Friday, June 22, 2012

Mailbox: $19,- shotgun microphone

I saw some posts on a cheap Chinese shotgun mic that was supposed to equal -or outperform- the Rode Videomic in quality. Now I don't own a Rode but I have been looking into a mic for use with my GH2 or 550D/T2i.
This mic costs €15 incl shipping and for that money I wanted give it a try. You can power it up via a single AA battery or via Phantom power. I use a phantom powered mic for use with my Sony PMW-EX1R so I like the ability to use this mic with my DSLR's as well as my videocamera. (ie to be able to use it with or without batteries) If you're doing a lot of handheld with your DSLR, forget about this mic because it's too long and will stick in your face or protrude with the risk of showing in your shot. For use with a cage or shoulder rig, it should be fine.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Budget remote control for Zoom H4n

I've been shooting a documentary over the last 6 months using the Zoom H4n quite a bit for interviews. I do camera as well as audio and I noticed it was sometimes very hard to position the Zoom in such a way that I could control the functions and monitor recording.
I used the Zoom H4n in combination with the Sennheiser wireless ENG series plugged into XLR port 1 but I also wanted to record general audio on the internal mic. I would place the Zoom on a flat surface nearby like a coffee-table or a window sill but obviously that would often be out of my 'glancing sight'. I monitor my sound with a set of headphones but that's no guarantee against screwing up: with the Zoom H4n you have to press the REC button twice: once for standby and level-check, and the second time for actual recording. I am sure I am not the first person to incidentally forget to push the button for the second time...
The remote control greatly reduces the risk of missing audio because you can stick this little bugger to your tripod with velcro, for instance. Now you always have a visual clue whether or not you're recording audio! The remote blinks a red indicator when you're on standby and stays red when you're recording. Furthermore you can adjust recording and monitoring levels and control playback. All in all, a very nifty little device that makes your shoot a much more relaxing experience.
The original Zoom H4n remote control will run anywhere from $35,- to $20,- The best deal I could find for Europeans was €12 incl shipping for the Chinese (JJC) version. Little money well spent.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Cheap USB 3.0 solution for Mac

Generic USB 3.0 works like a charm

I've been looking for a USB 3.0 solution for my Mac Pro and to my dismay and great surprise, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack... Apple has not embraced USB 3.0, it appeared, because it is geared towards its own thunderbolt technology. It is an annoying strategy -and not very consistent- because USB 2.0, eSata and firewire all work fine on the Mac. So why not USB 3.0? (it is this kind of exclusive marketing that really turns me off and away from big companies. Stop engaging in these arrogant, unfriendly and frustrating behaviours, Apple!!)
So I started looking towards third party solutions. LaCie has always made PCI cards etc for the Mac and I was sure they would have such a device. And they did- but with a bunch of small print. It supports LaCie products exclusively?! Worthless... I looked at more options and there were some manufacturers who offered PCI cards for USB 3.0 for well over $100,-??!! Forget it- I paid €5,- for such a card for my PC!