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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
Sony PMW-300, PXW-X200, PXW-X180 (back to EX3 & EX1) recording to SxS flash memory.


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Old August 23rd, 2008, 06:56 AM   #1
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Sony Premiere Support say broken mic holder = no firmware upgrade!

I rang Sony Premiere Support today about getting my camera upgraded to the latest firmware so that I can use their new accessories.

They seemed to think the upgrade was only required for the hard disk recorder not the 32GB SxS cards, which is worrying if they're the experts!

I'd arranged pickup (or so I thought) and then asked if there was any chance of getting the microphone holder (which snaps off just by putting the camera in a bag) fixed for which of course I would pay.

I was then told that given that the camera was physically damaged they could NOT take the camera for a firmware upgrade. Apparently the broken external mic holder means the camera is "physically damaged" and therefore not covered!!!!

When I said I thought it was scandalous a company could charge me 4000 for a camera with a clear defect (after all, who hasn't had the stupid external mic holder snap off - the wafer-thin plastic support is a complete joke on a camera at this price point) and then use that to refuse to apply a firmware upgrade I was told "With respect that's not my problem".

I am spitting mad and absolutely incredulous!

Am obviously going to now go and shout at my dealer (would have preferred the camera to go direct to Sony as it's more convenient to get it picked up from my place of work at the day job), but thought others should be alerted as to this calamatous state of affairs.
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 08:20 AM   #2
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In Australia you have statutory warranty rights under law. Not sure about the UK, but I imagine you have similar laws? In effect they state that if you pay a reasonable amount of money for an item, you have the right to expect a reasonable amount of service from that item. If it fails in an unreasonable time, they have to fix it or replace it.
Perhaps you can force them to fix an obviously poor design flaw, then get your firmware done. Try looking up the laws, and see if you can't force the issue through that avenue? A bit of a roundabout way, and far from satisfactory though. I'd print a big placard and stand in front of their store till they fixed it :)
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 08:24 AM   #3
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Ian, although you have Sony's Silver support, it's the dealer who's responsible and he should be your first point of call. If you feel the broken part was not of 'mechanisable quality' - especially considering the price, then I'm sure you can gather enough evidence to get Sony to repair this as well.
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 09:05 AM   #4
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Ian, although you have Sony's Silver support, it's the dealer who's responsible and he should be your first point of call. If you feel the broken part was not of 'mechanisable quality' - especially considering the price, then I'm sure you can gather enough evidence to get Sony to repair this as well.
Yes I've contacted my dealer but my rep there is away until 1st September (and I have an all-day conference session filming gig on 18th September for which I decided I'd need more than the two 16GB and two 8GB cards I've got) and to be honest I naively thought it would be better to go direct to Sony. My bad!

I haven't been impressed with the dealer so far to be honest but this may just be my naivety about what the standard of support/knowledge is in the "industry". eg when placing my original order for a ton of stuff I had to go to another dealer for the ReflecMedia green screen stuff that my dealer sells but never got back to me on despite several requests (not his area of interest which is cameras so I just got the impression he couldn't be bothered). I am, to be honest, less than impressed with the gear they sold me as a rather naive newbie wanting full kit eg shoulder mount and tripod but no easy way to move camera between both until Phillip Bloom helped me out directing me to piggy-backing secondary Manfrotto plates but which aren't anywhere near as stable as I'd like, an external mic that was initially delivered without a suitable adapter for the mic holder and is not only too heavy for the flimsy mount (causing it to break when the bag rubbed against it) but is visible in the viewfinder at wider settings etc In a normal situation I'd kick up merry hell but it seems to me (when trying to buy the camera none of the dealers bothered returning my calls) that this is pretty much "the norm" when it comes to service in the "professional broadcast" arena.

My brother (who works in video at London's Goldsmiths College who bought a LOT of gear from them) had warned me to steer well clear of this dealer and was very angry about them (talk of not paying bills and going to court because of total unsuitability of equipment they'd supplied) but Mr Bloom's endorsement won me over when no other dealers were even interested in calling me back. Anyway, given my brother's experience and my dissatisfaction (maybe I'm being too picky - I'm just a hobbyist and for me this is a lot of money) with what had been supplied on dealer's recommendation I just thought I'd get better service by going direct to Sony, especially as there was no real sale in it for the dealer (other than possibly for the hard drive).

I'm now totally confused about the whole 32Gb SxS card/firmware issue though. I notice that my dealer's web site says firmware upgrade is required for the hard drive but no mention that it is needed for 32GB SxS card, which is what I'd read on the forums.
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 10:32 AM   #5
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All this + the high cost of the 32gb SxS ($1400) sure does make the Convergent Design stuff, Flash XDR and nanoFlash, look more appealing

AND you have 4:2:2 if that is important



*this is not an advertisement, even tho it reads like one
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 01:25 PM   #6
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Ian.
What is the name of your dealer ?
I think you should name them, or at least tell us what part of the country they are from.

Paul.
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 02:14 PM   #7
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BTW, my mic mount broke and I was able to rebuild it with epoxy and milled glass fibers.

The second camera's mount hadn't broken yet so I reinforced it the same way.

The EX1's mic mount, as everyone probably already knows, is poorly designed. There are thin strips of plastic linking the mounting screws with the body of the mic holder. The thin plastic strips aren't much bigger than a couple of toothpicks. It looks like it's meant to break.

To reinforce the holder I taped off the underside of the mount after using a tiny Dremel tool to roughen all the inside edges. Epoxy doesn't "weld" to anything and needs a rough surface to make a solid bond.

With the mic mount set up so that the whole thing is level, I then filled in the voids with the epoxy/glass mix. The result is a solid one-piece mount, rather than a couple screws suspended with thin strips of plastic.

I used a low-viscosity epoxy resin called West Systems epoxy. It's designed to do laminations on boats and other similar work. It sets slowly so allow a full day before pulling off the tape. And give it the better part of a week before it cures to maximum strength.
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 02:31 PM   #8
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Ian.
What is the name of your dealer ?
I think you should name them, or at least tell us what part of the country they are from.

Paul.
I think there are enough clues in what I already posted to make it clear. We don't have many dealers in the UK so choice is extremely limited. I live in central London. This one was just taken over by another one so that now there is even less choice than when I bought the camera back in January.

What annoys me is there are so few because they're supposed to offer "professional" service. Honestly I'd rather have bought the camera off one of the regular consumer dealers in Tottenham Court Road. At least I'd have someone I could go and complain to face-to-face without having to take a day off work.

When I was desperate to buy the PMW-EX1 back in January they were the ONLY dealer who expressed any interest in selling me a camera. I still don't know whether it's because the "professional" dealers are all hopeless at selling or whether they just decided I must be a time waster.

And if I named the dealer who I felt had given me bad gear/poor advice in the interest of fairness I'd also have to name the other dealers who just wouldn't return my calls (or in the case of the one that did expressed no interest whatsoever in taking an order).
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 02:52 PM   #9
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Your posts make such depressing reading Ian. If you or I ran our businesses in this way we'd deserve the crunch.

And talking of poor Sony design, the door hinges on my DSR-11 have been designed by some spotty teenager who's never heard of sectional changes inducing stress raisers. I bet I'm not the only person to have a door that's fallen off. And no amount of epoxy would ment that one.

tom.
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 03:21 PM   #10
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Question for Dean

Dean:

Did you re-use the original screws after filling in the mic mount base with epoxy? If so, how did you protect the holes while filling?

If not, what kind of new screws did you use?

Thanks...looking to reinforce mine as well.

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Old August 23rd, 2008, 03:27 PM   #11
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Dave...

I was careful to avoid filling in the recesses and used the original screws.

One option is to fill the screw's recesses and holes with modeling clay. It doesn't harden and it's what's often used to help prevent epoxy from getting where you don't want it.

Just have to be careful when applying the clay and not get it where you want the epoxy to stick. Modeling clay seems to be somewhat oily and can act as a release agent if it gets in the wrong places.

The tape I used to seal up the bottom was ordinary duct tape. The duct tape sticks nicely to the bottom of the mic mount and seals up the edges to prevent the epoxy from escaping. Yet the epoxy doesn't stick to either side of the duct tape.
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 03:41 PM   #12
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Take this a little further. The entire purpose of the extended warranty service Sony offer is to keep you going - so if they exclude accidental damage to flimsy parts, then it isn't really worth having. Everything you could use it for wouldn't count - if they cite wear and tear and small damage as reasons to duck out. Firmware upgrades are nothing whatsoever to do with your misuse of the equipment. The matter of the damaged bracket is irrelevant. Firmware and software upgrades are just one of the annoying things we have to face when carrying out unpaid research and developent as beta testers - which is what they do. Get the product out there, get it paid for, then collect the complaints and comments and 'fix' the bugs. So if this upgrade is needed - they cannot morally (and probably legally) refuse to do it - especially when you even pay for the extended warranty.

My Landrover Discovery got a recall for an upgrade to the computer - The scratches and dents and broken wing mirror didn't effect the upgrade - AND they fixed the mirror free of charge, when it wasn't their fault. Sony want their equipment to be considered professional, not consumer - as a result wear and tear is an expected by-product of normal use - and NOT a reason to refuse service.

The dealer in this circumstance is an intermediary inconvenience, as the warranty is for Sony to be directly involved, bypassing the dealer. You have the special waranty with Sony, and your rights under the sale of goods act with the dealer. However, these rights are limited as they exist to protect consumers. Business to business still receives protection, but has some of the useful protection granted to consumers missing.
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 11:35 PM   #13
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We should be reticent in extrapolating one person's experience to the rest of the world. Here I've always had good experiences with Sony services and it is surprising to find Sony UK (which is a bigger broadcast market) doing less well. It might be useful, since something seems to be wrong, to talk to one of your local official Sony Tech Service firms, or chat to the support people in a local production house to learn who they deal with. Retail houses vary enormously in the quality of their service and depth of knowledge, and those renting gear to professionals are usually worth your time.

On the mic holder: which would you prefer to break when you give the mic an unintended nasty blow? The mic or the camera casing? I'd prefer the cheap and easily replaceable mic mount. Perhaps the mount is flimsier than necessary, but I take the mic off before putting the camera away. I know that Phil Bloom broke his, and several others have found it too fragile, but it is weak for a reason.
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 11:56 PM   #14
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For what it's worth, the mic clamp on the Canon XH series is just as prone to break. Serena is right, though; it's better to have a replaceable part break than some other intrinsic part of the camera body.

Currently there's only one UK dealer that gets the DV Info Net endorsement; you'll see their banner ad circulating here. For Ian, if they're the one in question, please contact me privately by email.
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Old August 24th, 2008, 02:44 AM   #15
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My mic mount clamps onto a Lightwave shock mount.

Lightwave | MM-XL1 Mini Mount | MM-XL | B&H Photo Video

I used to own an XL1s and this just happened to be a perfect fit!

If anything is going to go first, it's the very flexible rubber blocks of the Lightwave mount. The mic will flex several degrees without placing undue strain on the EX1's mic holder.

Also, the mic is more likely to slip out from under the "finger" hold-down on the Lightwave mic holder before anything on the Lightwave shock mount would break, so I'm not worried about the Sony mic holder at all.

As for what should give first, designing a piece to break isn't a good idea. Instead, make use of exisitng technology to allow a reusable break-away mount. There is an industrial Velcro that looks like a pad with hundreds of plastic pegs. These hold solidly until they're subjected to a certain amount of load. Then they'll break away. To re-fasten just push them together until they interlock with a "click".

A feature like this would take all of five seconds to put back in place. It would provide the desired strain relief without having to sacrifice a part that can't be readily replaced.
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