Microphone Options for DSLR Filmmaking - dummies

By John Carucci

DSLR microphones come in so many types and price ranges that sometimes it’s difficult to determine the right one for your filmmaking needs and budget. Because most DSLRs have a mini-plug connector for internal audio, you can theoretically use any microphone with a mini-plug connector.

The most common type of DSLR microphone mounts to the cameras hot shoe and plugs directly into the camera. It’s definitely an upgrade from the microdot, but its position isn’t always the best for all situations. Still, it offers decent sound reproduction in many situations. Take a look at the basic microphone types:

  • Directional: The most recognizable microphone on the planet. It’s the same type that singers use onstage, comedians use in clubs, and television news reporters hold in front of interview subjects. It’s held close to the mouth to isolate ambient sound. These cost anywhere from less than $100 to several hundred dollars or more.


  • On-camera microphones: These small microphones attach to the top of your DSLR in the flash hot shoe. Why not? You’re not going to use a flash when shooting movies, anyway.


  • Shotgun: This long narrow microphone picks up audio directly in front of it, but not necessarily close to it. Basic models are found atop everything from prosumer to professional camcorders, whereas more a dedicated version is used in television studios or atop a boom pole at a movie shoot or on a red carpet. Think of it as the sound version of a telephoto lens.


  • Lavalier: A lavalier the lapel microphone commonly used on television. Basically this tiny device clips to the subject close to the face and is wired either directly to the camera or to a transmitter on the subject. When used correctly, this microphone provides great audio and isn’t obtrusive in the shot. Conversely, when it’s used improperly, it results in a rustled, muffled mess.


A microphone designed for DSLR

Many specialized microphones are made for DSLR moviemaking. They mount the camera’s hot shoe and plug-in to the external audio jack. These range in size, performance, and price. Although they’re not perfect for all situations, they’re great if you plan on doing a lot running and gunning. Whatever kind of microphone you decide to use, it’s a good idea to have one of these in your bag.

Microphone accessories

Here are some microphone accessories you may want to investigate:

  • Boom pole: An extendable pole that allows you attach a shotgun microphone and hold it over the subject, out of camera range

  • Windscreen: A foam cover that goes over microphone to reduce wind noise

  • Microphone holder clip: Handy device that lets you mount and clip a microphone, or several microphones, to just about anything on the set