RODE VIDEOMIC PRO+ CAMERA-TOP MICROPHONE
Review: Preshan John
A good camera-top microphone to a filmmaker is like a trusty mini-mixer to a soundie. It doesn’t have to be the hottest feature-loaded gadget to impress, it’s just got to work. The Rode VideoMic line has always had this utilitarian streak, but the new VideoMic Pro+ brings a little more bling.
VideoMic Pro+ is a fair handful and chunkier than its predecessor. The Rycote Lyre shockmount is tucked in nice and close to the mic body, keeping it relatively compact when perched atop a camera. The 3.5mm output socket is still maddeningly mounted on the rear of the mic, meaning the right-angle cable pokes your forehead if you shoot video through your camera’s EVF. The cable length is a bit liberal for carrying audio the short distance from the mic to most DSLRs’ 3.5mm input. I kept it out of the way by looping it under the lens.
Onboard sound-shaping options include a high-pass filter with 75Hz and 150Hz cutoff points, and extra gain options of +20dB and -10dB. The +20dB jump introduces barely a whisper of noise and is perfect when recording ambience or soft-spoken piece-to-camera talent. Little lights indicate the mic’s settings and are easily visible in daylight.
I HAVE THE POWER
Whoever decided to add auto power on/power off functionality to VideoMic Pro+ deserves a medal. While out shooting I’m quite inclined to forget to switch the microphone on and off with the camera, only to later find the mic battery depleted after a few hours. Rode’s stroke of genius means the camera and microphone wake and sleep in perfect harmony, brushing those worries aside as a thing of the past. There’s literally no need to touch the mic’s power button.
Still on the topic of power, VideoMic Pro+ can run off a pair of AA batteries or Rode’s own LB-1 rechargeable lithium-ion variety. What’s more, there’s a Micro USB port right on the unit for quick recharging. Thirdly, the battery door at the front side of the mic is now hinged to the body, so you’re not going to lose it.
POINT & SHOOT
Naturally, the supercardioid pickup pattern of the VideoMic Pro+ is a long way from being a true shotgun mic, so don’t expect it to reject surrounding disturbances very much. The mic picks up sound rather generously but anything front and centre feels closer, with more high and low end information captured. It’s a very natural and pleasant sound without the muffled character of many cheaper options. Null points are at 150° either side. Be aware of the rear lobe when shooting — it will hear things said behind the camera. This can be useful when vlogging interview-style or slating your shots. Handling noise is virtually non-existent, and you can easily press the filter or gain buttons mid-shoot without introducing a loud thump or click in the recording. The stock windmuff did a great job getting rid of rumble caused by a light breeze but if you’re shooting outdoors extensively a dead cat is recommended.
With the VideoMic Pro+, Rode has stopped just short of completely reinventing the original VideoMic Pro. The auto-power feature is inspired, dual battery options invaluable, HF boost a lifesaver at times. Never underestimate how much a product can improve when you add a ‘+’ symbol. VideoMic Pro+ is a wise investment for all filmmakers and video hobbyists.