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I have a Canon 6D DSLR. It has a monaural microphone input, and a headphone out. So far the audio I've done with the internal mic have been terrible, including either AF noises, image stabilizer noises, or both. Looking into my options I see I have three main upgrade paths:

  1. Camera Mounted Microphone plugged into the mic input of my camera
  2. Off Camera Microphone(plugged into the mic input of my camera?)
  3. External Audio Recorder such as a Zoom, Tascam, etc.

I'm aware that I could turn off AF and IS to remove these noises. Is that the best method? I have Canon STM lenses that still make audible noises in my video. I'm guessing no matter what the built in microphone will be junk, but I don't know that. I am not looking for broadcast quality audio, or really anything expensive - my budget is quite small for these personal videos(Under $200USD). I am very amateur at avp so please keep that in mind when recommending solutions!

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2 Answers 2

You almost seem to already have answered your own question, but I'll try and help.

I would personally go with 2 or 3, taking 1 out of the question. With #1 you will still get some noises from the camera. It's pretty much unavoidable.

Why #2? Because it might be cheaper and is less cumbersome. You will get rid of most of the noises the camera makes and be able to get crisp, clear audio without spending a fortune on equipment. Also, as far as I can tell you are able to set the recording levels on the 6D, are you not? If so this is probably the best option for you.

Why #3? Because it's almost always the best. The short answer here is that it was designed for portable audio recording, for your needs. It gives you the most control over your audio and its settings, it let's you seperate audio from video if that's needed for any reason. Also, and perhaps most importantly in this particular case, it let's you monitor the audio input with your headphones. The con of this option? The price, I guess. But a product like the Zoom H4n is still pretty cheap in my books. If you are going to record a lot of audio in the future this is an investment, amateur or not.

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Isn't there a difference between the built in mic and a camera mounted microphone plugged into the input of the camera? I didn't list the built in mic as an option because that is what I have now and it isn't working well. I thought 1 & 2 varied because 2 is held by an assistant and not on my hotshoe(1). –  dpollitt Dec 11 '12 at 1:13
    
My mistake. I will edit my post. –  burnso Dec 11 '12 at 1:15
    
But there is definitely a difference. You could still run a risk of having camera noises appear on your audio recordings with a mic on the camera. They won't be as loud, but they'll be there. It depends on the situation you're filming, but I'd say that most of the time it's better to use an off camera microphone. Why? It's just easier to control the recording process and make sure that you don't capture anything else than what is actually needed. Just make sure your assistant handles the microphone correctly. PS. I also saw that you actually do have a headphone jack on the 6D. My bad. –  burnso Dec 11 '12 at 1:25
    
You are right, it doesn't have a headphone jack. Unfortunately for my home movies I would rarely have an assistant to hold a mic or an external recorder. The Zoom H4n is really outside of my budget, although very highly regarded I read. Would I just be throwing money out on the Zoom H1 or would it be a step above my built in audio options? It has mic input and audio output jack, seemingly better then my current setup. –  dpollitt Dec 11 '12 at 2:19
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To summarize, I think you're safe going with just buying an external microphone for now. Just make sure that it's right for what you need (directionality and how much white noise it records among other things). On the other side, if you want good audio and with more control over it, the H1 is a good buy from what I can gather. It's also very versatile and can be used to record many different things. Though in the end, the choice is yours. :) –  burnso Dec 11 '12 at 17:01

I know this is very late to the original post, but I have been looking at the same problem and have experience of various external recorders, so thought it would be of help to anyone else with the same question! My camera is a Canon EOS 550D, so not exactly the same, but close! 1) the internal mic is terrible - as is the firmware. The first thing to do if you are shooting video is to set your camera up for MagicLantern (this may not apply to the 6D, but certainly to the 550D). This gives much more control over the audio recording, eg I can now record ext mic; left internal, right external; etc, set recording levels turn off automatic gain control etc etc.

2) personally I like the dedicated sound recorder option - I have three available to me (I don't own any of them, but various voluntary work I do gives me access as and when needed). My options are a Zoom H2N, a Zoom H4N and a Marantz PMD661. My #1 choice is the Marantz PMD661 - it's also the most expensive! Why the marantz? It is the only one of the three that has line out. Both Zooms only have headphone out. This means a) a splitter cable if you want to monitor from the recorder, and b) adjusting the headphone volume changes the recording level for the camera! The Marantz suffers neither of these and has a really nice sound quality.

The H4N and the Marantz both have 2 channel XLR inputs, so can be used with external balanced mic sources, which the H2N can't. All of the recorders really need an ATT cable to attach them to the camera mic in, though with MagicLantern this can be avoided to some extent by reducing the mic gain from its standard -23dB to 0dB.

A final point to consider - if using an external recorder, and you have at least reasonable video editing software then you can use a clapper board (or similar) to create a synch signal on your camera audio and recorded audio, then synch them in your edit, rather than feeding the output of your recorder into your camera. More work, but almost certainly better quality audio and you can place the recorder exactly where you want it instead of being limited to your lead length.

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