Nikon ME-1 Mic for DSLR Video

 

I love my Nikon D7000 DSLR camera. I hate the built-in mic. While the camera takes both great stills and high def 1080p video, the built-in microphone…well um…yeah…sucks! It's barely adequate for an interview and the 11Hz mono audio is pretty much useless for anything else. While I've been happy with my Rode VideoMic and VideoMic Pro, I was intrigued by Nikon's announcement of the NEW ME-1 Mic because of its small size. The ME-1 is about half the size of my VideoMic Pro and that makes it much better for travel. Keep in mind that my D7000 is my travel DSLR. I use it more on the road than I do at home. That means that if I'm I recording a video I'm most likely recording it on the road too. On my last international tour I had no room for the VideoMic and of course as luck would have it I had to do an impromptu video recording in Australia. The video looked great, the audio was…"meh." The whole time I was kicking myself for not bringing the VideoMic Pro. The ME-1 had shipped, but hadn't arrived before I left home to go my trip. 

Note: When you plug in an mic to the Nikon D7000 you get Stereo/Mono audio at 48kHz/16bit. 

 

ME-1 Pros and Cons

The size rocks! That makes it a winner for me right off the bat. Also the cord is nice and long (maybe a bit too long), which means I have options to mount it on the hotshoe or on an accessory arm. Unlike the VideoMic/Pro, the ME-1 doesn't require any batteries. That's another big one for me on the road. Lastly, the ME-1 allows you to switch between normal operation and a wind/noise reduction mode, which should help when shooting outside or in noisy conditions. While the ME-1 will fit the bill for most situations, it's not as good of a mic overall as the more expensive VideoMic Pro. The ME-1 will be the Mic that's always in my bag (my travel mic) and the VideoMic Pro will be the one I use when I'm more serious about the video I'm going to be shooting.

 

If you're going to record audio via any Nikon DSLR, then you definitely want an external mic. Nikon knows this and it's my guess as to why they brought out their own mic.

Remember, people might forgive you for bad video. They will not forgive you for bad audio.

You can get the Nikon ME-1 (List price $179) here: B&H has it for $159.95 – Amazon has it for $152.98

You can get the Rode VideoMic Pro (List price $329) here: B&H has it for $229 – Amazon has it for $229

  • http://www.jhmaw.co.uk John H. Maw

    Presumably there is no reason that the ME-1 couldn’t be used on Canon (and other) cameras, or am I wrong?

    Thanks.

    • http://terrywhite.com terrywhite

      Haven’t tried it, but I can’t think of any technical reason why it wouldn’t work with non-Nikon cameras.

  • Mark

    Anything on the sound quality? How directional is it? The Rode Video Mic is directional mono, while the NIkon is stereo. Did it work for dialogue or just background sound?

    • http://terrywhite.com terrywhite

      I will post some sound samples.

  • Mike Hicks

    Thanks for your review Terry..found it very useful. I have my retirement camera narrowed down to either the D7000 or the new D5100. I’ll be taking it to the U2 concert in Toronto July 11. I have tickets right next to the stage and want to shoot as much HD video as I can. I hadn’t really thought about an external mic until I read your review but now I’m thinking it’s definitely worth the extra cash to capture the sound of my favourite band while I’m recording in 1080P.

    • John

      I’ll be at that show, too. Hope you post a link of your results here! :). Hopefully security let’s you in with your gear. I know at the Michigan gig they allowed no bags whatsoever.

  • http://www.bankstonimages.com David Bankston

    Terry, off the cuff – are you impressed with the Nikon mic quality for ambient/nature sounds in a pinch?
    David

    • http://terrywhite.com terrywhite

      Off the cuff, I’m not impressed with the built-in mic at all on any level. ANY external mic is better than the one that’s built-in. If you don’t care AT ALL about the sound quality of the audio you’re recording then the built-in mic is fine.

      As far as the ME-1 goes, it will be great for those subtle ambient nature sounds. I’ll hopefully be posting some sound samples when I take it on the road next week.

  • http://www.stankaady.com Stan Kaady

    Good stuff, Terry.

    The reviews I’ve read on the mic have been subpar. Your point, though was it’s better than the on board mics. That said, I wonder who Nikon has buidling/supplying the mics for them?

    Best…Stan

  • jenna

    is there a way for someone to monitor the sound recording through headphones with this external mic or would you have to record into an external audio source?

  • http://www.whitepetal.co.uk Paul

    I’d be interested to know the answer to Jenna’s question; does it pay to monoitor the sound recording via a headphones?

    • http://terrywhite.com Terry White

      It certainly wouldn’t hurt.