Once you start shooting videos with your DSLR or mirrorless cameras or even your iPhone or Android smartphone, you will start notice things you want to change in order to capture better videos.
One major need that many notice right away is that the audio portion of their videos needed improvement.
Obviously, an upgrade is needed for your microphone, which puts you right in the middle of the shotgun mic vs lavalier mic debate.
There is really no debate over shotgun mic vs lavalier mic. Both have valid reasons for being used in video productions, it all depends on what you plan to do. That’s something for you to think about- Or why not let us know?
We’ll talk about the pros and cons of each type and then make some recommendations after having the pros and cons of shotgun and lavalier mics compared.
Primarily, what we are talking about is people talking - there are many factors to consider when filming your projects, events, journalism, nature, sports, and other things aside from what we just mentioned but, if you need to record clear audio of human voices speaking such as in an interview or an instructional vlog, this may be helpful information.
Pros of Shotgun Mics
The huge plus for using a high-quality shotgun mic for spoken voice video recording is that the microphone can mount directly to your camera. There is also the option with many better shotgun mics like our own which can mount on a boom, this gives you a little more control over your sound. We will give a couple of pointers on that, too.
So, from ease of use, a camera mounted shotgun mic is simple and can be handled by the cameraman, we can call this a one-man operation which is often used with this type of microphone.
Most shotgun mics on the market have a nicely defined area of pickup or sensitivity. This is the pattern that is spoken of in the spec sheets. It is fairly precise and limited area pattern of what will be heard by the mic. The way this works is if you mount the mic on the camera, the way you point at your subject just as you are with the lens is where the sound will be captured from.
This is handy if you are filming yourself, as many instructional YouTube vlogs are self-portrait orientated. Like a self-portrait, set up and point the camera and mic at where you will be, then start shooting and capture clear audio.
Boom arms! Here we go - one of the other pros of shotgun mics involves mounting it on a boom. This lets you get very close to the person speaking, which combined with the limited pattern helps provide some very high-quality audio (when we say pattern, we refer to the direction the audio is captured from, in this instance directly in front of where the mic is pointed)
Cons of Shotgun Mics
That limited pickup pattern (Only picks up audio from directly in front) is great at eliminating much extraneous noise, but it does not operate like a telephoto zoom lens does. In other words, if your subject is far away from the camera; a shotgun mic may not pull in enough of the audio. In other words shotgun mic can’t “zoom in” on the sound, that would require a specialty parabolic mic.
Another con of shotgun mics is that if you’re putting one on a boom to physically get closer to the subject, you will need another person to assist or you need to put it on some sort of accessory mount, so if you want to capture audio in other directions from your camera get a buddy in to help or maybe think about a lavalier mic if shooting alone.
Pros of Lavalier Mics
An important reason for using lavalier mics is to place the microphone as close to the source of the audio as possible, physically attaching it to the person speaking as most come with clips. In addition to capturing clean audio from up close, lavalier mics tend to eliminate a huge problem that you will find when using shotgun microphones outdoors, or even with many on camera style mics, wind noise.
Lavalier mics are small, so they can be attached to a necktie, shirt collar, scarf or shirtfront with ease. The pick-up pattern tends to be wide, the technical term is omnidirectional, so precise pointing is not necessary either you can capture audio in 360.
This mic also works great like shotgun mics for self-shot video productions, using a lav mic means you can point the camera anywhere for filming and you are not restricted, but still picking up your speech cleanly and clearly. If you are recording a group of people, you will get super clean sound by placing a lavalier on each speaking subject.
Pros of Lavalier Mics
The biggest cons of lavalier mics is recording audio from several people at once, this will require investing in multiple lavalier mics since each person speaking will need to have their own mic or accept that you will have to have less clear audio by sticking the microphone in the middle of your subjects, however this might not make for a good shot visually if this is in frame.
Lastly, shirt noise, potential for distracting background noise, can be seen on camera
Comparing Shotgun & Lavalier Microphones
We have discussed the pros and cons for each type of mic, choosing a shotgun mic vs lavalier mics will come down to a shoot-by-shoot comparison of needs and what you want to use it for, having both in your arsenal is always the best option as you will have choice.
When we create a video using the cinematography technique of storyboarding, we can usually figure that out well ahead of time. In fact, for some videography shoots, we may switch back and forth between the two types of mic depending on what the uses are, which brings us back to “having both in your arsenal is always the best option as you will have choice.”
If you have found this useful, please leave a comment and let us know what you are using and how it can help others.