Warning to all Sony PD 170 Owners

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      I bought my PD 170 several years ago, and have loved using it, but the accessory shoe on top of the camera seems to have a very serious design flaw, and as a result I just paid $180 to repair a hard drive recorder that had slipped out of the accessory shoe during a shoot. The shoe on top of the 170 has three edges that are supposed to come in contact with whatever accessory that is mounted in it, but the back edge (the one that the arrow inside the accessory shoe is pointing to. It’s also the edge that’s furthest from the camera lens) is raised slightly higher (by a couple of millimeters or so) than the other 2 edges, so if I slide in an accessory all the way and tighten it, it’s really only being secured by one edge (the highest one) of the shoe.

      As a result, any accessory will slip out very easily when the camera is tilted down, so it’s a disaster waiting to happen. The way I’ve avoided this so far is by sliding the accessory (whether it be a hard drive recorder, microphone, or a wireless receiver) slightly forward so that it completely avoids contact with this higher edge in the back, and then tightening the accessory down to secure it to the 2 parallel edges only (but unfortunately, you’ve also now lost more contact with even these edges because the accessory has been moved forward). This is what I thought I had already done on the day my accident occurred but unfortunately the light in the room where I was shooting up was very dim so I must have slid the hard drive recorder in too far.

      When I got home, I tested 5 accessories (a Firestore, a Citidisk, a wireless receiver, an on camera light, and an NRG shoe tree that adds 3 more shoe mounts) with my PD 170 shoe mount and without exception, every one of them only came in contact with this higher edge when slid in all the way, and were thus not adequately secured.

      I heard back from Sony on this and their engineers have concluded that the design of the accessory shoe on the PD 170 is NOT defective, even though one of the edges is indeed higher as I described. They didn’t give any evidence to support their claim other than to say that their testing didn’t reveal any problem. They could not explain why one edge was designed higher than the others–that’s just the way it is. So to all PD 170 owners, despite what Sony “concluded,” I would strongly recommend filing down this higher edge of the accessory shoe so you don’t risk having something slip out and cause serious damage and/or injury. I also think Sony is leaving itself vulnerable to a future personal injury/property lawsuit should such an event occur (and this camera is still being manufactured so the likelihood of this happening is not going away). I hope such an event never happens, but if it does, at least Sony won’t be able to deny that they weren’t warned about this problem.

      Update: I just finished filing down the higher edge on my PD 170 accessory shoe. It took me about 20 minutes. All 3 surfaces of the shoe are flush now (as they should have been when the camera shipped from Sony) and all of my accessories tighten securely without risk of slipping out. Before I began filing, I thoroughly covered any sensitive areas with tape (like the record and zoom controls on the handle) to prevent metal filings from getting inside the camera. I then used a dab of flat black touch up paint to cover the shoe area that had been filed down.

      I hope all PD 170 owners who use their accessory shoe (especially if it’s being used to hold a heavier object like a light or a hard drive recorder) will modify their cameras in a similar fashion to prevent serious damage and/or injury.

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