Instructables

How to connect an external microphone to a Canon camcorder

Picture of How to connect an external microphone to a Canon camcorder
I recently got a Canon Vixia camcorder.  I got it partly because I have used Canon Powershot cameras for years and liked them, and also because it has an external microphone jack built in already, so there's no need for special mods or trying to mix sounds in your PC.

However, the only microphone that Canon sells to go with the camera is an expensive Bluetooth mono microphone kit, the WM-V1 Wireless Microphone.  All other microphones I saw had to connect to a special input shoe, and that shoe doesn't work with my camera.  Nobody else seems to sell any other mike or adapter for this camera, and I couldn't find any info on the pinout of the connector to make one myself.  

Somebody has got to figure out how to make an adapter and attach a reasonably-priced microphone or two to this camera...
 
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Step 1: The connector pinout

Picture of The connector pinout
I managed to dope out the pinout of the connector that plugs into the camera.  Incidentally, any camera that can use the WM-V1 Wireless Microphone kit uses this pinout, and just about every camcorder Canon makes is compatible with it.  If you want to see if this works with your camera, go to the Canon website, look under accessories/microphones, find the WM-V1 Wireless Microphone, and click the compatibility link to bring up a list of cameras that use this hookup.

It's a 4-wire 3.5mm (1/8 in.) jack.  It's set up for use with a typical consumer mike, and it can be used with a dynamic mike or an electret (condenser) mike.  Electret mikes need external power to function, and can have either two or three connections.  For a two-connector electret, the mike power and signal are carried on the same line, and for a 3-connector electret, the power and signal are separate.  A cellphone external mike uses 2 connectors, while a PC mike uses 3 connectors.

The Canon jack supplies mike power on a separate line, so you can ignore the mike power lead and use a dynamic mike, or use a cheap PC  mike powered by the camera.  Great!