PD150 problem: Blue streaks in record mode at DVinfo.net

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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
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Old January 8th, 2005, 02:50 AM   #1
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PD150 problem: Blue streaks in record mode

OK, here’s the thing. I have a PD150, and I just got back from a 3-day documentary shoot. On day 1, I turned the camera on and immediately, with the lens cap still on, the LCD display was showing intermittent blue horizontal streaking against the black. This is something that I have never seen before either on this camera or the PD150 that I had previously. But the streaking continued after I took the lens cap off it and continued, intermittently, thoughout the whole shoot, coming and going and sometimes there’d be no problem for 30, 40, 50 seconds, but it would always come back again. Turning the camera off and on, changing tapes, batteries, flicking switches made no difference. There was no obvious cause that precipitated starting or stopping of the blue streaks. And yes, they were recorded on to the tape, so it's not just an LCD problem. Fortunately I was only the second camera on this shoot, but even so, this is obviously a serious problem! The director now has the tapes and I still don’t know how much he’ll be able to salvage.

The problem continued over the next two days but grew steadily less frequent, and by the time I got back to Taipei and took it into the Sony authorized repair shop, the problem no longer appeared. Plus I didn’t have the tapes any more to show them. However, when I described the problem, they told me that yes, they’d seen this before, they recognized the symptoms, and it was caused by ‘flaky CCDs’ which would need to be replaced. They also told me that this issue affected EVERY PD150 made in 2003 and 2004.

Wow.

So far, I can’t find anything about this problem online, so I only have what the engineers told me. I can only assume it’s true. (Why would they make up something like that?) This is a camera that I generally use as a production machine, so I’d really like to know what’s going on here. Has anyone else had similar experiences? Does anyone have any info on this alleged ‘flaky CCD’ issue? If it’s a ‘known problem’ are Sony fixing it for free? (Yeah, right.)

The camera is about 18 months old and out of warranty. It’s an NTSC model, bought here in Taiwan (where I live) and made in Japan (I guess they all are?). Serial number 1037527.

PS. The blue streaking problem has since returned, though so far only briefly, and only immediately after switching to record. Ive since captured another sample of the problem on a scratch tape and I could post it here if that would be necessary/helpful.
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Old January 14th, 2005, 04:26 AM   #2
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OK, well, 40 views and nary a reply, so I guess Im on my own with this one. Or maybe this thing only affects 150's sold in Asia? Or maybe the engineers were exaggerating when they said it was a CCD problem that affected every PD150 manufactured in 2003 and 2004? If it turns out they were right though, don't say I didnt warn you!

Anyway, here's a link to a very short sample of the problem. This is with the lens cap on and this time the blue streaking spontaneously went away again immediately afterwards - never to return, so far...

http://www.abelard-and-heloise.com/clips/blustreak.wmv
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Old January 14th, 2005, 06:09 AM   #3
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Norman

just looked at your "blue streak" after reading your note. A flaky ccd seems weird to me. It would seem that if this did exist as a "common" problem it would have been addressed by Sony (even if a cost item) as this would be bad PR if nothing else. Did the repair shop say how much it would cost to replace? Had they replaced other ones and what were the results? It would also seem to me that a ccd element either works or does not. If that premise is correct then the problem would not be intermittent.
How many hours are on the PD150? Are you the original owner or more to the point are you familiar with the unit's history?
On the face of it it sounds like a dirty head with some material (tape emusion ?) getting stuck and then releasing. How about a miss-aligned head (slightly loose).

I wish I could give you some solid answers. These are just thoughts that cross my mind, I am not an electronics expert by any means.

I would suggest reviewing the units history (hours etc.), taking it to a different service shop (if possible) and having the unit cleaned. Maybe a different shop would look into sony's internal service memos they send out to service centres.

Good luck.

Martin
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Old January 17th, 2005, 03:49 AM   #4
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Hi Martin, and thanks for your reply.

I agree that a flaky CCD does sound a bit weird, but like I say, that's what these engineers told me and they also claimed to have had experience with the same problem before in other units. In any case, (although Im not an electronic expert either) I dont think it can be the heads, because if it was purely a recording problem then I dont think it would show up on the LCD while I was actually recording -- and it certainly shouldnt show up with the machine on standby! fwiw I tried cleaning the heads anyway, a couple of times, and it made no difference. Also fwiw, it 'feels' like a loose connection -- if this unit ran on valves Id try hitting the sucker! -- except that there was no perceptible correlation between the streaking and movement or any other physical stimuli (including sound).

As for this issue being addresed by Sony if it were a common problem, hmm, well, that's why Im posting here -- because I m afraid I dont share your confidence in the upfrontness and user friendliness of Sony Corp. After all, this is the company that tried very hard to pretend there was no audio hiss problem in the early editions of this same model! Call me cynical, but frankly, if there is a problem, I'd expect Sony to be the last people to acknowledge it. (although having said that, it's beginning to look like, whatever the cause, this is not in fact a common problem after all. Or at least, not a common problem in the western hemisphere...)

Speaking of denial, Id very much like to believe that this was a nothing more than a temporary glitch that has now cured itself (another 2-day b-roll shoot this last weekend, and no problems this time out -- so so far so good -- knock on wood!) In any case, I never asked them how much the fix would cost. If we're talking replacement CCDs though, Id guess it would be expensive!

As for taking it into another shop, well, as far as I can find out,
these guys are the only Sony-authorized service people on the whole island for 'professional/business' equipment (PD150's 170's, betacams...). They dont work directly for Sony; they're with Cinchy corp. (I think Sony corp themselves only handle servicing of consumer units??). In any case, I have no complaint whatever with these engineers: they were helpful, knowledgeable, informative (perhaps too informative!) and competent. They also spent an hour or so checking out the camera -- and failing to replicate the problem -- and they didnt charge me a dime. These guys are definitely the good guys in my book!

For the record, Ive had the machine since new, and me and the DP are the only people who ever use it. unit hours are as follows:

operation 14 x10h
drum run 10 x10h
tape run 6 x10h
threading 36x10
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Old January 17th, 2005, 04:37 AM   #5
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stumped..

hi Norman

wow... now what?
Your hours are definitely low and thus "nothing" should have worn out and of course the warrantee is over.
I was thinking a ribbon cable might be pinched or bent too much and malfunctioning. This had happened on my VX1000 and gave strange pixilations and missed fields. A simple change and voila fixed. Wish yours was as easy.
Sounds like you have some good techs looking at it. If it continues it looks like you might have to ask the question"How much is a new chip?" (Still cheaper than a new camera???)

Good luck and let us all know any progress.

Martin
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Old January 17th, 2005, 11:32 PM   #6
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<<<-- Originally posted by Norman Szabo : Hi Martin, and thanks for your reply.

As for taking it into another shop, well, as far as I can find out,
these guys are the only Sony-authorized service people on the whole island for 'professional/business' equipment (PD150's 170's, betacams...). They dont work directly for Sony; they're with Cinchy corp. (I think Sony corp themselves only handle servicing of consumer units??). -->>>

Not true. Sony has two repair sites, one in the East and one in the West for pro gear. Furthermore, you can call the pro 800 line and talk to someone that is fairly competent and is willing to play the role of ombudsman to get the camera repaired. I've had Sony give me a new camera when they felt like the problems were best addressed in that manner. Get out your warranty booklet and call the 800 number on it That help is one of the reasons you pay more for the pro cameras.
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Old January 18th, 2005, 03:24 AM   #7
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Hi Mike,

Thanks, but unless I'm missing something here, you're talking about the US whereas I live in Taiwan. It's a different game out here...
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Old January 18th, 2005, 12:32 PM   #8
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You'd think I'd learn to read addresses wouldn't you? Sony still should have pro support available.

Try emailing them in any case and see what happens.
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Old February 20th, 2005, 10:15 PM   #9
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OK I have an update on this situation. After not using the camera for a couple of weeks over the Chinese new year, I turned it on again, and bammo! the blue CCD chip had gone out. (This was my snap diagnosis when I first saw the bright, night-vision-green image on the LCD, and it's since been confirmed by the authorized repair agents.)

So the CCD block needs to be replaced, and the repair guys are currently waiting to hear back from Sony to see if Sony will provide the replacement part for free. It would be good if they did, because even though I'm a few months beyond the 1 year warranty, this exact same thing has happened to a lot of other cameras out here too. (ie, there's a batch of pd150's out here that were shipped with defective CCDs)

Bottom line: I'm in any case going to be paying for labor and Im looking at about a month of down time (estimated; a week so far and counting...) on a production camera, so the only remaining the question is are Sony gonna show utter contempt for their customers and stick me for the new CCDs too (at a cost of over 30,000 NT$, or about 900 USD) or will they at least replace the defective part for free? I'll keep you all posted.....
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Old March 7th, 2005, 10:56 PM   #10
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It's been over three weeks now and still no word from Sony one way or the other. I don't even have any idea how much longer this is going to take, but that '1 month of downtime' estimate is starting to seem pretty optimistic. Meanwhile I had to shoot my entire last project on a borrowed camera. Boy I tell ya, those DVX100A's are starting to look awfully attractive....
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Old March 8th, 2005, 09:58 PM   #11
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Well, a lot can happen in a day! Since my rather surly post yesterday, it seems that Sony came through with a free replacement part, and the repair guys have already installed it! I still have to pay for labor (about 200 USD) and I was without the camera for 3 1/2 weeks, but it could have been a lot worse. Under the circumstances, I'd have to say that's a pretty happy ending.

And Sony, if you're reading this, I want you to know that I appreciate the gesture.
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