Why and When to Use a Stereo Mic on a Camera

Share

A typical human being sees the world through two eyes, smells the world through two nostrils, and hears the world through two ears. Why we only have one mouth is a mystery, but it likely has something to do with noise pollution. Since we hear the world through two separate ears, recording audio in stereo for video work seems like a natural choice, but it isn’t always the best choice. Even so, there are many situations where using a stereo mic on a camera yields really nice results. In this article I’ll tell you about the times when you should use a stereo mic on a video camera, and make it clear when you should use a different kind of microphone. Plus I’ll share some mission critical tips for getting good sound when shooting outdoors.

First of all, let’s just clear up one common misconception about “stereo” sound. People have a tendency to associate stereo with “good,” and mono with “bad.” This is absolutely not the case. Stereo simply means two, and mono means one. In stereo audio you have two tracks (which are usually referred to as left and right). With mono audio, you only have a single track. What makes a recording good or bad relies entirely on what and how something was recorded.


 
The Audio Technica Pro-24CM, with a Windtech MM1 softie, on the 5D MK II
 

Now I must make a distinction between professional and consumer microphones. Professional video cameras will often feature two XLR microphone inputs. Consumer video cameras typically only have a single 1/8” (3.5mm) mini-plug microphone input. Some cameras don’t have any microphone input at all. The focus of this article is going to be on consumer microphones for video-enabled DSLR cameras, and consumer cameras with 1/8” mini-plug inputs. The next article in this series will focus on professional stereo microphones that connect with XLR jacks.

 If you’re looking to add an external microphone to your camera, the first thing you need to do is to determine if your camera features a microphone input or not. Locating the microphone input on your camera isn’t always obvious. Sometimes the input is hidden behind little doors. Mini-plug microphone inputs are also sometimes circled in red to make them easier to find. The graphic below will give you an idea of what to look for.

 

 
 

If you have a Sony video camera that doesn’t appear to have a microphone input, there still may be hope. Some Sony cameras have what’s called an “Active Interface Hot Shoe.” If your camera has one of these, you can add an external stereo microphone by using the Pearstone Microphone Adapter for Sony Camcorder Hot Shoe. This little adapter slides into your active camera shoe and gives you an 1/8” mini-plug microphone input. Another shoe mount is on top so you can mount the external mic.


 

The difference between a stereo recording and a mono recording is not at all analogous to the difference between a monochromatic and a polychromatic image.  A stereo recording creates more of a sense of place; it creates a listening environment, rather than just something to listen to. That’s why using a stereo microphone is important when you’re recording live musicians. The best live music recordings make you feel like you were there. Not only at the show, but that you were the musician on stage performing the music. This is a difficult thing to pull off using any kind of audio equipment, but it’s a good goal to reach for as an ideal.
 

Every time you use a microphone, you need to be mindful of where it’s placed. This rule is critical even when you’re making a simple telephone call. If you wave the handset of the phone away from your mouth, the other person won’t hear you. Again, if we had two mouths, this wouldn’t be as much of an issue. But I digress. If you’re recording live music, the sound of the recording will change if the camera is moving around. The trick is to find the sweet spot in the room where the music sounds the best. Put the camera with the external stereo microphone in that spot on a tripod and leave it there. If you want more coverage for B roll, use a second camera and shoot anything your cinematographer’s heart desires.
 

If you’re the outdoorsy type, an external stereo microphone is definitely something to consider. It’s really hard to capture what if feels like to be in a beautiful valley beside a mountain when you’re shooting video on a camera. Anything you can do to enhance nature’s presence in your video footage is worth a try. A stereo mic will let you hear which direction a bird’s song is coming from. The stomping of leaves in the underbrush from an unseen animal will be more life-like. The wind sweeping through the valley will come alive. But the wind will also ruin the sound if the microphone if it’s not protected with a windscreen.
 

Most microphones come with a foam windscreen to help protect your audio from distorting. Unfortunately, these foam windscreens only help you so much. If you’re outdoors, and it doesn’t matter if you’re exploring the hills of Zuni New Mexico or shooting your dog doing a trick in the backyard, gusts of wind will always distort your audio. The trick is to use the included foam windscreen, and to use a second “softie” windscreen on top of it. After a little experimentation, I discovered that the Windtech MM1 fit over most compact stereo microphones. I didn’t have the resources to try to squeeze the MM1 over the foam of all of the mics, but it can work.

 

 

The MM1 fits on the Pro-24CM, Sony 907, and many more
 

Another useful application for using an external stereo microphone on a camera is for weddings. If you’ve ever shot home video of a wedding, you may have been disappointed with the audio you captured if you only used the built-in mics on the camera. Simply using an external stereo mic will help you out a lot. Most of these mics are not directional, so if you’re at a wedding reception and you’re moving all around capturing all of the fun stuff going on, the audio will be cleaner and more balanced.
 

When it comes to recording clean dialog, stereo mics are not the best choice. If Uncle Fred is speaking to the camera at the wedding reception and he’s six feet away from the camera, you would do better with a small shotgun mic like the Sennheiser MKE400. However, if you’re roving the floor of the reception and the DJ’s speakers (or the live band) are set up on one side of the room, using a shotgun microphone will capture really unbalanced sounding audio. That’s why for basic wedding videography, a good external stereo mic is often the better all-around choice.
 

My advice is that if you find an external microphone input on your camera, you should use it. People put a lot of effort into picking out the camera with the best image quality they can get, why not do the same for your audio? Right now I’m in a cubicle in an office building in New York City, but I’d rather be exploring the hills in Northwestern New Mexico with a Canon 5D Mk II and an Audio Technica Pro-24CM with a Windtech MM1 softie. It sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  
 

Here are a few camera mountable stereo mics:

Audio Technica Pro-24CM

 


 

The Audio Technica Pro-24CM works really well with video-enabled DSLR cameras, and the Windtech MM1 makes it possible to shoot video with good sound anywhere.


The R0DE Stereo VideoMic
 


 

The Stereo VideoMic includes a softie windscreen for shooting outdoors.


Azden SMX-10

 

 
 

The SMX-10 is another low-cost way to improve the sound of the audio in your camera.


Audio Technica ATR6250


I didn’t have a chance to test out the ATR6250, so I cannot comment on its performance. But, it does come with a large assortment of accessories.
 

Thanks for reading this B&H Newsletter article! If you have any questions about stereo microphones, shotgun microphones, camcorders, or audio for video-enabled DSLR cameras, please don't hesitate to contact us via live chat on our website, on the phone at 1-800-814-2999, or in person at our SuperStore in New York City.

Add new comment

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

Haha I feel sorry for you, man. You really are living in the past. I just sold my Panasonic HPX170 and some old gear for a whole Canon 7D rig and I will never look back. The quality is amazing, having interchangable, ultra high speed lenses is a great thing, larger sensor than a prosumer video camera =  much better low light performance and incredible DOF. Don't listen to this dinosaur. Mic up that Canon 5DmkII or 7D and start making videos with it!

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

How do you explain that the final episode of HOUSE being filmed totally by 5d MkII, a still camera?  Does that mean that episode will look like junk or less professional?  Your statement is totally flawed

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

[quote=Fred Harms]

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

you may want to talk with shane hurlbut or the producers of house.

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

The intros to both Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno are shot with a Canon 7d, from the same family of "still" camera's as the one pictured above.

Anonymous wrote:

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

The intros to both Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno are shot with a Canon 7d, from the same family of "still" camera's as the one pictured above.

Why are you guys making this stuff up? Why would any TV show with cameras that cost way over $75k be using a Canon DSLR?  Must be camera company employees.

Anonymous wrote:

Anonymous wrote:

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

The intros to both Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno are shot with a Canon 7d, from the same family of "still" camera's as the one pictured above.

Why are you guys making this stuff up? Why would any TV show with cameras that cost way over $75k be using a Canon DSLR?  Must be camera company employees.

Anon,

The same arguements were made when 'we' made made the leap from wet plates to film, flash powder to bulbs, bulbs to speedlites, view cameras to medium-format, medium-format to 35mm, 35mm to Kodak Disc Film (O.K., O.K., O.K., we made a few mistakes along the way), and most recently, the switch from film to digital, which some people are still reeling from, and in some respects justifiably.

It's important to accept the fact what was so yesterday ain't necessarily so today, and will most probably not be so tomorrow. And when the first video-enabled DSLRs were introduced just 2 years ago, very few shooters saw the possibilities of the new technologies. And if you think about it, the myriad of accessories that have come to market in response to the newly-realized equipment needs of all of the still shooters turned videographers in so short a time is quite remarkable.

And as for why a major broadcast enterprise would shoot with a '35mm camera' when they have state-of-the-art video recorders costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, all I can say is if Matthew Brady had a Leica he would have dumped all of his photo gear (along with his pack mules) on Craigslist in a heartbeat.

And one more thing... have you seen the Sony NEX-3 & NEX-5? I've been shooting with one all day and you know what? I bet a lot of shooters are going to think twice about compact DSLRs when they see the results you can get with these sub-compact honeys... Matthew Brady included.

Quote:

Why are you guys making this stuff up? Why would any TV show with cameras that cost way over $75k be using a Canon DSLR?  Must be camera company employees.

Have a look at the credits at the end of the film and see who the 'sponsors' are.  

I work in a hospital and find 'House' quite amusing and entertaining - it's a case of 'spot who is paying for this episode' game.  

Apart from that, I think having a 'still' camera like a 5D or 7D that does HD video is fantastic.  At the moment, I have a 40D and a Sony HVR-V1U.  Obviously if I want video, then it's the Sony.  If I want stills, then its the Canon.  But often - like on holidays or when I'm rockclimbing, at a friend's party or some other 'informal' thing, the choice is one or the other.  With a 5D or 7D or similar, then there is no choice necessary - for a bit of quick, high-quality video, then I only need one camera and set of accessories.

However for specific circumstances, the Sony - or almost any other good video camera - will have features that a 5D or 7D won't have - and vice-versa.  But from what I have seen, the 5D and 7D and similar cameras are a fantastic compromise.

Well Fred,  I have to tell you that I was just at a shoot for the New York State Governors office.  They were shooting commercials to be run all over the state with the theme being that NY is a great place to do business and that NY is more business friendly than ever.  The budget for the shoot was $100,000 per 30 second commercial so this was a very big production.  They had a full grip package and a sound crew and guess what camera they shot the entire project with?  A Canon 7D with you basic L seriesf2.8  lenses.  I soke to the camera guys and they told me that just 5 years ago they were shooting everything with film for these more high end commercials but now the new SLRs are so awesome that they can see no reason to ever go back to "real" Cams.  

I will say that as a guy who used to have 2 XL2s,  I will take my 7D with a shot gun mic on it any day over any of the prosumer cams.  It is so much more versatile, lighter, and you kill 2 birds with one stone.  Flip the switch and you are shooting great on location photos. Now to be honest I have never used a full Pro video camera.  But the XL2 was not some cheap toy and like I said I will take my 7d any day.

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

Nonsense!

DSLR video is coming into it's own, and has already been used by some professional cinematographers. Check out the Zacuto website, and also YouTube and Vimeo. Nikon and Canon also have videos shot with their gear which shows the high quality that's possible.

Anonymous wrote:

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

Nonsense!

DSLR video is coming into it's own, and has already been used by some professional cinematographers. Check out the Zacuto website, and also YouTube and Vimeo. Nikon and Canon also have videos shot with their gear which shows the high quality that's possible.

The HOUSE TV series was shot using a Canon DSLR .........go figure

Have you been under a rock for the last two years and missed the DSLR video revolution?  Check out vimeo and you will see top DPs using DSLRs to get amazing results, film quality look for a fraction of the price.....

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

Fred Harms wrote:

shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

Please do check the Zacuto camera shootout! And learn that the world is evolving and changing around you!

The lenses on your DSLR will give more control of DOF and be higher quality than on a fixed lens camcorder. You will have better manual focus capabilities too.

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

Tell that to Vincent Laforet and Philip Bloom. 

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.

This may once have been true, but apparently not any more......

http://www.petapixel.com/2010/04/09/house-season-finale-filmed-entirely-...

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

Spoken like a true voice from the Twentieth Century.  Even two years ago I may have agreed with "Fred Harms" statements.  But, everything has changed.  For example, at NAB 2010 Panasonic Broadcast's (not consumer) major announcement was that they are sticking a DSLR sensor in a pro video camera body that will accept interchangeable DSLR lenses (micro 4/3, or with adapters Nikons or others with manual aperture).

So, the days of the 1/3 inch sensor "video" camera are numbered.  The next decade is the one where traditional "video" and "still" cameras merge into the same device.  And, to be perfectly honest, no average viewer could distinguish our recent Canon 7D test footage (knowing what you're doing, you can't pan, etc.) from our Panasonic ("Varicam") HPX2700.

The above is not some excuse for anyone to go cheap on their audio production.

Fred Harms wrote:
IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.

Not true, you can create much better video with  $1000-$3000 DSLR camera than  you ever would with much more expensive dedicated video camera. In order to achieve the same results with video camera you would have to spend tens of thousands of $.

Fred Harms wrote:
A professional will always use the right equipment.

Yes, that is why so many well known professionals are using DSLR nowadays. Robert Rodriguez is one of them:

http://philipbloom.co.uk/2010/03/15/robert-rodriguez-shooting-music-vide...

Of course, new video cameras started appearing in the horizon that will have all the advantages of those DSLR's added to all the advantages of dedicated video cameras, but again - price will be at least few times higher than DSLR with the same chip.

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.

That's nice and neat in theory, but cameras like the 5D MKII don't hold to your logic.  Unless you think the crew shooting House are unprofessionals:

http://philipbloom.co.uk/2010/04/10/house-season-finale-shot-entirely-with-canon-5dmkii/

Some of these DSLR video-capable cameras are producing higher quality images and more professional results than "professional video cameras" that cost 5-10 times as much.  It is a very exciting time to be an indie film producer.

I wouldn't use philip blooms linked youtube video as an example it is crap

due to compression and they didn't upload it as HD.

I watched the show House lastnight and they showed a nice preview

of the seson finale and it looks amazing, The season Finale airs

May 17th, for all those skepticle about Video DSLR's I suggest you watch it.

Anonymous wrote:

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.

That's nice and neat in theory, but cameras like the 5D MKII don't hold to your logic.  Unless you think the crew shooting House are unprofessionals:

http://philipbloom.co.uk/2010/04/10/house-season-finale-shot-entirely-with-canon-5dmkii/

Some of these DSLR video-capable cameras are producing higher quality images and more professional results than "professional video cameras" that cost 5-10 times as much.  It is a very exciting time to be an indie film producer.

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

  I know it's "your opinion" but you might want to educate yourself.

http://www.petapixel.com/2010/04/09/house-season-finale-filmed-entirely-...

...IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right ...

Hey Fred, I appreciate your outlook, but don't tell that to Vincent LaForet (Canon Explorer of light... ;) )

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

This is not necessarily true.  I was just on set of the new James Otto music video (somewhere between $40K and $60K budget) and the whole thing was shot with ONE 5D MK II camera on a steadicam.  They had thousands and thousands of dollars in HMI lights, scrims, generators, actors, locations, etc and they were still filming with a 5D and they had a 7D as well.  Video is changing and DSLR cameras are the future for many applications.  This idea that only beginners are using DSLR cameras is not true at all; more and more shows, videos, and movies are being filmed with DSLR....we now have to get the camera companies to create better I/O and interfaces to cater towards our needs.  

hahahahaha... Fred Harms!!!! what a freakin' smart ass!!! a lot of tv commercials and music videos have been shot using the Canon 5D Mark II. and here's something to think about, smartie - some tv series like Saturday Night Live, House MD and 24 have all shot an ENTIRE EPISODE using just a bunch of 5D cameras!!! how's that for freakin' professional quality you're yapping about??????

A Canon 5D Mark II can easily compete with a $70K professional video camera when it comes to quality and effeciency. 

Fred Harms = OWNED!!!!

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.

That might have been true two years ago, but when SNL and many other TV producers are using the Canon 5d MKII's and such to create their media, you have to ask yourself if you are missing something by not giving them a try.  Just like the folks who are using the RED camera to shoot what they anticipate will be stills for commercial work, the HD video on high end SLR's is as good, if not better, than what I see from some of the "pro" cams at MUCH better cost to benefit ratios.

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

"Fox to Air House Episode Shot with Canon 5D Mark II Tonight"

Don't miss the revolution!

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

You apparently haven't gotten around to using a Canon 5d Mark II yet...

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

Why are you people so ignorant and trying to show us YOUR extra-highness and wisdom and cleverness in statements like this??? And being soooo wrong!!!

To make judgement like this, you must know facts! 

NEW STILL CAMERA DOESN'T MAKE VIDEO LOOK NOT GOOD... MAKES IT LOOK BETTER THEN ANYTHING YOU'VE EVER SHOT WITH YOUR VIDEO CAMCORDER - AND ONLY HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS WORTH VIDEO CAMERAS ARE ABLE TO SHOOT SOMETHING SIMILAR AT THE MOMENT!

ARE YOU EVEN AWARE OF THAT FACT?

I ADORE IT ALTHOUGH i'LL NEVER SHOOT A SINGLE STILL PHOTO WITH IT!!!! I don't event thing of it as of STILL CAMERA....

Did you try shooting HDSLR??? NO YOU DIDN*T - cause if you did, you'd know that what happened is THE BIRTH OF NEW FORMAT - SO we don't have only FILM and VIDEO, anymore -  but also HDSLR.... Something NEW!!!

The fact that it emerged out of STILL CAMERA BODY is SOOO IRELEVANT... It's final result is what counts.... And that is astonishing!!! 

I won't even start compare the quality of picture (My Sony Z1 HDV's footage  looks like sad, poor, washed out, 20 years old thing next to CANON EOS 5D MKII video footage - And my very RECENT AND NEW; SONY NXCAM (NX5U) - very PRO cam - is still lower quality - but even RED camera doesn't have that high resolution - way smaller chip!!!....(Only 2 models have chip as big as Canon 5D - and they are 5 zeros figures cost)

BUT NOT ALL is in quality itself, but in different DIMENSION that you can capture with HDSLR which was impossible with video camcorders....

In My ZACUTO RIG, with FOLLOW FOCUS on, MATT-BOX, FILTERS, MONITOR, AUDIO-PREAMP, INTERCHANGEABLE LENSES - it looks meaner than 35mm ARI on the set where I am shooting "making Of" for some feature film (Both D.P. and Director come to me every few minutes and go; CAN't WE GET THE CONTRAST TO LOOK LIKE ONE ON THAT 5D, and why isn't our red color that nice)....

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'll be able to shoot such a cinematic, dramatic, depth-of-field sensitive VIDEO footage... And all of that with 35mm chip, (size of super35mm Film Frame), PROGRESSIVE SCAN!!!! HEY, man, open your eyes...

If you need your video camcorder just for very narrow field of whatever you shoot when you do, it's fine - BUT do not so ignorantly (knowing nothing about it) spit on things that are truly revolutionary!!! Just cause you don't need it... Especially since you obviously don't need it in matter of artistic creativity !!! :(

And now, since ZEISS made this gamma of CINEMATIC LENSES for HDSLR - there's all you need to make the perfect looking FOOTAGE... (well, you need $25,000 for those 8 lenses pack, and lucky are those who can afford it...)

But he bottom line is - it exists, it is here, it is much more affordable than it ever was for independent  artist / filmmaker .... beautiful! 

I advise you to check out forthcoming season of HOUSE MD series and take a look of what can be done with this "photo camera that doesn't need sound nor SHOUDN'T SHOOT VIDEO".... If you really haven't heard, I'll brake you those news: that entire season was shot only with Canon 5D cameras (OK, obviously with unlocked chips, so that footage didn't get h.264 coded, but entered the storage via uncompressed HD-SDI) -  but you can do the similar thing with this Russian CKHD firmware for 5D (same principle as Magic Lantern) 

NOW; I FINALLY COME TO SOUND...

Yeap, doesn't matter which external mic you use - 5D in-camera sound-processor is poor!!! Problem is in its non-stop working AGC (AUDIO GAIN CONTROL), which produces a lot of hiss, especially in quiet parts of scene...

I tested it with SONY shotgun mic, RODE (one that is up in the article) - I tested it directly in the camera, and through the BEACHTEK DXA10 preamp!!!

Result is poor - quiet with lot of noise (hiss)....

There is MAGIC LANTERN Firmware upgrade, that lets you turn that AGC off (but there's no version for 2.0.4 Firmware of 5D - and it is not something that messes up your original Firmware, it is add-on ---- you have to switch it on every time you turn your camera on - when you turn it off it goes away!!! It is sooo helpful: it allows you to see VU-meters on your display during recording, turns A/V composite output into Headphones output, you can see histogram all the time and many other practical things,,,

BUT I must say that I am the one who will alway advice you to record your sound independently (I use EDIROL sound recorder) ---- works perfectly with its 2 built in mics, no hiss -- zero ---- but like it is meant to be, of course, it gets more of wide angle situation, that pics up entire atmosphere....

But, when I need more "shot-gun" kind of sound (for interviews and similar purposes)   , I plug my mic (usually my 1984 Sony shotgun or RODE) into that EDIROL directly, or through the BEACHTEK DXA10 preamp (depends on how loud environment is - sometimes, I have to turn ON both GAINs - on EDIROL and on BEACHTEK preamp to get the person loud enough...

To conclude, until there's new version of Magic Lantern Firmware (which allows me to turn off my AGC in 5D), I'll be using external audio recorder!!!! 

And for those who still go for using built-in HDSLR mic - if you use built-in one, you'll pick up all noises, terribly loud (every rotating of knob, smallest turn of zoom ring, not to mention follow focus or the worst enemy - Image Stabilizer!!!!

That audio can be for info-purposes only....

But, if you put external mic in the hot-shoe, picking-up of those noises reduces dramaticly ----- With my SONY shot-gun mic nothing is to be heard (although it is directly connected to the hot-shoe), and my RODE, although on SHOCKMOUNT, still picks up some noises of camera operating - but non of those two versions pick up the Image Stabilizer sound - which is the worst - cause when it's there, it is constant and ugly and unusable for any pro-usage!!!!

If you wanna go deeper on Subject, visit this Review of BEACHTEK preamp by one of HDSLR kings, Mr. Philip Bloom;

http://philipbloom.net/2010/02/19/beachtek/

OK, hope I helped a bit - I surly did write a lot!:)

Sorry for that !

Waiting for the new version of Magic Lantern (Hey, guys, If you maybe haven't updated that 2.0.3 CANON 5D firmware into 2.0.4 - you can use the existing version - I think!

Cheeers!

V

I can only put down your remark to ignorance.  DSLR cameras offer a level of image quality far beyond anything a video cameras now offer at less than 10 times thier price.  Vimeo and Youtube are awash with astounding videos to prove my point.  I'm very happy with my EOS 550D which even with my reletive inexperience is giving me footage that can easily be mistaken for a holywood film.  They still have significant limitations when it comes to peripherals--mainly sound. Ironically, this makes them more like shooting on film ie. sound must be recorded seperately.  Yet every six months sees major strides in the area.  A professional would keep abrest of the technological developments in his field and give sensible balanced advice to people on the internet rather than posting crochety generic truisms.  If I had $30k to spend on a camera, I'd still count myself a fool to spend it on a video camera for independent film.  For less than $1k I get the same or better picture quality, thousands left over to buy the very best lenses, sound equipment and still plenty left over to buy a new camera in six months and another one six months after that. 

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

[quote=Fred Harms]

"IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos ... A professional will always use the right equipment ... buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake."

 - Some of the world's best videographers are using hybrid cameras like the 5D II for video. I'm guessing you're not one of those people.

Fred Harms wrote:

IMHO you use a VIDEO camera to shoot video, and a STILL camera to take still photos.  Just because some of the new cameras can shoot video, doesn't make the video good.  A professional will always use the right equipment.  In an emergency you'll use whatever you have in hand, but buying external microphones to shoot video with a still camera is a mistake.

If you want great audio, use a high quality (expensive) wireless mic/receiver into a high quality video camera. 

Im a professional video editor at a Television station. We use the 5d to shoot B-roll and some interviews. The hit tv show "House uses the 5d and so do various shows on NBC. But however for audio, yes we use an external recorder and a mixer feed into our camera. This external top mount microphone is better than the built in mic and has a wind screen. This is good for getting regular ambient sounds but obviously not for main audio.

Before you mount any microphone onto the body of a camera that has a motor in it, be certain to test to see if the sound of the motor is transmitted through the body into the microphone.  This motor noise will then be superimposed on your audio recording.  Record some 'silence' and play it back.  If you can hear the motor, however faintly, you will need to mount the microphone remotely from the camera.  Better still, look at the recorded audio in an audio editing program like Audacity to see how much noise is coupling.

This article seems to be directed toward DSLR only when video on a DLSR enabled camera is not always the best quality.  I like the idea of a stereo mic, but also, will sound quality be greatly improved in conjunction with the Canon Vixia 100.  Also, if it is mounted  on the "shoe", what about any light needed that gets mounted in that shoe?  Thanks-Bob Martino 

Why you use Stereo Mic for Camera EOS i/o flash.  This is SDR camera and not Video Camera...is it some new feature for EOS?

Anonymous wrote:

Why you use Stereo Mic for Camera EOS i/o flash.  This is SDR camera and not Video Camera...is it some new feature for EOS?

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II and many other DSLR cameras now feature the ability to shoot HD video. The 5D Mark II also features a stereo microphone input (as does the Canon EOS 7D, Canon EOS Rebel T2i, the Nikon 300S, etc.). The ability to change lenses coupled with the larger sensor sizes is making video-enabled DSLR's a popular choice for video work.

For some reason I answered the comments in reverse order...

Bob - The Canon Vixia camera's do indeed have an external microphone input. However, it appears that they have a  mini-sized mounting shoe. In this case, I would recommend using a Bescor VB-50:

The VB-50 mounts to the base of the camera, and gives you two standard sized shoes off to the side, for a microphone and a light or other accessory.

AZJohnB - Motor noise is an excellent point. Thanks for bringing it up! Of the stereo mics mentioned in this article, only the last one (the Audio Technica ATR6250) doesn't include a shockmount. An excellent shockmount for this (and many other mics) is the Pearstone DUSM-1:

And lastly, Fred - I hear what you're saying, but I disagree. I plan on buying a video-enabled DSLR this year. I live in New York City, but I have lots of family in New Mexico, and I try to get out to visit them every year. As you may know, the light for photographers in New Mexico is amazing. I want to bring my video-enabled DSLR there this year and shoot lots of pictures. But if inspiration strikes, I also want to shoot some HD video. When that happens, I don't want my picture to be 1080p HD, and my audio to be a useless mess. That's why I would buy an external stereo mic for it, and make sure I have a softie to help fight wind noise. That dessert wind can whip up out of nowhere.

Thanks for your feedback everybody!

Sam Mallery wrote:

For some reason I answered the comments in reverse order...

Bob - The Canon Vixia camera's do indeed have an external microphone input. However, it appears that they have a  mini-sized mounting shoe. In this case, I would recommend using a Bescor VB-50:

The VB-50 mounts to the base of the camera, and gives you two standard sized shoes off to the side, for a microphone and a light or other accessory.

AZJohnB - Motor noise is an excellent point. Thanks for bringing it up! Of the stereo mics mentioned in this article, only the last one (the Audio Technica ATR6250) doesn't include a shockmount. An excellent shockmount for this (and many other mics) is the Pearstone DUSM-1:

And lastly, Fred - I hear what you're saying, but I disagree. I plan on buying a video-enabled DSLR this year. I live in New York City, but I have lots of family in New Mexico, and I try to get out to visit them every year. As you may know, the light for photographers in New Mexico is amazing. I want to bring my video-enabled DSLR there this year and shoot lots of pictures. But if inspiration strikes, I also want to shoot some HD video. When that happens, I don't want my picture to be 1080p HD, and my audio to be a useless mess. That's why I would buy an external stereo mic for it, and make sure I have a softie to help fight wind noise. That dessert wind can whip up out of nowhere.

Thanks for your feedback everybody!

Gents..... Perhaps you haven't seen the HD Video coming off these Big CHIP DSLR's.  With High End Glass- Proper Exposure and stable mount, the imagery is spectacular.

At NAB last month these friggin HD DSLR's were all over the place.  And all kinds of mount/grip companies are making every imaginable accessory.  Grip/Stabilization/Steadi-cam style/Follow focus/Mic Mounts and Matte Boxes for the DSLR's.  Hi End DP's are shooting projects with these HD Capable DSLR's. And I would liken the industry buzz akin to the early iPhone hype!

Me?  I don't get it.  Maybe I've been passed by.

I walked up to a couple of gray  haired  observers with perplexed expressions at one of the NAB DSLR demos and said, "Did you guys think you'd work in this business long enough to see HD coming out of a DSLR?!?!?!  " They both burst out laughing and said, "NO!"

So what seems strange to me an you.... is the new normal!!!  Besides, at least audio isn't an afterthought!

Cheers,

Most DSLR cinematographers recommend recording the audio completely independently of the camera. DSLR cameras compress the video file and any included audio tremendously, and your audio file will suffer from any such compression, if recorded through the DSLR audio inputs. Keep them separate, for the best audio to complement your 1080p HD video. You'll have to synch them up later during editing, but if you use a clapper at the beginning of your video, you can synch up the clap audio spike with the visual closing of the clapper on the video.

I'm glad this article was focused on DSLRs that take video.  I could almost assume the release of the Canon T2i (and 7D) prompted this article, as they both take excellent big hd progressive video.  I was just looking for an external mic for my new T2i and this article answered many of my questions. Thanks.  To those who imply this article is not worthwhile because a DSLR cannot take good video, that's just a lame assertion.  Forward thinkers understand this as "evolution and disruption".

 all good- understand all this- but what about the ZOOM H4 N? Great bit of kit! :)

whatis the cost of the pro-24 cm and can it used on the  Leica D-lux4

 

Pete McGrath wrote:

 all good- understand all this- but what about the ZOOM H4 N? Great bit of kit! :)

The Zoom H4n is a great option for shooting "double system" (which is the practice of recording the audio on a separate device). It's important for people to realize that you don't always have to shoot double system to get good sound. Especially on "wild footage" or just run-and-gun style work where you may swap between shooting stills and shooting video. Having a little external mic in your camera bag with good wind protection will enable you to shoot any time inspiration strikes. Stereo mics aren't the perfect mics for everything, but they're really handy to keep around. Good sound = good video.

Here's a blog post I wrote about using a Zoom H4n "double system" with a video-enabled DLSR:

http://video.bhinsights.com/content/tips-using-zoom-h4n-dslr-video-shoot.html

Anonymous wrote:

whatis the cost of the pro-24 cm and can it used on the  Leica D-lux4

The Audio Technica Pro24-CM costs $63.19. I looked up the Leica D-LUX4, but there was no mention of it having a microphone input. Unfortunately, if your camera doesn't have a microphone input, there is no way to add an external microphone. Sorry!

You would have to use a separate digital audio recorder, and sync the sound and the picture in post.

Bob Kusznier wrote:

Timely article for me. I just puchased a 5D Mark II. When I recorded video using the built-in mic I was very disappointed. It appeared that something was defective with the camera. There was a constant background noise from the camera body itself picked up on the videos. I tried shooting in a very quite room and the noise was still present. I talked to tech support at B&H and they recommended I return the camera for a replacement.

After the replacement 5D arrived I discovered that it too had almost the same backgound noise. After turning off AF and IS the noise diminished, but was still noticeable. I don't hear the same camera noise on my 7D videos using the same lens nor on point and shoot camera videos.

My next step is to try an external mic to see if that corrects the problem. The owners manual for the 5D mentions that there will be some camera noise picked-up by the built-in mic.

Are all 5D's like this?

Hi Bob. Sorry to hear about the troubles you've had with your 5D Mark II. I don't own one, so I can't say for certain if they're all like this. But, I assume the trouble you're having all has to do with low-quality of the built-in microphones. I would strongly suggest trying out the Rode Stereo Video Mic, and if that's too large, try out the Audio Technica Pro24-CM. Video-enabled DSLR cameras are primarily image capturing devices. You can't put a whole lot of stock into their audio capabilities, but you can maximize their performance with compatible external microphones. 

Timely article for me. I just puchased a D5 MarkII. When I recorded video using the built-in mic I was very disappointed. It appeared that something was defective with the camera. There was a constant background noise from the camera body itself picked up on the videos. I tried shooting in a very quite room and the noise was still present. I talked to tech support at B&H and they recommended I return the camera for a replacement.

After the replacement 5D arrived I discovered that it too had almost the same backgound noise. After turning off AF and IS the noise diminished, but was still noticeable. I don't hear the same camera noise on my 7D videos using the same lens nor on point and shoot camera videos.

My next step is to try an external mic to see if that corrects the problem. The owners manual for the 5D mentions that there will be some camera noise picked-up by the built-in mic.

Are all 5D's like this?

 I own a Panasonic GH1 DSLR that I specifically bought because of it is optimized for HD video in addition to it's great still capabilities. In particular, the stock 14-140 zoom lens is dead quiet when auto-focusing unlike many other lens that whine and create sound that can be picked up by the mike. 

I use a Rode VideoMic (mono) which provides excellent input at the distances that I am often working at, 8-20 feet. For anyone considering the Rode VideoMic vs. the Rode Stereo VideoMic, please note that there is a large difference between the two. The reviews of the Stereo VideoMic consistently point to it's much shorter optimal range (4-6 feet) and it's overall lower performance versus the mono version. Rode makes great equipment and I may yet buy the stereo version for close work but there are really very different mikes with different pickup patterns.

Will Loving wrote:

 I own a Panasonic GH1 DSLR that I specifically bought because of it is optimized for HD video in addition to it's great still capabilities. In particular, the stock 14-140 zoom lens is dead quiet when auto-focusing unlike many other lens that whine and create sound that can be picked up by the mike. 

I use a Rode VideoMic (mono) which provides excellent input at the distances that I am often working at, 8-20 feet. For anyone considering the Rode VideoMic vs. the Rode Stereo VideoMic, please note that there is a large difference between the two. The reviews of the Stereo VideoMic consistently point to it's much shorter optimal range (4-6 feet) and it's overall lower performance versus the mono version. Rode makes great equipment and I may yet buy the stereo version for close work but there are really very different mikes with different pickup patterns.

Howdy Will! Thanks for chiming in.

It's true, there's a big difference between shotgun microphones and other kinds of microphones. The Rode Video Mic is a shotgun microphone, and the Rode Stereo Video Mic is not. Shotgun microphones have a long "interference tube" in front of the microphone's capsule that help it pick up sound in front of the mic, and diminish picking up sound from the sides. 

That's one of the reasons I titled this post "Why and When to Use a Stereo Mic on a Camera." If you're filming dialog, you'd be better off using a shotgun microphone. If you're shooting landscape scenes (in nature, in the city, etc) where there is no dialog, then a non-directional stereo microphone is the better choice.  That's not to say that using a shotgun like the Rode Video Mic for everyday, varied tasks is a bad idea. But, there are times when you'll get much better sounding results using a non-directional stereo mic (such as when filming video while roving around a wedding reception).

Just a side note for any Rode Video Mic owners, if you're shooting outdoors, slip one of these Pearstone 7" Fuzzy Windjammers over the foam windscreen that comes with the mic. You'll get great, usable sound, even in strong winds:

Anonymous wrote:

The main issue with recording audio on the Canon DSLR's is an ill-concieved Auto Gain Control feature that you can't disable. (Actually I think the newest 5d firmware allows this to be turned off.  But not on my 7d.)  Quailty loss from compression is not really a factor.  AGC basically constantly changes the recording gain..so the end result is that ambient noise levels rise and fall..which is terrible..and something that the best mics won't fix.  The best solution: get a good mic like the author suggests...but also get a portable audio recorder.  With todays editors like Premiere of Final Cut, syncing the audio and video is simple.

It's true, you cannot turn off the AGC (Automatic Gain Control) on the Canon 7D. But you can get a XLR adapter like the juicedLink DT454 or the Beachtek DXA-SLR that can disable the AGC in your 7D. The drawback is that when you turn on the ACG disable feature on these devices, you will lose a channel of audio on your camera. So you cannot record audio in stereo with an AGC disable device running. However, the trade off is worth it. The goal is always to get the best sound possible, and if that means that losing a channel and recording in mono is the solution, then do it. Mono can sound really beautiful too. All of the Beach Boy's records were recorded in mono because Brian Wilson was deaf in one ear. Your videos can sound amazing in mono too!  

Anonymous wrote:

I dont see it working, but any idea if it will rig up to a Nikon D90?

There is no microphone input on the D90. Sorry! You don't need a new camera though, you just need to shoot double system:

http://video.bhinsights.com/content/tips-using-zoom-h4n-dslr-video-shoot.html

Simple Shooter wrote:

Further research turns up a possible solution for my situation. Looks like the Nikon 300S has an audio jack and will shoot up to 5 minutes of HD video at a pop. Seems also to have auto focus.

Any thoughts or comments welcome.

The drawback here is that the 300S lacks manual exposure control. There is also very limited audio level control compared to other options. That's not to say that the 300S doesn't rock otherwise.

Sam Mallery wrote:

Will Loving wrote:

 I own a Panasonic GH1 DSLR that I specifically bought because of it is optimized for HD video in addition to it's great still capabilities. In particular, the stock 14-140 zoom lens is dead quiet when auto-focusing unlike many other lens that whine and create sound that can be picked up by the mike. 

I use a Rode VideoMic (mono) which provides excellent input at the distances that I am often working at, 8-20 feet. For anyone considering the Rode VideoMic vs. the Rode Stereo VideoMic, please note that there is a large difference between the two. The reviews of the Stereo VideoMic consistently point to it's much shorter optimal range (4-6 feet) and it's overall lower performance versus the mono version. Rode makes great equipment and I may yet buy the stereo version for close work but there are really very different mikes with different pickup patterns.

Howdy Will! Thanks for chiming in.

It's true, there's a big difference between shotgun microphones and other kinds of microphones. The Rode Video Mic is a shotgun microphone, and the Rode Stereo Video Mic is not. Shotgun microphones have a long "interference tube" in front of the microphone's capsule that help it pick up sound in front of the mic, and diminish picking up sound from the sides. 

That's one of the reasons I titled this post "Why and When to Use a Stereo Mic on a Camera." If you're filming dialog, you'd be better off using a shotgun microphone. If you're shooting landscape scenes (in nature, in the city, etc) where there is no dialog, then a non-directional stereo microphone is the better choice.  That's not to say that using a shotgun like the Rode Video Mic for everyday, varied tasks is a bad idea. But, there are times when you'll get much better sounding results using a non-directional stereo mic (such as when filming video while roving around a wedding reception).

Sam - you mention several different Stereo mikes. The Rode Stereo Video Microphone costs more than twice what the other ones do. Is it worth it? Is there something else comparably priced that's better or are the lower priced ones essentially as good? (Though it's hard to beat Rode's 10-year warranty!)

 By the way, the last episode of "HOUSE" was shot with a Canon 5D MII

The main issue with recording audio on the Canon DSLR's is an ill-concieved Auto Gain Control feature that you can't disable. (Actually I think the newest 5d firmware allows this to be turned off.  But not on my 7d.)  Quailty loss from compression is not really a factor.  AGC basically constantly changes the recording gain..so the end result is that ambient noise levels rise and fall..which is terrible..and something that the best mics won't fix.  The best solution: get a good mic like the author suggests...but also get a portable audio recorder.  With todays editors like Premiere ofFinal Cut, syncing the audio and video is simple.

Thanks for a great discussion and many useful links.

I shoot very simple head shot videos and then insert myself and the talent into a virtual set using Ultra2. The idea of shooting the short takes you seem to get with DSLRs in HD would work for me.

Sample video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIOkqDuQd8w

I have always liked to use a wired lavalier because I'm shooting in noisy locations and my talent is usually people who have never been on camera before. (Wireless works less well because of radio interference.) I have to do a lot of coaching and spend 30 minutes to get 30 seconds usuable quotes for news style video.

Being able to carry something on a plane the size of my Nikon that has the lense capability, and the still capability, and good audio and HD video... that's an appealing combination. I'm on the verge of switching to HD and researching whether a DSLR with video would work.

This column addressed one of my main concerns, audio.

Thanks

www.youtube.com/watch

Pages