Filmmaking With Still Cameras

The internal microphone in a DSLR is built as an omnidirectional microphone to capture the general ambient noise. That makes audio from a still camera relatively useless for working with professional projects, as it can pick up camera handling and inner workings while any dialogue is overrun by surrounding sounds.

For the most advanced options, recording with a professional microphone and an external audio recorder such as models from Beachtek, juicedLink, Tascam or Zoom will give you the clearest and most pristine audio for working in post. This extra audio track must be synced to your video through editing, however—an extra step that many videographers choose to work around by employing battery-operated microphones with a 3.5mm jack (also known as a 1/8″ input) that can plug directly into the camera.

RØDE has a number of options for DSLR users, including the VideoMic Pro, Stereo VideoMic Pro, VideoMic, Stereo VideoMic and the afNTG series of shotgun mics. The low-cost VideoMic GO (List Price: $99) is a convenient choice for cameras, as it will feed power directly from the 3.5mm jack. If you have an iOS smart device, their i-XY (List Price: $149) and smartLav+ (List Price: $79) microphones can be plugged into iPhones and iPads to capture directly to audio recording apps like the RØDE Rec app (List Price: $5.99), which will provide high-resolution, 24-bit, 48 kHz stereo/mono recording, as well as higher-fidelity 96 kHz when paired with the i-XY microphone. RØDE Rec LE is a free version of the app.

ZACUTO DSLR RECOIL: Camera rigs provide balance, comfort and attachment points that will let you work with video accessories on your still camera.

Sennheiser has several shotgun microphone solutions for still cameras such as the MKE 400 (Estimated Street Price: $199) and MKE 600 (Estimated Street Price: $329). The more powerful MKE 600 requires an XLR connection or 3.5mm adapter, while the MKE 400 will plug directly into the 3.5mm jack. The MKE 400 will work up to 300 hours on a single AAA battery, while the MKE 600 will power for up to 150 hours on a AA battery. Azden’s SGM-DSLR shotgun mic is an ideal choice for working on location, as the cord can be replaced with a longer version or if it breaks, an unusual feature at this price point. The shock mount will also reduce camera handling noise (List Price: $240).

Shure‘s LensHopper VP83 (Estimated Street Price: $229) and LensHopper Pro VP83F (Estimated Street Price: $349) are built with a cardioid mini-shotgun pattern—a forward-facing heart pattern that concentrates on the audio in front of the camera while rejecting noise from the sides. Unlike most other microphones on the market, the more expensive VP83F captures directly to an internal SD card for dual-track audio without an extra audio recorder. It also has a headphone jack to listen to audio right from the mic—useful for cameras like the Canon EOS Rebel T3i, which lacks a headphone port.

For still cameras and smart devices, the MXL FR-310 (List Price: $129) microphone is available on its own or as part of the MM-VE001 Mobile Media Videographer‘s Essentials Kit (List Price: $189) with smartphone bracket mount and ballhead. The mic will mount directly to the hot-shoe or it can be used via the mount with a smartphone if preferring to record sound separately to a recording app. MXL also makes the MM-160 lavalier (List Price: $59), which can be attached to talent and used with cell phones or tablets. Audio-Technica‘s very affordable Pro 24-CM mini shotgun (Estimated Street Price: $69) can feed from microphone inputs or it can be run an average of 200 hours through a 1.5V battery.

Que Audio‘s DSLR-Video PRO Microphone Kit (Estimated Street Price: $329) includes a windscreen, shockmount, detachable cable case and WOMBAT wind muff for reducing ambient noise. The system is based around the Q Mini Shotgun PRO microphone (Estimated Street Price: $249), which is also available with an included boom pole as the Sniper PRO Microphone Kit (Estimated Street Price: $499) for location work. Boom poles will reduce handling noise and give you cleaner audio, as you can get the mic much closer to talent. A Q DSLR-Video Microphone Kit Lite (Estimated Street Price: $199) is also available with the less powerful QMSG1 “pencil” mini shotgun (Estimated Street Price: $199).

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