Each new camera release seems to bring an ever growing list of new features. Some of these are well worth having while to my mind some of them are little more than fluff. One of the major features on my new Panasonic Lumix GH3 that I appreciate is the external microphone jack. For hybrid photography, your sound quality is every bit as important as your video and stills. Without a great sound track, all your hard work capturing video and stills doesn’t shine like it should – and could! The built in microphones in all small cameras are designed to record “ambient” sound from all directions. In the case of my GH3, the audio quality judged by ear is substantially better than on most cameras I have tried, but is still not directional “front facing” enough for live event work.
The best internal microphones are no match for even a cheap inexpensive external microphone held just out of view mounted to a microphone pole. To record in this manner requires both an external microphone and cable, the boom pole, and a second person to operate it all. In addition, a secondary sound recording device is normally employed in this setup. This is a great setup for sound. Realistically, not every shoot you do will require something as complex or as costly. Also, it is not always feasible to have the services of a second person to act as sound man. So what is the happy medium?
I’m using a camera shoe mounted “shotgun” microphone. These relatively inexpensive devices go a long way to improving my overall sound quality. The improvement is so dramatic in fact, an entire category of external shotgun microphones, or “Mics” as they are called in the industry, has been developed specifically for use on these new DSLR and Mirrorless Camera bodies with video capability. Selecting which of the many options available is difficult if you’re not familiar with audio recording or the basic principles involved. With all production tools, there is complex science behind everything. My advice is to judge with your ears, not just with the popularity of any particular Brand. Some of the largest Brand names are no better than their less costly alternatives.
This video is a year old, so it does not take into account any of the newer products introduced in 2012. We will try to cover these newer options in the coming weeks, such as the Panasonic DMW-MS2 Stereo Shotgun Microphone For Lumix DMC-GH3. Each of these four microphones tested are four top sellers in the field. Which one sounds the best to you?
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