This might be a dumb question but im new so bare with me. Im comparing the Rode Ntg-2 and a rode Nt5. They both are cardioid pick up patterns, both condenser mics, both have alot of similar features. Is the difference only the distance you can be from the source? Can I just use a Nt5 and be a foot away and get the same sound as the Ntg-2 3 feet away? Or am I missing something here?
Shaun, it's not about how "far away" you are fro the sound source, necessarily. Different mics and their pick up patterns are not designed to scoop up, or zoom into, sounds from a distance, but rather to attenuate, or lessen, the sounds coming from directions other than the front of the microphone. This article covers the basics and has some good diagrams to get you thinking about the principles.
The NTG-2 is a shotgun mic, not a cardioid, and its special "interference tube" construction gives it a very different pickup pattern, with some tradeoffs (no such thing as a free lunch or a perfect mic). This epic and often-cited article has some of the best descriptions about these real-world differences and their practical uses, under the section heading "What Are The Most Common Microphone Types and Pickup Patterns For Location Sound?", about three pages' worth of scrolling down from the top.
Both are decent inexpensive mics, but read the articles above and see if they help determine which is right for your needs.