By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
As I’ve said before, getting a killer image is only half the equation in filmmaking. But the audio, well, that can be even more important. Audiences can suffer lackluster video, but nobody will put up with bad audio. Zoom continues to refine how we can capture audio in the field with a small field recorder that can use any Zoom microphone attachment to capture even the most intimate sounds.
“The F1 is the perfect solution for videographers who need to capture the nuance of every word with professional quality audio,” says Zoom’s statement announcing the product.
Called the Zoom F1, the audio recorder is half the size of an iPhone, and can connect to everything from a lavalier microphone, to any of zoom’s 10 pin mic capsule modules that were designed for the modular H6. With them attached, the F1 can record 24bit/96kHz to WAV files or mp3 and write to a standard microSD card for later editing.
The basic idea here is that users can take their H6 mic modules (called capsules) and plug them in for situations where the larger field recorder is simply too cumbersome to lug around. The modules slip into the 10 pin connector, or via the 3.5mm minijack, and can be swapped out in seconds. So one minute you’re micing up a bride to capture her vows up close and personal, and the next minute you’re attaching the shotgun module to capture well wishers on the fly at the reception.
The F1 is also small enough, that it can fit inside a jacket pocket, and it’s light enough to set on top of your DSLR, micro four thirds MILC, or any other camera. There’s a 1.25″ monochromatic LCD display, and the F1 is powered by two AAA alkaline batteries, but rechargeable Lithium or NiMH batteries will also work. Total battery life is 10 hours on a single charge using a Lav mic, but that will drop with other attachments. Not bad though, as Zoom recorders are notorious for their stingy battery life. There’s also an AC adapter for longer periods of use.
Other features include:
- Compatible with Zoom microphone capsules
- Supports up to 24-bit/96 kHz audio in BWF-compliant WAV or a variety of MP3 formats
- One-touch button controls
- 1.25” monochrome LCD display
- Rec Hold function to avoid accidental operation of buttons
- Stereo ⅛” Mic/Line In mini phone jack with Plug-in power (2.5V)
- Stereo ⅛” Phone/Line Output jack with dedicated volume control
- Built-in limiter and auto level control to avoid clipping
- Pre-Record function
- Tone generator for calibrating audio levels between the F1 and a DSLR or video camera without the need for an attenuator cable
- Sound marker function that outputs quick tone to make syncing audio and video easy
- Records directly to micro SD and SDHC cards up to 32 GB
- Micro USB port for data exchange to and from computer and use as an audio interface with computer or iOS device
- Runs on only 2 standard AAA alkaline, Lithium, or NiMH rechargeable batteries, or AC adapter (AD-17)
- Up to 10 hours of operation with alkaline batteries (when using lavalier)
The other cool feature is with the Capsule accessories, users can have multiple Zoom recorders, be it the F1, the H6 or even the H5, and the capsules can be used interchangeably between them. That makes for a great audio recording kit. Its really cool that Zoom continues to refine their legacy products, and not simply abandon them in favor of new designs.
Cost of the Zoom F1 is $199, which comes with a lavalier mic and belt clip. Capsule modules will cost between $70-100 each. Or you can buy the F1 kit with the shotgun capsule for $249. Not bad considering the shotgun capsule itself is around $150.
I really think that Zoom is killing it right now, giving independent filmmakers affordable tools to capture audio and up their production values. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
Check it out at Zoom-na.com.