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An on-camera shotgun mic is one of the best ways to supplement the tiny built-in microphone on your digital camera. Especially so if you are filming handheld video. Another method for how to use a shotgun mic is as a boom mic, either with a handheld pole or some other type of mount.
The reason for using an external microphone in the first place is to be able to record better audio for your A/V projects. So some audio tips concerning external mics is a good subject to consider for beginners or more advanced videographers.
Why You Should Use a Shotgun Mic
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External mics are an essential part of your DSLR or mirrorless camera gear if you want high-quality audio to go along with the superb video quality that your camera records.
A built-in mic is prone to capturing camera noise such as focusing noise from the lens or just general handling of the camera. An external mic mounted on the camera or elsewhere will eliminate or at least reduce these problems.
Another reason for using a shotgun mic is that they have better specs than built-in mics. Three major areas where they are significantly better are frequency response, dynamic range, and signal-to-noise ratio.
All of this means you capture better audio. As with the image quality of your files, if you capture better audio in the first place, you will be better able to edit and enhance it with your editing program.
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Choose a High Quality Shotgun Mic
You are basically looking for an upgrade so it makes sense to get the best upgrade you can. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean breaking your budget. Very high-quality shotgun mics can be picked up for pricing similar to that of video lighting kits. In other words, more than a low-end Android smartphone but less than an iPhone.
It’s a longer mic than you may have seen when shopping budget mics. It comes with a windscreen and can be mounted on the camera, on a camera stabilizer grip, on a boom pole, or on a portable camera and accessory mount.
The windscreen that comes with the shotgun mic is a vital accessory. Since we are using the mic for better audio, we don’t want wind noise to interfere. Wind noise can sound extremely loud in the audio recording, even if it's not much wind.
Watch Where You Point That Thing!
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Part of the characteristics common among shotgun mics is a narrow pickup pattern. This means you will be required to point the microphone carefully in order to have the sound source within the mic’s pickup pattern.
Mounted on the camera or on a camera grip, your shotgun mic will be pointing directly at whatever you are filming. Using a boom pole or an accessory mount like the OctoPad, you should line up the mic to point at the source of audio. Which brings up the next of my amazing shotgun mic tips.
Monitor Your Audio
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Mounted on-camera, you can be pretty sure that your shotgun mic is capturing the sound from the subject in view. When using the mic on a boom pole or a small mount, using headphones to monitor the audio as it comes in allows you to optimize mic placement.
It’s a good idea to monitor your audio anyways. We get instant review of the visual aspect of our videos, so hearing the audio feed can enable us to maximize the use of our new shotgun mic.
When using the shotgun mic off-camera, it’s good practice to get as close as possible to the subject with the mic. Of course, you don’t want it to show in your finished video, so watch out for those goofs!
Take Control of Your Audio
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Our cameras can be set to adjust exposure, focus, and audio automatically, but taking control of these settings manually allows us to create the best finished video we can. High quality video will get us more views, more subscriptions to our YouTube channels, and more paying gigs if that’s our intent.
A decent shotgun mic and the knowledge of how to use it properly is one part of that situation that we can easily master.