Pros:Good separation of camcorder noise from recorded audio, powerful shotgun mode
Cons:Floating assembly is less confidence inspiring, still picks up some body noise from camcorder
The Bottom Line: Great addition for camcorders albeit pricey and not as effective as one might think.
Why spend any money on an external microphone if your camcorder already comes with a stereo mic built in? In fact, most are so sensitive now that it may seem like a really tough expense to justify. For most home users that especially true in light of the $200 MSRP for the Canon DM-50, a proprietary hotshoe mounted microphone for Canon's consumer and prosumer camcorders.
Recommend this product?
The DM-50 mounts directly to virtually any Canon camcorder via accessory shoe which is mechanically compatible with third-party products, but needs the electrical extension for the DM-50 to work. The lock wheel is used to make sure it stays in the correct position. Beyond this simple procedure, the addition of a microphone like this is really plug'n'play and typically no configuration is needed. In my case the HV20 automatically recognized the microphone and displayed a stylized "S" to confirm proper mounting.
Note: If your camcorder (like the Canon HV20) also provides a normal microphone jack, the DM-50 would be turned off in case you're trying to use both.
The DM-50 offers basically three modes of operation with the most directional called fittingly "shotgun". The other two modes are Stereo 1 and 2 with the only difference in sensitivity to the environment (outside the field of view).
Shotgun: In this mode the microphone is highly directional and only available in mono audio (due to characteristics of this super-directional mode). Noise in front of the lens is picked up much easier than from the side or -- more importantly -- from the user or camcorder. Sensitivity to objects in front of the lens seems to be about the same, while the shielded range (typically outside the field of view) is strongly reduced but not eliminated. It certainly helped to virtually eliminate the tape noise and some of the mechanical noise of the buttons.
Stereo 1/2: Stereo 1 is more directional than Stereo 2 but overall difference is minimal. Unlike the shotgun, both modes still pick up tape and user noise more clearly. However, the overall sound quality compared to the built-in microphone of my Canon HV20 is noticeably better due to both wind shield and better separation from the body.
All three modes: take advantage of the semi-broken acoustic connection to the camera housing. This accounts for a large part of the problems with built-in microphones where tapping on the acoustically active housing transfers easily to the microphones. With the floating mount of the DM-50 much of that is suppressed and picked up noise reduced to the airborne part of sound. The supported frequency range of 150 Hz to 15,000 Hz is responsible for both excellent vocals and marginal music recording. However, for the typical applications of a camcorder, and with HD recording the sound is of high enough quality to even fit HDV videos.
At least in my use, the camcorder does not seem to know which mode the DM-50 is set to, or at least it doesn't reflect that in an on-screen icon to verify you're really using the desired mode. Not sure if that's a short coming of the microphone's ability to communicate or the camcorder's ability to understand.
The DM-50 may look like a handle in size and shape, but is not usable as one due to the floating mount and ultimately the risk to break the microphone's connections (even for light camcorders). While the acoustic impact of handling the microphone is obvious during use, it still makes for a tempting handle when transporting the camcorder.
The manufacturer's price of $199 is a tough pill to swallow even for HDV camcorders like the Canon HV20 in the $1000 range. However, I simply got lucky and managed to snatch one for $49 (not sure about the reasons, but pcconnection.com delivered). And even if the total price (after tax etc.) increased to $67, it still is well worth it -- unless you don't mind to record your beathing, tape noise or any other influence from handling the camcorder.
© 2007, theuerkorn
- Canon HV20 HDV camcorder