I love using so-called “action cameras”. You know, GoPros and models from DJI, Sony and countless “knock-off” brands. That’s cause I have habits of throwing cars around race tracks and dirt roads, attempting to catch a piscatorial feast in the briny or simply paddle around coral reefs with a snorkel, mask and fins (they are NOT flippers!).
But there is somewhat of an issue with action cameras in these sorts of corcumstances in that audio in many cases seems to be a secondary thought.
Sure, I understand that what they are really designed for is to be a camcorder with a small form factor and a wide lens to capture, well, action, in places and angles that a “normal” camera or camcorder cannot possibly hope to achieve.
But along with that hair-raising, stomach churning, bum-cheek clenching, gritted teeth vision, is almost always loud gasps, cheers, screams, yells and even downright terrified sobbing at times. Shouldn’t this also be captured for the posterity of the event, no matter how embarrassing it might be after the fact?
‘Cause we do!
Now, with GoPro having the majority of this market, and a snoop around various action cam type forums leading us to the opinion the general consensus is that GoPro audio sucks (not necessarily our opinion I hasten to add), we have used this as a basis to see just what can be done about that situation, without necessarily adding a huge bulky mic to the camera, or worse, making it that it just cannot do what it is best at and being attached to things other than a tripod eg you head, arm, chest, bike, car, go-kart, surfboard, skis, fishing rod, boat etc.
You can of course add a standard type mic to a GoPro using the available mic adaptor which plugs into the charging port, converting it into a 3.5” headphone type port, and then use something such as a Sennheiser MKE400 or MKE 440 shotgun mic (which actually appear on the GoPro recommended list along with some other manufacturers including RØDE, Sony and Shure.
For best results, we recommend using the standard GoPro skeleton mount so you can still attach the camera to one of the many accessories available from both GoPro and 3rd party suppliers, as this leaves the ports available to use via cutouts in the mount design.
If you prefer to have a more discreet system, then a wireless lav setup might be better, keeping the mic clipped to a collar or similar, and the receiver via a cable connector to the camera.
However, a major problem exists in one area. If you want to shoot in a wet area – rain, snorkelling etc – then waterproofing is of course paramount and using any of these mics is not going to work. This means you are stuck with using the correct housing for the camera for this environment and its native inbuilt mic sadly.
If you can get your hands on a GoPro Hero 4 Silver via ebay, Gumtree or wherever, then Sennheiser do make a dedicated mic for this camera that is waterproof called an MKE 2 Elements that costs around AUD$80. The MKE 2 Elements has an interface board that allows it to become a part of the main camera body and is very effective.
Just make sure if you order one, you specify the word ”Elements” very clearly as the MKE 2 without the “Elements” is a very different beast entirely!