Lots of free time during the pandemic brought many budding content creators out of hibernation as they began to document their days and family milestones with a newfound voraciousness. As they upgraded their gear, they may have come to understand what numerous freelance filmmakers and hobbyists already discovered: The built-in microphones of DSLR cameras leave much to be desired.
The Saramonic Vmic5 Pro endeavors to solve this problem. Like the many on-camera microphones that have preceded it, this shotgun supercardioid attaches right to the top of your DSLR with a built-in cold-shoe mount, and includes a 3.5mm TRS cable to connect the camera’s interface and give it the improved sound it desperately needs.
In my experience with audio for film, I’ve dabbled in the on-camera-shotgun world. I definitely lean more into the camp of using a secondary recording device like my trusty Zoom H4n Pro, but when you’re a one-human show and you need to up your audio quality without requiring extra hands, these on-camera solutions are the ticket. Like the RØDE VideoMic Pro, the Saramonic VMic5 has a compact form factor with an integrated shockmount. And, like other on-camera shotgun microphones, it boasts a supercardioid pickup pattern that focuses its audio-collecting energy on the front of the microphone and reduces the sound coming from the sides and rear (to a lesser extent). What sets it apart from others are its non-standard features like three-stage gain control, two high-pass filter options, a switchable treble boost, two forms of wind protection, and automatic on/off capabilities. Most notable, however, is its reasonable price tag―with the included windsock, charging cord, and TRS cable, I’d consider this a solid value. This microphone has the vlogger, the ambitious family videographer, or the curious student in mind.
Setup and Configuration
This newly released Pro version of the Vmic5 adds an extra stage of gain and bass control, along with a +5 dB treble boost. The microphone has a USB Type-C port for charging and can be powered using a personal power bank with the included charging cord so you can continue to shoot on the go. When you switch off your camera to conserve power or take a break from shooting, the microphone will automatically do the same, making the ebb and flow of shooting a vlog or family event that much easier.
Attaching the microphone is intuitive, and it is also lightweight. Once the cold shoe is tightened sufficiently, the microphone is secure and doesn’t add much heft to your handheld setup. Its built-in shockmount helps to reduce noise created by movement like walking or even running, preventing any unwanted jostling from negatively affecting your recording. Two buttons help control the high-pass filters and decibel gain of the mic to suit the situation in which you’re recording. Selecting between +20 dB and -10 dB gain helps to reduce or amplify sounds in a quieter, indoor setting or recording a soft-spoken individual, while the 75 Hz and 150 Hz high-pass filters eliminate lower frequencies to isolate vocals in a louder environment.
Taking It to the Streets
This microphone was put to the ultimate test: the background drone of an air vent in an empty conference room. While the low hum was still very much present, manipulating the settings did allow my voice to be amplified, which in turn made the drone fade more into the background. The directional nature of the microphone proved most useful when I took it to the streets. Simply angling the camera toward the sound I wanted to capture―someone’s footsteps, a man pulling a garbage bin, the generator for a food cart―allowed the microphone to pick up the noise. Capturing the chatter of pedestrians was just as easy and, as they walk by, their conversation dips out of range. A videographer, then, can give direction from behind the camera without their voice overpowering the audio they are capturing. Feel free to listen to the embedded audio files to hear for yourself and let us know what you think.
The Saramonic Vmic5 Pro is an opportunity to add extra “oomph” to your footage outside of the very limited capabilities of a built-in DSLR microphone. While I’m still loyal to my five-year-old Zoom, if I were in the market for something with increased portability and convenience, I would take the plunge, at this price. Taking all the included accessories and expanded settings into account, the Saramonic Vmic5 Pro is a solid investment for a videographer who understands the value improved audio can contribute to their creative projects. Audio sympathizers not looking to break the bank with their setup will be satisfied with the difference this on-camera shotgun will make in their videos.
Are you planning on adding an on-camera microphone to your setup? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below!