DSLR cameras offer an astonishing range of visual features, but they always let consumers down in one department: audio. While a DSLR often has an integrated microphone, this option does not deliver the clear and detailed audio that a user needs as a videographer or documentarian. Instead, many DSLR owners turn to accessory microphones that bring added value to a DSLR setup. Consumers who are considering a DSLR microphone should learn what to look for to help streamline the purchasing process.
Types of microphones that work with DSLR cameras
There are a number of external microphones that work well with DSLR cameras. These range from models that mount on a camera to wireless solutions. Understanding these basic categories is essential to the selection process.
Shotgun microphones are long slender microphones that point directly at a subject to capture audio. These microphones come in two versions: camera-mounted shotgun microphones and off-camera shotgun microphones. A camera-mounted version attaches to the top mount of the DSLR. Users typically need a boom to work with an off-camera shotgun microphone.
Camera-mounted stereo microphones
Unlike the unidirectional camera-mounted shotgun mic, the camera-mounted stereo microphone captures multidirectional sound in a space. This spherical microphone mounts at the top of the camera in the same way as the shotgun option.
Wireless lavalier microphones
These are the mics that viewers see on interview shows all the time. They are typically small omnidirectional condenser microphones that clip onto the subject's shirt. They work with a transmitter pack worn by the subject and a receiver pack connected to the DSLR.
Handheld microphones are the microphones most often seen on stage used by singers and presenters. These microphones come in wired and wireless varieties and are typically dynamic omnidirectional mics, though cardioids can be a good option when users need to exclude background noise.
Handheld stereo digital recorder
Another option is to use a device, such as a handheld stereo recorder, which is essentially an audio interface that comes with an on-board microphone. Many of these options have stereo microphones for capturing audio from around a space and they are small enough to hold or mount on an overhead boom or stand.
How to choose the right microphone for a DSLR
Choosing which microphone option works best for a particular shooting scenario depends upon the setting of the shoot, the subject matter, and the style the user wants to achieve. Each microphone works best in certain scenarios.
Wireless lavalier applications
The wireless lavalier is best for casual interview scenarios or non-fiction shoots where the visual presence of the microphone does not interfere with the narrative. The lavalier is great at picking up all of the detail in a subject's voice without the interference of room noise.
Handheld microphone applications
This mic option also works best in interview scenarios. Its main advantage over a wireless lavalier is that it puts the interviewer in a place of authority, controlling the interview dynamic through the position of the microphone.
Camera-mounted microphone applications
Camera-mounted microphones work best for the casual user who wants to capture better quality audio at parties and events. A shotgun microphone does the best job of isolating a subject's audio, but a stereo microphone captures the room sound and general vibe of an event better and can capture more than one subject at a time.
Boom microphone applications
Boom microphones are best for professional scenarios or when shooting a film or short when viewers should not see a mic onscreen. Using a boom-mounted microphone with a DSLR requires having a second person on set to help operate the microphone.
Handheld stereo digital recorder applications
Handheld recorders offer a more accessible entry point for many to off-camera microphone solutions. The only catch with this option is that users still want to record audio on their DSLR so that they can then match up the captured audio track from the handheld recorder to the video during editing.
How to buy a microphone for a DSLR on eBay
You can access a wide variety of microphones that work viably with a DSLR on eBay. To begin, you should find the search bar on any page on the site. You can use this to run a keyword search. You should use a general term if you want an overview of options, but you can also use a more descriptive term to narrow the results down quickly. By getting to know some basic mic techniques, you can easily capture quality sound on a DSLR.