If you have an interest in filmmaking, you know that effective audio capture is just as important as the visual aspect of your productions. While built-in microphones on many high-end cameras are decent, for the majority of situations, they just won’t cut it. And that’s why you’ll need to get yourself a quality shotgun mic. Shotgun mics feature a unique polar pattern that enables them to focus in on the subject from a far distance. On top of this, they’re also great at rejecting sound from the sides and rear. In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the best shotgun mics for film. We’ll also cover how they work and what to look for so you can find a shotgun mic that’s right for you.

Full Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, JuicedLink may earn a small commission from purchases made through any of the links or buttons below, at no additional cost to you. Earnings help us with website maintenance and make it easier for us to bring you the best information available.

6 of the Best Shotgun Mics for Film

Sennheiser MKH416-P48U3 Super-Cardioid Shotgun Tube Condenser Microphone

Sennheiser MKH 416

Anyone interested in audio knows that Sennheiser makes some of the best recording and monitoring gear out there. This reputable German conglomerate produces everything from studio condenser microphones, to headphones for the consumer market, to some of the best shotgun mics for film. The Sennheiser MKH 416 is basically the industry standard at this point, and it’s the go-to shotgun for amateurs and pros alike. When used in conjunction with one of the best portable audio recorders, you can achieve professional results that will blow your audience away.

The rugged all-metal body makes the 416 a versatile shotgun for many environments, including the outdoors. The MKH 416 utilizes a RF condenser design that makes it resistant to humidity. Humidity and moisture are notorious problems for many other condenser microphone designs. If you’ll be using your shotgun mic outside in a humid environment, humidity resistance is an important consideration.

Like all shotgun mics on this list, the main advantage is the directional nature of the 416’s polar pattern, which is due to the interference tube principle. The 416 has a hypercardioid polar pattern up to 2 kHz that enables the boom operator to focus on the sound source from a distance, and ensures that the microphone is left out of the shot. Above 2 kHz, the pattern starts to become more and more narrow – a characteristic that’s determined by the length of the interference tube.

Features & Specs

  • Polar pattern: hypercardioid/lobar
  • Sensitivity in free field, no load (1 kHz): 25 mV/Pa +- 1 dB
  • Nominal impedance: 25 Ohm
  • Min. terminating impedance: 800 Ohm
  • Equivalent noise: 13 dB
  • Equivalent noise (CCIR 468-3): 24 dB
  • Voltage: 48 +- 12 V phantom
  • Current draw: 2 mA
  • Dimensions: d 19 x 250 mm
  • Weight: 165 g
View & Check Price at Amazon!

Rode NTG-8

Up next, we have a mic from the popular NTG lineup by Rode, the NTG-8. The NTG series of shotgun mics has a wide variety of options ranging from the ultra-budget NTG-1 all the way to the top of the line NTG-8. There is even a Rode NTG shotgun mic for DSLR cameras. So what is it that makes the NTG-8 one of the best shotgun mics for film?

Rode NTG8 Broadcast Quality RF-Bias Long Shotgun Microphone

The NTG-8 has many of the same characteristics of the Sennheiser MKH 416 that make both of them great for film production. This includes moisture resistance for outdoor use and excellent off-axis noise rejection. But where the NTG-8 really shines is in it’s directionality. The longer interference tube allows the NTG-8 to reject more noise from the sides than it’s shorter counterparts. There is a tradeoff, though. Longer shotgun mics are usually more difficult to work with, and may be somewhat unwieldy in tighter spaces or for inexperienced boom operators.

Due to this enhanced directionality, the NTG-8 is especially suitable for noisy filming environments such as a busy city intersection or a crowded stadium. You should also choose the NTG-8 if you’ll be recording the source from a long distance. Another advantage of the NTG-8’s 22″ length is that it remains directional even when recording very low frequency sounds.

Features & Specs

  • Type: Shotgun condenser (external RF Biased)
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz – 20kHz
  • Max SPL: 130 dB
  • Output Impedance: 25 ohms
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 81dB
  • Self Noise: 13dB (A weighted)
  • Power: Phantom Power
  • Connector: XLR
  • Length: 22″
  • Weight: 0.76 lbs.
View & Check Price at Amazon!

Sennheiser MKE 600 Shotgun Microphone with Auray Universal Shock Mount and Windshield

Sennheiser MKE 600

Up next, and also from Sennheiser, is the MKE 600. This shotgun mic’s strength is versatility. While it’s made primarily for mounting onto a DSLR camera/camcorder, it also does well when paired with a boom pole or mic stand. On top of this, the MKE 600 also has several switches that can be activated for varying situations. This include a high-pass filter to cut back on wind noise.

At just over 10″ long, the MKE 600 may be less suited for long distance recordings in noisier environment than longer models due to reduced off-axis rejection. But all in all, it makes for a great interview mic. An internal mounting system coupled with a solid shock mount produces exceptionally low handling noise, and it’s capable of 150 hours of operating time off an optional battery pack for situations where phantom power is not supplied by the camera.

Features & Specs

  • Type: Shotgun condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid/lobar
  • Frequency Response: 40 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Max SPL: 132 dB (phantom), 126 dB (battery)
  • Self Noise: 15dB (phantom), 16dB (battery)
  • Low Cut Filter: 100 Hz
  • Power: Phantom Power / 1 x 1.5V AA battery / 1 x 1.2V AA battery
  • Connector: XLR
  • Length: 10.07″
  • Weight: 0.28 lbs. (without battery)
  • Included Accessories: Shock mount, Windscreen, Carry Case
View & Check Price at Amazon!

Rode NTG-3

Next up is the NTG-3 from Rode. This mic is about half the length and has a wider polar pattern than that of the NTG-8, making it easier to control for the boom operator. There is, of course, a trade-off. The NTG-3’s wider front lobe makes it more prone to sound pickup from other areas of the set. It’s also less ideal for long distance recording and recording in noisier environments than the NTG-8.

Rode NTG3B Super-Cardioid Condenser Shotgun Microphone, Black

While the NTG-8 is more directional and specialized, the NTG-3 is more of the versatile workhorse in the NTG series. It’s also considerably less expensive than the NTG-8. This, in combination with superb moisture resistance and exceptionally low self-noise and handling noise, qualifies the NTG-3 as one of the best shotgun mics for film out there. If you’re looking for professional and well-rounded dialog recordings using a boom pole, definitely consider this one.

Features & Specs

  • Type: Shotgun Condenser (RF biased)
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Max SPL: 130 dB
  • Output Impedance: 25 ohms
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 81dB (A weighted)
  • Self Noise: 13dB (A weighted)
  • Power: Phantom Power
  • Connector: XLR
  • Length: 10″
  • Weight: 0.36 lbs.
  • Included Accessories: Stand Mount, Windscreen, Carry Bag, Storage Case
View & Check Price at Amazon!

Schoeps CMIT5U Shotgun Microphone Set for Boompole Mounting, Includes Rycote Full Windscreen Kit 4, Rycote Connbox, W140 Foam Windscreen, SG20 Stand Clamp

Schoeps CMIT5U

Schoeps (pronounced “sheps”) is another German company specializing in high-end condenser microphones. Schoeps was founded in 1948 shortly after WWII, and they have a rich history of microphone models similar to other microphone producers like Telefunken and Neumann. All Schoeps condenser mics are externally polarized as opposed to newer electret designs. Their mics are used worldwide for a variety of applications such as film production, miking orchestras, and recording dialogue.

One look at the CMIT5U’s price tag is enough to deter almost anyone searching for one of the best shotgun mics for film. But there are a few features to look at that may justify the extreme cost of this shotgun. First off, the CMIT5U has several switches which can be activated for different situations, a seemingly rare occurrence among shotgun mics. The low-cut filter (18 dB/octave at 80 Hz) steeply reduces the bass response to help in windy environments. On top of this, we also have a proximity filter (6 dB/octave at 300 Hz) for close-miking applications, and a +5 dB high shelf at 10 kHz to boost vocal presence. Schoeps also claims the polar pattern is radially symmetrical, meaning any orientation of the mic as it’s rotated about the axis will produce the same audio.

The mic is very light, owing this to the anodized aluminum body which normally comes in a light blue but can be customized to the fit the customer’s needs. The overall length is just under 10″ but the mic is surprisingly directional for this length, making it somewhat of an exception. If you can shell out the cash for this mic, you’re definitely investing in the best one out there.

Features & Specs

  • Type: Shotgun condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid/Lobar
  • Frequency Response: 40 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Max SPL: 132 dB
  • Output Impedance: 600 ohms
  • Self Noise: 14dB (A weighted)
  • Low Cut Filter: 80Hz (-18 dB/octave), 300Hz (-6 dB/octave)
  • Power:Phantom Power
  • Connector: XLR
  • Length: 9.88″
  • Weight: 0.2 lbs.
  • Included Accessories: Stand Clamp, Windscreen
View & Check Price at Amazon!

Audio-Technica AT8035

No list of the best shotgun mics for film would be complete without a mic from Audio-Technica. This Japanese company is well known in the professional audio industry for the excellent value their products provide at affordable price points. The AT8035 falls nicely in the entry-level/budget category, and delivers fully on the value you get for the price you pay.

Audio-Technica Condenser Microphone (AT8035)

The AT8035 has an overall length of 14.5″ that makes it a good all around medium shotgun mic for ENG, outdoor recording, voice-overs, and other specialized uses. While it may not be the best in terms of raw performance, and there are definitely others on the list that will outperform the AT8035, it’s one of the best budget choices you can find. One downside, and this goes for most in this round-up, is that there are no filters. If you’ll need to be able to make adjustments during recording, we advise looking at some of the more expensive models.

Features & Specs

  • Type: Shotgun condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Line + Gradient (shotgun)
  • Frequency Response: 40 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Max SPL: 98 dB (battery), 132 dB (phantom)
  • Output Impedance: 300 Ohms (battery), 250 Ohms (phantom)
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 72 dB (A-weighted)
  • Power: Battery/Phantom
  • Connector: XLR
  • Length: 14.53″
  • Weight: 0.37 lbs.
View & Check Price at Amazon!

How to Pick One of the Best Shotgun Mics for Film

Mics can be a challenge to decide on due to the technical details and knowledge needed to realize when and where to use each type. Shotgun mics have several properties and design choices to consider that will make some better than others in certain situations. In this section, we’ll go through some of these details so that you can pick the best shotgun mic for your specific situation and needs.

Interference Tube Length

The use of an interference tube is the reason behind the name “shotgun mic.” This is the elongated part of the mic that makes it look like our favorite  home defense weapon. The length of the interference tube is very important to think about when choosing a shotgun mic.  Generally, there are 3 categories of shotgun mics, sorted by their length:

  • Short – under 10″
  • Medium – 10″ to 16″
  • Long – over 16″

The effect of length on the way the mic behaves and performs is 4-fold:

  1. As length increases, so does the rejection of off-axis, low frequency sound.
  2. As length increases, so does handling and operational difficulty.
  3. As length increases, the lobe width decreases (gets more narrow). Lobe width is also dependent on the frequency of the sound source.
  4. As length increases, directionality is better maintained as frequency drops.

What does all this mean? A longer mic like the NTG-8 will be better at long distance recording in noisier environments. A shorter mic will be better for mounting on cameras, but pick up more noise from the sides and surroundings. Medium shotguns are somewhere in between. There really isn’t an objective standard for which one is the best. It’ll all depend on your situation.

Boom vs Camera Mount

Most of the mics on this list will work well on a boom pole. If you’re wanting to mount a shotgun mic on a DSLR camera or camcorder, there’s an entirely different list out there for you. The main difference between boom mics and camera mounted mics will be in their length, and as we discussed above, the length can make a big difference.

DSLR camera with shotgun mic

DSLR mounted shotgun mics are definitely better than the camera’s built-in mic when it comes to directionality and noise rejection. But if you really need to film in a loud, noisy place, using a longer mic will help to cut back on that unwanted ambient noise. This isn’t always practical, however, and many filmmakers value the compact design and convenience of a camera mounted shotgun that does the job well enough.

When to Use a Lavalier Mic Instead

Using a lavalier mic is another popular option for miking dialogue. They have a few advantages and disadvantages you should consider before pulling the trigger on a shotgun mic.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Lavalier
  • Great for interviews or narrative recording
  • Less ambient room noise pickup (if that’s what you want)
  • Flexibility with omnidirectional or cardioid polar patterns
  • Cardiod pattern is less forgiving with placement
  • Wiring and mic visibility is not for all applications
  • Requires prior planning/setup
  • Less ideal for sound effects
  • Sound shadow can occur if placement isn’t right
Shotgun
  • Less visible when placed correctly
  • More ambient sound pickup (if that’s what you want)
  • Short shotguns are better for street recording
  • Good for both dialogue and sound effects
  • Watch out for light shadows in the shot
  • More prone to structural vibration
  • Can be extremely expensive