3.5mm Directional shotgun microphone

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by macfilm, May 19, 2013.

  1. macrumors regular

    Nov 11, 2007
    Hi, I'm looking for a simple directional shotgun microphone that has a 3.5mm connection to use on a Sony handy cam (HDR-SR8 to be exact).

    £100 max price ideally.

    Any recommendations would be appreciated, thanks :)
  2. macrumors 6502

    Nov 28, 2011
    Stuttgart, Germany
    Not really a recommendation, but a comment: Don't!

    Well, it's not that bad and will probably improve your audio, but there are three things I want you to consider:

    1. If you mount your mic directly on your camera, it will most likely be far away from the sound source. And that is bad. No matter how great and expensive the mic is, it will help way more to just get it closer to the action.

    2. If you ever want to upgrade, e.g. to an external field recorder like the Zoom H4n, you will hate yourself for having a mic without proper (XLR) output. There are cheap (<10$) adapter cables to connect any XLR shotgun mic to your 3.5mm plug, and you should definitely go that route. The only thing you need to make sure is that the shotgun mic can be powered by battery, not just phantom power, which is impossible via a 3.5mm plug.

    3. Last but certainly not least: Shotgun mics don't amplify the sound coming directly from the front, but dampen the sound coming from the sides. This means that the output level on those mics is very, very low. And you definitely do not want to run this output level through a cheap preamplifier, like it is used in any camcorder. You should definitely try this first, but I am almost sure that you will hear a significant hissing noise and regret spending the money and not getting crystal clear sound.

    All that being said, I've heard good things about the Azden mic, but never tried one since they are harder to come by in Europe.
  3. macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    What Floh said. A shotgun mic is an improvement over a built-in mic in a handycam, but it's not like having a mic right next to someone. That's why I love my wireless lapels at work.

    Having said that, I have a "shotgun mic" on my Canon handycam at home. Compared to the built-in mic it's great.

    As to what you might like to purchase, the Rode Video Mic and Video Mic Pro have good reputations. And here's a guy doing a comparison.

    See if you can test them out before buying. Always a good idea.
  4. thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 11, 2007
    Thanks for the advice guys.

    Yeah I always prefer a lapel mic on my subject but sometimes we have a couple people talking to camera so I can't lapel them both unfortunately.
  5. macrumors newbie

    Jun 4, 2013
  6. ChrisA, Aug 22, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013

    macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Everyone will recommend a Rode Video Mic.(Rode makes 4 or 6 different models of "video mic") But if you need a cheaper solution Audio Technica makes some decent video mics starting at about $70. I have one and it is a big step up from the built-in camera mic but not nearly as good as a GOOD lavaliere microphone. (the cheap lav mics or not worth messing with)

    A boom mic works too but it takes one more person.

    Sometimes you can hide a portable recorder, keep it just below the bottom of the frame.

    I have one of these and it is "acceptable" not great but works well is is cheap.

    I'm just starting to collect a set of microphones. There is no "best". There is only a "best match to your needs". Sometimes you do need a camera mounted mic, just like you need a camera mounted light. But camera mounting either of these is a serious compromise. Always if you can, set up a better solution. But it takes time.

    One more thing: If you are outdoors do get the 'dead cat" furry cover. The foam wind screens are not as effective. The fur covered ones work best. If cost is a problem make one
  7. macrumors member

    Apr 1, 2012
    Amazon is filled with <$30 mics. I've bought and tested several of them (also from dx.com, even cheaper ones there!) for my school. The "TIMETOP Professional Shotgun Microphone Mic for Sony Camcorder" (around $30) was the go-to-mic in the sub-$90 category.
  8. macrumors regular

    Apr 18, 2013
    Chicago, IL
    dont get the Amazon special generic shotgun mic that is listed by several different vendors and under different brand names. It goes for anywhere from $30 to $60 and gets very positive reviews on some listings and very negative reviews on others. I made the mistake of trusting the positive reviews, and unfortunately paid $50 before I realized it was available from other vendors for half that. Basically, it is on par with built in mic quality, with the only benefit of it being slightly less lens noise. One major downfall of it is there is a switch to turn it on, since its battery powered, but the switch is on the side, and the LED only lights up for a brief second when you first turn it on, giving you no indication of its continued functionality. As someone coming from prosumer video cams to the world of DSLR video, having no way to monitor audio and no phantom power coming from the camera, it is very easy to accidentally forget to turn on the mic and end up with absolutely NO AUDIO because having the mic plugged into the 3.5 jack on the camera cancels out the internal mic.
  9. macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    With everything digital these days it's a lot easier to sync things in post. So one thing to consider is using an external pocket recorder and placing it nearer to your audio source (on the floor or table out of frame, on a boom pole with someone holding it, etc). Then take that audio file and sync it with your recorded video.

    You could still do both (record on-camera audio), so you'll have a backup audio track (and a reference for syncing the external audio track).
  10. macrumors 65816


    Jan 26, 2008
  11. macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Yes, there are many "junk" mics out there. They get great reviews by those who don't know audio and are called for what they are by those who do.

    The BEST solution is always to get the mic closer. With a boom or a lav. mic but many times you are working alone (so there is no one to hold a boom) and you have to move to shoot a live event. But any time you have control of the action, use a wired mic, hide the recorder (they call this a "planted mic" because it implanted on the set and hidden.)

    But there are many times when you need an on-camera mic. The Audio Technica and the Rodes are going to be your best bets.

    In all cases you absolutely need headphones. Otherwise you have absolutely no idea what you are recording, or if you ARE even recording.

    As it turns out audio is hard work. It might be harder to capture professional quality sound then you capture pro quality video. With video it is all about the lighting and with audio it is all about microphones and placement. Mounting the mic on the camera should be a last resort but one we are forced to use many times.

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