Sennheiser is a popular name in audio, and its MKE 400 compact shotgun is a mic that reduces side noise and includes settable sensitivity for long or short distances. A single AAA battery provides up to 300 hours of operation, and a foam windshield and shock-mount are included. Estimated Street Price: $199.
TYPES OF MICSThere are highly specific microphones available for any variety of sound situations, but for photographers who are only recently getting used to working with audio, basic on-camera mics will keep your system compact and portable while still making your audio much better.
In general, microphones are classified by the directional characteristics in which they capture sound. Mics that respond to sound in all directions are considered to be omnidirectional, while unidirectional mics are particularly sensitive to sound from a single source.
Cardioid. You'll hear the term "cardioid" a lot, as well as related names like "subcardioid," "supercardioid" and "hypercardioid." Cardioid refers to the heart-shaped pattern of sound waves captured by these types of microphones, which places an emphasis on the sound directly in front of the mics. Peripheral audio is recorded from the sides, as well, and in the case of sub-, super- and hypercardioid, sound is captured from behind the mic, to a lesser extent. Cardioid mics are the most common type of directional microphone, especially for interviews, newscasts and events.
Lavalier. Lavalier mics (also called lapel mics) are popular when sound is coming from a fixed source, in newscasts or talk shows, for instance. Lavaliers are attached to the clothes of talent via a clip, and they can be wired or feature a wireless system with a short broadcast range. The advantage is that sound is captured from a very close source, often only inches from the speaker's mouth. The disadvantages are that they limit the talent's mobility, and good wireless systems also involve a transmitter and a receiver, which can be complicated to work with until you learn the system. There can be interference with wireless systems, too.
Camera companies also offer their own proprietary mics for their systems. Sony's ECM-CG1 compact stereo microphone, for instance, is incredibly stealthy at only 1.9 ounces and a length of just under 3 inches. It matches the aesthetics of Sony's compatible Alpha series of DSLRs, currently including eight video-capable models. List Price: $149