3 Zoom H1 Recording Tips I Learned The Hard Way

3 Zoom H1 Tips I Learned While Making A Video

I’ve been shooting still for quite a long time now, about 18 years. But videos are really new to me. And it turns out that there is a learning curve. While I feel pretty confident about composition, exposure and stuff like this, some aspects are completely new to me.

Being on a shoot a few days ago, I learned a few tips the hard way. Weirdly enough, they all have to more with audio, and the Zoom H1 in specific, than with video.

Gaff tape the switches so they don’t change

Gaff tape the switches so they don't change

I am using the Zoom H1 which is really a bang for the buck. I know it is a matter of taste, but I love the rich sound that the internal microphone provides and the ease of operation. On the bottom of the recorder there is a bank of switches to control various options like auto gain and noise reduction. I always use the zoom H1 on manual gain since the auto gain is too unpredictable.

Sadly enough those switches are so delicate that if you are not really careful they will change position just from rubbing against your pocket. My solution Gaff tape!

Note the “out” volume when connecting to the camera

Note the "out" volume when connecting to the camera

One of the nice things about the H1 is that you can connect the headphone out line to an external recorder (like the in port on the D7000). I use a simple long cable with two male 3.5mm ends.

Here is the thing, the D7000 is pretty limited in how it handles audio and there are no levels or clipping displays, so you can’t tell if your audio goes out of rage. That means that even if your levels are set correctly on the zoom, you (I) still need to double check that the headphone volume is set reasonably low so the camera get something it can use.

(And yes, I set the D7000 levels to manual as well – for some reasons the engineers decided to limit the scale to low – medium – high, rather than provide a continuous rage).

Don’t worry about batteries, just leave all the microphones on

Don't worry about batteries, just leave all the microphones on

For some of the shots I used an Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lav mic. It was just too windy to use the built in mic that the zoom comes with. For some stupid reason, I was concerned about wasting the battery, and turned the mic off when we went on breaks. The results, a few takes were 100% silent till I remembered to turn the mic back on.

In fact, this lesson struck so hard that I only turned the mic off a few minutes ago when taking the picture above. Guess what? It was still running.

The immediate lesson that follows is to keep a spare battery for anything you have on location.


Those are my lessons from my first experiences with using the Zoom H1. I am pretty positive that they are pretty trivial to anyone who has done a video or two. Yet, I love my zoom and will continue to use it with care and attention.

It is always important to watch your video and audio on location after you shoot, sometimes it is impossible (or nearly impossible) to retake a shot once you torn down the setup.

If you are considering improving your audio, consider an external microphone, almost any external mic close to you will give waaaaay better results than the in-camera mic. This is what I use, it is on the basic/frugal end of the spectrum, but does a decent job.

Zoom H1 [B&H | Amazon]

Zoom H1The Zoom H1 was my first purchase in the realm of sound. I am very happy that it was. While it has a very small feature set, the audio that it provides is great. And for a novice like me, the simplicity of use was a great way to enter external recorders.

Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Microphone [B&H | Amazon]

Audio-Technica ATR-3350The ATR 3350 is my first lav mic (aka neck mic). As with the Zoom H1, it is pretty basic. I love the sound that it gives, I love how small and compact it is and I love that it has a long cable.

Male to Male Stereo Cable [B&H | Amazon]

Male to Male Stereo CableThis is a very similar cable to the one I used on the shoot. I allowed me to connect the Zoom H1 directly to the Nikon D7000 audio import port. Saving a ton of sync work in post.

  • Lynne

    Are you downloading it before renaming? If you rename it while still in the zoom file, it stays on the zoom card but moves into alpha order. I change the name on the zoom, then download. That way, I’m sure I have the copy. If you download before renaming, it’s still there, just as the original numbered file. You can quick-check files by clicking on the eye symbol when you have it plugged in.

  • Joost


    My Zoom H1 has an issue. It says it has limited recording space left, although I cleaned it up regularly. Now I got rid of all files on the Micro SD while having it connected to my Apple-laptop. Problem has increased. While its completely empty now, it says there’s no recording space at all.

    Anyone tips? How can I reset my ZOOM H1.

    Thanks a bunch for your help.

    • Daniel

      Plug your Micro SD in. Then check your trash, because your files are probably still in there. Empty the trash, then see if the space is freed up.

  • Kam

    You do not know how much your post has helped me. I thank you for taking the pain in posting this link.
    It saved a ton of Sync work for me and the pain of Managing Various Audio Files and Various Video files. I used iphone’s aux cable to go from Zoom H1 to Nikon D5100

  • Clifton

    If I attach the unit to my Canon 60D to record audio into the camera is it feasible to attach a splitter at the zoom mike line out port to allow for signal out for both earphones and camera.

  • Clifton

    What did you use as a splitter for allow for simultaneous line in to camera and earphone monitoring?

  • Chase

    I use the same set up. The Audio-Technica Mic into the Zoom. One problem I have is that the mic only records the left side of the audio. How can I fix this? Thanks

    • Marc

      Cz Mic is mono and h1 stereo

  • filmer

    This post helped me so much , thank you. I was wondering if i can Connecticut the zoom directly to my EOS 600D / T3i . Now i know it will work

  • https://www.facebook.com/thefrankschwarz Frank Schwarz

    Excellent Post. I’m shooting tomorrow and just looking at last minute tips. Thanks.

  • Samuel L Robinson Jr

    This post helped me figure out exactly what i have been trying to figure out about using H1 with the d7000 thank you.

  • Mohamed Salah Baladeena

    Do I need Male to Male Stereo Cable For pod casting also ?