As a continuation from part one, next is the plain talk recommendations for a shotgun mic – the microphone that sits atop your camera while shooting. I”m not going to discuss the technical aspects of the different kinds of pickup patterns, the various jargon/lingo associated with audio. You can find that information here – instead I’m providing some practical down to earth, real world advice about my choice of microphones, that are known to just work.
The shotgun mic is the typical on camera microphone that will dramatically improve the quality of your audio compared to the built in microphones on todays camcorders. Other than the SONY A1U, the cameras listed in part one utilize a 3.5mm mini jack. This does present more limited options in the mic department, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get excellent sounding audio from those choices.
If you can afford it, go for best
Since beginning this article, I came upon (and purchased) what could be considered the best shotgun mic for either mini jack or XLR connection – The Ambient Audio TinyMic.
I originally came across this article describing the audio qualities of this mic – and the size was all I had been looking for in a professional mic that wasn’t locked into the XLR connector. The benefit of the Ambient Audio TinyMic is the ability to swap out the connector to either mini jack or XLR – without having to contend with the increased size of an XLR based mic.
I’ve been using the TinyMic for sometime now and I can attest to the sound quality that results utilizing it. I’ve used it on a boom overhead my subjects when doing interviews – it’s quite frankly one of the best pieces of equipment I could have purchased. And it’s one of those that can be utilized when I transition to a newer camera.
But I’m not made of money…
What do you do if your budget is more limited? Can you still get good quality audio without having to drain your bank account?
Yes you can. For those who cannot afford the cost of the TinyMic (over $400 base unit), I recommend one of the following mini jack mics:
- Azden ECZ-990 Shotgun Microphone
- Azden SMX-10 Stereo Microphone
- Azden SGM-X Shotgun Microphone
- RODE VideoMic
- Sennheiser MKE 400 Shotgun Microphone
Each of these microphones, while not up to their XLR big brothers standards, can provide clean, clear sound quality as long as you’re keeping an eye on your audio levels while shooting – which is something that can be done with the cameras I recommended in part one of this series. And don’t forget, a good quality set of headphones of earbud phones is crucial for monitoring your audio while shooting.