Microphone question from a rookie

Started 9 months ago | Questions thread
eFilm Senior Member • Posts: 1,460
Re: Microphone question from a rookie

aeren wrote:

Hi everyone,

I'm a newbie still photographer. I rarely shoot videos. I have Canon 80D camera.

Recently I've been in a beautiful green woods with bird sounds. So, I also wanted to shoot a video. But, sound was awful. Noise from lens and wind ruined the scene.

Now, I'm considering to get an external microphone for this kind of outdoor situation. It shold be as small as possible to carry in my bag all the time, and cheap ofcourse.

Well, you get what you pay for, and the smallest possible size doesn't always mean best possible sound. Often it's the other way around. In some cases the smallest microphones may not even work with all cameras. I'd recommend a mic that has its own battery and its own damping to minimise audio feedback. Which means it won't be the smallest around.

Generally speaking, the project of getting good sound is twofold. On one hand it's indeed about a decent mic, but on the other hand it's more about how you're using it, and how you're shooting video in general.

You need to learn the basics of audio and video first. Whichever mic you go for, there'll be a slight learning curve to acquire good sound. But it's always worth it.

Do I need sterio one, or shot gun type will be sufficient for me?

It depends on what you want to capture.

A stereo mic will be nice for capturing ambient sound for your videos, like the tweeting birds all around the camera, whereas a mono shotgun type mic would be fine for he kind of videos where stereo sound is not essential, and the main focus will be in capturing the sound of the main subject in the front of the camera. There are also some stereo mics that capture a rather directional sound.

Is there a specific brand or model that suits to me best? What is your advice?

The brand or model doesn't matter that much, because it'll be more about how you're shooting video in general. The well known brands like Rode, Sennheiser and Shure, for example, will be good candidates.

Getting an external recorder and syncing the audio track in post, as suggested by janez would be the ideal solution, but not the easiest. You'll need to learn how to edit and sync the dual audio track first. Besides, recording dual audio is something you can always add later, too, even if you go for a regular microphone first.

If you opt for a microphone plugged straight into the camera instead, getting it away from the camera would help in improving the sound, regardless of he type of the microphone. The further away the mic is from the camera, the less handling noise the mic will pick up. Not just the lens, but all the fiddling and tapping you're doing with your fingers. They will all be annoyingly audible when the mic is right on the camera.

For that purpose there are some simple and relatively cheap options, although not perfect. One popular option is to use a flash bracket, and to attach the mic onto the flash bracket rather than straight onto the hot shoe of the camera. That won't remove all the handling noise, but it'll help.
To battle the annoying wind noise you'll need a furry wind jammer that covers the microphone element itself. Brands like Rycote and Rode are making some good ones.

As for the noise from the lens, there's a simple solution for that. Just turn the lens in manual focus mode, and focus manually. It's not that big of a deal as it sounds, and it's being used by advanced video and movie shooters all the time. You don't really need to re-focus all the time, anyway.

The trick is to prepare for your shoot in advance, planning your shots beforehand, and focusing the lens to the main subject before you hit the rec button. After some practise you'll learn to shoot without making much noise, either by handling the lens or the camera body. All it takes is some practise, not more gear.

So, whichever microphone you choose, also invest in a simple flash bracket or some other contraption that will allow you to mount the mic away from the camera, maybe a longer cable for the mic if necessary, and then switch the lens to MF mode.
Good luck!

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