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Audio upgrade for less than 400$


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I would like to upgrade from my dslr internal mic (nikon d5100). I am planning on shooting mostly documentaries, interviews, and some outdoor sport, eventually short fictions. I would like to spend as less as possible but still get good quality audio.
Should I be better with a good external recorder with internal mics (zoom h4n pro, tascam dr-70d), a less good external recorder with entry level external shotgun (tascam dr-60d mkii + 200$ shotgun (wich one?)), or only a good shotgun with XLR to 3.5mm adapter (rode ntg2, rode ntg4+ (other suggestion with battery power?)). In the last case, would a simple cable be good https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1221867-REG/kopul_xrsm_015b_xrsm_... (link is external) , or would I need an adapter/mixer https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1116259-REG/kopul_cmx_2_2_channel... (link is external) ?
In any case I would also have a lavalier for interviews. I am also a bit hesitating between a shotgun and a small diaphragm condenser. I know diaphragm are more for indoors, but I heard they could also be used outdoor.

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Do you have someone to boom for you? If not I'm not sure how you will work a shotgun mic.


If you are doing interviews outdoors you will need a handheld mic like EV re50b or Sennheiser md-46 or something like that. But to be honest you can get a cheaper mic that would probably sound fine.


Wired lavs can be pretty affordable too and if you have a backing track you don't need too of the line stuff.


It is more important to learn what to do first than getting a good shotgun mic.  $400 is like... You can get a rode ntg-3...


But based on your post I would get a used juicedlink box and go direct to camera (the used ones can be had for peanuts.  I just got an rm333 for like $80usd). Then get an interview mic, a decent but cheap wired lav and maybe an at875r on camera shotgun and then learn more... $400 doesn't go very far but it's enough to learn on.

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I don't want a handheld mic on the picture, so that is not an option.

A cheap wired lav was already on my buying list. It can also be use for outdoor interviews, am I right?

Most of the time I won't have someone to boom. I thought I could mount the shotgun on camera, I know that's not the best, but would I loose all the sound quality of it? Could I use a stand support when I can? I wanted a shotgun to select sounds in noisy environments, but also to record ambience sounds like a waterfall, street protest, bird colonies. Are there other type of mics for that? Does a small diaphragm condenser would be better than the shotgun? Something like the LineAudio CM3 or this https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B012OHZJ8O/?tag=8013063-20


I had heard that in camera recording, particularly in DSLR's, was very poor quality, that's why I wanted an external recorder. If using a preamp does a good job, that would save me from sync problems!


It might also be good to precise I would like to have good audio, not just a one step better quality than the built in mic (I don't like to buy a lot, I prefer long term investments instead having to upgrade in a year or two).

I don't know a lot about audio gears, but if we make a comparison with cameras, I would like to have something similar in quality as a canon 7d or a BMPCC, and not my nikon d5100.


Does anything I mentioned might change your answer?


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Just buy a tascam, and a couple of mics. I am affraid you need to read more, and ask for someone to help you (someone with some sound knowledge). Just sticking a mic at the top of your camera is just a bit better than your cameras in-built mics, and that is the worst possiblr solution for synch sound.

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Not "syncing" per se, but synch shootings, are the ones that sight and sound are synchronized and tight. If it is not a synch shooting then you do not care too much about these stuff.

Just having a mic on your camera isn't doing anything really for your sound, the trick is to take your mic off camera (like most people trying to do with lights or flash units). The advantages are that you have a better quality mic from your 5$(or 10) internal one, and gather less camera and hand sounds, but usually, it is too far away from your sound source, and has no right angle and position to do its job.

Also, you have to overcome the crappy amps you camera has, that is why the juicelink is a very good advice, but I would buy a Tascam over that (and I did) and for that price.

Like you have more than one lenses, usually need more than one microphones, like you usually start with a relatively good 2.8f 24-70 (or 16-50 crop) lens that is what you need to start with sound. My work horse 24-70 2.8f is my Sennheiser 416, from there, you can go up or down (usually down!), Rode offer very good quality for the price, especially for amateurs, cameramen one man bands and new to sound.

There is a Rode micro boom that you can add one of the cheap Rode for dSLRs, if you buy the pro versions (that have their own amps), this is the most basic and cheapest set available. I would advice you to start from there, and try buying a good set of headphones, my main ones are Sony 7056 and the Sennheisser 25, both classic for a reason!

400$ can't take you far away in the world of semi pro sound but can make a starting set that can introduce you, and offer some insight of the subject matter. Sound is physics by the way, you have to read a book or two.

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When you say a Tascam, do you mean something like the Tascam dr-60d mkii?

Thanks for the lens comparison, that helps! In lenses, you generally have better quality with a fix 2.8f aperture zoom than non-fix 3.5-5.6f, even if it is not Canon L series or Zeiss. I was wondering if a 100-200$ microphone, whether shotgun or cardioid, plus the tascam, would give 2.8f quality or just 3.5-5.6f quality?

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Because Tascam specializes in audio for video productions and they have good cheap recorders, while Zoom F4 and F8 seem excellent and specialized for video, I do not see them being close to your budget, or need. The one you mention I believe is a very good performer for its money.

The lens comparison works with money as well, in sound you can't cheat on cheap things, the best stuff are absolutely the most expensive, ofcourse at some point you have to consider if getting 1% better performance worths 1000$ more, or somwthing. In sound also, good "investments" last a long time. Sennheisser 416 is almost the same design since 70s, the 25 headphones from the 80s, the wireless mics for a decade or so,  my hifi system comes from the late 90s etc

A 100-200 mic is like a very good 4-5.6f lens! I have a 50-200 and a 12-24 that are great performer for the money. 

You need a shotgun, for sure, especially as a first microphone. Also you need accessories for those, if you go outside you certainly need wind jammers, Zeppelins and always a shock mount. Rycote is my main brand here.

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What exactly are your needs? Are you going to earn any money? Shooting indoors/outdoors? Are you going to have help? Ask yourself the questions, and you will find the right answers (Kung Fu Panda style!)!!

Cheapest kit is the cheap Rode (200$+80$ for the micro boom+50$ for a cheap set of headphones) and records on camera.

Second choice is the Tascam a ntg3 Rode (or a similar Sennheisser, Audio Technica has some interesting options too), a softie and a Rycote mount (or the new Rode mount with Rycote technologie, is 10$ cheaper, softie strongly advised to be Rycote), maybe a better set of headphones, and a wired lavalier microphone (it's always good to have one, even if you buy a wireless set later on). You will probably be OK with the standard Rode boom here.

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I probably won't earn money for now. Probably no help most of the time.

I would like to shoot indoors and also outdoors like street protests, nature (waterfall, birds, etc). Interviews either indoor or outdoor are ok with a lavalier? I know shotguns are sensitive to indoor reverb. But could I use a small diaphragm condenser super-cardioid outdoor with a deadcat?

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https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/937192-REG/rode_videomic_booming_kit_windbuster.html get something like this, and a lavalier (I never use one outside, only inside) I do not know the cheap ones.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/820760-REG/Rode_NTG_2_Microphone_with_Windshield.html or a Sennheiser MKE600/ME66

This is my kit for outside, costed a bit shy of 2000 euros a few years ago https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1038391-REG/sennheiser_usmkh416propack_mkh_416_shotgun_pro_pack.html I am always confident that I am doing my best with this kit.


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