Sony Camera Repair - Reputable/Reasonable Place?

plasmavideo wrote on 2/11/2013, 8:41 AM
I'm looking for a reasonable and reliable repair center for a Sony HC7. I've decided it's good enough for keeping as a spare, and I have a compliment of lenses and filters for it.

Sony's repair estmate is half the cost of the camera new, regardless of the problem!

I've received one very reasonable repair quote for this particular repair problem, doing an online search, from a place called the "Camcorder Repair Center" in Glendale, California.

Has anyone had dealings with them, and are there any other suggestions of a place I can check, including here on the east coast?




wwaag wrote on 2/11/2013, 11:15 AM
I just had my Sony HC1 repaired by the firm you mention--same reasons for repair as you. My complaints were the LCD touchscreen not working (bad cable) and occasional moisture condensation errors--both pretty common with the HC1. Their email estimate was $159. Once they received it, I was told the tape deck mechanism assembly needed replacing, New estimate-$269. Being clueless about what was "truly" needed, I agreed. I just received the camcorder on Sat. and it seems to be OK. I plan to do test recordings this week. There is a 90 day warranty on the repair only. I've seen others that warrant the entire camcorder for 6 months. In any case, good luck.


AKA the HappyOtter at System 1: Intel i7-8700k with HD 630 graphics plus an Nvidia RTX4070 graphics card. System 2: Intel i7-3770k with HD 4000 graphics plus an AMD RX550 graphics card. System 3: Laptop. Dell Inspiron Plus 16. Intel i7-11800H, Intel Graphics. Current cameras include Panasonic FZ2500, GoPro Hero11 and Hero8 Black plus a myriad of smartPhone, pocket cameras, video cameras and film cameras going back to the original Nikon S.

teaktart wrote on 2/11/2013, 11:21 AM
Yes, I've used that repair center and their quotes are ridiculous !

I needed repairs on a Sony A1U that was intermittantly giving me a 'moisture' problem code and wouldn't always work. Sent it in and got a quote for $800 without them even looking at the camera. I could buy a newer camera with almost the same bells and whistles today for that price so I said return it.
Next I get a call offering $600 -again without even opening it up - again, too expensive send it back to me.
Another call and we bargained for $150/hr to diagnose and then make a decision. I put a ceiling at about $200 before proceeding with any repairs. It turned out I had a bad sensor and some other small part, total parts cost less than $100. At the same time the earthquake hit Japan and parts got stalled and it took weeks to get the parts and do the repairs. My final cost was close to $500 with shipping.

SO, I would suggest you try some bargaining before they take all your money and don't even have to open the camera up to see what it really needs. I would like to avoid this racket again if there were another option for professional repairs that is based on what you need repaired rather than a standard price quote that is truly outrageous!


I just remembered having a small Canon HV10 repaired (quit playing back) and repairs were under $200 including shipping. Not even the same ballpark pricewise with Sony~
Woodenmike wrote on 2/11/2013, 11:56 AM
I've used these guys in Chicago with good success. They are IMHO reasonable and honest.
plasmavideo wrote on 2/11/2013, 12:39 PM
Looks like the hunt will take a while. I'm going to email around and make some phone calls. Thanks for the replies. Hopefully we will get some more responses as well. Woodenmike, thank you for the other suggestion.

Sony's flat rate response was over $500. I only paid less than $1000 for the thing on closeout. All it needs is a simple gear/sensor - I've figured that part out myself, but I don't think I can buy it outright anywhere. If my eyes were a bunch younger, I'd attempt the repair myself, as I used to be a pretty good bench technician, but it would be nice just to have somebody do it and check it out thoroughly.
riredale wrote on 2/11/2013, 12:45 PM
I have an HC3 that developed an intermittent LCD. Using Google I concluded that the cable passing through the LCD hinge was the likely culprit. eBay had 'em for just a few dollars. Being a tinkerer, I downloaded the service manual and did the repair myself. The "cable" isn't a cable at all, just a cleverly-designed flexible printed circuit that one carefully folds up origami-style and then attaches to the metal spine in a brilliant way that allows the LCD to pivot and twist. Trouble is the circuit seems to flex in one spot and eventually one of the traces breaks.

Anyway, the point I'm going to make here is that you might consider going on eBay and buying another camera. After my repair I purchased a second HC3 for next to nothing on eBay to use as parts, then decided to fix up that one, too, and use it as a spare. There are lots of camcorders for sale, and many of them are perfectly serviceable.

By the way another weakness of the HC3 camcorder is the rocker zoom, which gradually wears out and produces erratic zooms. You can fix that, too, but I think I bought the last two HC3 zoom rocker assemblies in the USA. Maybe I'll put them back on eBay for an outrageous price and make a bundle.
plasmavideo wrote on 2/11/2013, 1:12 PM
I bet I could also find the entire transport or cassette loading mechanism as well, and replace it wholesale. I took a good look at that gear location, and it would be quite a disassembly to replace just that little piece.I bet the repair places just replace the whole assembly. There may also have to be some proper tensioning adjustments made after replacement though, and I don't have the equipmnt to properly do that.

Wish my detail vision were a lot better than it is these days. a few years ago I would have tackled this in a heartbeat. I used to repair all manner of problems in Beta, DVCPro and 1 inch machines here at work, but we had all of the proper tension and mounting adjustment tools to do it properly. Besides, the darn things were man sized . . . . . .
TheHappyFriar wrote on 2/11/2013, 1:35 PM
Sony should sell replacement parts. When I worked at the local TV station we could buy parts from sony. They would rather we send the part in but we had an engineer at another station take a look at the symptoms, told us what was wrong and me, the video guy, replaced the bad circuit board.

But like you said, BetaSP decks were bigger then a video camera too. :)
plasmavideo wrote on 2/11/2013, 2:05 PM
You know, that's a thought. If I could get hold of a service manual for that camera, I bet they have a transport assembly replacement part number. I'm not sure if I could get it through Sony Professional Parts where we have an account, though. They probably have a consumer parts depot instead I can locate.

From the blurbs I just read about this gear/sensor problem, the part itself is not available anymore. Perhaps the assembly is.

It may come down to sending it to a repair facility that has parts, after all, or buying a used cam on ebay. The problem with that is that this whole series of Sony cams from that period had this gear problem, so a used camera might end up having the same issue in time.

Time to go all tapeless!
johnmeyer wrote on 2/11/2013, 4:52 PM
I'll give you a recommendation that sounds flaky, but it turned out to be great (and, it's on the East Coast).

I wanted to continue to use my ancient (late 1990s) Sony TRV-11 for capturing old DV tapes, video pass-through, and archiving, but the 1394 (Firewire) connector got broken by a defective Firewire cable.

At first, I decided to fix it myself (as some here know, I have an EE degree). I found the repair manual online, and was able to find several sources for the exact part. I opened up the camera and got about 80% of the way towards the board on which the part was mounted (circuit boards all over the bench), but it turns out it is the last board in the disassembly sequence, and it is a PIA to get to. So, I put everything back together (and it still worked!) and thought about it for awhile ...

I decided to get it repaired professionally and searched around. I got the same high-priced quotes from Sony repair as reported in this thread.

So ...

... (and this is where it gets flaky) ...

I went to eBay and found an "auction" for a repair service advertised as "Dr. Sony." I did some research and found out that "they" (I think it is a guy in his garage) were actually pretty reputable. So, I sent him an email, and got this reply (December 5, 2011):

"We can take care of it for you. We work on all Sony 8mm/Hi8/D8/MiniDV only and are finest at what we do. Diagnostic Examination Procedure (DEP) is $20.00 to identify the root of the problem and cost to fix. Most repair falls around $65.00 - $145.00 .Auction is specific to a model therefore if you bid on a model and send a different model - it will not apply. Please follow this link for our service procedure.

So, I paid the diagnostic fee and sent the camera (December 10, 2011) to his Pennsylvania office.

Ten days later, I got an email saying that he had diagnosed the problem and that the 1394 connector need to be replaced for $19.95 (the same price I saw at my two suppliers for the same part). However, he also recommended replacing the Control Switch Block assembly. I knew that the zoom control had been malfunctioning for years, but I could always "fix" it by banging the camera against my hand a few times. However, I figured, why not have this repaired at the same time as the 1394 connector, because the additional labor was not much, and the shipping was the same no matter what? So I gave my OK for the two parts, plus $80 in labor. Total bill (including shipping back to me): $162.50.

Two days later (December 22, 2011) I got a notice that the unit had shipped. I don't have an exact record of when I received the camera, but I sent a thank-you email to him on December 30, stating that everything was working perfectly. The camera continues to function perfectly to this day, although it only sees occasional service.

So, if you don't mind dealing with a "mom & pop" operation, I give this guy my highest praise and definitely recommend his work, based on this one experience a little over a year ago. I realize that his email makes it sound like he only deals with older SD cameras, but if you are interested, I'd definitely send an inquiry to see if he handles the newer Sony models.

teaktart wrote on 2/11/2013, 5:26 PM
What a wonderful story to hear John!
I tried to Google 'Dr.Sony' but nothing applicable came up for camera repairs. Any chance you might have a website or other address/means to contact this business?
I'd love a smart cheaper alternative....for repairs. Like you, I'm coveting my HDV & SD cameras so I can still play my archived tapes if necessary.


johnmeyer wrote on 2/11/2013, 6:37 PM
Hi Eileen!

Sorry, I meant to include a link to his web site in my post:

A-Tech Systems

riredale wrote on 2/11/2013, 7:28 PM
If you should want to dive in and work on the issue yourself, the Sony service manuals are free online (Google is your friend). Parts are available from Sony and a couple of third-party sources.

I would doubt that a repair gets down to replacing individual gears. You probably buy an assembly. For example, the zoom rocker that I mentioned earlier is all part of a board assembly that includes lots of other stuff, such as the power selector, record button, and status lights.

If you need links, let me know. I can probably dig them up. The Sony manuals are brilliant. Just spend some time on the exploded diagrams, and they show you where the relevant screws are as you dig step-by-step into the guts. It's amazing to me that these cameras last as long as they do, given their complexity.
teaktart wrote on 2/11/2013, 9:38 PM
Hi John!

Thanks so much for the link!
You may have just saved us collectively thousands of dollars for all the cameras we need repaired from members on our forum here.
Would love to steer business their way if quality and service are the same if not vastly better than the 'official' repair centers.
Also, very encouraging to see they are not just working on Sony's but all the other major camera brands.

Thanks much!

johnmeyer wrote on 2/11/2013, 10:52 PM
I'm not backing off my recommendation in any way, but I do want to emphasize that I only used him once.
bsuratt wrote on 2/12/2013, 12:13 AM
Check on EBAy for the mechanism. I bought an entire tape mechanism from (I believe it was the people listed above) for about $100. That is without the head which just is attached to it with screws. A new head from them was also about $125.
(This was for a FX-7) If you are very careful about the flat cable attachments you can successfully replace the mechanism.
plasmavideo wrote on 2/12/2013, 6:42 AM
John, thanks for that suggestion. I will check them out today. I actually prefer dealing with small businesses and mom and pop operations.

In the meantime, I got a recommendation to check out this place (also small business) and have been in contact with them:

John, the owner, actually has a video up on Youtube, several in fact, that deal with this exact problem. One of the videos shows him replacing the defective gear.

The gear itself is no longer available, so he disassembles everything, cleans off the dried up grease, the cause of the issue, relubes and cleans the parts and gets everything back in order. Optionally, he can replace the entire transport at a reasonable price.

With my eyes these days, I don't tackle things this small anymore. I used to love working on things like this myself. Fortunately, we have a tech in our shop who still has young eyes, but I've bothered him with personal stuff too often to ask again on this one. He's great on the pro cameras and tape machines we have manuals and parts for.

I've googled for the service manual and come up blank. Lots of links to the operations manual, though.

Doc Sony is my mission today.

Thanks all.
riredale wrote on 2/12/2013, 9:52 AM
HC-5/HC-7 service manual. In the search window type in HDR-HC7. Haven't tried downloading it, though, but this is where I got the HC3 manual.
johnmeyer wrote on 2/12/2013, 10:58 AM
With my eyes these days, I don't tackle things this small anymore.Me neither, but one thing that has let me continue to fix most things -- even pretty small stuff -- is something similar to this which I bought at Costco about a decade ago when my eyesight first started to seriously decline:

Magnifier Workbench Lamp with Bench Clamp

It's a pain to constantly have to re-position the magnifier when dealing with the sides of objects, but for soldering on circuit boards and other similar chores, it is fantastic.

plasmavideo wrote on 2/12/2013, 12:17 PM
Thanks John. We have several very similar mag lamps in the tech shop at work.

Unfortunately, magnification alone is not an answer for me yet. Without boring everyone with details, there are some retinal problems that create distortion, don't let the eyes play nice together (double and offset vision), and really screw with my depth perception (gross vision depth perception is fine). Fine detail is lost as well. I'm still healing from major retinal surgery in the fall, so hopefully some of this will continue to get better and I can eventually get back to useful bench work.

One really hard adjustment I had to make followed my cataract surgery. I used to be able to take off my glasses, get really close, and see incredibly small detail and easily work on circuit boards and connectors, as I was so nearsighted. Now, I see much better long distance, but require strong magnification for close work - exactly the opposite. One thing you lose with mono-focal IOL implants is any focus of accommodation. I always thought you would have at least a small variable focus, but the lens position is fixed, and the small eye muscles don't move it at all. There are accommodating and multi-focal IOLs on the market, but they were not appropriate for my eyes. Not having to wear glasses at the pool has some nice side benefits, however.

I had to laugh at myself. A couple of weekends ago at a ham radio/computer show, all I ended up buying were some strong LED lights and some magnification gadgets. Used to be I'd come home with piles of parts and junk. Guess it's good for the wallet, though!.

Fortunately, with good monitors, I'm back to editing video and audio and working on computer based systems again, and driving is much safer.

Now if I could just see that tiny little gear better. . . . . .

Wow, how did I get so far off topic! Sorry folks.
Marc S wrote on 2/12/2013, 12:33 PM
I've had great experiences with this company:

You can even send them your camera and get a free estimate, decide not to do it and they will send your camera back for free. All repairs carry a transferable 6 month warranty and they have quick turnaround.
plasmavideo wrote on 2/12/2013, 1:46 PM
We've come full circle, Marc (LOL). This is the company I asked about at the beginning of this thread!