sony a7m4 with ecm-b1 attached

Choosing Your Next Microphone

Stefan Krenn

I would describe myself not only as a cameraman, but also as a content creator, photographer and creative person in general. On one hand I create short films and commercial videos, but at the same time I also create social media content. These days, media content cannot be divided easily into video or still images; we are talking about mixed media here and I find this topic incredibly exciting. There are many new and interesting options for combining photos and videos and then mixing them with the right effects, soundtrack and music.

man jumping through the air on a skateboard

© Stefan Krenn | Sony α7 IV + E 10-18mm f/4 OSS | 1/400s @ f/5.6, ISO 100

Having a visually strong image is vital, but one mustn't forget the importance of sound. And you don't get good, clear sound with below par audio equipment. It's one of the reasons I like the compact microphones that Sony offer. I prefer my productions to be dynamic and uncomplicated. There is often only 'one' moment; you can't repeat it, everything has to fit. I may be a tech nerd but I don't want to spend hours on a device just to be able to use it. I need to have complete confidence in the mic and it needs to be simple and easy to use while still giving professional results.

stefan krenn holding his sony a7m4 with lens and microphone attached

One of my go-to mics is the Sony ECM-B10. Despite the compact size, it has pro features to mould the sound. In fact, because of the switchable directional characteristics, you essentially have 3 microphones in one! And because of its size, it fits any camera bag and for that reason, I always have it with me.

stefan krenn holding his sony a7m4 with ecm-b10 microphone attached

Its big brother, the ECM-B1M, is a little longer, so the audio quality is even better and clearer, and again it has the directional switching options as well as gain options which is useful if the subject is speaking a little softly.

I recently filmed an interview in a building where deep background noise was being caused by the ventilation system or on-site equipment. To counteract this, I could easily activate the low-cut filter to save myself some time consuming post-processing in the audio editing. These features make my work more efficient and less complicated and I like that. It means I can concentrate on the essentials, the story and the action in front of the camera and don't have to keep thinking about any technical issues while I'm filming.

stefan krenn holding his sony a7m4 with ecm-b1 microphone attached

Speaking of interference, the signal from the Sony microphones is transmitted digitally, so there is no chance of analogue noise creeping in. All the information is transmitted through the camera's multi-interface (MI) shoe, which means no cables either. This a huge advantage - you simply slide the mic on to the camera and start shooting.

man with a sony w2bt microphone clipped to his shirt

Recently I have been using the ECM-W2BT for various interview situations. Using a very small crew, I recently filmed short interviews of 16 people for an advertising campaign. First and foremost, that sounds like a lot, and it was. However, the technical part was very uncomplicated. I simply plugged the receiver into the camera. Set the level to auto, and I didn't have to readjust the sound every time.

If you want to record good sound even more compactly, I can recommend the ECM-G1. First and foremost, the microphone is perfect for smaller Sony cameras, such as the ZV series. It's also perfect for small rig setups scenes where the rig has to be very small.

sony zv-e10 with a sony ecm-g1 microphone attached

On the other end of the scale, there is also a microphone which is exactly the opposite, so to speak, and one I can thoroughly recommend for professional documentary projects - the XLR-K3M - which is a microphone and audio interface. It's naturally larger then any any of the mics mentioned above, but has the advantage of allowing multiple audio inputs at the same time; up to 4 audio tracks can be sent digitally, direct to the camera at once via the MI shoe.

sony a7m4 with zlr-k3m microphone attached

This brings me to another important point that I haven't even mentioned yet: the audio signal is linked directly to the video signal, so you no longer have to re-synchronise an externally recorded signal in post-production. This really does re-affirm my favourite characteristics of these microphones: uncomplicated, reliable, professional and compact.

There's a microphone for everyone in this range... choose your weapon and tell your story with it.

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Stefan Krenn

Stefan Krenn | Austria

Stefan Krenn is a filmmaker and content creator from Austria, working mainly on commercial productions and music videos

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