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Sony TRV950 / PDX10 Companion
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Old August 7th, 2002, 11:27 PM   #16
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Hello. First, sorry about the very long post. I just joined this group and have an extremely high level of this vertical smear in my Sony TRV-950 videos. I just became aware of the problem recently when I played back the first tape I shot (which was on 7/19/02). A few days ago I received an E-mail from another 950 owner who was writing to anyone he could find on the different forums who had the 950 to see if they had the smear problem also. As it turned out, I didn't even realize this was a problem until it was pointed out to me and I looked at the first tape I took, which wasn't until 2 days ago. I got the TRV-950 as soon as it came out (bought 6/26/02--received 7/1/02) but didn't use it to tape anything until 7/19/02. I tried the basic on and off and zooming, etc. when I got the camcorder on 7/1/02 and learned the operating functions, but I didn't shoot any tape until I was on a trip, 7/19/02. Thus I am out of the "7 day return" policy of my vendor and I now find out that the 950 is a defective product that I can't return it to the vendor. I called Sony and eventually (1hr wait) got to talk to a Level 2 specialist who told me on the phone the problem is called "OVERFLOW OF VERTICAL SHIFT". This is all new to me. I just today have found this forum and am reading that this is a problem that many people are having and that the camcorder is obviously defective. Evidently Sony knew this when they put out the camera since they reference the "vertical bands" on page 219 of the operating manual. They never told us that this was a problem before we spent over $2000 on this new high-end camcorder when it came out! Maybe there are varying degrees of this problem but my 950 is completely unusable. There are bands everywhere. I have taken still shots on the memory card and have the original tape which show the lines vividly (ruining the video of my child on the 1 day I could visit her at her 8 week sleep-away camp). I have taken more video now which clearly show the lines that I described to the Sony specialist on the phone. They (Sony) were supposed to contact me by phone to follow up and explain the problem but no one has called back to tell me how to handle this and, that there is a definitive way to solve this problem. From the above notes, it seems that there is no definitive way to solve this problem and thus we all have a defective product. We should be allowed to return the camcorder to Sony, with all the extras, (including the $15+ per 1hr tapes), we bought as well, for a refund! Sony obviously built a defective machine and knew about it before they marketed it. They didn't tell us that we might get "vertical bands" on our videos before we bought the camcorders. They didn't tell us how bad these lines could be. It seems that I am more disgusted about this situation than some who have posted above and this makes me think that either some people are willing to except a defective camcorder or that some units are less likely to cause the vertical smear bands than are other units. Still, we shouldn't have to keep a unit with a know defect and will always produce some of these picture-ruining vertical bands.
Now what are we to do? Do we spread the word on all the forums that the 950 is defective? Do we have a class action suit against Sony? Sony knew the problem existed and still sold the camcorders as their high-end new and improved model. This is really fraud isn't it?
Any responses are welcome. If this is a fixable problem please let me know. Since it sounds like it is only, at most, somewhat adjustable to make the bands show to a lesser degree, I still think we are all entitled to a recall of the units and a real fix or a refund.
Thanks you for reading this very long message. I feel we have to act as a group if we are going to get an adequate response from Sony. But, maybe they will see the error in their ways and will take it upon themselves to resolve the problem with us individually. I find this unlikely. But for now I am going to give Sony the benefit of the doubt.
Steven Forrest
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Old August 8th, 2002, 03:56 AM   #17
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All CCD's produce vertical bands (smear). It is referred to as a phenomenon, it is a by product of the technology. All CCD, no matter what make, model etc procuce smear. Cars produce carbon monoxide. It's a by product of the internal combustion engine. If you feel the amount of smear is excessive, send the camera back to Sony, with copies of tapes, stills etc showing the severity of the problem. Smear cannot be eliminated, but it can be brought into range that should be tolerable.

Jeff
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Old August 8th, 2002, 11:52 AM   #18
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Jeff,

Are you saying then that the TRV-950 CAN be brought into a range where the vertical smear is minimal? Is it simply an adjustment or is it a major replacemnt of out of tolerance parts?

I will be very happy if Sony CAN fix my 950 as I do like it. I just cannot tolerate the extreme vertical bands I am gettng with many shots in my everyday shooting.

First though, don't we need to know that the 950 is capable of minimizing the smear problem if adjusted properly, and also that the technicians at the repair facility where I send my camcorder know about the problem and know how and what to fix?

I'm sure I'm not to first to be really upset by the problem and I assume that others have contacted Sony about it. When I called them though, even the level 2 specialist I spoke with didn't know of the problem and didn't even know what it was called. It wasn't until he researched it and spoke with higher level people did he call me back (early on in my dealings with them) and tell me I had a problem with "OVERFLOW OF VERTICAL SHIFT". He did say he didn't know what to do and said someone else more technical would contact me. I await a call from them. But more importantly, how can we be sure that the information about the problem and way to fix it (if it exists) is distributed to the representatives and repair personel at Sony and that I and others don't waste a lot of time and money and still end up with a defective picture?

I know there is probably no answer to the last comment, but if there ARE good camcorders out there, shouldn't Sony exchange our defective ones quickly with those, and worry about fixing our defective (or out of spec.) ones later?

Thanks for your input.

Steve
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Old August 8th, 2002, 05:29 PM   #19
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Steve,

Vertical banding is NORMAL under some conditions. All CCD cameras will produce SMEAR (vertical banding). SMEAR should not be present in all conditions. If your camcorder is producing an excessive amount of SMEAR, Sony technicians will be able to make adjusts to bring the camcorder into Sony specs. Phone support people are not the repair technicians. If the repair technicians talked on the phone, no cameras would ever get fixed. Phone support, as you found out, sometimes have a limited knowledge of repair problems. If every camera was producing EXCESSIVE SMEAR they would be more knowledgeable about it. As I said in my first post, send tapes that show the severity of the problem. If your sending original tapes, have it stopped at the part that shows the SMEAR. Send a detailed letter with an explanation of the nature of the problem and under what conditions it occurs and reference it to the tape your sending. Sony technicians are very good. If a problem does exist, they will be able to diagnosis the problem, and repair it to Sony specs. Remember, SMEAR will occur under some conditions and ALL camcorders will produce some level of SMEAR.

Jeff
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Old August 8th, 2002, 05:57 PM   #20
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Thanks for your comments Jeff.

The problem, as I see it, is that many people with the 950 are seeing smear. Sony has just not heard from them yet. My initial contact was made by a man named Peter, who was privately E-mailing as many 950 users as he could, finding their names on the various web forums. He then asked the question: Are you finding the vertical banding in your videos and to what degree? He has a large collection of people seeing the smear to an excessive degree. More that a small sample of 950 users would normally show. This is what is worrisome. Peter and I both hope Sony can find a way to adjust the 950 to minimize the smear. Until they do, however, many more people will begin to report to Sony of the excessive smear problem with the 950.

Incidentally, which Sony repair center would you recommend we use?

Thanks.

Steve
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Old August 8th, 2002, 06:21 PM   #21
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Steve,

Don't get me wrong, but I haven't seen a single image posted of the alledged excessive SMEAR. I haven't heard anyone say they have 20 years experience in TV and the SMEAR is the worst they've ever seen. But I am reading posts (here and elsewhere) by relative novices who are shocked by the presence of SMEAR. These people spent alot of money on these Sony's and they expected video nirvana. Well, their unrealistic expections are now dashed by a dose of reality and the compromises video forces upon us. Striking out at Sony is not the answer. They can't defy the Laws of Physics better than any other mfg. Send your camera into Sony to have it checked, if it's out of spec they will adjust it. This should give you a little peace of mind. In the meantime read the many post here on the limitations of video as a medium. Do a search on contrast or film and start reading. Your not alone. You'll have many questions and when you can't find the answer just ask. People are always here to help. Post another question to this forum about what location to send your camera and I'm sure you'll get some help.

Jeff
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Old August 8th, 2002, 07:26 PM   #22
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Jeff, you are 100% correct. I am a novice who bought a $2000+ camcorder and $500+ of accessories and didn't know what to expect. If I had it to do over again, I just would have stayed with my 15 year old 8mm camcorder for the limited times I actually will now use the 950. I didn't realize that there were problems like this. It is amazing that no review mentioned that CCD camcorders had this smear problem and that none who checked out the 950 saw what many of us novices are seeing as excessive banding. I wish I had seen this forum before spending all this money. I didn't need the camcorder in the first place and I guess this is my reward. I am learning a lot, the hard way! To me, a high-end consumer or "prosumer" camcorder should be able to work on auto without any problem in most situations. No, I'm not saying we will get perfect videos. I probably will get terrible ones. But the lines seen with this camcorder, which was the only one I have considered buying in years, are a bit much for me to take. I shouldn't need to send my new "prosumer" camcorder back to Sony for a tune up, out of the box. It should have been built so that the novice, who wants the best quality for a price point, can get overall good quality with out any interventions. There are obviously more vertical banding problems with the 950 than with the previous Sony "prosumer" camcorders. No review I read on the 900 or VX2000 mentioned vertical smear as something to watch out for. Sony should let consumers know that vertical smear is a problem to look for in some cases. I would have done it on day 1 and sent the camcorder back then. I didn't even know vertical smear existed until now. So I object to the marketing of expensive camcorders, mentioning all the great new features, but never once mentioning that with this high-end camcorder, vertical smear may be a problem in some circumstances. I would have looked at what kind of video I was going to shoot and then would have decided if the amount of vertical smear that resulted was acceptable. Then I would have made an informed decision as to my purchase of it. Sure I can read all about it now. I can learn all kinds of details about overflow of vertical shift and I can become an expert on the new camcorders being sold today. But I trusted Sony's reputation as the company that made the best "prosumer" camcorders and when the 900 was being replaced by the "even better" 950, I jumped on it and bought it and all that went along with it. Blindly!
So, I appreciate your good intentions Jeff and your very knowledgeable posts, but it still doesn't make me feel better. I still have to accept a camcorder that does something I didn't know it could or would do, and that is frustrating. I was the typical uninformed consumer. Usually most people don't get burnt by their uninformed purchases, either because they don't know something is right or wrong with them or they are willing to accept their limitations. I am not willing to accept what I am seeing produced by my TRV-950. I wasn't aware of its limitations or potential problems and I am not willing to live with its poor pictures, in everyday lighting situations.
Sony knows this. I am waiting on what they want to do for me.
So all, when Sony tells me to send my new "prosumer" camcorder in for repair or "adjustment", where should I send it for the fastest and the best service possible?
Steve
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Old August 9th, 2002, 06:37 AM   #23
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I would ask Sony that question. Only they will know the back log of repairs and delays and their repair centers. They may even try to expedite your repair. It never hurts to ask. Good luck and let me know how things work out.

Jeff
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Old August 10th, 2002, 11:33 AM   #24
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Sounds like Forrests' camcorder is one of the really bad ones and might need to be replaced . I ran mine through many tests for banding in high contrast situations and got only one reaction worth note. I am sure Sony will take care of the problem as soon as it has the camcorder in possesion and is able to work on it. I am fortunate to have one that needs no assistance as it works great and does a fine job by me.
Best thing to do for anyone with problems as bad a Forrests' is to send in the camcordedr and have it repaired or replaced while the warrenty is active.Good luck and keep us posted please.
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Old August 10th, 2002, 12:04 PM   #25
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The one thing you want to do is make a tape that demonstrates your problem(s) with the camcorder. Ship it with the camera (not in it) along with a letter defining your issues in as great a detail as you can.

I've sent several cameras into Sony and the only disappointing repair job I received was where I did not document the image problem in this manner.

Oh, one last thing. Document what you ship to them in the letter INCLUDING THE SHIPPING BOX (use the original box or they may make a negative comment about shipping damage as they did to me). Fortunately, they lost my box the first time they had the camera and I returned the camera (again) in the same packaging they used.

Document, document, document.

And keep a log of your discussions and actions. With whom, when and the details of the conversation. In many states, the manufacturers warranty gets extended/expanded by local consumer protection laws.

For example: In California, the manufacturer's warranty is extended until they repair a problem that occurs in the original warranty period. And they only get a set number of times to attempt repairs before you can declare the product a 'Lemon' and force them to replace it. Oregon surely has similar laws.

Timing and documentation make all the difference in these cases.
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Old August 11th, 2002, 04:06 PM   #26
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Thank you all for the information and insights. Sony will get back to me, so they say, early this week, as to how they want to handle my camcorder. I will ask that they just send me a NEW camcorder as a replacement. I do not want a refurbished one! It sounds like some are OK and I would like a later production one or if they want to be sure I don't get one with a repeat of the problem, a NEW one that has been thoroughly checked out by a Sony Technician. I think I have raised enough of a stink that they may do that to get me to be quiet.
I appreciate how everyone in this group has helped me with this. I really like the 950 and would hate to return it because Sony will not cooperate, and get me unit that is acceptable.
I will keep this thread informed as things go on with my 950.
Thanks.
Steve
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Old August 11th, 2002, 10:32 PM   #27
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After re-reading some posts from Jeff, I thought I would send him some JPEGS from the video took with my TRV-950. I await his opinion on the amount of vertical smear. Is it excessive or is that to be expected? If it is "smear with-in normal limits", then I guess I will try to exit this "prosumer" video field and wait until units with less smear are developed.
I hope Jeff gets the pictures and has a chance to examine them. Since he seems to know a lot about smear, and since he said he hasn't seen any pictures with the smear, I thought sending him some JPEGS would illuminate the problem to me, and let me know what to expect from the TRV-950.
Thanks to all and thanks to Jeff (I hope he will look at the pictures).
Steve
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Old August 12th, 2002, 05:39 PM   #28
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Steve has been kind enough to share 11 jpegs with me that he feels are showing excessive SMEAR. This is partly in response to my post stating I had not seen any images showing excessive SMEAR. After careful examination of the scenes I feel 9 of the 11 images show normal amounts of SMEAR. The scenes are extremely backlit and show strong vertical streaks. This response to strong backlighting is typical and normal for single and 3 chip CCD. It is typical in consumer and pro-sumer camcorders. Two images, I feel, may be showing slightly higher levels of SMEAR than normal. The camcorder should be sent back to Sony for a more objective evaluation and thorough diagnostics that only a mfg. can provide. Sony faces a very large customer service issue with Steve and I hope he keeps us posted on his efforts with Sony and the final outcome. Good luck, Steve.

Jeff
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Old August 12th, 2002, 06:13 PM   #29
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Jeff sent the pictures to me as well.

I think the streaks are to be expected given the lighting ratios that are apparent in the pictures.

Besides the streaks, the images are affected by fairly severe lens flare which is typical of lower cost lens.

I've got an old $10,000 (body) industrial Hi-8 camera (EVW-300) that does not have this problem. It has the same CCD's that are found in the DSR-300, the Sony Hyper-HADs. The Fujinon lens ($3,000) has much less flare as well. But one could buy four of the 950's for the price of this one camera.

Bottom line in my opinion is that this 950 may be a heavy streaker but in those conditions, it won't get a whole lot better.

I've not hit my PD-150 with this level of luminance ratios. In the next few days, I'll try all of my video cameras and see what they do.

I'd be pleased if Sony proves me wrong, Steve.
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Old August 12th, 2002, 06:25 PM   #30
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Thanks guys for your responses. Not quite what I wanted to hear but for now, Sony is doing their best to check out my issue. They have issued a FedEx overnight call tag to expedite the return of my camcorder to their technician in San Diego. We will see what his verdict is and what Sony does after that.
I'll keep you posted.
Steve
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