Audio Solutions for DSLR - what are the options?
Learning to record audio for DSLR shooters can be challenging. The secret to recording great audio is to get the microphone as close to the subject or person you are recording as you can.
However, getting a mic close is not always physically possible..
The built in microphone on all dslr's is frankly not useable for any production sound.
The second challenge is that DSLR's were designed to take still pictures first and record video second and so the amount of control you have for audio is limited.
While some of the newer cameras like the 5D Mark III have headphone capability (I cover this in some detail in my tutorial, How to Shoot Video on the Canon 5D Mark III) the audio pre amplifiers in these cameras still are not what I would regard to be 'good enough' for professional use.
In these two short videos I show you an overview of sound recording solutions for DSLR film makers and if you are a photographer who is new to shooting motion you will find this guide to microphones and sound recording very useful to orientate yourself in the maze of sound recording and microphone options.
Video 1- On Board DSLR Sound recording
This is a system for recording DSLR sound separately from the camera and then later syncing it up in your editing software later on. You still record a guide audio track on your camera but the high quality sound is recorder on a separate device. Using an external audio recorder with professional XLR inputs you can plug in a variety of shot gun and radio microphones into the unit and monitor and control your input level with far more accuracy.
Video 2 - Dual System Audio and shot gun microphones
Here's a sample sound package for: The Wedding Film maker (single shooter)*
• Rode Video Mic (sits on top of your dslr) & Deadkitten • Rode NTG 2 powered shotgun mic • Shockmount and table stand • Boom Pole • Digital audio recorder, Zoom H4n, Tascam DR 100 MK II, Roland R26 • 2 x 3m XLR cables, 1 x 5m XLR cable • Headphones - I recommend Sennheiser HD-25 • 1 x Radio mic kit, Sony UHP, Sennheiser, Shure • 1 x Rode Lavalier Mic c/w XLR jack and appropriate jack for radio mic system • plenty of AA and 9v batteries
Expect to invest a minimum of £1500 ($2200 US) in a solid self shooter audio kit. This will give you a good cross section of audio tools and really improve the quality of audio you record when shooting on your HDSLR or video camera.
* Note, recording audio, making sure batteries are ok, and shooting makes for a very stressful day. It's a worthwhile addition to have an assistant with you to help with these additional tasks.
But as with all technology, it's only as good as the hand that are controlling it.