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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
Topics also include Sony's TRV950, VX2000, PD150 & DSR250 family.


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Old March 5th, 2006, 02:22 PM   #1
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tips on buying a used 2100/200

Hi all,

I just wanted to ask is there anything in particular to check out on a used Sony 2100/200 before buying it, in your own experience what would show signs of going on its way out?

Many thanks
Paul
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Old March 9th, 2006, 03:08 AM   #2
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As you realise, there's no hours meter on the VX, so that makes buying a PD somewhat more enticing. However, to get back to the point.

What to look and listen for.

The first and most obvious statement to make is does the seller offer any sort of guarantee? If you buy second hand from Jessup’s for instance, you’d get a 30-day “no quibble” exchange that will allow you plenty of time for a variety of checks, and a 12 month warranty that will make you feel a lot happier. But this peace of mind costs real money, so let’s look at the cheaper alternative.

Used cameras are a difficult purchase because of the electronic and mechanical complexity of the beast. It helps in your search if you are familiar with camcorders in general, so you can try out some of the controls. You wouldn't buy a used car if you didn't know how to drive, would you? You’d take along a buddy who knows a thing or two about cars. Right, so too with camcorders. Meanwhile, here are a few things to look for.

First of all, ask the owner or dealer if there is anything at all that is not working properly. Look the seller in the eye. Is he being honest do you think? When buying try and see as many examples of the model you’re interested in. Don’t be in a rush. Don’t be afraid to take your powerful reading glasses with you, a microphone, headphones, a powerful torch, a recorded tape with a good SP and LP recording on it and a bag full of questions. I mean it – take a checklist so you can literally tick off the items as you go through them. Any genuine seller will be more than happy for you to do this, and if he’s not then let this flag warnings in your brain. A camcorder is a diminutive bundle of delicate parts, and you’re going to be looking for clues as to its past life.

Take a good look.

Look at the physical appearance of the camera. Does it look like it has been handled with care? A few small blemishes in the finish are not a problem, but it could mean someone is careless with their gear. Have a careful look at all the fixing screws. Hopefully they will look as if they’ve never been touched. Now take a careful look at that front element. Has it been protected by a UV filter? It should look as close to perfect as the Angel Gabrielle. Check to see if the filter thread is OK. Some people carelessly cross thread filters and/or wide angle converters and ruin the threads. Look at the tripod screw hole at the bottom. Does it show any sign of abuse? If you insert a screw that is too long, you can damage the inside of the camera. See that the viewfinder moves up and down without feeling loose. Make certain the lcd screen moves properly on its hinge, and snaps closed.

Open the tape transport door. Does it work properly? The outer door should pop open and the transport mechanism should follow more slowly. Have a good close-up look inside, and this is where the torch and the glasses come in. It should look shiny bright in there. Insert a tape, close the door and the tape should then load properly. Listen out for strange noises. I say this with a bit of a smile as my Panasonic makes strange noises as it loads and unloads, and this is where taking a knowledgeable friend is a very good idea.

Look in the viewfinder. You may have to adjust it to your eyes. Don’t worry about dust in there as few people realise how easy it is to clean out the little screen. It is possible to destroy a viewfinder by allowing sunlight to fall on the little screen, but this is unusual.

Check the picture on the lcd screen. Remember that everything tends to look good on this small picture, and it is not an accurate representation of what your actual picture looks like. The best situation is if the owner can show you the picture with the camera connected to a monitor or a very good television. This is the time to check for the dead pixel, which will show up as a small dot in the picture area. The lcd could also have a dead pixel, but this is not a big problem. If you see one, you will have to look at the picture on a monitor to be certain it is only in the lcd. Remember, it will be a very small black dot.

Reduce your variables

To reduce the variables as much as possible, I find it’s best to mount the camera on a tripod. Try out that zoom rocker – does it operate the zoom smoothly, silently and at varying speeds? Now put the camera in full auto mode. You can easily check to see if the auto focus and exposure are working properly. Hold your hand in front of the camera at arms’ length and check to see that the camera focuses on your hand. When you lower your hand, the camera should smoothly change focus to the background. Pan the camera from light to dark and see if the exposure changes smoothly with your pan.

There are other items to check, but it is difficult if you do not have experience with the camera. These would include the auto shutter and the steadishot function. If you bring a headset, you can check the audio by monitoring the sound, but remember the headphone amplifier may give you more hiss than is actually recorded to tape.

If the camera works properly in the full auto mode, you can be reasonably certain it will work in manual mode. While you are running these tests, you can also be recording. Then you can rewind (the rewind sounds smooth?) and play back the tape to check for record problems. Look for dropouts, or break-up on the playback. If you see anything suspicious, pass on the camera.

The accessories

You should get a battery, the AC adapter/charger, the remote and the lens cap. A firewire cable comes with new cameras as does RCA 3-way cables. Don't forget to ask for the operating manual. Be sure to ask if he has any accessories he wants to sell with the camera. A wide-angle converter, extra batteries and a camera bag and tripod could well be on offer.

As a final word, ask the age of the camera and ask to see the original receipt. I would be somewhat reluctant to buy a camera that is much older than about three. I would insist on a return if you discover a problem that is not apparent, and that the owner has not admitted to as it will be difficult to check the firewire socket and the A/D conversion. If at all possible protect yourself with a credit card purchase.

Haggle

Now to the price you pay. Remember that it’s a buyer’s market (whether you feel that it is or not) and that you have the money and are therefore in control. Go with a good understanding of what the street price for the camera was when new, and what it sold for at the end of its life. Understand that a repair – even a simple repair – could set you back serious money, and budget for this in the price you offer. There is a break point though where the risk is worth the savings. Remember that a lot of camcorders get used very infrequently, yet depreciate rapidly.

Ebay is a place to purchase either new or used from private parties or retail stores. Check the sellers’ reputation, if there are no negative feedbacks (or less than 1% of total) then that makes a reputable (good) seller. Don't ever purchase anything from someone on Ebay with very few feedbacks (less than 10) or more than a very few negative feedbacks.

Frankly speaking if you do not consider yourself 'streetwise', or if you do not feel comfortable defending yourself by asking questions and judging the responses, or you doubt your ability to read and understand a sellers description you should avoid Ebay. An open market like Ebay takes advantage of foolish buyers and sellers, and rewards smart buyers and sellers, like any other market setting.

So good luck Paul. Best thing is you're after a VX2k, and of all the second hand cameras around this has got to be one of the toughest, best, most reliable beasts out there.

tom.
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Old March 9th, 2006, 12:10 PM   #3
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What more can you add to that Tom,
Your a saint and a highly valuable asset to this brilliant forum, wish me luck and thak you so much for your help to date.
Paul
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Old March 9th, 2006, 12:35 PM   #4
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Turn power on, by selecting camera or VCR mode. Then jiggle switch, or depress red record button. I am having trouble with mine shutting down, because switch does not seem to be making positive contacts.
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Old March 9th, 2006, 04:29 PM   #5
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Thanks for that Chris, my fathers did this about 3 months ago and it cost £180 to put right....a replacement swich.
Paul
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Old March 12th, 2006, 04:25 PM   #6
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check when it was made

If you want to find out when the vx2000 was made, just open the tape door and it should be stamped on the inside of the door. For instance, mine says 2003 with 2 dots, so Feb 2003. Considering it was first released in 2000 that could make a big difference.
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Old March 14th, 2006, 11:33 AM   #7
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Tony I can't see the date on mine anywhere, were exactly is it stamped as this would be a great way to find out its age.
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Old March 14th, 2006, 11:39 AM   #8
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It actually tells you when the door was injection mouldeded, though this is probably within a month of final build.
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Old March 15th, 2006, 08:15 PM   #9
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It's on actual tape eject door. When you open the door to eject your tape look down on the inside of the door. The numbers will be molded into the plastic.
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Old March 16th, 2006, 02:15 AM   #10
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There is numbers near the top and I think they are the part number but at the very bottom of the door is 02, is this the year?
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Old March 16th, 2006, 02:20 AM   #11
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Yes, that's 2002
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