I'm a big fan of using omnidirectional microphones for studio recording; they have a full, large sound can't be easily replicated by directional microphones. Finding high-quality omnidirectional microphones is usually a challenge; the most expensive ones can go for thousands of dollars a piece!
My first pair of "real" microphones were a pair of Audio-Technica AT3528. I loved these mics - and eventually traded them up for something different as my needs changed.
At last summer's NAMM show, Audio-Technica quietly introduced their new pencil condenser microphones, including the value-priced omni-directional AT4022.
Put to the test...
I spent a few weeks with the AT4022, and I was very surprised at the performance for the price!
The AT4022 is a small-diaphragm condenser microphone with a flat 20Hz-20kHz frequency response. The microphone's polar pattern is completely omnidirectional at 1kHz, with higher frequencies exhibiting some cardioid characteristics due to the larger diaphragm size, compared to very high-end omnidirectional mics.
Another thing impressive about the AT4022 is the high SPL handling capabilities; 146db, with an additional 10db available via a built-in pad.
There's also the option for a low-frequency roll-off; omnidirectional microphones tend to express deeper frequencies better, so in certain situations, you might wish to engage the roll-off switch.
The AT4022 is built very well; out of the box, it feels very sturdy.
My only concern is the very small grill around the top of the microphone; these parts (and design) are reminiscent of the DPA condenser microphones, which I've had a similar problem with: the very small grills can sometimes catch on things, either scratching or pulling loose. This did not happen with my review units, but it's a problem I've seen in the past on similar designs.
As with any microphone, it's all about the sound!
The AT4022 certainly doesn't disappoint. For live recording, it really stands out - full frequency response, a very "deep" sound. Recording live music via a PA system was very pleasurable.
Recording in the studio is where the AT4022 really shines; on acoustic guitar, it sounded lifelike, without focusing too much on lower-end frequencies. I really enjoyed the AT4022 on drum overheads - while not as "crispy" as some omnidirectional microphones, the AT4022 pair gave a really nice stereo image and a very detailed drum sound, focusing on a high quality midrange.
Keep in mind that omnidirectional microphones don't work well unless you have a great acoustic environment to work in. If you're recording in an untreated room, or in a poor acoustic space, you might not like how the AT4022 sound; in testing a recording in my untreated living room, I wasn't thrilled with the open sound, lending to lots of room (and air conditioner) noise. Your results may vary, but the AT4022 shines in a great acoustic environment - and shows an honest picture of a bad one.
I'd call it the best camera for that price. I'd go for it.
FYI, Downsides are:
* Limited lens compatibility (no autofocus motor, so many Nikon lenses won't work)
* Autofocus is slow enough to be completely useless in live view mode (try it in a store)
* Video mode isn't up to par with Canon and friends. You get limited resolution, awkward frame rate, horrible audio (11kHz with low quality built-in microphone, and no microphone input, and the kit lens will give you lots of image stabilizer noise).
Stepping up, Canon 550D is an amazing camera (albeit without the pivot LCD)