One of the nice features of today's new DSLR's is the ability to record high quality video, while taking full advantage of the amazing optics and sensors used for high quality photos. Often, the problem is the built in microphones in these cameras do not always provide the level of performance desired by many advanced vidographers. Using an external microphone with better sensitivity and focused sound pickup almost always offers a clear advantage in performance and flexibility over the built-in microphones.
Hammer & Anvil has introduced the HAA-MK-ENG-600
Professional Supercardioid Shotgun Microphone designed to capture clear dialog and is targeted to broadcast and film recording professionals. The great part is the HAA-MK-ENG-600 is affordable ($139.95 at Adoroma).
The HAA-MK-ENG-600 microphone features an extended 15-inch tube length with a extremely narrow, highly directional supercardioid polar pick up pattern. The microphone is designed to emphasize sound directly in front, while subduing unwanted off-axis sound. The lightweight aluminum alloy construction offers excellent durability and has a high quality look. The HAA-MK-ENG-600 microphone is optimized for dialog. The direct-coupled, balanced output (via XLR cable) provides a clean signal even in high-output conditions. The rugged microphone can be phantom powered or operated on a single AA battery. For all of our testing we used the internal battery. The included suspension shock mount has a built-in shoe for camera mounting with a 1/4"x20 thread for attaching to stands, booms, brackets and grips. Our testing was done with a Canon 5D Mark III and a Canon 6D.
The MKENG600 comes with a set of accessories to maximize the performance of the microphone. The shock mount not only isolates the microphone from vibration, but also allows it to be attached directly on top of the camera using the flash mount. The microphone is held firmly in place with this design while offering good sound isolation from the mounting interface. The foam windscreen covers the entire 9-inches of the boom and provides a good level of noise attenuation with mild to moderate wind. For more extreme environments, a Dead Kitten windscreen is provided for additional wind noise protection. This worked best in more difficult environments. The main 3-foot microphone cable has a 3.5mm male connector at one end for the camera, but an adapter is included to convert it to a standard 1/4" plug if needed for other equipment.
MKENG600 performed well for us during our testing. We mounted the microphone on the flash shoe and connected the audio cable directly into the Canon microphone jack. The cable easily provides enough length to connect to the camera. However, a coiled cable would have been preferred to help with cable management. The center of gravity for the microphone is well in front of the mounting position, so there is a tendency for the microphone to want to fall forward if the adjustment screw is not tight enough. Another option is to attach the rear-exiting cable to a fixed spot to help prevent movement.
Outdoor settings usually required the windscreen to prevent some wind noise from being part of your video shoot. Dialogue was clear and the internal battery lasted a long time. A high-pass filter switch on the side of the microphone can be used to cut lower frequencies (rumble) that often plague audio recordings. It's a nice feature to have.
More difficult outdoor environments can benefit from the dead kitten windscreen. Using this windscreen greatly reduced unwanted noise at the expense of an ever so slight decrease in audio sensitivity and crispness of higher frequencies. It's a tradeoff, but in most cases the differences are so small (it might not even be noticeable in most cases) that it really doesn't matter as long as your recordings don't have the annoying wind noise.
The MKENG600 is a well crafted product that provides superior audio performance for DSLR cameras recording video. The microphone design is effective and the build quality is impressive for a microphone in this price range. If you have been looking for an affordable boom microphone for your DSLR, the Hammer & Anvil MKENG600 is certainly worth a look.
- Bhumika Khatana