTube by storm where we are allowed into people's homes to see how they live their life. Whilst this does not sound immediately brilliant, many are funny, cute and show experiences that the viewer may also be going through. Topics cover everything from a toddler potty training to break ups and deaths.

Many vlogs are creative, entertaining and moving stories that also provide valuable information and  are almost always free. It is little wonder people are tuning into vlog channels in their millions with the full spectrum of lives on offer, "hey, this guy is cool, he's just like me".

With the eyes of the world turning to vlogs it is also no wonder so many people are starting their own. Where to start can be a daunting prospect. A good story and an entertaining or interesting host are a must, but beyond that all you need is a camera.  Any camera will do to get started. We all have a mobile phones with a camera on, so do not waste anymore time and get started today.

This is a photography channel though so I wanted to enter the vlog world with the best shot possible using the best gear and vlog setup I either have or can afford. I decided that flexibility and weight were key. With camera gear this is so often a trade off as the better gear is often heavier.

Below is a list of my gear for my vlog setup and thoughts around why I chose each item:

GorillaPod SLR-Zoom - I knew I wanted to use a GorillaPod thanks to the flexibility it offers. Using the GorillaPod as a selfie stick keeps the camera away from your body which provides a better shot. It also ensures you don't see your whole arm in the shot. It acts as a small tripod and can be strapped to a post, fence or other object providing the flexibility for different shots. The GorillaPod SLR-Zoom is half the weight and cheaper than the more expensive version that features more links.

Buy the GorillaPod SLR-Zoom in the UK | US

Canon EOS 700D - This is where a trade off occurs in this vlog setup. The Canon EOS 700D is cheap and light and that goes in it’s favour. However the camera does not feature the Dual Pixel Auto Focus system ,featured on mid range cameras like the Canon 70d and 80d, that provides smooth and reliable auto focus whilst shooting video. The 700D does have a Hybrid AF system that does a similar job but just not as fast or reliably. The flip out screen is another feature the Canon EOS 700D provides and this makes composing your shot much easier.

Buy the Canon EOS 700D in the UK | US

Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM - A wide angle lens really helps to take a handheld vlog to the next level. Having the subject appear further back from the camera coupled with the ability to capture more of the background creates a more appealing image and increased context. The Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM provides that. Many vloggers are using the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM. This offers a similar wide angle and has very slightly better low light capabilities but the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM has a couple of killer features. The first is the STM focus. This is very quiet and smooth and it would be greedy to ask for more, it is literally silent whilst focusing video. Secondly it also has image stabilisation. When it comes to hand held video this can really improve the quality of your shot.

Buy the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM in the UK | US

RODE VideoMic Pro - Using an external microphone is virtually a necessity when using a DSLR camera on a Vlog. The onboard camera is very poor quality and will be offensive to many viewers. The RODE VideoMic Pro is light but provides great quality. The key to this is the built in hi-pass filter that cuts out low level hiss and background noise and also the 20dB boost. This allows the gain on the camera to be reduced to a minimum level meaning sound quality will be improved with very little hiss. The final piece to the sound puzzle is to add a wind shield to keep quality up when shooting outside in windy conditions.

Buy the RODE VideoMic Pro in the UK | US

I will be starting my own vlog very soon.

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