How to Troubleshoot a Sony Camcorder
By Darrin Meyer
Troubleshooting your camcorder is a process of checking the little things you might have overlooked, and can entail simple solutions of whatever problem is keeping your camcorder from operating as it should. These solutions can vary based on the equipment your camcorder uses for recording--like a hard-disk drive, DVD, Mini DV cassettes or flash memory stick--but the basics will remain the same.
If your camcorder will not turn on, first check to see if the battery is fully charged. Put it on the charger and plug it in; there should be an indicator on the charger to show if the battery is charged or needs charging. If it needs charging, leave it on the charger until it's done. Reinstall the battery, turn on the camcorder and see if it powers up.
Alternately, plug the camcorder directly into the power adapter and turn it on. If it works, you may need a new battery.
If the camcorder turned itself off, understand that the power-save option may be kicking in. If you do not operate it for a few minutes or more, power save may put the camera into sleep mode. Turn the camera off and then on again, or press the "Record" button to see if it comes back on.
If the camcorder does not stay on for long, check to see if the battery is low. There should be an icon in the viewfinder showing how much charge is left. If it runs down, charge it up. Also, if condensation occurs, the power turns off automatically. An indicator should show if this is the problem.
If the battery runs down quickly, recognize that it may not be fully charged. Also, using it in a cold environment can make the battery run out faster. Or the battery may just be worn out, and you may need to buy a new one. If none of these solve the problem, find and press the "Reset" button (the location may vary by model; check your owner's manual) and see if it powers up after that.
If your model uses a Hi-8mm or Mini DV cassette or DVD for recording, and the cassette/disk can't be removed, first check to see if the power source (battery or AC adapter) is connected properly. If you're using a battery, check to see that it's charged.
Realize that your camcorder may be overheating. Turn it off and leave it in a cooler place for a while. If condensation may have occurred, there should be an indicator in the viewfinder; turn the camera off for a while.
If your model uses a DVD, know that you may have turned it off while the disk was still finalizing. Turn it back on and let it finalize before removing. If your model uses a cassette, press "Stop" to make sure it's not still recording. If the cassette will partially come out, check to see if the tape itself has gotten stuck in the heads. If so, use a pen or similar object to carefully remove it.
If recording doesn't start when you press record, and you can tell by the viewfinder that the power is on and the battery is charged, check to see that you have a cassette/DVD/memory stick loaded, depending on your model. Make sure one is properly loaded and try again.
Make sure there is enough free space to record in whichever mode your model uses. If it's a cassette, make sure the safety switch on the tape isn't on, and if it's a memory stick, make sure the write-protect tab is off. If it's a disk, make sure it's a recordable one and not one that has been previously finalized, or reformat the disk and try again.
For other minor recording issues--such as manual/auto focus, extra light on/off, steadyshot, recording mode or flash--check your individual settings and consult the owner's manual for your specific model.
Playback; Other Issues
If you have trouble playing back a recording on your camcorder, again make sure the power is on and that the battery is charged or the device is plugged into the AC adapter. Make sure the cassette/DVD/memory stick is properly loaded and is the one you recorded onto.
If playback is distorted, press "Stop" and and then "Play" again. If it's a DVD, make sure the disk is clean. If it's a cassette, you may want to clean the heads. If you hear no audio during playback, make sure the volume is turned up. If you're attempting to play it back on a TV, make sure the cables are connected correctly and that the TV is set to the correct input.
Make sure you've set the camcorder correctly on playback mode. With most cameras, if the device is in "PC" mode and connected to a computer, you cannot play it back within the camera.
- If the these tips don't solve your particular problem, your camcorder may need repairing. For other issues, such as the taking and viewing of still photos and what the indicator lights for your particular model may mean, consult your owner's manual.
Darrin Meyer has been writing since 2009. In addition to being a frequent blogger, his articles appear on eHow, Answerbag and other Web sites. Meyer has a Bachelor of Arts in broadcast journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.