Sound presents unique challenges to both photographers and videographers alike, especially when working with the limited capabilities of a DSLR’s built-in microphone system. On-camera mics are generally a low-cost, single-channel system that are lacking in professional features like balanced XLR inputs, multiple mic support and manual control over sensitivity and audio levels. Built-in mics are designed to capture the ambient noise of the surrounding environment, and this often includes not only the sound produced by the inner workings of the camera and lens, but also the omnidirectional noise of the surrounding environment. Ironically, the front-positioning of mics on a DSLR even can block incoming audio thanks to camera handling.
The solution is that many video-capable DSLRs offer a 1?8-inch input (also known as a 3.5mm or TRS mini-jack) for capturing audio through an external microphone. This will let you add direct capture of audio to video files through much more capable microphones that are available in a variety of configurations for best meeting the needs of your project. Omnidirectional mics like those in your camera will capture ambient sound from all surrounding areas, while directional mics are designed to capture audio from a specific area. To learn about the basic types of microphones, see our guide online at dpmag.com/mics.
Canon has been busy since last fall, introducing three new prime lenses, a superzoom and an update to one of its most popular pro-series "L" lenses for DSLRs. And don’t forget the EF-M-mount lenses introduced for the new EOS M mirrorless compact camera. The three primes—the EF 24mm, EF 28mm and EF 40mm—are all moderately fast ƒ/2.8 maximum apertures, the wider pair actually offering image stabilization and ultrasonic motors for fast autofocusing.
The low-profile and very affordable PRO 24-CM stereo mini-shotgun mic from Audio-Technica includes a pair of cardioid mics (a forward-facing, heart-shaped pick-up pattern) in an X/Y configuration for rejecting side noise and eliminating any latency between the pickup of each mic. The 4.6-inch mic anchors to a hot-shoe and is lightweight at less than four ounces. Estimated Street Price: $69.
With a length of just less than seven inches and a weight of less than two ounces, Azden’s stereo SMX-10 shotgun mic includes an internal lo-cut filter for reducing ambient noise created by wind and hum. It also includes a windscreen and hot-shoe mount. It powers from a single AAA battery with up to 400 hours of average runtime. Estimated Street Price: $85.
The Q Mini Shotgun PRO includes three levels of gain for setting the best audio "exposure" level between 0, +10 and +20 dB. The Q Mini Shotgun PRO is also available in the Q DSLR-Video PRO Microphone Kit, which includes everything you’ll need for anchoring the mic to a DSLR alongside wind-dampening tools and a custom case. The Q Sniper PRO Microphone Kit comes with these accessories, as well as a mini-boompole for holding the mic off-screen. Uniquely, Que Audio’s Compact Connection System offers a variety of connectors (3.5mm, balanced XLR and wireless transmitter adapters) for using the Q Mini Shotgun PRO with more than just your DSLR. Estimated Street Price: $249 (Que Audio DSLR-Video PRO Microphone Kit); $499 (Que Audio Sniper PRO Microphone Kit).
Sennheiser’s MKE 400 shotgun is a compact mic that includes settable sensitivities for long or short distances. A foam windshield and shock-mount is included for reducing noise, and the microphone powers for more than 300 hours on a single AAA battery. Estimated Street Price: $199.