Increase your DSLR or mirrorless audio recording quality for only $23

Oct 6, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Increase your DSLR or mirrorless audio recording quality for only $23

Oct 6, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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DSLRs & mirrorless camera internal microphones are pretty much useless. They also have notoriously bad preamps when using external microhpones. No matter how good a microphone you plug into it, when you bump up the record level on your camera, you add noise. Lots of it. The typical solution to this is record to an external unit, like the Tascam DR-70D, and then feed a line from your recorder into your camera to make it easy to sync up in post.

But what if you could skip the external recorder and actually get decent quality inside the camera to begin with? Well, Caleb Pike at DSLR Video Shooter has the answer. A $23 adapter for using your microphones with your cellphone. In this case, that adapter is the Saramonic SmartRig. Caleb offers two ways to use SmartRig to get quality audio into your camera.

The first method is using the stock SmartRig as it comes along with a Rode SC3 TRRS to TRS adapter cable. This method means that your SmartRig is still able to easily be used for its intended purpose of plugging into your phone.

YouTube video

It works by boosting the microphone’s signal before it enters the camera. This means that the camera can record at a lower level and still have enough signal to get a good recording. But, because you’re recording with your camera’s levels set at their lowest, the noise from the built in preamps is kept to a minimum.

The second video chops up the Saramonic SmartRig into a permanent microphone preamp for your camera. If you’re never going to be using it with a phone, and are only buying it for this purpose, then it makes sense to optimise it for this purpose.

YouTube video

This modification means you don’t need to spend $20 on the Rode SC3 cable. In fact, it completely removes the cable that plugs into the SC3 in the unmodified version. With these alterations, the headphone jack is repurposed as the new output that goes into the DSLR with just a short 3.5mm to 3.5mm stereo jack cable.

I actually thought about buying a SmartRig a couple of weeks ago, just to see how the quality compared recording on my iPhone SE vs a real field recorder like my Tascam DR-100. Ultimately I decided that it would probably end up being wasted after satisfying my curiosity, so didn’t buy it.

I think these videos gave me another reason to actually get one and give it a more permanent purpose.

How do you record your sound when shooting videos on your DSLRs or mirrorless cameras? Do you just use the camera’s internal mic? Or something like a Rode VideoMic Pro? Do you have another preamp solution? Or do you just record external sound and sync in post? Let us know in the comments.

[via SLR Lounge]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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4 responses to “Increase your DSLR or mirrorless audio recording quality for only $23”

  1. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
    Kay O. Sweaver

    I just plug my mic right into my DSLR. I keep the levels low and boost them in post and find the quality to be fine. More cables and gadgets hanging off of my camera just means more things to go wrong. Keep it simple.

  2. Jyi Offer Avatar
    Jyi Offer

    Same hack used for the iRig Pre ;)
    In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was the same device internally.
    http://bfy.tw/84PL

  3. Tarun jha Avatar
    Tarun jha

    Does it also add the audi monitoring capability if i use with A6300 ?

  4. cbenci Avatar
    cbenci

    Great Idea, but I still think a small external recorder is still the best way to go – that way you get redundancy as well. If your external recorder fails for some reason, you’ve still got the internal mic as a last resort.

    My zoom H1 and H5 recorders are just the best.