Shure LensHopper VP83F Review
If there is one thing that DSLR camera users can agree on, it’s that the built in microphones are horrendous. Even with some slick postproduction tricks, the preamps on these cameras were considered an afterthought and are less than below average in terms of fidelity and general gain control. We can also agree that these cameras were not really intended to capture quality audio, which is why there are a plethora of audio options for DSLR users. One option that hit the market earlier this year was the Shure LensHopper VP83F. It’s worth nothing that in addition to the VP83F there is also a version called the VP83 which (besides not giving a “F”) has the same microphone but without the ability to store audio. It costs a little less and is better suited for the shooter who wants to keep audio synched to their video during shooting.
For me, I prefer to have my audio recorded onto a separate source because frankly the preamps on most cameras are junky at best. The preamps on the VP83F are outstanding for a shoe mounted microphone like this. It’s obviously not going to replace a RODE NTG in a professional audio capacity, but it is a nice for the guy who needs a solution to the awful internal microphones on DSLR cameras. Because the preamps on DSLRs are so terrible, Shure has made it easier for you to leave your portable interface at home by including their own storage via microSD on the microphone itself. I love this feature for a number of reasons, but the biggest one being that I can take just this microphone and my camera for quick shoots with confidence that I will get great sound. This is ultimately the goal for any independent or freelance videographer, and thats to get the job done properly with the least amount of equipment possible.
As mentioned, you can record your audio onto microSD within the microphone itself. There is a slot above the batteries that accepts only microSD cards. In addition to having an output to send to your cameras microphone input, there is an additional output for headphone monitoring. Another great feature is the RF immunity which helps to block signals from other wireless devices including RF and cellular devices. There is nothing worse than listening back to your audio and hearing that annoying cellular data signal in the mix, so having that actively muted is an invaluable design feature.
The backlit LCD screen is where you can monitor your recording levels, but you can also adjust microphone gain, headphone output levels, and add or remove a low cut filter on the fly. This again is an invaluable tool when trying to capture audio and video at a moments notice, and be able to adjust settings while in the middle of your shoot. The last thing to mention is the design and build quality of the Shure LensHopper VP83F. It has a hard plastic construction but unlike the competition, feels much sturdier and robust. This makes it great for throwing it in a camera back and pulling it back out without much care for delicacy. The shock mounting system and the shoe mount help to provide balance and stability for the microphone so you can move around without fear of your microphone picking up unwanted movement bangs and flubs.
I have tried nearly every shoe mounted microphone on the market and I can say with certainty that this ranks right up there with some of the best in the last few years but with some fantastic improvements that make others fall short in comparison. At the end of the day you want a quality microphone that takes the thought out of audio capture. This microphone certainly does that but it also helps to provide a general workflow adjustment that makes your job as a videographer so much easier. You can focus on your shots instead of your audio because you know you are getting a quality recording stored onto a portable microphone/recorder solution.
If I had to be critical of one thing it would be the size. It is rather large when you factor in the battery slot, internal menu functions, and the microphone itself. With a larger size comes more weight to the camera which will necessitate more stabilization from your rig. While this is one thing I dislike, it is sort of an afterthought gripe when you consider all of the great features and the quality microphone you get on the LensHoppper VP83F.
If you want to get a closer look at the Shure LensHopper VP83F, check out the video above and if you have some lingering questions about it feel free to ask in the comments below. To purchase Shure gear be sure to visit UniqueSquared.com.
TranscriptThe Shure LensHopper VP83F is a condenser microphone with built in flash recording for HD camcorders and DSLR cameras. This is a great alternative to the low quality microphones on many popular DSLR cameras on the market. You can record directly into your DSLR’s microphone input as well as on to micro SD cards inside of the microphone itself. You can connect to your cameras microphone input via the red ⅛ inch stereo output, and you can easily monitor your recording with headphones from the black ⅛ inch stereo output. The VP83F is powered by two AA batteries and can run for roughly 10 hours. Inside the battery compartment is a slot to load your micro SD card. The microphone rests on a shock mount designed to tolerate movement when mounted to a camera. The microphone mounts snugly onto a camera via the hot shoe mount. The VP83F has a brightly lit LCD screen and the buttons below it control the microphone’s menu functions. You can adjust gain levels, headphone volume levels, and add or remove a high pass filter on the screen’s main page. When you go into the menu you have more precise controls including utility functions such as formatting your micro SD card. For more on the Shure LensHopper VP83F be sure to check out our blog linked below this video. To purchase this and other professional audio gear, be sure to visit UniqueSquared.com.