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Versatile external mic for DSLR?

Anonymous (not verified)

I run an educational program that teaches beginning video production among other things, and we'd like to get an external microphone for our Canon DSLR. Something incredibly versatile would benecessary. We record bands as well as interviews, indoor and outdoor.

Here's a link to a concert we did. I was pleased with the actual footage, I'd like to upgrade the sound quality. Usually a feed out of the sound system isn't an option.

http://youtu.be/dYvvcbXT550?hd=1


chuckzootz's picture
Last seen: 11 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 02/07/2012 - 7:16pm

The camera manufacturer may have a good mic ( I know Shure makes a shotgun mic for the canon series of cameras, a friend uses one. Another might be the Zoom H-1, it offers dual mikes and I know a number of people who use them. I use a Zoom u-2 ( pre n ) with my camcorders as a better quality mic than the ones that come in my cameras.


paulears's picture
Last seen: 1 week 2 days ago
Joined: 11/05/2006 - 8:36am

If you're teaching video production, then I must admit I'm mystified by you not knowing the answer here? If you record interviews and bands, inside and outside, then the very worst place for the mic is on the camera. Bands need special techniques if the audio quality is to retain parity with the video. Pointing a single mic at a band that includes amplified instruments and drums will sound horrible. On top of this, moving the camera moves the sound balance - which will sound grim. For interviews, good sound will come from appropriate mics used in the proper manner - recorded on something else probably and then synced in the edit. For music that's got a natural acoustic balance then a stereo mic at the right location will make a decent job of most styles, but again, sound is not something simple you can bolt on. You can buy tons of mics that you can attach to the camera, but the camera is the worst place to put them! For a music video, it's even more critical that sound quality is good - perhaps even more so than the video format. If you are going to teach people, you have to teach them the proper industry way of doing things.


Bruce McIntosh's picture
Last seen: 2 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 02/16/2011 - 3:42pm

I work with dual system sound (Zoom H4n) with a variety of sources including taps from the sound board, a shotgun mic, a livelier and a couple of cardioid mics with stands. These all add up to a fair amount of money but give me flexibility for almost any situation. Don't skimp on sound! My video editing teacher claims good video is 2/3 good sound.


peterdwebb's picture
Last seen: 1 year 5 months ago
Joined: 08/27/2012 - 1:22pm

Wow! Thank you all for your comments. I teach middle school and high school video production as an after-school type thing. It's very project-based, learn-as-you-go and not very technical, but it fills a need. Looking at it now it's probably a bad idea to start a topic in a well-educated, professional community like this, but I hope you'll forgive my ignorance.

Our budget is small and we don't mic drums for lack of channels and proper mics, which is why I was thinking upgrading the on-board mic was better than nothing. Our feeds from the board are usually fairly lame because so much of our sound is acoustic.

I really like the idea of the Zoom recorders. Seems like a system that we could use solo and then add microphones to.

I value your expertise a lot! Thank you!


D0n
D0n's picture
Last seen: 4 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 11/09/2007 - 5:28pm

@peter... listen.. when I studied maritial arts, our instructors philosophy was "teaching is learning" and part of the whole process was taking what you have already been taught and teaching it to those of lower rankings, so yellow belts taught white belts for example... so don't EVER apologize for sharing what you do know.

as for recordings...
yes the zooms are popular and easy to learn. you can even pick up a program for free like audacity and use more than one recorder and do your mixing in the computer.


David Forrester's picture
Last seen: 4 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 05/09/2010 - 8:04pm
Plus Member

Peter: Allow me to share with you what I have taken a long time to learn - the benefit of experience with the 5DMk2, a Sony Z5 professional camera and a Sony FS100 - the DSLR killer!! Buddy is right - audio is more important than video. Turn off the TV sound and you get a duhhhh. But turn off the picture and listen - well it is like radio in a way. You have got to nail this right.GEt your students into audio right away and nail it!

The Canon's audio does not cut it. Period. So you need to either record it extenally (Zoom Hn4 or 2 or Tascam or portable recorder). This dual method generates aproblem. First you have to hit the record button twice - the camera and the recorder, and you have to hit them again when the shot ends. And do it again and again and again. You are going to miss something - it happens. You think you are recording but it is on pause - that kind of stuff.

Then you have to sync them together in post. That is a challenge. That is what clap-boards are for. However, Plural eyes software makes it easier to sync in post. By the way, if you are even 2 frames out, the audience will notice the out of sync - that sensitive.

Hollywood uses this dual recording system - but then again they have 100 crew on the set! And many specialize in audio. The technician for the choice of mics and equipment, the recorder, the boom pole, the guys who put all this stuff in place. Then the editors - that is another story. Big headache. It is a challenge - but the advantages are pure sound, a multitude of inputs in a 12-24 track recorder, a mixer to adjust the mic levels and get it right. In post, you can then mess around with all of this information and make a great stereo mix. But that is not your case. Just to let you know . . .

Your best bet is to record stereoon camera. There are several add-on modules - Beach-Tek, Juiced Link that make the camera audio friendly and can accept pro quality microphones with the stereoXLR feeds. To make it even better, Magic Lantern has a new hack that makes the Canon 5D reallyreally video and audio quality ready in stereo and when coupled with the adapter - you have a winning combination. That is what I would recommend.

I have tried the dual system approach and if by yourself or even with 1 other, it is a pain in the ass. Why? Because the cinematography is so challenging, intense to get great video, especially in follow focus mode, lighting, iris control, composition, following the action, that adding audio to this - well . . .you WILL lose great shots, either in video or audio. So unless you have a crew behind you, forget the dual system. I have failed too many fantastic, never to be had again shots. This adapter method gives you a great fighting chance.

For microphones - I use several. Sennheiser ME66 professional medium shotgun - terrific. It gets the audio and greatly reducesunnecessarysound on the side. But that is mono and great for voice up front. But you need great quality stereo. I used the Audio Technica 4025 phantom powered stereo mic. It gives a wide stereo field that you have to hear to believe. It can record music and bands extremely well. It can record crickets at night time in the quietest of settings. The Zoom is pretty good for its stereo mics, but a far cry from the AT. Nothing beats a mic that is attachedto the talent. And for that, I use the audio-technica 899 lavaier - a clip on mic to pick up the voice crystal clear. These types of mics are what the news casters use. And if you want freedom, then you go wireless on these mics. Another chunk of gear!

It all gets pretty complicated and pricey, but the results are worth it, hands down. You can get cheap chinese mics these days for about 1/3 the price, but it needs research. The NADY stereo mic I hear is very good - about $100 on ebay. Bottom line: you get what you pay for.

Too much? At least, now you know. Forearmed is forewarned. Just do it right, OK? :)

Dave