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What kind of camcorder should I buy?
What Is HD, SD & HDMI?
What is Firewire?
What's the diff between USB & Firewire?
I have heard the term 'bad caps', can you explain?
How do I know if my camcorder is worth fixing?


What kind of camcorder should I buy?

As time marches on, the availability of consumer camcorders will be non existant, as everyone and their brother uses their phones to record everything.

Gone are the tape based and disc based camcorders - these are only available as used. What's available now is flash memory based cameras, and these generally have built in memory, and most allow you to increase the memory by using memory sticks - micro, mini, SD Cards, mostly - but there are others.. The Sony memory stick of long ago has all but come to it's end..

What Is HD, SD & HDMI?

is High Definition and SD stands for Standard Definition

HDV stands for High Definition Video

HDMI is a standard that carries both audio and video signals in one nifty cable. Gone are the tangle of wires that use to be behind the TV.

What is Firewire?  ^ Top

Firewire, also known as iLINK, allows sharing and communication of digital information between older taped based camcorders. Most new computers don't come with firewire any longer, but have USB 3.0.. If you've a computer that doesn't have firewire it may be possible to install an expansion card that will allow your computer to communicate directly with a device that supports firewire.

What's the difference between USB & Firewire?

USB - Universal Serial Bus. This transmission standard goes back to the mid 90's, where Windows 95 (with USB support) was first introduced. Back then, about the only thing you could find with USB were joysticks. Soon though, the speed and efficiency was realized and just about everything became USB connected.

USB 2.0 was faster yet.

USB 3.0 is now the standard and screams.

Firewire (Firewire 400, as it's called) was the standard for tape based camcorders to communicate with each other, or to a computer or hard drive to store the data. It's faster than regular USB. The 6 pin connector on the computer side is notorious for destroying many a camcorder. If the cable is inserted at an angle (or even backwards - yes, it does go in backwards with just a little help) then the 12V DC that is supplied at the computer side travels down the wrong pair and instantaneously fries the firewire IC and associated components. There is no smell, no smoke, no sound. Just stops working. Makes for expensive repairs!

Many times we'll repair the camcorder and send it back to the customer, only to have them do the exact same thing again! This has happened countless times, and the manufacturers are very well aware of this. Once a cable is inserted backwards, it's easier to do it again. The best thing to do is to actually look at the back of computer and while watching, plug in the 6 pin end of the firewire cable. Leave it plugged in, and just connect and disconnect the camera side whenever you want.

There is no need to power off the camcorder or the PC to connect the firewire cable, despite what you've been told. I've been at this a long time - I should know!

Firewire 800 - A newer and faster version of firewire that uses a square connector, versus the problematic D connector of old.

Firewire 1600 - Faster version still and competes with USB 3.0. Backwards compatible with Firewire 800. Mac uses this version

Firewire 3200 - While this version does exist, it really didn't get into any production. It's also suppose to be backwards compatible with Firewire 800 and 1600.

HDMI is now used for HD camcorders, HDTV's and BluRay DVD players so that they all play nice together. It's simple really. One cable that carries both audio and video - including Dolby stereo. Now what does make a difference is the cables. Almost all are made in China, but there are the dollar store varieties and gold plated, diamond encrusted versions. No need to buy the later - but spending more than dirt on a cable is a good idea. If you're watching a movie and the sound keeps cutting out, or there's intermittent problems with the video - try a higher quality cable!

I have heard the term 'bad caps', can you explain?  ^ Top


'Bad caps' refers to leaking electrolytic capacitors. Capacitors come in many shapes and sizes, but when one refers to 'bad caps', they are speaking of either electrolytic's, or surface mounted electrolytic's.

Electrolytic capacitors and their SMD counterparts (Surface Mounted Device) are heat sensitive and will break down and leak over time. Add to this the unscrupulous companies that made cheap capacitors, and the manufacturing companies that used them to save a buck, and nearly all electronics across the board are or were suffering from bad caps - including automotive electronics and computer motherboards, and game consoles. This is but one of the 'dirty little secret' that the manufacturers don't talk about. Imagine if the car industry was held to account for the bad caps in the 'electronic brains' or electronic dashboards, etc. Or if the camcorder manufacturers were held to account for the products they made that went bad shortly after the warranty was up - all because of a fairly inexpensive part - the electrolytic capacitor. Many companies chose to not even use them any longer in their designs. Smart move.

When a capacitor begins to physically leak, a caustic substance (electrolyte) slowly oozes out, and begins to eat away at the circuit board, and anything else it touches in the surrounding area. If the circuit board has multiple layers, this problem is exacerbated and can destroy the circuit board very quickly. If (and this is a big IF) we are able to get to to the unit in time and IF the circuit board isn't irreparably damaged, we can remove the old capacitors and replace them with new, high quality, longer life capacitors. We only use long life, high quality, high temperature capacitors that are currently available. Depending on the year, the make and the model of the audio/ video equipment, this will determine how many capacitors are inside that need to be replaced. Some models have hundreds of bad caps, others have less.


Camcorders recommended for repair:  ^ Top

Most models from the year 1998 and newer, but there are many exceptions to this rule. Simply
Contact us with your make and model and we'll let you know if we can help you.



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