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Modern DSLR cameras are capable of shooting high definition video as well as stills, and some models are amazingly good at this, meaning that videographers and film makers are increasingly using them in place of larger, more expensive video cameras. Although they have built-in microphones, these don't come close to matching the quality of the optics and shouldn't really be relied upon for getting a good take. sE's ProMic Laser is the company's first foray into the on-camera mic world. Although it will be joined by various other models, the Laser is the first to hit the streets and is a shotgun condenser model with a super cardioid polar pattern, 20 Hz'"20 kHz frequency response and 120 dB max SPL.
It's powered by one AAA battery which means it can be more sensitive and have a lower noise floor than non-powered mics, and the use of a consumer battery means no tedious mucking about with phantom power or proprietary power packs like you get with some camera mics. The mic itself comes with a custom shock mount and a coiled mini jack connector cable. Fitting the battery is as simple as popping the body out of the mount and unscrewing the casing. Although incredibly lightweight, the Laser feels well built and very solid. There's a windshield too which should be used whenever you're recording outside.
Shotgun mics are directional and the shock mount attaches to the hot shoe of your DSLR, or the optional boom pole that sE makes, if you prefer to use it as a boom mic. There's a -10dB pad that you can activate to tame the sensitivity a bit in hot audio environments, a built-in low cut and an on/off switch on the mic to save battery.
Once fitted to your DSLR, the mic adds virtually no weight and is held securely in place. Connect it to the mic input on your DSLR to capture directly to the video files or to a solid state recorder to sync the two up later in software. The upside of using a recorder is that you'll also have an emergency backup from the camera's own mic in case you forget to switch the Laser on: this really depends on how likely you are to make a mistake. You can set a recording level in-camera if your model supports this, or it might choose an auto setting.
As you might expect, the Laser offers far better and crisper results than the built-in mic of even a good quality DSLR. Filming a subject relatively up close, it could do the job of a lapel mic in recording someone speaking. If they are further away or move around, your levels will of course vary. For more general recording it's excellent, capturing an accurate and well-balanced signal to complement your visuals.
If you are serious about recording video you will definitely need a more advanced audio recording solution than your camera mic offers. At the price, the ProMic Laser is an elegant and powerful way to greatly enhance the audio recording capabilities of your DSLR setup with a minimum of fuss.
Price: £99 ex VAT / $179
Pros: Very lightweight but solid. Great results. Simple battery power. Compatible with sE boom and larger windshield.
Cons: Coiled cable can kind of stick out a bit unless you tuck it away.
|SPECIAL: Before 29th October, 2014, enter our $10,000 Film Craft contest where you can win sE Electronics Mics and other gear. Enter Here.|