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WEDDING VIDEOGRAPHER GEAR: Best way to record audio

One of the earliest difficulties that Wedding Photographers transitioning to videography face, is capturing sound.

A good audio track on your videos can make the difference between a professional looking film and something uncle bob might produce. Capturing the speeches at a wedding or the vows during the ceremony clearly, and in high quality will mean everything to your couples, enabling them to relive their day over and over again.

When we’re filming weddings we tend to get audio from a few sources, using a variety of tools and I’ll explain those in detail.

Should you use the on camera microphone for weddings?

Your first option for getting audio, is the on camera microphone. Unless everything else fails, this should never be used. The audio from the cameras internal mic will be ‘tinny’ and really low quality. It may even miss chunks of whats going on as the person speaking is too far from the mic to pick it up against the ambient noises.

If you want to capture the ambient sound around your camera – applause or birdsong for example, you’re going to want a beefier microphone than the on camera one and we’d recommend a shotgun mic. A shotgun mic sits in the hot shoe of your camera and points straight forward – capturing all the sound happening in front of the camera.

We use a Rode VideoMic Pro+ on our cameras as it’s not too expensive and provides a great upgrade over the on camera mic. Because it plugs straight into your camera the audio goes straight into your video files – reducing the need to sync up sounds in post production.

But… we very rarely use the audio from the Rode VideoMic Pro+ – as there are better, much more focused ways to capture sound.

Digital Sound Recorder for Wedding Videos

Our favourite way to capture speeches, the ceremony etc. is with a few Zoom H1’s. These are tiny little digital recorders that you can tuck into someones pocket. They record for hours on a microSD card and the quality, when paired with a good Lapel Microphone is hard to beat for the price.

Speaking of which…

Best Lapel Mic for Weddings

The audio from the Zoom H1’s onboard microphone is OK and fine in a pinch, if you’ve put the recorder in the right spot. But to get the best out of these recorders, you’ll want to pair them with a lapel mic.

You’ll have seem examples of these on news broadcasts – a tiny little microphone that is clipped on someones lapel usually. Easy when someone is wearing a jacket – harder if they’re wearing a dress.

Our favourite Lapel mics are the Rode Smartlav+. They have a decent length cable, so you can conceal the Zoom H1 in an inside pocket, a back pocket or somewhere else inconspicuous. They then clip somewhere close to the speakers mouth and capture really clean audio – ideal for your films.

A simple alternative

A simpler alternative to the combination of a Zoom H1 & a Rode Smartlav+ is the new Sony ICD-TX650 it’s a clip-on dictaphone. The microphone is really good & the sound quality is decent – so long as you can get it reasonably close to the person speaking. These are ideal for clipping in the top pocket of someone giving a reading or speech at a wedding. They’re so slim they won’t really notice and they’re very quick to set up – no fussing around with wires or clipping lapel mics to people. Also less to go wrong – lapel mic cables have been known to get tugged out.

Microphones for Filming

So, If you’re looking for the best microphones for filming a wedding or anything similiar, we’d suggest the following set-ups for getting the best quality sound, for the best value, for your wedding videos:

ON-CAMERA: Rode VideoMic Pro+

  • Simple and easy
  • Doesn’t give you a lot of control

OFF-CAMERA OPTION 1: Zoom H1 + Rode Smartlav+

  • Best quality
  • Maximum control
  • Not the easiest or quickest to set-up.
  • Can have issues with mic-ing up people in dresses.

OFF-CAMERA OPTION 2: Sony ICD-TX650

  • Simplest option by far
  • Needs to be close to the speakers mouth

OFF CAMERA OPTION 3: Zoom H1 + Rode VideoMic Pro+

  • Great option for ladies speaking (whom you can’t mic up because of their outfit),
  • Can be left on a table – to capture a reading, or the reactions and applause from the top table.
  • This combo can also be great for capturing ambient sounds – bird song , a running stream or a live musician.

Cheap Audio Recorder For Filmmaking

If budget is your primary concern, you can also just get a Rode Smartlav+ and plug it straight into your iPhone – then use the Rode app to record really high quality sound for your films. It’s not the most robust or professional solution – but when you’re starting out in filmmaking, getting the highest quality output for the lowest possible outlay is always a priority.