If you have a SONY Alpha series camera (a33, a55, a65, NEX-7, etc) you know that while the video quality is fantastic, the internal microphone leaves MUCH to be desired.
The obvious solution is to add an external microphone, and SONY has stepped up to the plate with the ECMALST1 stereo microphone. But is this mic worth the investment? Let's take a look.
The ALST1 is small but there's a lot to it. Let's start with the accessory shoe mount. This mount is proprietary to SONY, so you're not going to find another external microphone that clips onto your Alpha line camera without any kind of adapter. That's one of the biggest reasons to go with this mic over another brand.
SONY has also incorporated a noise insulation system into the base of the mic, to reduce the noise from the camera's stabilization system and autofocus. If you watch our video test of the mic, you'll see that we found this to be very effective at dampening the noise from the stabilization, but only partly successful with the autofocus. (Fortunately you can turn either of those features off any time you want).
On to the microphone itself.
The mic is powered by a tiny 1.5v watch battery, which gives you up to 40 hours of recording time and can be replaced by twisting off the back of the mic.
The ALST1 has two stereo-pickup patterns, one 90° and one 120°. This is a great feature, because it allows you to record wide, ambient noise with the 120° or a narrower, almost shotgun mic range with the 90° (useful for tuning out the background noise when trying to record someone talking).
NOTE: on either setting, there is almost no pick-up behind the camera, which is a good thing, just don't plan on using it to talk while your filming and have yourself heard.
The ALST1 also includes a carrying pouch and windscreen, which is useful when recording outdoors.
All things considered, the ECMALST1, while not perfect, is a HUGE improvement over the built-in audio on the SONY Alpha line cameras. The price, previously around $150 was a bit prohibitive for what it is. Fortunately, they have now been marked down significantly on Amazon. If you decide to add the ECMALST1 to your audio-video arsenal, we would be honored if you support us by adding it to your cart through the link below.
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