On camera shotgun mic explained

Audio quality is able to make or break a video. Using an on camera shotgun mic is a simple way to improve the audio quality when filming with a DSLR video camera. Another advantage is that you can use an extension wire to attach it on a boom pole or tripod instead of mounting them to the camera to get the microphone closer to your subject. Read on to know more about it and learn how to choose the one for your video creation.

Eight features of DSLR camera shotgun mic

Shotgun mic is available in several types, and you must know which ones are suitable for your needs. You can be a field reporter on location, or you might be filming an interview or a vlog. There are several microphones available to suit your shot for every circumstance. You can utilize your microphones more efficiently if you know you mic well.

Polar pattern: This affects the microphone's directionality. For instance, omnidirectional microphones record sound in all directions. Cardioid microphones pick up sound from the front, but not very much from the sides and reject sound from the back.

For shotgun microphones, there are many polar patterns to choose from:

  • Supercardioid: It is a narrow pickup pattern in which noises off-axis are rejected and the microphone is responsive directly in front of the diaphragm.
  • Hypercardioid: In comparison to a supercardioid, it has a smaller pickup pattern and a broader rear pickup.
  • Ultracardioid: As the smallest pickup pattern available, it is typically not suitable for use on boom poles because it is so directed that even a small movement will cause the subject to go off-axis.

Frequency Response: How sensitive the on camera shotgun mic is to variations in noise level is measured by its frequency response (Hz - KHz). This is a sign of how well the recording circuitry is working, and the better the microphone, the clearer the range and the more distinct the acoustic sound will be, so there won't be any distortion.

Dynamic Range: The microphone's dynamic range (dB) determines what frequency of sound it can record and transfer to the amplifier. For those who are more technically minded, distortion levels can be included. The dynamic range is similar to how your ears adjust to volume.

Free-field Sensitivity: The sound is crystal clear and distorted by reflections. Direct recording of the music or speech without feedback is good free-field sensitivity because when you hear feedback on a microphone, it is magnifying background noise. 

Signal to Noise ratio: This is a comparison of the volume of the recorded music or speech to that of the ambient noise. It is a feature of the microphone quality that affects how loud it can be amplified and defines the sharpness of the amplification (dB).

Latency: It stands for how fast a microphone responds to sound changes (KHz).

Output: In general, how much the mic signal can be amplified (bits) without distortion.

Digital processing: In contrast to an analog signal (KHz), a digital signal (fixed-point bits) is cleaner because the mic recording is analyzed and may be processed, removing more of the distorted noise. In contrast to wavelength resonance, this is accomplished using precisely timed observations.

When and when not to use shotgun mic on camera?

Camera mounted shotgun mic is frequently regarded as specialized mic. It performs well in some circumstances but is ignored in the majority of others. Let's talk about when to apply it and when not to:

Best uses for shotgun/lobar microphones

Although shotgun microphones are common in filmmaking, they are rarely used in recording studios. These specialized microphones are highly regarded in their industry but are seldom used elsewhere. You can use it in the following scenarios:

  • For use in filmmaking, either as a boom microphone or a microphone mounted on a camera.
  • for taking a close-up audio recording.
  • for capturing directed sounds at a distance without off-axis sound diffusion

When not to use:

Now for the instances in which shotgun microphones are inappropriate:
To capture ambient or room sounds naturally.

  • Foldback monitors for live sound reinforcement are directly in front of them.
  • Whenever a microphone has to be hidden.
  • As a fixed microphone to capture nearby movement sources.

How to choose the best on camera shotgun mic?

It might be difficult to choose the ideal shotgun mic because there are many factors to take into account. For this reason, we have created a list of requirements that, when satisfied, will help you focus your search.

  • How much can you spend?
  • Are footprints significant to you? A long mic might be seen on camera, and a hefty one is tough to boom.
  • For you, how significant is side rejection? The directionality of shotguns does vary.
  • Do you intend to record in a peaceful environment? Self-noise becomes essential in this situation.
  • Do you frequently record audio in small, enclosed spaces? You might need a different mic for this.
  • Do you have phantom power on your recorder? If not, make verify that the microphone has a battery.
  • Are you looking for an on camera shotgun mic with XLR or 3.5mm output?
  • Do you intend to work in a humid environment? If so, an RF-biased microphone would be ideal.

Difference: Compare on camera shotgun mics with boom mic

You might think that shotgun mic and boom mic appear to be physically different, but in actuality, the distinction is more about the application than tonality or audio quality.

Have you ever seen the film set microphone operator? They often stand behind the camera while aiming an extraordinarily long mike stand towards the voice actor. These are referred to as boom operators, and the microphone is frequently called a boom mic. Boom pole is the name given to the pole.

Boom mic just describes how the microphone is used, not the microphone itself, which is mounted to this pole. When put on the boom stand, a shotgun microphone—which is frequently attached to the pole for its ability to reject off-axis background noise—effectively transforms into a "boom mic."

Another benefit of employing a shotgun mic in this situation is that the operator is not required to close-mic the actor (i.e., you can obtain an excellent sound without being right up next to the actor's face but still reject the background noise). This enables the boom operator to shield the microphone from the view of the camera.

A boom mic operator must be highly dynamic on film sets, especially if the actor is moving about a lot, since they must keep the mike in the appropriate spot the entire time to get a constant sound. If the speaker's head moves, the microphone must follow.

Similarly, you may have seen on camera shotgun mic used for face-to-face interviews, typically with the interviewer seated opposite their guest.