"Dynamic, shotgun, and lav—oh my! What kind of microphone should I use on my project?"
It can be difficult choosing a mic for a project if you don't know much about mics. There are many different features, capabilities, and concepts that you might want to learn about before deciding on which one you're going to use to record audio. In this video, RocketJump Film School lays out several microphone basics, including common types of mics used for filmmaking, how phantom power works, and what polar patterns are. Check it out below:
Though shotguns and lavs are easy go-to's for new filmmakers, there are many other details to consider before buying or renting a mic. The first thing you should think about is what the needs of your project are.
Are you recording sound for a concert, rally, or sports event? Then you might want to consider a microphone with a dynamic transducer, since they're better suited for recording higher levels of sound. Are you recording sound for a feature film, interview, or subtle sound effects? Then a condenser mic might be the right choice.
You also have to take a microphone's polar pattern into consideration. Omnidirectional mics are great if you need to pick up sound coming from all directions or if mic placement is limited, like with a lav. Directional/shotgun microphones have cardioid polar patterns and are better at isolating sounds you want to record, like dialog.
Keep in mind, though, that each choice has their own set of pros and cons—for instance, omnidirectional mics tend to have less distortion and sensitivity to wind than directional mics—so making yourself aware of their strengths and weaknesses are crucial for getting the results you want.