External Camcorder Microphones: Wired vs. Wireless

When it comes to external camcorder microphones, you have two choices: a wired mic hooked into the camera or a wireless mic that clips onto your subject. Each microphone has its positives and negatives, and which one is right for you really depends on the situation. Here's a quick break down of the two.

Wired Mics

A wired mic either plugs into your camcorders shoe, or if you're lucky, you need a cable to connect the mic to the camera. When I say lucky, I mean that you can move the microphone away from the camera and closer to the subject to get better audio. The closer the mic is to the subject, the louder the audio. 

A good wired mic to have is a shotgun microphone. Shotgun mics pick up audio from the direction their pointed in. You can mount the mic onto a pole and have someone else hold it and point at subjects as they speak. Make sure that your sound guy is wearing head phones (also hooked into the camera), so he can hear what they're capturing. This will allow him to do his job better.

Audio captured this way tends to be very crisp and rich. But, it does have a huge draw back. If you're shooting a wide shot, you may see it. And, if the mic is placed far away from the actors, then the audio won't be very good. It also creates a shadow problem in your lighting. If you need to sacrifice the lighting to accommodate your lighting, then do it because audiences are more forgiving to a poorly lit shot than they are to audio they can't hear.

Wireless Mic

If the disadvantage of wired mics is being seen in wide shots, then the ability of wireless mics to be hidden is their greatest strength. With a wireless mic, you can get crisp audio in a wide shot. The mic is connected to a radio transmitter, which your camera captures and hears. But, there are two distinct disadvantages to these mics. One is radio interference from cell phones and other nearby things like passing cars. The other disadvantage is that they're usually hidden in an actor's clothes so the mic is always near him. But, this also picks up the rustle of his clothes. 

Ideally, a wired mic is best for most situations, but a there are situations when only a wireless mic will work. Ideally, the best thing is to have both on separate audio channels. That's how they do it in Hollywood.

Popular P&S Cameras for High Quality Photos: