Today, all camcorders come with an inbuilt microphone for recording audio while shooting. While it is sufficient for a spontaneous or casual video recording, if you are thinking of recording something more professional or serious you should go for an external microphone.
The high audio quality that you want will only be possible with an external microphone. Moreover, the inbuilt mic picks up just about any other sound not associated with the video, like the sound of the wind, the subtle shuffling sound while handling the camera.
An inbuilt microphone works fine if the only speaker is the person holding the video camera. Even in that case, the microphone is away from the speaker. You end up picking up some unwanted sounds while recording. If you are shooting a formal or professional video, you need too catch the sounds of people other than the camera holder too. And for that you need a high quality external mic.
External microphones can either be wired or wireless. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out which is more convenient to use. However, convenience comes at a price. So you should go for wireless mics only if you have a bigger budget.
Now there are 3 main types of external microphones for camcorders. Let us discuss them in detail below.
A highly directional microphone, it is mostly used for business meetings, conferences or a more professional setup. Interestingly, with YouTubing a profession for many people these days, the shotgun mic is also used while recording videos for YouTube channels. As a uni-directional mic, it is excellent in capturing sounds coming from whatever direction you point it towards.
If the source of sound is in front, you need to point this mic straight at that direction. If the source moves towards the sides or away from the mic direction, you won’t get that much clarity. This is also one of the reasons why this mic doesn’t catch much external noise due to its highly directional property.
A shotgun mic can either be mounted on a mount attached to the camcorder or onto a boom pole.
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One of the more common mics you see in news reporting and reality television. The source has to speak directly into it and hence the mic appears in the frame of the video. That can be a significant downside. Hence it is mostly preferred while reporting news, wherein the viewpoint is more important than the visual representation.
Handheld mics can be wired or wireless. Wireless mics are more popular today due to the convenience factor. I myself would go for a wireless mic anytime. Wired mics can also be limited to the distance to which they can be taken to.
Lapel or Lavalier Mic
Seen those TED Talks? That’s the best example of using a lapel mic. Mostly used when you want to record a speech in an auditorium. They are less conspicuous and can be clipped to the clothing to get a clear and crisp sound.
A shotgun mic would not be useful here since it is not necessary that the source will always be in front of the camera. The source can be mobile and hence it is convenient that the mic goes with him being attached to the clothes. Also, due to the small size of the mic, it does not come in the frame of the picture and the person using it also does not feel conscious of its presence.
In the end, it depends all on you which mic you use. Different settings require different mics.