Why I am unhappy with Sony

I have a nice HD camera from Sony. It’s an HDR-HC3. It’s not cheap. I’ve had Sony cameras before, and I’m used to my camera having a standard mic input. I expect to see an 1/8″ input (or better) on anything but the cheapest models. Well, here’s how the always proprietary Sony decided to ruin my experience:

The HDR-HC3 does not have a standard microphone input. It has an “Active Interface Shoe” (AIS), which is a type of input specific to Sony that allows the connection of accessories. So what are my microphone options when it comes to AIS? Well I have three: a shotgun-like “zoom” mic, which mixes with the internal mic based on zoom level, an omnidirectional “surround” mic, and a wireless Bluetooth mic. The Bluetooth mic sounds like a good idea, but take a look at it:


Image by Dai Haruki

Yes, that large thing that looks like a flash drive sitting next to the camera is the microphone. Sony expects people to wear this. I don’t know if they realized during development that a video camera accessory might be used with a video camera that is recording images of someone wearing the microphone. Because it is ugly.

At some point Sony must have realized that people might want more than three options for microphones, as they did actually come up with the VMC-K100, an AIS to 1/8″ mic input. Unfortunately, they discontinued the item, and I was unable to find any third-party alternatives. I did find accounts of some people that were so desperate for a solution, they bought one of the Sony mics and after some disassembling and soldering, created their own inputs. Not something I’m ready to get into.

After losing an eBay auction for one that went for over $120, I was finally able to find a retailer selling it using Google’s Product Search. The seller had pretty mixed reviews and a poor website, so I’ll hold off on naming it until my order is complete. Feel free to email me individually if you’re searching for this adapter and want to know where I found it.

Now all I need to do is wait for the adapter to arrive, and then go out and buy a non-ugly wireless lavalier mic.

I’ll leave you with a Google search tip, useful for when you’re searching for something specific like [ais] and you don’t want Google to try and help you out by returning variations like [ai]: Stick a + right before the word with no space in between. For example, [+ais mic adapter] (without the brackets) should help narrow down your results. Don’t worry about memorizing this tip, since you can always cheat.

Enough complaining; I’m off to go watch some meteors shower down upon the Earth.

Update: The seller, NextTronics, emailed me this morning to say that the item was not available. A company which collects someone’s billing information before revealing that the item is out of stock does not deserve to be in business. Now I have to scramble for another solution.

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