Best Tapeless Hard Drive Camcorder With Microphone Input Jack

Ed Steele October 15, 2007 19

There’s a funny trend going on with camcorders where key features are stripped to encourage you to buy the more expensive models. I’ll get straight to the point – I wanted a hard drive camcorder that had manual and auto light exposure modes, and most importantly a line-in audio microphone input jack that comes in around $500. Sounds easy right? Not! With camcorder video quality on lower end models getting better and better, some manufacturers have started to gimp the audio features on their base and mid-range models to encourage you to buy their higher end video cameras. Just go out on Amazon and try to find a less than $800-$1000 hard drive camcorder with a line-in audio jack – it’s almost impossible.
I did say almost – here’s how you do it. The Sony HandyCam SR62 has a 30GB disk for storing video and connects to your PC via USB port. It does not have a direct external mic jack but instead uses a proprietary Sony “Active Interface Shoe” to allow for you guessed it – proprietary Sony microphones and light accessories. So how do you hack or modify the AIS port to attach a standard lapel or wireless mic?

Easy. Order a Sony VMC-K100 external mic adapter which transforms the proprietary AIS connector to a standard external mic port.
Here’s how the math works out:

I spent several hours looking for the most cost-efficient tapeless camcorder setup with the best range of features and an external microphone input jack, and this was it.
UPDATE: All of our gear arrived a few days ago, and when we hooked it all up to my initial horror sound was not being picked up on the microphone. After reading through settings and checking connections we finally decided to read the instructions for the microphone. Duh – we didn’t realize the mic requires a single AA battery, which after we installed everything sounds great!

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  1. Jim Davari October 28, 2007 at 6:04 pm -

    Hi there,
    I have been searching for a camera that has an input for microphone. Will this Sony and the microphone adapter cable work with a set of wireless microphone?
    Thank you for your time.
    Jim Davari

  2. lunacy8m October 28, 2007 at 7:00 pm -

    The adapter turns the AIS port into a standard microphone input jack. So, if your wireless microphone supports a standard mic jack in theory it should work. No guarantees of course, as we don’t have a wireless mic to test with our setup.

  3. Jim Davari October 31, 2007 at 1:55 pm -

    Ok thank you for the response. I tried to search this on Sony site but VMCK100 doest not come up.
    Thanks again for your time.

  4. Chris December 18, 2007 at 5:42 am -

    After searching for countless hours I was disapointed that I couldn’t find a hard drive camcorder with mic input for less than 700. Some name brands lost out on my business just because of the lack of this feature. Thank you for posting this. I will be buying the same camera and accessories.

  5. tony January 2, 2008 at 3:24 am -

    can you send me a photo of this unit connected to the camcorder please?

  6. Kimo Gray January 5, 2008 at 6:09 pm -

    Does the video on the sony transfer over as mpeg2 format so you can open it up with any video editor? Or can you only use the sony software to edit or convert the raw video to mpeg2? Thanks

  7. matt January 17, 2008 at 4:46 am -

    Is this adapter stereo?

  8. Olly January 26, 2008 at 1:20 pm -

    Thats a brilliant money saving idea. Does the adapter work on slightly cheaper models such as the SR32?

  9. dirigent_cg March 20, 2008 at 10:38 pm -

    I am sorry to report that Sony has discontinued the adapter… nice idea just the same.

  10. Al March 21, 2008 at 8:36 am -

    Does someone know where I could find the Sony VMC-K100 Microphone Adapter Cable. I noticed that it has been discontinued. Or is there another tapeless video kit recommended by this date.

  11. lunacy8m March 23, 2008 at 4:17 pm -

    Looks like Sony wised up. Maybe they read this piece? Anyway, for those still looking for the adapter that’s been discontinued, here’s what I’ve found:
    Good luck!

  12. Mr. jan April 27, 2008 at 6:51 pm -

    Am I missing the boat? No one has mentioned the JVC GZMG505 or 555 hard drive camcorders, both of which have mic input (only ones I’ve found). Prices have fallen within year from $900+ to $449 – 499 on line (B&H / BuyDig). Any input re: this from others?

  13. roger July 7, 2008 at 6:46 pm -

    I cant find any of the above. Is it a plot? I have found a spec for Hitachi DZ-GX3100 which says it has a mic input socket. I’ve also found some hen’s teeth. Any offers?

  14. Mitch August 27, 2008 at 4:38 am -

    This is great info. I like to shoot bands at small venues, generally there is little light. Sony cameras are generally the only ones that will capture a picture in the low light though the pics are green and grainy and generally the mics are crap.
    i get awesome sound quality from a small SD card camcorder, the Fisher C1 pocket cameracorder, it’s absolutely amazing, even directly in front of a PA with thundering bass. Unfortunately the low light capabilities are nil though it does shoot the cleanest and darkest looking black that you’ve ever seen…..

  15. MrMister21 February 5, 2010 at 12:01 pm -

    What about the $250 Canon FS200? It records to SD Cards and has an external mic input. Would you recommend it?

  16. Staggz May 4, 2010 at 9:36 am -

    The Sony VMC-K100 Microphone Adapter Cable may have been discontinued but looks like there’s a replacement 3rd party part available. recommended?

  17. ishKiia May 21, 2010 at 9:30 pm -

    uh.. this camera is not that price.. it’s 799 on amazon now >,< But thanks for the tip!

  18. Dave July 11, 2010 at 9:34 pm -

    Can we use any Sony camcorder with the Shoe Adapter?

  19. Glen Godfrey July 15, 2010 at 10:51 am -

    I don’t think Sony is providing adapters now. They have already stopped it.