Camera & Audio Equipment Recommendations

The equipment recommendations are pretty straight forward for producing audio slideshows (PhotoFilms) and shooting Video.

You’ll need your photographic equipment – Although I shot Canon in both analog and digital for over 30 years, I switched to the Olympus micro four thirds system fully in December 2015 due to it’s compact size and excellent image/video footage quality.  The system provides the option to compose & shoot in camera 16×9 aspect ratio which reduces post production time and rendering out full HD quality videos. The most important thing is that your photographic gear should be an interchangeable lens camera system.

Regarding the specifics for acquiring audio, I’ve tested some of the compact audio recorders on the market and I have my preferences.  They’re lightweight and compact, a real advantage for working self contained. These brands are well known and you can’t go wrong with any of them.

Audio Recorders

For audio recorders, I recommend the following for compact recorder options:

 

Although each of the recorders has built in microphones, I’m a firm believer is using external mics whenever possible to obtain the best quality audio as possible. It’s important to remember the audio narrative is going to drive the visuals of your projects so consider this as important as top quality lenses for your cameras.

Microphones

The hand held type microphones I recommend will work in conjunction with any of these recorders as long as you use the appropriate 3.5mm TRS to XLR cable adapter.  These microphones are also battery driven as needed as they provide a much cleaner signal to the recorder as opposed to microphones requiring power to be supplied from the recorder itself (the exception being the Rode VideoMicro).  The battery powered mics also allow you to use an xlr to 3.5mm TRS adapter to non-xlr connector recorders as well.

The battery powered full sized microphones I recommend:

For smaller compact microphones, I recommend the following:

For capturing ambient audio – something that’s important to give the theater of the mind some construct for what people are viewing and listening to, utilizing your recorders built in stereo microphones can provide a true ambient experience. For those wanting to go the next step up in sound quality – you can utilize external stereo microphones.  These microphones below take your ambient audio acquisition to the next level in sound quality:

What I currently use for my audio acquisition:  I use the RODE NTG-2 with furry windscreen (mic uses an XLR connector – I recommend using it with a pistol grip) as my primary microphone on a Tascam DR-40 audio recorder.  The DR-40 is a good recorder – but not great.  The trade off is the price is quite reasonable and the weaknesses are overshadowed by all its pro’s in my work needs.  At times I also use the Rode VideoMicro with a Tascam DR-05 when I need to keep things really compact.

Lastly, there’s the use of a lavaliere microphone.  It’s been my experience that they’re viable when no other option is available.  The compromise is the placement of the mic can be less than ideal and as such the audio quality can suffer depending on the brand.  I do use a wired lavaliere mic on occasion but find the audio quality is low in quality if interviewing more than one person.  On the other hand, the use of a wireless lavaliere mic does have advantages to gather audio of the subject as they move around as long as mic placement is sufficient for not having clothing rub against the mic, thus spoiling the take.  The caveat is that they are expensive in relation to the other mic options above, but for those with the money to spend, it’s a worthwhile investment, especially if you ‘re looking to also shoot video.

Although I haven’t used it yet, the reports I’m hearing are that Rode’s RØDELink Filmmaker wireless Lavaliere Kit offers a balance of price, audio quality and performance.  I will eventually be adding it to my audio acquisition bag.  Another option that provides an ideal hybrid solution is the Tascam DR-10L, or Zoom F1-LP – both of which are compact audio recorders with lavalieres that can be placed in the subjects pocket for more mobile interview material.

Other audio recording accessories should include spare batteries and both a foam and furry windscreen for both the built in recorders microphones as well as external microphones.

If you really want to delve into the realm of audio, I recommend Transom as the place to go.