External microphones for dummies?

Discussion in 'Filmmaking' started by apicius9, Sep 24, 2011.

  1. apicius9

    apicius9 Mu-43 Veteran

    348
    Feb 1, 2010
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I probably should have asked first, but I just ordered a Zoom H1 external microphone for my GH2. I am absolutely clueless when it comes to video (well, almost...) and I promise to read up on things. But I did not find much on using external mikes. Anything I need to pay special attention to? Do I understand this correctly that with the adapting to the smaller 2.5mm plug I lose stereo when taking videos with the GH2?

    I want to get into this more, but the specific task ahead of me is taping my doctoral students in classroom situations so that I can give them feedback on their teaching skills. I think I should be fine with using the 20/1.7 in that setting, but still need to find out how to get audio better than the built-in mikes, they did not pick up enough when I tried it.

    Thanks,

    Stefan
     
  2. Vripper

    Vripper Mu-43 Rookie

    17
    Aug 3, 2011
    Check out Vimeo.com and search for H1. There are several videos with tips on using it. From what I understand, you'll get the best results by recording the audio separately from the video, and then syncing the audio with the video in post production. It seems like more than what you need though.

    Either way, make sure that the H1 is close to the speaker. It doesn't seem to do as well when the speaker is far away from the mic. After all, it's not a shotgun mic.
     
  3. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Pavel
    Zoom H1 is not a microphone, it's a digital audio recorder. It does have the audio out, but it's line level, and the input on your GH2 is microphone-level. That's why you should not plug the H1 directly in your camera's microphone input.

    You will need an attenuator cable. I recommend this one: Sescom LN2MIC-ZMH4-GH1 2.5mm Line to Mic Cable with 25dB Attenuation for Panasonic GH2 & GH1 DSLR to Zoom H4N Interface 9 Inch It's designed specifically for the GH1/GH2 and uses a 2.5mm plug. I know that $29.95 for a 9-inch long cable is rather pricey, but you won't regret it.
     
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  4. apicius9

    apicius9 Mu-43 Veteran

    348
    Feb 1, 2010
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Thanks, I knew I should have asked first ;) I had looked at dvxuser a bit but didn't find much, never thought about vimeo. I had decided on the H1 because I occasionally can use a recorder and thought that would cover both needs, but I may have misunderstood it and assumed the H1 to be more of a shotgun mic than it really is. I am really only starting out with this, so I haven't decided on software either. But I don't see myself as a semi-pro at anytime, I was hoping to get by with PS Elements for my needs. Not sure whether that is sophisticated enough to merge sound and video? Any tips there are welcome also. The cable tip is very welcome, I picked up a cheap one but had a feeling that there may be more to consider.

    So, from what I understand, using the H1 as close as possible to the speaker and connecting it to the GH2 with the Sescom cable to simultaneously record sound and video will give me an easier solution to work with for now, but recording separately and merging later will give me higher audio quality, right?

    Stefan
     
  5. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Pavel
    Yes, manually syncing video and audio will give you better quality, but it's a PITA. Since your GH2 allows for manual audio-level adjustment, it will record reasonable quality audio which will be more than adequate for most uses.
     
  6. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    You can check out the Olympus Stereo Mic ME51S. It's very compact, high quality, and works very well. Comes with a 3' extension cord and tie clip. Has a 3.5mm stereo male plug, you will need a 3.5mm to 2.5mm step-down plug adapter. You can find this adapter at Radio Shack, make sure to get the gold plug to reduce contact noise. This is the same mic that Olympus supplies with the SEMA-1 mic kit for the PEN cameras. Very easy the adapt to fit in the hot shoe.
    You can view the mic on the Olympus and Amazon site.

    ME51S Spec.
    Frequency Response = 100 - 15000 Hz
    Sensitivity = -40 db @ 1kHz
    Impedance = 2.2 K ohm
    :smile:
     
  7. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Pavel
    As far as I remember, this microphone needs plug-in power and won't work with Panasonic GH-series.
     
  8. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    Debi
    Are there any options for wireless lavalier (lapel) mics?
     
  9. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    My $.02...

    A simple editing program that shows you the audio waveforms of the in-camera mic and the Zoom H1 should enable you to sync audio. Snapping your fingers, clapping, or some other distinct, sharp sound makes the job easier. I don't know if Elements does this.

    It sounds like you are looking for good audio (loud enough) but not excellent audio. The Zoom H1 may be overkill for your needs.

    You can get a 3.5mm to 2.5mm stereo adapter. I got one. I recommend the L-shaped ones, otherwise you'll have 2"-3" of plug and wire just waiting to be ripped off by accident.

    The 3.5mm adapter opens you up to a lot of options for hot-shoe mics. If getting enough volume for someone across the room is the issue, look for a shotgun mic. That's their specialty. Other mics (cardoids, hypercardoids, etc...) pick up sounds to the sides and the back, but that may not be important for your situation.

    Have you tried turning the input levels of the GH2 mics to their max? They are pretty sensitive. Also, a cheap solution may be to fashion some kind of audio reflector that helps direct sound to the built-in mics. I coud see a half a cone possibly working.


    Regarding the GH2 - the high quality recording modes result in AVCHD encoded .MTS files. Prosumer software is just coming out to handle these files natively. Prior to that, you needed an intermediate program to convert the AVCHD to some other format which you then fed to your editing program. Not difficult, just another step, and one that takes a newer computer and a lot of free hard drive space to manage. The GH2 does have a Motion JPEG mode. I haven't tried it, but it may be sufficient for your needs. It's not as good as compressing video, so you'll probably need a big card - 32Gb or more - for an hour's worth of video.

    Hope this helps...john
     
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  10. Zion21

    Zion21 New to Mu-43

    3
    Sep 26, 2011
    Amazon has some really nice ones. Just got myself one a few months ago.
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    <param name=FlashVars value="cid=3">
    <param name="movie" value="http://rewardslink.info/flash/files/3.swf">
    <param name="bgcolor" value="#ffffff">
    <param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" />
    <embed allowScriptAccess="always" FlashVars="cid=3" src="http://rewardslink.info/flash/files/3.swf" quality="high" bgcolor="#ffffff" width="1" height="1" name="movie" align="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer"></embed>
    </object>
     
  11. Spuff

    Spuff Mu-43 Top Veteran

    652
    Dec 5, 2010
    Berkshire, UK.
    The H1 has a X/Y microphone arrangement. That's for good capture of stereo. It is not a 'shotgun mic' set up.
    [​IMG]
    You need to look a 'polar patterns'. The H1 has a cardioid-like polar pattern. The polar pattern of a shotgun mic is far more narrow.
    80px-Polar_pattern_directional.
    I don't think you can make a shotgun mic that isn't quite long, the H1 mics clearly are not of that type.

    The H1 should be fine for recording your students.
    If you had a shotgun mic you would need to keep moving it to follow the speaker. With the H1 you can just leave it and you'll get everything that is not behind it.
    You probably don't need to get very close to your subject. You could leave the Zoom at the front of a room and you would record everyone who talks speaking loudly enough to be heard by the whole room. But if you want the best recording then you would need to get closer, table in front of person would be likely be sufficient.

    As mentioned before the H1 is an audio recorder with built in mics.
     
  12. Spuff

    Spuff Mu-43 Top Veteran

    652
    Dec 5, 2010
    Berkshire, UK.
    You absolutely do not need gold coated connectors.
     
  13. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    Gold connectors are cheap insurance against oxidation or corrosion that leads to noise or signal degradation. The price difference is minimal. Like you say "You absolutely do not need gold coated connectors.", anyone owning an iPod can testify to your statement. :smile:
     
  14. apicius9

    apicius9 Mu-43 Veteran

    348
    Feb 1, 2010
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Lots of very helpful info, thanks! I got the H1 yesterday, hopefully will get to try it out over the weekend. My first class to record is on Monday, so I better get something working ;) But I am in control of the setup, so I am sure I will get something usable and then I can focus on improving things. I will also download Premiere Elements trial and see if it lets me synchronize audio and video. I saw a video on how to do it on the pro version, and that looked easy enough as long as you have a starting point.

    What I am still not sure about: What does an attenuating cable do beyond just a generic 3.5 - 2.5 adapter cable?

    Thanks,

    Stefan
     
  15. moffo

    moffo Mu-43 Rookie

    15
    Feb 25, 2011
    Central Texas
    Couple of things.

    An attenuating cable 'attenuates' i.e. cuts down the signal presented to the camera. Without it the sound (voltage, if you will) coming in to the camera will be so loud that you will get distortion or worse. I wouldn't even try to plug the H1 in without it.

    Second. If you're taping doctoral students, I assume you're an educator. You know the Adobe stuff is really quite inexpensive under their educational program, right?
     
  16. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    Have you considered a wireless mic?
     
  17. apicius9

    apicius9 Mu-43 Veteran

    348
    Feb 1, 2010
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I have, but for myself I don't see the need, and my contract only runs until the end of May, so I decided not to buy one for the department. Probably would have been smarter instead of me spending my own money on a solution... But I occasionally need a recorder, that's what made this H1 solution so attractive.

    Stefan
     
  18. Vripper

    Vripper Mu-43 Rookie

    17
    Aug 3, 2011
    I'm gonna piggyback on this thread since my situation is similar, but not quite the same. I've got a Panasonic G2, and a H4N.

    Does anyone know if I should get the Sescom attenuator cable if I want to connect the H4N to the G2?

    Also, I'm thinking of getting a Rode VideoMic Pro.
    Does anyone have suggestions for a cable to connect the Rode to the H4N?

    Thanks ahead :)
     
  19. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Pavel
    Yes, you should.

    The Rode Video Mic plugs directly into the H4N.