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I am working on some homemade lectures so I need good quality of sound, but unfortunately I do not have any budget so far(amateur stuff).

I am looking for a camera that can shoot in Full HD and can have an external microphone attached. I do not need anything further than that, though.

I was considering SONY HDR-CX240 until I found out it cannot have external mic. (What if it is a USB mic? It does have a USB slot.) So, should I quit this choice and buy a more expensive camera? Which one whould you recommend?

Is it possible that I record with the camera and external mic attached to my laptop at the same time?

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Do you own a high-end smartphone? You can plug-in pretty much any microphone and have very decent audio quality. Some Android phones even support usb mics. So you probably need a cheap adapter for standard stereo or mono mics to work with the 3 channel type headphone+mic jacks in modern phones. Something like this: https://www.amazon.com/StarTech-com-headsets-separate-headphone-microphone/dp/B004SP0WAQ/

It then only depends on the video quality of your phone. If that is satisfactory just get some sort of tripod adapter or other type of stand for phones and you're good to go. Definitely the cheapest solution if you already own a fitting phone.

If your phone is not an option I recommend you go with a webcam and USB microphone attached to your PC or Laptop. Most recording softwares have the option to choose a different audio source than your video recording device. You can get a decent quality webcam for 20-30€ and a decent quality USB mic that can capture room audio for 15-20€.

  • My phone sucks, but I plan to buy a new one, anyways. Just to complete my question; so these USB ports on cameras do not support USB mics? – Mateva Jul 30 '14 at 14:04
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    @Mateva I'm going to guess that 100:1 they do not work like that. For USB to work, it requires a complex/robust driver to be able to know how to communicate with a variety of outside devices when they get plugged in, and a camera has a very limited USB driver only capable of performing activities that the developers had intended it for like being a client device for data transfer (i.e. communicate with a host like a computer for transferring files). – Scott James Walter Jul 30 '14 at 14:17
  • Makes sense, thank you. But it would be good if they did. – Mateva Jul 30 '14 at 14:57
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The Canon VIXIA HF R500 is the least expensive consumer camcorder (from a major brand) that I have been able to find. I own one and love it. It has an external microphone jack that is compatible with my wireless lapel mic receiver.

http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/camcorders/consumer_camcorders/consumer_camcorders/vixia_hf_r500

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Inspired by @Professor Sparkles♦'s answer, I decided to go for Samsung Galaxy S4* and a noise-reducing microphone with 3.5mm jack for Samsung (and other phones). I will keep you posted if this combination works well.

* I was offered Galaxy S4, S5 and LG G3 as the best video producing smartphones currently in the reseller's catalogue. My choice was based on desired quality\price trade-off.

  • Just because I tried out this combination and promised to reply... well, the microphone does clear the sound, but yet it is far from studio-quality sound. – Mateva Apr 29 '15 at 8:36
  • Yes, you'll need to pay quite a lot of money for studio-quality sound - have you tried the phone's built in microphone ? It might even be better than the external mic you have. – JonasCz - Reinstate Monica Feb 6 '17 at 9:33
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If anyone is still looking for a similar setup that won't break the bank, I'd go with a laptop mounted cam - I have a Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 which can be mounted on a tripod, too. The quality is amazing for the price (under $80), and I've used it to record lectures, demonstrations, as well as for recording and live streaming of some pretty unruly comedy and music shows. It has a stereo microphone that's really good (it made a crystal-clear recording of a live band in a noisy cafe from the back of the room), shoots well in low light, and has a decent zoom. It also does some onboard preprocessing, so HD recording won't overwhelm your laptop if it's an older/cheaper one.

With a tripod and a longer cable, you can do pretty much anything you'd do with a standard camcorder in a static situation. Depending on your software, you can attach an external mic to your laptop too, though I found the built-in mic of this cam superior to anything I've got.

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You can try following

  • Kodak PlaySport (Zx5) HD Waterproof Pocket Video Camera - Black (2nd Generation)
  • GoPro HERO4 Silver
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Older Canon 5D MKII DSLR which does 1080 HD, and can record decent audio or if you like with a jack for sound input to external microphone(s). Regardless of the 5D or which device you use, the batteries will be an issue with heat and how long you record and capacity of a large written file size limit. The 5D MKii does nicely up to about 12 to 15 minutes of video capacity to a CF / SAN device. Not just heat, but how much one movie file can begin and end is limited. But restarting will allow for another 12 to 15 minute session. In the event you have laptop handy, a feature of the 5D MKii is the ability do the entire recording from a Canon Utility on the laptop, focus, start stop video, or record to laptop, which may help as well in composing the frame you do desire as a selfie, because the selfie generated could be from the camera USB to the laptop. That may be something as well the other cameras don't do. USB cables can go a little bit longer than 5 to 6 feet (legacy size, which is a bit more rugged).

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    Video-enabled photo cameras such as the 5D2 also have self-imposed limits of recording less than 30 minutes of video at a time. This is in order to avoid taxes that apply to camcorders (which are limited only by their media capacity). If you lecture in one-hour increments, DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras will not serve you well for that reason. – Michael Tiemann May 15 '17 at 13:54

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