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Old July 28th, 2015, 07:25 AM   #1
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Looking for a good field mic for nature

Hello. I have the Canon XF300 and love it, but felt that I can get better audio with an external mic. I shoot a lot of nature and wildlife video, plus the occasional outdoor interview. I am looking for a good all-around external mic, that will take a good windscreen, to replace the on board mic on the XF300. I am looking for something that will give me good, clear ambient audio. So far I have looked at Rode as well as Sennheiser MKE600, the ME64 and ME66. Any suggestions? Bob
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Old July 28th, 2015, 08:35 AM   #2
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Re: Looking for a good field mic for nature

"So far I have looked at Rode as well as Sennheiser MKE600, the ME64 and ME66. Any suggestions?"
- How much are you looking to spend? Stereo, mono or surround? The above mentioned Sennheisers' are mono and budget priced / budget quality..Which Rode? Rode's NTG-3 is their top of line shotgun and a worthy competitor to the slightly more expensive Sennheiser 416. Don't forget to factor in wind screens (not cheap) and shock mounts. An high quality external preamp should be considered as well.. as is a quality audio recorder. (Zoom ain't synonyms with quality BTW). In any case.. you get what you pay for..
A microphone mounted on the camera is about the worse possible place in any scenario. For interviews, a lavaliere may be the best option if your a OMB operation traveling light.

BTW, nature recording is not my primary area of expertise and there's many options to consider.
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Old July 28th, 2015, 03:27 PM   #3
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Re: Looking for a good field mic for nature

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Originally Posted by Bob Safay View Post
Hello. I have the Canon XF300 and love it, but felt that I can get better audio with an external mic. I shoot a lot of nature and wildlife video, plus the occasional outdoor interview. I am looking for a good all-around external mic, that will take a good windscreen, to replace the on board mic on the XF300.
I'd be looking at a mid-side (M/S, or MS) pair. I really like stereo for ambients, and MS is about as light and compact as you can get, and Rycote makes windscreens for various pairings. Light weight enough for booming. And you can make some adjustments on the stereo width of MS in post.

For exterior work I'd definitely be looking at Sennheiser. Probably their MKH40/MKH30 pairing for MS. It ain't cheap, but it really works well.

One place to look for more info might be the Wildlife Sound Recording Society. Their forums seem to be pretty active.
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Old July 30th, 2015, 10:02 AM   #4
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Re: Looking for a good field mic for nature

I would suggest the Sennheiser MKH 416 MKH 416 | B&H Photo Video

I use it on my C300 with a rycote standard softie RYS18M | B&H Photo Video

However, at times the wind noise is high then you need to use the full zeppelin. The MKH 416 will also help you for the outdoor interviews.

Having said that have a long cable for situations where it is better to place the microphone off camera.

Also, I would like to point out that most of the sounds that you hear in nature documentaries are recorded separately or Foley. I just returned from a shoot. On one of the days, I had just climbed on top of a hill to shoot a leopard in another hillock when two leopards started growling at each other. It was obviously way beyond the limit of any shotgun microphone every made. By the time I set up my Telinga parabolic microphone, the growling was over.

I have stereo microphones but those will not help in such situations. A lot of stereo effects are added afterwards.

Unlike cameras, microphones last for a long long time. Buy the best microphone you can afford. Also, they retain their value well. That is why even though you are looking at the MKE 600, I would suggest you look at the MKH 416.
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Old July 31st, 2015, 06:24 AM   #5
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Re: Looking for a good field mic for nature

Thank you all for your reply's, always learning something. I have been videoing wildlife all over the US and South America. in the past I have owned and used every Canon XL model, and have been mixing audio for years. What I am looking for is a good alternative to the built in microphone on the Canon XF300. Also, I want to cancel out side and rear noise, and be able to use a good windscreen.hat is why I was looking at a shotgun. Thanks for all your help, I am pretty sure I will go with a Seenhieser, just haven't decided on the model. Thanks again. Bob
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Old July 31st, 2015, 02:14 PM   #6
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Re: Looking for a good field mic for nature

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I am pretty sure I will go with a Sennheiser, just haven't decided on the model.
If it's gotta be a shotgun, Sennheiser's MKH 8060 is what I'd be looking at. Very sensitive, very low noise, and nicely light weight for booming when needed. Oh, and it sounds amazingly good. Does a great job with the off axis sounds too.
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Old August 2nd, 2015, 06:29 AM   #7
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Re: Looking for a good field mic for nature

Bruce, that is a beautiful mic, but just a bit pricey. I think I will do I little more research. Bob
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Old August 2nd, 2015, 02:03 PM   #8
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Re: Looking for a good field mic for nature

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Bruce, that is a beautiful mic, but just a bit pricey. I think I will do I little more research. Bob
But will last you through 5 to 10 replacement cameras - you will replace the camera every few years, but you won't need to replace the mic..
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Old August 4th, 2015, 07:19 AM   #9
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Re: Looking for a good field mic for nature

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... I am looking for a good all-around external mic, that will take a good windscreen, ...
I think you'll find you can put a windscreen on any mic. But wind protection isn't black and white. It's a matter of degrees of protection. After years of using fur on top of foam, I bit the bullet and got a Rycote S-Series blimp and K-Tek boom pole with built-in cable and side connector. If all you want is a camera mounted shotgun with a deadcat, that's one thing. But if you want something more serious, plan on $250 for a separate blimp and suspension holder.

Also, if you go camera mounted and the shotgun mic you choose has a bass cutoff switch, test it by blowing on the switch using a straw. A piece of gaff tape over it does wonders.
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Old August 5th, 2015, 11:25 AM   #10
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Re: Looking for a good field mic for nature

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test it by blowing on the switch using a straw. A piece of gaff tape over it does wonders.
Yes indeed... Turbulent air can enter from switches, the connector and other joining surfaces. Especially on the low priced (under $500) variety. (again..you get what you pay for)
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Old September 5th, 2015, 07:26 AM   #11
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Re: Looking for a good field mic for nature

Thanks for all the input. Fortunately there is an audio store not far from me. I went there and they were able to let me try and listen to several different shotgun microphones while wearing very expensive headphones. I ended up going with the Sennheiser MKE 600. Last week I took it into the field, on a rather windy day, and was able to do interviews. It worked really well. I was impressed. I then took it into the woods north of Atlanta and was quit pleased with the quality of sound that I was getting. One thing, I did up grade to a much better shock mount than the one that came with the kit. Again, thanks for all your comments. Bob
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