Compact, Camera-Mounted and Highly Capable: Capturing Audio with Shure's VP83 and VP83F LensHopper Microphones

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“Compact” is the word of the year. DSLRs have earned their spot as integral tools in the video production arsenal, and manufacturers are increasingly offering miniature cameras with professional cinematography features, such as the Pocket Cinema Camera from Blackmagic Design. Even with their outsized imaging capabilities, though, these smaller cameras have a weakness: audio recording.

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Shure VP83F LensHopper

Shure VP83 LensHopper

Myriad microphones, mixers and adapters already exist for DSLRs and cameras in this market space. Shure’s approach is to bring professional audio features to the small camera shooter at a reasonable price point.

With a sturdy isolation suspension system, Shure’s compact LensHopper camera-mount condenser microphones, the VP83 and VP83F, are engineered to provide broadcast professionals, videographers, filmmakers, video journalists, field reporters and others with an all-in-one solution for capturing directional, high-quality audio with DSLR cameras and portable video/audio recorders. The VP83 model is microphone-only, while the VP83F features integrated Flash recording to MicroSDHC card (up to 32 GB) and playback functionality.

The lightweight VP83 and VP83F condenser mics include highly directional super-cardioid/lobar polar acoustic pickup patterns to reject unwanted off-axis audio, making them excellent shotgun mics for run-and-gun DSLR shooters. Both microphones include an integrated Lyre shock mount developed with Rycote for robust isolation.

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The VP83F mounted on a DSLR

The VP83 features easily accessible controls, including a three-position gain switch to compensate for different recording environments and a low-cut filter switch to eliminate distracting background noise. The VP83 sports an impressive 130 hours of battery life from one AA battery.

The VP83F with Flash recording and playback functionality enables .wav file capture at 24-bit/48 kHz sampling rate for direct-to-device recording and added audio redundancy. With a dedicated headphone audio output, the VP83F simplifies real-time monitoring.

Both models include a hot shoe mount with 1/4” threaded base. The short shotgun has a standard foam windscreen and optional furry windscreen.

I recommend the VP83F over the VP83 because its integrated recording features allow the shooter to record simultaneously to camera (for backup) and the microphone’s MicroSDHC card. Furthermore, the higher quality preamps in the Shure trump the audio circuitry of many smaller cameras. LensHopper allows the user to set input gain levels, which is particularly useful for those cameras where the automatic gain (AGC) feature cannot be disabled.

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Shure’s LensHopper received a Black Diamond Award from

Digital Video

magazine at the 2013 NAB Show.

The VP83F is simple to operate. You’ll find simply a power button, a record button and a center joystick. Push to the left to toggle the low-cut filter. Push to the right for a menu structure that controls microphone gain, monitor level via the mic’s headphone jack, and the low-cut filter.

Shotgun-style on-camera microphones are best for run-and-gun situations and ENG-style close interviews or dialogue. The VP83F (and the VP83, if you trust recording to the DSLR only) produces clear audio with excellent rejection of lateral sound. The shock mount and low-cut filter attenuate wind and handling noise. For shooters on the run, LensHopper allows excellent audio reproduction at a reasonable price.

Products:Shure VP83 and VP83F LensHopper
Score:

Pros: High-quality preamps for faithful reproduction. Low-cut filter. Rycote foam windscreen and optional furry Windjammer. Lightweight. Simple to use.
Cons: VP83F weighs several ounces more than VP83. Cannot adjust the angle to which unit is mounted to camera.
Bottom Line: A very reasonably positioned option for obtaining high-quality audio with DSLRs and other small cameras.
MSRP: VP83F $349, VP83 (without recorder) $229

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