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Sony Camcorders – Once the King, Now the Jester

In the early 2000's I worked at Best Buy and was impressed how much better Sony camcorders were than the competition. Faster focus, better zoom, better durability, Nightvision, and so on. They were the only brand I've ever bought: a few 8mm ones, a miniDV, and finally an HDR thingy in 2013. That's where the problems started.

First, I was pretty annoyed that nightshot was no longer a feature on the cameras. If you didn't already know, taking video in darkness tends to make videos of darkness and that's not very useful. Still, by now we have good cellphones with lights on them so it wasn't too much trouble to use them together I suppose. But the main issue wasn't a missing feature; it's durability.

Sony HDR #1 - Cause of death - tiny splash
(See online!)

A few years back, I went to a water park with my family. I'm not a moron – I know this camcorder isn't an underwater version, but it was a water park and I couldn't avoid every errant splash. Because I've never had to treat my Sony equipment daintily before, I didn't think much of it and wiped the water off, but was surprised to find the screen go dark after a few minutes.

I did a little testing and realized the screen still works, but the backlight burnt out. There's no way it would be cost effective to repair so I just bought a new one instead:

Sony HDR #2 - Cause of death - tiny splash
(See online!)

Granted, the camera lasted for many years (mostly because I barely use it since phone cams are so good now), but every now and then you want to make sure you're capturing in the best light and have a solid zoom. That was the case when I went to the beach this summer. Once again, an errant splash and, one again, the camera is dead. This time, it's telling me that the battery has to be the "right kind" which brings up two problems:

  1. The camcorder broke again with a tiny splash of water
  2. Sony is using some kind of "DRM" brand management to force you to buy only their brand of batteries

DRM is often useless, overbearing, and downright offensive. Coupled with the absurd fragility of modern Sony camcorders, I can see that times have changed and the faith that I once had is clearly misplaced. Assuming I don't just stick with my cellphone (which somehow seems to know how to make better video devices than a company who's made cameras and camcorders since the 1980's), maybe I'll try Canon. They were always #2, but it seems that Sony has voluntarily flushed themselves into that position.

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