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Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone

I've been looking for a good compact condenser mic for my video work on location. When I saw the announcement for the Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone, it looked like a perfect fit for my field work. After some preliminary testing, I'm impressed enough to take it on my next assignment, covering WPPI in Las Vegas later this month.

What I Like

  • Standard 9 volt battery that provides hours of work. This is important in the field.
  • Green indicator light that lets you know the mic is on and powered up. Most of my condensers do not have indicator lights, and I'm always nervous about the status of the battery during long shoots.
  • Three-position decibel switch (-10, 0, +20), that when used in conjunction with the manual gain setting on my Canon 60D and 5D, gives me very good control over audio levels during recording.
  • 80 Hz high pass filter when working around the hums and buzzes of events.
  • The condenser capsule has a supercardioid pickup pattern that's able to capture audio from the front, yet minimizes pickup from the sides and rear.
  • Truly light and compact. Fits nicely in my camera bag.

What I Don't Like

  • Battery compartment cover is clunky and could be frustrating to operate when having to change out the 9 volts in the field.
  • Mount does not fit in the hot shoe of my Canon 60D. [See update at end of article for more on this. Problem appears to have been corrected.]It's incredible that Rode could make such a big mistake here, but I can only slide the mic in about 1/3 of the way in to the camera hot shoe.
  • Shock mount is nice, but you have to use it all the time. There is no mounting hardware for the mic itself if you remove it from the shock mount.
  • No case is included. For a mic that's designed for travel, and that costs $230, seems like Rode could give us a case to protect it.

The Bottom Line

Rode VideoMic Pro lists for $229. It looks good mounted atop DSLRs. It includes a solid right-angle mini stereo jack that works great with DSLRs that include audio ports. Sound quality is good, and I like having decibel control on the back of the mic.

I'm frustrated with the hot shoe mount that does not work well with my Canon 60D. I'm only able to push it in about 1/3 of the way. It still works, but c'mon, nobody tested that? I would also like a second mount for the mic for those situations when I need something a bit more rugged that the rubber-band shock mount. And not including a case for a travel mic feels like penny pinching.

But even with those complaints, the Rode VideoMic Pro is the best travel condenser mic I have right now, and it gives me a high quality option for those situations where lapel mics are impractical. If it holds up over time, I should be happy with my investment.

UPDATE Feb. 15, 2011 -- I just received this note from Rode about the hot shoe foot on the VideoMic Pro I had tested: "We've conducted an internal audit and have concluded that this was an isolated issue that unfortunately existed in a small number of the first production batch of VideoMic Pros. Moving forward we have tightened the QA procedure for the shoe mount to ensure that this won't happen again." They sent me a replacement foot for my mic, and it now mounts perfectly on all of my hot shoe cameras.

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Congratulations to John Farnan for his winning entry, Impressions of NYC for the Jan. 2011 Blurb Book Page of the Month.

John Farnan - Impressions of NYC "Impressions of NYC" by John Farnan. Click on image for larger version.

Have you considered making your own book? If so, take a look at our Blurb on The Digital Story site.

"The photo was taken in Lower Antelope Canyon (Utah) and shows the detail of Navajo sandstone," writes Chris Cornelis. "Wind and water have carved out beautiful shapes with amazing texture."

Antelope Canyon - Chris Cornelis "Lower Antelope Canyon" (Utah) by Chris Cornelis

"When I entered the canyon I was overwhelmed. I started taking photos like crazy, resulting in a lot of mediocre photos and a couple of pretty good ones. I like this one a lot because it captures the essence of what makes the canyon so beautiful (color, shape, texture), and at the same time, it's a very simple image."

This is our 208th Grab Shot! Wow. If you want to review the collection that began back in 2006, go to our Grab Shots page.

If you have a candid you'd like to share, take a look at our Submissions page, then send us your Grab Shot. We'll try to get it published for you on The Digital Story.

And you can view more images from our virtual camera club in the Member Photo Gallery.

The Digital Story Podcast App is the best way to stream or download weekly TDS podcast episodes. No more syncing your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, or even your Android phone just to get a podcast. And the best part is, The Digital Story Podcast App is your way to help support this show. Download it today!

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Full screen mode isn't just for editing anymore. You can take advantage of every pixel on your Mac for just about any task in iPhoto. This can improve your experience considerably when working on a smaller device, such as the new 11" MacBook Air.

Here's a short video on how to take full advantage of full screen mode in iPhoto '11.

More Training Available

There are now two ways to learn and have more fun with iPhoto '11: my iPhoto '11 Essential Training ONLINE at, and the new iPhoto '11 Essential Training DVD that you can purchase from the Store for $49.95 US.

Other Articles about iPhoto '11

Creating Smart Folders in iPhoto '11

Introduction to iPhoto '11 Essential Training

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If you change your camera's resolution, remember to change it back.

During a Macworld class I was teaching, I lowered the resolution on my Canon 60D (for a particular demonstration) to "S2," which is only 1920x1280 (2.5 megapixels). After the class was over, I forgot to return the setting to Raw where I normally keep it. When I am shooting Raw, I get full resolution from the camera -- 5184x3456 (18 megapixels).

The next day, while driving to my assignment in Ventura, CA, I saw this dramatic scene on Interstate 5 and was lucky enough to capture it. Unfortunately, the image was at the lower resolution I had set during the Macworld class. Ack!

Well, at least I can use it on the Web...

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What's the best way to share images with clients and subjects after a photo shoot? I recommend putting up an online gallery. But you may want to control who sees the images, and what they can do with them. In this week's podcast, I talk about using Flickr and MobileMe to provide secure galleries for the people you photograph. One is easier than the other to set up... and which one that is may surprise you.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (20 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Loved One is the February 2011 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Feb. 28, 2011.

TDS Summer 2011 Photography Workshop

We're making plans now for the Summer 2011 TDS Photography Workshop. If you want your name on the reserve list, just drop me a line.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!

Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper -- Try the $7.99 Sample Kit.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.

Blurb believes passionately in the joy of books - reading them, making them, sharing them, and selling them. Learn more by visiting Blurb on The Digital Story.

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Who cares if the weather outside is terrible? This month TDS shooters prove that you can stay inside and still get great shots. Check out the Indoor Lighting gallery from members of our virtual camera club. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month?

Wayne Lorimer

The Feb. 2011 assignment is "Loved One." Start working on your contribution now. Details can be found on the Member Participation page. You can now submit photo assignment pictures up to 800 pixels in the widest direction.

Please follow the instructions carefully for labeling the subject line of the email for your submission. It's easy to lose these in the pile of mail if not labeled correctly. For example, the subject line for next month's assignment should be: "Photo Assignment: Feb. 2011." Also, if you can, please don't strip out the metadata. And feel free to add any IPTC data you wish (These fields in particular: Caption, Credit, Copyright, Byline), I use that for the caption info.

Photo by Wayne Lorimer. (Click on it to see enlarged version.) You can read more about how Wayne captured this shot, plus see all of the other great images on the December 2010 Gallery page.

Good luck with your February assignment, and congratulations to all of the fine contributors for December. Very impressive!

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Now Available! The Digital Photography Companion. The official guide for The Digital Story Virtual Camera Club.

  • 25 handy and informative tables for quick reference.
  • Metadata listings for every photo in the book
  • Dedicated chapter on making printing easy.
  • Photo management software guide.
  • Many, many inside tips gleaned from years of experience.
  • Comprehensive (214 pages), yet fits easily in camera bag.

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Rain Clouds, Interstate 5

When the sky is unsettled, it pays to have your camera next to you on the front seat of the car. As I headed down the heart of California on Interstate 5, I had one hand on my Canon 60Dand the other on the steering wheel.

Rain Clouds Interstate 5 Rain clouds on Interstate 5 captured with a Canon 60D and the kit 18-55mm zoom. ISO 100. Click on image for larger version. Photo by Derrick Story.

When this picture presented itself to me, I couldn't resist rolling down the window and capturing it. I recommend viewing the larger version (by clicking on the image) so you can better appreciate the power-line towers that add a nice linear element to the composition.

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Staying Inspired - Visit a Museum


During my teaching at Macworld SF, I was able to sneak away to SF MOMA to view the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibit. Cartier-Bresson is credited with the concept of the "decisive moment" in photography.

What I liked about this exhibit, and so many others that I've seen, is that I place myself behind the camera with the artist and think about what he was seeing and reacting to. On thing that I noticed with many of Cartier-Bresson's shots of groups of people, was that there was always one individual that your eye could go to first, as if he were building the composition around this subject. The other people then supported the "main character." It's something that I'm going to keep in the back of my mind as I shoot.

Staying inspired is important to me. And whenever I can, I seek out the work of the masters to help me see the world with fresh eyes.

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Building movies in Aperture 3 that combine still images and video snippets is a great way to improve your presentations. There are two simple ways to add a title slide to the video.

The first is the default method where you simply check the box next to "Show title" in the Default tab. Aperture will use the name you've given to the slideshow project and overlay it on the first image. If you want to adjust the font or color, click on the buttons to the right of the check box.


A second method, and the one I prefer, is to go to the gear menu and choose, "Insert Blank Slide With Text." Again you have font and color options, but now you're making your adjustments in the Selected Slides tab.

You can create as many title slides as you want, and drag them to any point in the presentation. They're a handy tool for adding that professional touch to your work.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

My next Aperture Workshop is May 23, 2011 in Santa Rosa, CA. write me if you're interested in attending.

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

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