By Carl Mrozek
While HD-capable DSLRs offer phenomenal video quality in a compact package at an affordable price, audio recording is somewhat of a challenge and remains the weak link in the production loop. A key factor is that DSLR onboard mics are so small that they make lavs look big, and the only audio input is mini-pin, which is mono with no headphone jack or other audio monitoring option.
Using a pro mic of any kind, especially a shotgun, with DSLRs can make a major difference. To do that requires an external audio (box) adapter with XLR audio inputs with level adjustment at mic or line level, an adjustable headphone jack, and the ability to provide phantom power, should it be needed. There are a few such options on the market now, which means that you may be able to use the pro mics you already own, or you can search for a lighter and more compact mic optimized for use with a DSLR, as I did.
After researching relatively lightweight shotguns, I zeroed in on Rode’s NTG-2, a super-cardioid condenser mic (above) that had been mentioned by many DSLR users in forums on the subject. With a length of 11”, it has about the same form factor as a standard shotgun microphone. And as it weighs only 5.17 oz (sans battery), it’s light enough not to skew the balance on your DSLR rig. One really handy feature is that it can be powered with ordinary 1.5V AA batteries as well as via 48V phantom power.
The NTG-2’s specs are all in the right range for most pro applications. They include a sensitivity of 36 dB +/- 2 dB and a fairly impressive S/N ratio of 76 dB. The mic’s frequency range is fairly typical, too — from 20 Hz to 20kHz — but there’s a selectable high-pass 80Hz, should you want to attenuate any undesirable lower frequency sounds. It also has low noise SMT circuitry designed to minimize handling noise.
The NTG-2 provides a balanced low-impedance output stage and is designed to capture broadcast-quality audio. It has a tight enough polar response for many voice applications, yet not too tight for natural sound recording.
The NTG-2 comes with a foam windscreen, a mic stand mount and a zip pouch. I didn’t have any fresh AA cells on hand and initially connected it to a BeachTek DXA-SLR adapter, which doubles as a 48V phantom power source. I did have to boost the gain level on the DXA’s monitor pod a fair bit in order to get a good signal, though. (When I tried it with AA cell power, the pickup seemed to improve slightly.)
At first I handheld the NTG2 and was impressed by the low noise level, even when I was moving around with it, as long as I gripped it firmly. It performed perfectly as a handheld mic for interviews, consistently delivering a clean, relatively noiseless signal.
To purchase the NTG-2, click here.