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Beginner: I have a SonyA5100, no mic input. I want to buy a Zoom H1n and connect a shotgun+lavalier

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Beginner: I have a SonyA5100, no mic input. I want to buy a Zoom H1n and connect a shotgun+lavalier

Postby iliavko » Wed Jan 15, 2020 10:38 pm

Hi all!

Fist, I'm a total rookie, so try not to be too technical and pardon any lame statements ;)

I have a camera Sony A5100 and I want to vlog. Mainly record outside, but I would also do footage in closed spaces and interview people.

The camera doesn't have a mic input so I need a way to externally record the audio. For that I want to get a Zoom H1n. Saw several reviews of it and it seems a great entry level recording tool.

I was wondering if it is worth (and is it even possible?) to connect a Rode-type of shotgun mic to the H1n? How would the power work? The H1n is powered by batteries as I understood, but what about the shotgun? Does it also have its own power supply?

Or should I just use the H1n itself as shotgun and there will be no decrease in quality and no need to buy more gear?

Also, imagine I want to interview someone, is the H2n/shotgun connected to the H1n good for that? Or would I rather use a lavalier for that? If so, then I would have to disconnect the shotgun, connect the lav? Or can both of these be connected to H1n at the same time?

Also, if I wan to record the sound of the talent in front of me and also to record, say, the sound of the sea that is 20m away, or essentially record 2 channels simultaneously that would give more ambiance, can it be done with H1n? Would it record them on 2 separate files or something? Or would i have to work with frequencies, etc in post - edit?

Final question: I will be travelling in remote places with little access to electricity. Wouldn't all this gear require tons of batteries?

Hope my questions are clear, please feel free to comment and to ask for more explanations if I was confusing ;)
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Re: Beginner: I have a SonyA5100, no mic input. I want to buy a Zoom H1n and connect a shotgun+lavalier

Postby MOF » Thu Jan 16, 2020 2:22 am

Yes a rode shotgun mic’ can plug in to the H1n with an xlr cable and be powered by phantom power, ditto for a lavalier mic’.
The audio channels are recorded separately onto the SD card (not supplied with the recorder).
There are solar powered battery chargers available.
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Re: Beginner: I have a SonyA5100, no mic input. I want to buy a Zoom H1n and connect a shotgun+lavalier

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:28 am

Hi iliavko, welcome to the forum. :)
Sadly I don't think the H1n is the tool you need. In order to plug in a shotgun mic you'll need phantom power - the H1n doesn't provide that. It's also only got one mic input so you won't be able to plug in a shotgun and a lavalier at the same time.
I'd look at something like the H4n instead. It's a bit bulkier but gives you phantom power (which will eat batteries so definitely think about how you're going to power it as MOF points out below) and allows you to plug two mics in simultaneously.
If you're doing a 'vox pop' type of interview then you'll get your best results using a lavalier (but you'll still need something to mic yourself if you want to capture the question as well) but this can be awkward if you're trying to capture opinions from passing people rather than a pre-arranged guest. What you'll see some news reporters doing is holding a shotgun mic down at waist level pointing up to the mouth - swinging between the interviewer and interviewee depending on who's talking.
Alternatively, using the built in mics would be a simple way of doing things - they're not bad at all.
To take your example of wanting to capture background noise whilst interviewing, then yes, pop the lavalier on the guest, point the shotgun at the sea (ideally with the guest in the null of the microphone) and you'll get pretty good separation.

BUT

There is one thing that will totally mess this up for you and that's wind noise. Wind across the microphone (and not even a strong wind) will totally mess up your recording with a high chance of leaving you with something completely unusable. Unlike something like air-conditioning hum (which can be effectively reduced in post-processing), wind noise is completely erratic and totally can easily be overpowering.
So if you're set on outside recording you need to research blimps and dead cats - devices that will protect the microphone from the wind. Expect to spend a fair bit on this though - effective ones aren't cheap unfortunately.
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Re: Beginner: I have a SonyA5100, no mic input. I want to buy a Zoom H1n and connect a shotgun+lavalier

Postby iliavko » Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:45 pm

Thank you so much for your replies!

@Blinddrew, and do you have any experience on using the H1n itself as a shotgun? Just attach it at the top of the camera pointing straight. Do you reckon it would work?

Otherwise it becomes cheaper to get a video camera that has a mic input :(
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Re: Beginner: I have a SonyA5100, no mic input. I want to buy a Zoom H1n and connect a shotgun+lavalier

Postby iliavko » Thu Jan 16, 2020 6:00 pm

Also, Can you give me a few models of shotgun mics that don't require phantom power?

Is there anything decent for under 50$?

Damn this sound issue is becoming really complicated and expensive!..
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Re: Beginner: I have a SonyA5100, no mic input. I want to buy a Zoom H1n and connect a shotgun+lavalier

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jan 17, 2020 5:09 pm

iliavko wrote:Thank you so much for your replies!

@Blinddrew, and do you have any experience on using the H1n itself as a shotgun? Just attach it at the top of the camera pointing straight. Do you reckon it would work?

Otherwise it becomes cheaper to get a video camera that has a mic input :(
Sorry, I missed these replies.
The H1n isn't going to work as a shotgun - it's just not designed for that job. Will it give you a better sound than the on-board mic in your camera? Probably. Will it give you a platform you can build on and subsequently add other mics to? Nope. But you might still have a use for it as a standalone recorder in the future so don't write it off completely.

I'm not aware of any shotgun mics that don't require phantom power but some of the smarter people on here might - but I also don't know of anything down at the $50 price. If you're patient you might be able to find something second hand if you keep an eye on the usual places.

Unfortunately, in wanting to film outside, you are setting yourself up for a difficult starting environment. You'll probably have to spend quite a bit of money to actually get something better than just using your phone.
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Re: Beginner: I have a SonyA5100, no mic input. I want to buy a Zoom H1n and connect a shotgun+lavalier

Postby iliavko » Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:06 pm

Great! Thank you so much for your input :)
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