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Old June 11th, 2010, 08:34 PM   #1
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Recording nat sound with Zoom H2

I'm a backpacker going on a long trip, carrying a video camera for a documentary (of the Continental Divide Trail). Am I wasting my time also carrying a Zoom H2? I've had a chance to playback what I recorded on a similar trip last summer and was very disappointed with the overall quality. (The sounds I'm trying to pick up are generally way far off.) Whatever I carry has to be very light and very small, meaning a few ounces. Should I just buy sound produced by pros? Or is there a small recorder somewhere that performs magic?
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Old June 11th, 2010, 08:51 PM   #2
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I'd recommend something a bit quieter such as a sony pcm d50 which works well for this sort of thing. Costs more though. A little camera mini tripod would come in handy too.
Oh I assumed nat sound was for nature. !
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Old June 11th, 2010, 09:15 PM   #3
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Yes, this is for recording nature that's usually far off-mic! I checked the Sony you recommended. It gets great reviews. Probably doesn't seem like a major issue to most folks but the weight...ouch! Almost a pound.
But you're saying it's very clean...even when you're recording an owl hoot that's 100 yards away, and you need to boost it in post?
If it's that good, maybe I can dump something out of my pack to make room...and sell the H2.
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Old June 11th, 2010, 10:46 PM   #4
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Also check out the Sony PCM M10. Comparable to the D50 but smaller and lighter.
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Old June 12th, 2010, 01:28 AM   #5
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Hi Lynne,

In my experience what you are trying to do is very difficult, it just sounds as though it should be easy. The signals are usually too weak and competing sounds like wind in leaves too strong. Boosting sounds in post boosts the unwanted as well as the wanted signals.

The PCM-D50 is a great recorder, if you do not have to turn the gain up past midway, however I have tried one with owls etc and it was not very successful even on a very calm and quiet evening and an external microphone. Currently I am trying out a recorder that is considerably heavier and more expensive and I am still agonising about more exotic microphones and/or parabolic reflector.

Unless you can get much, much closer to your owl than 100 m I would say save your back and source your nat sounds elsewhere
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Old June 13th, 2010, 04:01 PM   #6
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Yeah, I suppose you're right. I'd like to think that the sound I capture would be good enough to constitute the entire sound track for a particular scene. But I'm afraid it would sound too noisy and not "natural" in the proper sense of that word.
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Old June 13th, 2010, 07:39 PM   #7
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Your mind filters out a lot of sounds that a mic picks up clearly. You will hear noise, wind, your own breathing, handling noise, footsteps, and a faint owl. Best to find an owl sound and put it in your project. A mic is designed to pick up things close to it. No matter what recorder you are using you will get about the same results as you did before. You need a blimp system to block wind, and that's too bulky to bring.
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