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Updated November 30th 2021
You cannot make professional videos without high-quality audio. And the in-built microphone, which comes with your camera, just doesn’t cut it.
One way to improve the quality of your audio significantly is to use an on-camera shotgun microphone, which can be attached to your DSLR.
Shotgun microphones are used to pick up sounds from sources situated in front of them. But not all on-camera shotgun microphones are created equal.
At the end of this article, you’ll find eight excellent on-camera shotgun microphones, which don’t break the bank.
But before we get to that part, and if this is your first time buying an on-camera microphone, here’s a short general guide.
If you already know everything about on-camera microphones, you can skip the guide by clicking here.
What Is An On-Camera Shotgun Microphone?
A shotgun microphone is also known as a highly directional microphone. It is designed to pick up sound waves from sources situated in front of it.
If you move slightly to the left or to the right while talking, the mic will start to pick up less and less sound.
As you probably have already guessed, shotgun mics are ideal for interviews, speeches, narrations, and vlogging. They don’t pick up noise from the surrounding areas which is a great advantage.
On camera microphone or shotgun microphone?
Now, there’s a slight difference between a true shotgun mic and a regular on-camera mic like most of the microphones mentioned in this article.
The difference has to do with the pick-up pattern of the mics and also the length of the microphones.
A true shotgun is very directional and is often put on a boom arm. So if you are standing even slightly to one side, it won’t record your sound very much. The longer the barrel, the more directional the microphone.
That’s why you often have a sound guy with a boom arm that controls the movement and position of the mic.
If you want to get a traditional shotgun microphone instead, you should read our guide 10 Best Shotgun Microphones For Film, Video & Interviews.
Most on-camera mics pick up sound in a wider pattern than a true shotgun microphone and are more forgiving in terms of where you stand in front of them.
However, you can just as easily put a true shotgun microphone on your camera.
If you’re about to buy your first shotgun on-camera mic, here are a few things you need to know about:
A polar pattern refers to the direction from which the mic is designed to pick up sound.
There are multiple types of mics available with various polar patterns. For example:
- Omnidirectional mics – these are designed to pick up sound waves from any direction. They are great when filming moving targets and are also often used in lapel mics, so the microphone can be placed on your talent in a lot of different places and still pick up sound.
- Cardioid mics – these microphones are designed to pick up all sounds from the front and some sounds from the left and right areas of the microphone. You can think of their pick-up pattern in the shape of a heart turned upside down.
- Bidirectional mics – you guessed it, these pick up sound from two sides only – either front and back or left and right.
- Super-cardioid mics have a unidirectional pattern. Super-cardioid is commonly used in shotgun microphones as it only picks up sound from the front and very little from the sides and back. Some really advanced shotgun mics don’t pick sounds from sides at all, only from the front.
It’s a good idea to learn about the polar pattern of each mic you’re about to buy, so you know where it should be used the best.
A microphone’s frequency response refers to the sound range picked up by the mic in terms of hertz. For example, most shotgun mics pick up sound in the 20Hz – 20kHz range, which defines the absolute limits of what most humans can hear.
Before you start to obsess about frequency response, keep in mind that human hearing is most sensitive in the 2000 – 5000 Hz frequency range. And many adults can’t hear anything above 16kHz.
The fundamental frequencies of human speech usually lie between 100Hz-3kHz with harmonics ranging up to 17kHz.
So if a microphone “only” has a frequency response of 40Hz-16kHz it doesn’t mean, that it is a bad microphone at all.
If you want to read more about frequency response and microphones, here’s a great guide by the microphone company Shure.
But if you need to pick up the sound of a good female singer or a symphony orchestra, then you need something which can cover the full spectrum. But then you wouldn’t use an on-camera shotgun microphone anyway.
Some on-camera microphones have a low-cut a.k.a. high-pass filter which cuts out sounds below a certain frequency.
For example, some shotgun mics can come with a high-pass filter at 90 Hz. The filter lets the higher sounds pass (higher than 90 Hz) and rolls off sound below 90 Hz.
High-pass filters are useful for cutting out handling noises, a low hum from traffic, and air-conditioning.
Your microphone needs to be attached to a camera, but it doesn’t work out of the blue. It also needs a small source of electricity.
For example, most mics draw power from your DSLR camera when they are connected. This can be either from the 3.5mm microphone input or from the hot-shoe on top of your camera. You don’t have to do anything but plug them and get busy filming videos.
However, make sure that you keep an eye on your DSLR’s battery level since it will be drained slightly faster now.
Other microphones come with their own batteries. Some have lithium-ion batteries that are rechargeable. Others come with AA, AAA, or 9 Volt batteries which can be replaced when they’re dead.
Some microphones can be powered in multiple ways. This doesn’t make the mic dependant on only one power source, so you have one less thing to worry about.
Shock Mounting System
When recording video footage, your aim is to minimize the surrounding noise and handle noises as much as possible.
If you accidentally bump into your microphone stand or you’re holding your camera while you walk and talk e.g. vlogging, you don’t want any of those noises being picked up by your microphone.
The solution is to use a shock mount. This accessory keeps the mic stable on top of your camera and any vibrations, noise and rumble are minimized. It works by essentially suspending the microphone in a number of rubber bands. This vastly minimizes any handling noise.
An on-camera shotgun mic is almost never sold alone. It also includes some accessories such as a cable (usually 3.5mm) so you can connect it to your DSLR, a travel case, and a foam windscreen.
The foam windscreen is designed to minimize the noise produced by mild winds as well as vocal plosives (such as ‘p’, ‘t’, and ‘b’) so you get accurate, crisp sound quality.
If you’re filming outside in strong winds, you should also get a “dead cat”. A dead cat is a furry shield, you can put it on top of the foam windscreen for extra protection from high winds.
Make sure that you find out what’s in the box before paying.
You should also get more information about the warranty period. Most manufacturers offer a warranty period of 1 or 2 years which is reassuring to have.
8 Best Affordable On-Camera Shotgun Microphones
Now that you know what to look for when buying a shotgun mic, let’s take a look at a few great models which don’t cost a fortune.
These mics are ideal for beginners as well as experienced filmmakers and they fit well with almost any DSLR or mirrorless camera, so you should give them a try!
First, for the sake of easy comparison, here is a table for you:
|MicrophoneModel (click the name to check current pricing)||Azden SMX-30||Rode VideoMic GO||Rode VideoMic Pro+||Rode NTG2 Shotgun Microphone||Sennheiser MKE 440||Shure VP83 LensHopper||TAKSTAR SGC-598||Deity V-Mic D3 Pro|
|Polar Pattern||Cardioid for stereo, super-cardioid for mono||Super-cardioid||Super-cardioid||Super-cardioid||Super-cardioid||Super-cardioid||Cardioid||Super-cardioid|
|Frequency Response||40Hz - 20kHz||100Hz - 16kHz||20Hz - 20kHz||20Hz - 20kHz||50 Hz - 20 kHz||50 Hz - 20 kHz||50Hz - 16kHz||50Hz-20kHz|
|2 AA batteries||None required, gets power from the camera||2 AA batteries, rechargeable battery or USB powered||48V Phantom or AA Battery||2 AAA batteries||1 AA battery||1 AA battery||Rechargeable lithium-ion
|Weight||5.6 ounces||2.5 ounces||4.3 ounces||5.7 ounces||5.8 ounces||4.7 ounces||13.6 ounces||5 ounces
|Controls||-10dB and +20dB gain controls||None - Plug n Play||Power button, High Pass FIlter, Output Gain Control,||High Pass Filter||3 level sensitivity controls||-10dB and +20dB gain controls||+10dB gain||+20dB gain
1. Azden SMX-30 Stereo/Mono Switchable Video Microphone
The Azden SMX-30 is an inexpensive and popular option among videographers – and with good reason.
It comes with several interesting functions such as the ability to record mono or stereo audio tracks. You can also adjust the mic and increase the gain by 10 or 20 dB if necessary.
This microphone also comes with a shock-absorbing shoe mount which minimizes vibrations and eliminates the handling noises, so you can record a crystal-clear soundtrack.
When it comes to power options, this microphone works with two AA batteries. There is also an LED light that lets you know when the microphone is on or off.
As for connections, your Azden microphone also comes with a 3.5mm jack and it can be easily connected to any DSLR camera out there.
If you’re interested in the polar pattern, this model actually comes with 2 different ones. The stereo mic has a cardioid polar pattern which means that it will pick up most of the sound from the front and some of the sound from the sides.
The mono microphone has a super-cardioid pattern which means that it will pick most of the sound from the front and some of the sound from the back. There is a switch on the mic which allows you to toggle between mono and stereo modes.
2. Rode VideoMic GO Light Weight On-Camera Microphone
The second microphone on our list is the Rode VideoMic GO.
As you probably already know, Rode is a popular manufacturer of shotgun microphones for DSLR cameras. This model comes with a super-cardioid polar pattern, so it will pick most of its sound from the sources in front of it.
The frequency range of the RodeVideoMic GO is 100Hz – 16kHz, which is excellent for interviews and vlogging. But if you want that super high-end this is not for you.
It also includes a 3.5mm jack, so you can connect it quickly to your DSLR camera. It will also get power from your DSLR device so you don’t need any extra batteries.
In the package, you’ll find a windshield for this mic, a Rycote Lyre shock mount, and the instructions manual.
The microphone is made from ABS materials which are durable and lightweight at the same time. In fact, the mic only weighs 73 grams (2.5 ounces), being the lightest one sold by Rode.
3. Rode VideoMic Pro+ Compact Directional On-Camera Shotgun Condenser Microphone
If you’re looking for a more advanced mic that is currently a bestseller, check out the Rode VideoMic Pro+.
This device is very popular among videographers and filmmakers and for good reasons. It has a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz and multiple built-in features.
The polar pattern is super-cardioid, so the surrounding noise will be kept to a minimum. The mic also comes with a Rycote Lyre shock mounting system which reduces vibrations and rumble while recording.
The microphone also has a two-stage high-pass filter at 75Hz and 150Hz.
You have a 3-Stage Gain Control allowing you to get +20dB while recording, -10dB or regular gain. Gain control is a great option to have if your sound source is either very high or very low.
The Rode VideoMic Pro+ also comes with a high-pass filter which reduces the surrounding noise and rumble caused by traffic.
The mic can be powered in multiple ways.
First, it comes with a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery which will last you over 100 hours. And when it is time to recharge it, you can do so by USB. S
Second, if you’re out on a shoot, and the battery runs out of power, and you don’t have the time to recharge it, you can actually just put in standard AA batteries.
Third, if you have a USB power bank, you can run the microphone off of this. Nice!
Also, the microphone automatically switches on and off when you turn your camera on and off.
This is really nice, because that way you’re sure to always have the microphone turned on when you press record, and you won’t miss recording the audio in a scene.
Likewise, you won’t need to worry about switching the microphone off to save battery. The microphone does that for you all by itself.
Another nice feature is that the cable can be detached. So if you need to plug in a 3.5mm TRRS cable (instead of the 3.5mm TRS cable you use with your DSLR) and you use it with your smartphone, you can easily do so.
Because the cable isn’t soldered to the microphone, you can just buy a new cable if it gets damaged.
It is really nice, that you don’t have to send in the whole microphone for repair if the cable gets damaged.
The package contains multiple accessories such as a windshield, 3.5mm mini-jack TRS cable, instructions manual, USB cable, rechargeable battery, and the charger for it.
All things considered, this shotgun microphone from Rode really provides the best bang for your buck!
4. Rode NTG2 Multi-Powered Condenser Shotgun Microphone
Yes, this is yet another microphone from Rode!
The Rode NTG2 is more of a traditional condenser shotgun mic that provides excellent sound quality while remaining lightweight and easy to use.
The microphone is supplied with a mount (not shock mount) made for microphone stands and boom poles.
However, if you get the Rode SM3 shock mount, you can easily attach it to your camera as well.
The Rode NTG2 has a super-cardioid polar pattern which minimizes the surrounding noise while recording. Most of the sound will be picked up from the front, so make sure your subjects are positioned ahead of the microphone, not at the sides.
The frequency response is 20Hz to 20 kHz and it features an 80 Hz high-pass filter which eliminates unwanted noise caused by traffic or similar sources.
You also get a windshield.
When it comes to power options, this mic uses AA batteries or 48 Volt phantom power.
The metallic construction makes this microphone nearly impossible to damage, so it will be a loyal companion for any videographer for years to come.
If you’re worried about weight, keep in mind that this mic weighs just 161 grams or about 5.7 ounces. It can be easily attached to any DSLR camera, but it also works well with a boom arm.
Another great advantage of this mic consists of its 10-year warranty supplied by Rode. This gives you more peace of mind knowing that your investment is protected.
5. Sennheiser MKE 440 Professional Stereo Shotgun Microphone
Sennheiser is known for high-quality audio equipment such as microphones and headphones and the Sennheiser MKE 440 is no exception.
The MKE 440 is a professional microphone that comes at an affordable price. It has a stereo, super-cardioid polar pattern which means that it can pick most of the sound from the source situated directly in front of it.
It can be connected to your DSLR using a 3.5mm jack and it uses two AAA batteries as a power source. At around 5.8 ounces, this is a relatively light microphone that won’t add too much weight to your camera while filming.
The frequency response is from 50 Hz to 20 kHz and it includes three sensitivity levels (-20dB (left button position), 0 (middle button position), and +20dB (right button position)) which can be used in different loudness situations.
The mic is also equipped with a switchable low-cut filter to filter out noises such as those produced by running air conditioners.
You might also be happy to find out that the all-metal construction makes this solid as a brick.
The Sennheiser MK 440 is compatible with most DSLR cameras and comes with a shoe mount for easy installation.
The link, in the beginning, includes a wind shield and batteries. If you want it without these, you can get it here.
6. Shure VP83F LensHopper Camera-Mounted Condenser Microphone
Shure is a well-known brand in the microphone world. I think it is impossible to find a singer in a band, who hasn’t at some point used a Shure SM58.
The Shure VP83F LensHopper is another great addition to your filmmaking arsenal, which lives up to the high standards and ruggedness we’ve come to expect from this company.
The Shure VP83F has a unique trick up its sleeve, which we haven’t seen before; it comes with integrated flash (Micro SDHC slot) recording/playback capabilities. This makes the microphone itself able to capture the audio you’re recording onto the flashcard!
The VP83F is able to capture audio at a sample rate of 24-bit/48kHz.
This is a super neat trick, especially if your camera doesn’t come with a microphone input. And even if it does, being able to capture a backup recording of your sound on an extra flash card is just awesome. Then you never have to worry about e.g., a bad connection in the cable running from the microphone to the camera.
The VP83F comes with a super-cardioid pattern that eliminates sounds coming from the side. This makes your audio tracks crisp and clear in any circumstance.
You even have a switch to increase or decrease the dB gain, depending on your preferences.
Lastly, the frequency response is from 50 Hz to 20 kHz which is pretty standard for most shotgun microphones.
You’ll also love the Rycote Lyre shock mounting system which is efficient at eliminating rumbling noises as well as vibrations and shocks.
The power is provided by a single AA alkaline battery which will give up to 125 hours of battery life!
7. TAKSTAR SGC-598 Interview Microphone
If you’re looking for a super-affordable shotgun microphone suitable for DSLR and mirrorless cameras then look no further.
The Takstar SGC-598 comes with a cardioid polar pattern, meaning that it will record most of the sound coming from the front and some coming from the side.
It is ideal for interviews and vlogging.
The mic can also be used for other types of videos as it has a +10dB gain switch mounted on the side.
You can connect it to your camera using a 3.5mm jack and it uses one AA alkaline battery. This battery can offer you up to 100 hours of continuous sound recording.
The frequency response is 50 Hz to 16 kHz which is slightly narrower than some of the other microphones on this, but as we wrote in the guide above, this frequency range is still very good for interviews.
We have found though, that the Takstar SGC-598 has more self-noise than some of the other microphones on this list, so you might want to use the +10dB gain switch to get rid of some of this.
However, the sound quality is still absolutely usable even if this is your only external microphone. And it is so cheap, that you can easily buy one as a backup too for your other microphones.
8. Deity V-Mic D3 Pro Super-Cardioid Directional Shotgun Microphone
The last one on our list comes from Deity, a popular manufacturer of DSLR microphones.
The Deity V-Mic D3 Pro shotgun mic is made from aluminum, so it’s very lightweight at around 143 grams (5 ounces).
The microphone features a super-cardioid polar pattern and has a frequency range from 50 Hz to 20 kHz.
The Deity V-Mic D3 Pro has a unique step-less analog gain adjustment dial where you can increase the volume up to 20dB. It also comes with a two-step low-cut filter at 75Hz and 150Hz.
The internal lithium-ion rechargeable battery gives you around 50 hours of runtime. Not the best on this list, but still very usable. It takes about two hours to recharge the battery in full.
Like the Rode Videomic Pro+, the Deity V-Mic D3 Pro comes with an auto switch on/off feature which automatically turns on the microphone when you switch on your camera and shuts it down when not in use. This also helps preserve battery life.
It would have been nice though if you have had the option to swap the battery for some standard double AA if you run out of power in the middle of a shoot.
You’ll also get a shock mount with a camera shoe mount, which lets you slide the microphone back and forth along a rail, which is really cool and makes it easier to fit on your camera together with your other accessories.
A foam windshield is included in the package but unfortunately, you don’t get a dead cat included.
The Deity V-Mic D3 Pro has a smart connection 3.5mm TRRS mini-jack. In the microphone itself, there is a microprocessor that detects which device you attach the microphone to.
This is handy since there isn’t an exact standard for TRRS cables and what the Tip-Ring-Ring-Sleeve connections are actually used for, e.g., some devices might use the Tip and first Ring for headphones, and others might use it for some dual-purpose headphone and microphone connection.
The Deity V-Mic D3 Pro microphone does this analysis for you, which makes it compatible with a broad range of devices such as DSLR cameras, mirrorless cameras, camcorders, smartphones, handheld recorders, laptops, bodypack transmitters, and tablets.
Some iOS devices require Apple’s Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter which isn’t included in the package.
The downside to this is, that you might find that some older devices are incompatible with this microphone or still need an adapter. But Deity has included a compatibility list on their website, which you should read before you purchase this microphone.
Which One Is Your Favorite?
We know it can be difficult to pick one from so many excellent shotgun microphones, but we hope that this guide has made your buying decision a little easier. We’ve done our best to describe what sets each microphone apart from the others.
All of these devices are ideal for beginners and prosumer filmmakers and they’ll help you start your filmmaking or vlogging career on the right foot.
If it helps you, try to create a list of priorities such as power options, polar pattern, frequency range, etc, and select your future microphone based on that. Good luck!
About the author
Nick Gold is a content writer for hire specializing in health and tech topics. He writes regularly on multiple websites including