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When products let themselves down

artsmith's picture
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: 03/02/2011 - 9:06pm

I followed the 'Videomaker' forum's advice and splurged on a new Panasonic HDC-SD900camcorder. Let me say at the outset, I am delighted by it; its performance, its ease of use, the grouping of 'features' and absence of most of the usual ridiculous non-essentials. Every time I go into the field, there are fresh revelations which add to my overall satisfaction with this as an outstanding product.

However, one aspect of this has turned to 'custard', since onFriday last, when I was directed to my retailer as a source of replacement 'Genuine Panasonic' batteries and found that a replacement VW-VBN260 'long-life' battery was going to cost me greatly in excess of NZ$300. I had looked into the possibility of eventually increasing my 'fire-power' by investigating my usualsource of high-quality 'generics', but found that the more-widely used existing battery (WV-VBG260)would not mount on my camcorder due to the mounting lugs having been modified in the new camcorder's design, so that was no longer possible.

I have struck this before, in fact, one major manufacturer is notorious for it, and I know it definitely backfires on sales. I had obtained an excellent 'semi-pro' deal on the camcorder, (it was offered, I didn't have to haggle), but as the salesman pointed out to me, they could only 'do-something' for me, battery-wise, by reducing their marginbelow '6.3pc' and I wouldn't realistically expect them to go-lower as it is not really fair to them either.

The 'New Zealand Listener' has just recently featured an article dealing with how the market operates for people who live in such world 'backwaters' as ours, (not that I see any need to apologise for living in NZ), and the extentto which the 'captivity' of our market in what is a low-wage economy (by World standards) is ruthlessly exploited by 'price-setters'. Once you have purchased the item, as with my camcorder, to put it bluntly, 'the bastards have you on a cleft-stick' and know it.

I would be gratefulif anyone could point me towards the source of high quality generics, or at least genuine 'Panasonic' cells at a price which won't bankrupt me.Failing that, I can design/build, (I have the qualifications), a regulated remote power-supply to work through the charging-socket, (yes, I'm aware that will not report-back 'state of charge' information and probably voids the warranty), but why on an otherwise exemplary product, must the power source be used as what is, beyond a shadow of doubt, a 'rip-off'?Maybe as a bonus, I can also set the remote pack to be charged up by an array of solar-cells, as I do for batteries used for other applications.


composite1's picture
Last seen: 8 months 1 day ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

Ian,

Yeah 'Z'-land is way off the 'grid' in a manner of speaking (Auckland was nice). My friends in Auz' often make similar complaints when trying to get good prices on gear so I'm sure your issues are compounded.

Long story short, it's all about profits my friend. For the same reason Apple made 'Mac Clones' illegal and so many other electronic companies have unique proprietary accessories is so you have to buy from them. Since you have to buy 'Genuine Blah-Blah-Blah Parts', they get all the cash and therefore they set the prices.

You can check B&H Photo/video's generic line 'Pearlstone' for a possible match for your battery replacements. I've picked up a number of their items in addition to batteries that saved me money and the accessories work pretty well too. On the other hand, there is some slight merit to arguments that proprietary gear is often superior quality-wise.

I've had other generic accessories particularly camcorder batteries croak on me, but to be fair they got higher than average usage. Sadly, one of the things you have to take into consideration when researching for a gear purchase is 'what's it going to cost to power this monkey?'

My most recent pro camera purchase uses Anton-Bauer Batteries. Those mofo's are expensive! But, they work great and they've held up under regular use (not too fond of the Trimpac though.) So yeah, you can get a great camera with all the wonderful glass and features but have to shoot off one of your legs at the knee to pay to power the thing. Not particularly fair, it's just part of the cost of doing business. Now, I won't plunk down a dollar for a rig unless I can find cheaper back-up batteries....

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


artsmith's picture
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: 03/02/2011 - 9:06pm

Thanks 'Composite' for the info. When you get down to it, the camcorder requires a given voltage witha sufficient reserve of current-delivery capacity to cater for its conditions of maximum battery-drain. To have feed-back as to battery-state is nice-to-have, but with a power supply of more than adequate capacity, hardly necessary, as long as the reservoir is kept topped-up. Very much like driving on the 'top-half-of-the-tank' in an automobile. For strictly 'studio' use, and when performing high-demand activities during downloading, I am certain the camcorder doesn't much care what its DC supply is, as long as it has sufficient 'regulation' for the job, and is not prone to 'voltage-sag' at times of high current-drain. The cells I have in mind, arevery high-spec. and fully capable of providing the necessary current under all circumstances. Low voltage warning could be incorporated into a simple power-supply which (perhaps) flashes a red LED when low voltage is imminent. That supply could be fed to the camcorder through the charging socket. The only downside, is the inconvenience and the extra weight when carrying my gear over my shoulder as I have to do occasionally, when carrying it over long distances to locations which are frequently reached by GPS, eg 'the New Zealand Bush'. New Zealand is a long way from our traditional supplier of spares, Britain, and for that reason, we have had to learn to improvise over the years.

By the way, running gear from an auxiliary supply, goes 'way back to my 'Super-8' and 16mm days, in the 1960's and 70's.Apart from the extra bulk, and the inevitability of 'cables' in some applications, it generally works well.

However 'Composite' my thanks for the input, and I will try and contact your sparesand accessories source as recommended.

IanSmith - Dunedin, New Zealand