ZOOM F1 PORTABLE RECORDER
Review: Preshan John
The Zoom F1 is a palm-sized recorder with the ability to slot six different modular microphone options onto it thanks to Zoom’s proprietary 10-pin connector. The unit can sit on a tripod, clip to your talent’s belt or slide onto a camera’s hot-shoe.
The F1 records two channels of audio at up to 24-bit/96k resolution in BWF-compliant, WAV or MP3 formats. Two AAA batteries will give you a maximum of 10 hours operation and it records directly to microSD or SDHC cards. A headphone output provides real-time monitoring or an audio feed for your camera, while a line input lets you connect an external source — such as a lavalier mic or even a wireless mic receiver.
We received an F1 with the SGH-6 shotgun mic. Recording with the SGH-6 was a breeze. There’s plenty of gain, not much noise, and it sounds good for dialogue. Off-axis rejection is best when the source is within a couple of metres and your mindful of the rear lobes with the shotgun polar pattern.
Down the side of the unit are larger Record, Play/Pause and Stop buttons. The backlit screen gives you a highly visible readout of record level, time, battery level and the four functions dictated by the buttons directly underneath: Rec Format, Lo Cut, Limiter, and Rec Level. These buttons toggle through their respective options (e.g. Lo Cut cycles between Off/80Hz/120Hz/180Hz), saving you the hassle of peering through menus. In use, I noticed the microphone isn’t isolated so well from the F1 unit meaning a button press is audible in the recording.
Other handy features include a sound marker function to aid audio/video sync in post, a tone generator for level calibration, audio level control, and a pre-record function. Press Stop and the corresponding menu button to access these features and other utilities.
For cinematographers who shoot weddings, events, corporate jobs and anything run ’n’ gun, the F1 is a fantastic choice. With Zoom’s swappable mic capsules, you can go from shotgun, to capturing stereo ambience in a jiffy. Then whack in a lavalier mic for some quick interview audio. The F1’s power is it’s ability to go anywhere, and cover any source.