Video Camera Features for Getting Awesome Audio with your Video
The home theater experience has spoiled lots of folks with high quality audio. Isn’t it fantastic to sit in your house blasting out the movie and enjoy theater- quality sound? Meets my definition of a good time.
Hollywood does an awesome job with home movie audio. Rent any DVD and blow your ears out. But what about your own personal home movies?
Can your birthday party video impress them with quality audio?
It’s no longer good enough to have home movies with garbled audio. With today’s marvelous camcorders there’s no reason to.
Here are three features to look for if you need to get high quality audio with your video. If you read my blog regularly, you know that I firmly believe that 90% of viewers won’t bother watching a video with crummy sound. Crummy video doesn’t bother them so much and you can get away with it.
1. Microphone Jack/ Headphone Jack Quality audio for video production sometimes requires a better microphone that what comes built onto most camcorders. But in order to use a supplemental mic, you need a camera that has a microphone jack where you can plug it in.
Inexpensive cameras don’t allow you to plug in another mic. Your only choice is the on-board mic. You can make that work if you stay within a few feet of the camera and keep down the background noise. Any one speaking too far away from the camera will be drown out.
For quality sound of talking and dialogue, you need to use a microphone that can be placed close to whomever is speaking. More expensive camera have optional mic jacks and this feature is definitely something to consider if you have plans that include quality sound.
A jack for an external microphone will allow you to plug in a second microphone and your on-board mic automatically shuts off. The supplemental mic doesn’t have to be expensive. I bought a cheap lavalier for $25 bucks at Radio shack for my high school class and it worked great.
The type of jack on less expensive cameras will be similar to a small stereo plug. Low-end microphones will fit these jacks or you can get an adapter cable.
Professional camera will have an XLR audio input and require professional XLR mic cables.
If you’re going to go with a camera that accepts external mics, look for a camera that has the right kind of jack to match your microphone.
Also, look for a headphone jack. A headphone jack is essential to see if you are getting good sound from your mic to your camcorder. Unfortunately, you can’t just count on it to work perfectly every time without checking it! Sometimes you’ll forget to do something easy, like turn the mic on. Headphones are critical but cheap camcorders won’t have a plug-in for them.
Microphone and headphones jacks are a great feature if you’re concerned with high quality audio.
2. Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound
If you really want to get fancy, camcorders today can record remarkable sound that more simulates real life. Recording in 5.1-channel surround sound can enhance your home movies with active sounds coming from all directions.
Talk about a Hollywood feature in a home movie experience! Optional microphones can be purchased to enhance this feature but even just out of the box it’s a cool feature.
This feature is available primarily on Sony camcorders, such as the Sony DVD408, Sony SR200, Sony DVD505, Sony HDR-SR1, and the Sony HDR-UX1.
3. Active Interface Accessory Shoe
One thing that makes it worth buying a more expensive camcorder is the fact that expensive cameras are going to let you attach accessories, like microphones. Inexpensive cameras don’t. Enter the Active Interface Accessory Shoe feature!
Since most inexpensive camcorders DON’T have such accessory attachments, Sony and other manufacturers have what is called an accessory shoe. This generic connection plate is used to attach any one of multiple accessories such as microphones and video lights. This is a very handy feature since you can use it in multiple ways.
Many accessory shoes are phantom powered, which means that the accessory draws power from the camcorder itself and does not have its own power supply. If it’s not phantom power, you’ll need a separate battery for your microphone or light. This will give you longer-lasting power overall, but extra batteries are always somewhat of a pain. So it’s a trade-off.
The accessory shoe is very useful, as it gives you many options and more flexibility when you are shooting.
After learning all that, aren’t you just itching to go camera shopping?
I hope this information helps you pick out the best video camera for you!
Lorraine Grula, Internet Video Gal