Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Connecting a Microphone To Your Camera

I am writing this because I was asked the question, “How do you plug a microphone into a camera?”

Most cameras have a microphone built in for recording sound.  The reason this works well is because it is a complete, closed system.  As soon as you plug a microphone into your camera, you open up the system and can potentially introduce some problems. These problems can be anything from recording worse sound (than just using the built-in microphone) to recording no sound at all.
The main reason you would plug a microphone into a camera is to get the microphone closer to the sound you are recording (through the use of a cable or a wireless system). Other reasons include: keeping the sound recording consistent when the camera is moving or to take advantage of different types of (or better quality) microphones.

What I'd like to do is share what has worked for me.  In this post I will give you the most basic information on the subject.  Successfully connecting and using an external microphone with a camera can become a very complex topic (there are a number of different types of camera audio inputs and many different types of microphones, therefore the combination of possibilities is huge and way beyond the scope of this blog post).

Please feel free to ask me specific questions by commenting below.

To connect a microphone to a camera you'll need to have a cable that has the same type of connector (of the opposite gender [yes, there are male and female connectors]) as the camera’s microphone input.  Also, you'll need to have a cable with the same type of connector (again with the opposite gender) as your microphone.  Sometimes these are the same cable and sometimes you will need an adapter in-line between the two (depending on the camera and type of microphone you are using).
Plug the microphone into the cable that fits it and then the other end into the camera directly (or, if necessary, into the adapter and then plug a cable from the adapter into the camera).  I recommend you use as few adapters as possible, because each component of a microphone to cable to camera system has the possibility of malfunctioning and can make troubleshooting more complex than necessary.  Many times plugging a cable into the camera disconnects the built-in microphone, so (if your camera is compatible with the microphone you plugged in to it) just use the camera as normal and you should be good to go.  If not, then we need to talk.

Remember to always use headphones to monitor the sound as you are setting up and recording.  If your camera does not have a headphone output, make test recordings and listen to the results through a playback system that has headphone capability.  This will allow to verify that you are getting good, clean (not noisy or distorted) audio. 

I welcome your questions and will do my best to help you as best I can.