View Full Version : Sony and Canon "DigitalMaster" tapes

Richard Vaughan
June 22nd, 2007, 07:54 PM
The XH-A1 comes with a Canon "DigitalMaster" HDVM-E63PR tape. The description of this tape is very similar to Sony's description of its "DigitalMaster" PHDVM63DM tape, except Sony mentions a new lubricant and Canon does not. The Canon's plastic case looks identical to the Sony's except of course for the label.

My questions are: (1) is the Canon tape identical to the Sony except rebranded, (2) if not identical, are the tapes compatible without having to run a head cleaner between them, (3) are either or both of these tapes compatible with chipless Sony Excellence DV tapes without having to run a head cleaner, and (4) if the Canon and Sony tapes are not compatible, will the Sony tapes work as well as or better than the Canon as regards dropout prevention, head life, etc.?

A tech rep at Canon said their tapes used dry lubricant and he thought (but was not sure) that all Sony's tapes use wet lubricant. On the other hand, I have heard elsewhere that Sony tapes now use dry lubricant. Is it possible that Sony's and Canon's HDV tapes are now perfectly compatible even if at some time in the past their DV tapes were not?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Bill Pryor
June 22nd, 2007, 07:59 PM
Since Canon doesn't make tape, it's most likely Sony, or possibly Fuji.

Richard Vaughan
June 24th, 2007, 06:53 AM
Since Canon indeed does not make tapes, it looks to me as if Sony makes the HDVM-E63PR tapes for Canon. It also seems reasonable to conclude that the tapes are identical, for the following reasons. First, their nicknames are identical, "DigitalMaster". This suggests a conscious hint that the products are identical without actually admitting that one competitor makes the tapes for the other. Second, their boxes appear identical, except for the color and the labeling, and these boxes are different from any other DV tape packaging. Third, both companies allude to a dual magnetic layer and to a thicker protective DLC layer. Fourth, their numbers are similar: HDVM-E63PR for Canon, PHDVM63DM for Sony (though so are many other such numbers, so this is not by itself particularly significant).

There remains the question of lubricant. Sony claims that it has developed a new lubricant "to reduce friction for optimum stability under a wide range of operating conditions." Canon claims that all of its lubricants are "dry". Unknown sources claim that Sony uses "wet" lubricants, while other unknown sources claim that Sony has changed to "dry" ones. Is it not possible that Sony's new lubricant for this tape is in fact dry and that the Sony and Canon DigitalMaster tapes may in fact have identical lubricants?

Moreover, it is inconceivable that Sony would make a new lubricant that interacted harmfully with the lubricants on its own lower-grade tapes; Sony surely knows that many of its customers will mix tapes of different grades according to the importance of the project they are shooting. Therefore is it not reasonable that the new Sony AND the new Canon DigitalMaster tapes are in fact compatible with such earlier Sony tapes as the Excellence and Premier lines?

In the XH-A1 manual Canon says nothing about not mixing tape brands, simply that one must use tape with mini-DV certification and that it is better to use tape designed for HDV.

If anyone from Sony or Canon, or anyone with contacts in Sony or Canon, could answer these questions it would be most helpful. A Canon tech support person to whom I spoke said that Canon's lubricants were dry and that he thought Sony's were wet, but he was not sure on the latter point and did not appear to know about any changes Sony made in its recent tape lubricants. On a French forum I read that some Canon tech support person in Europe had said that the Canon DigitalMaster was in fact identical to Sony DVCAM tape, whether to the latest PHDVM-63DM I do not know.

Thanks for any help!

Kevin Amundson
June 25th, 2007, 03:00 PM
I took the liberty of E-mailing Canon and Sony addressing this question. I have at this time only received a reply from Canon.

Here is my E-mail to Canon:
I would like to know if your HDVM-E63PR DigitalMaster 63 Minute Mini DV Video Cassette tapes are the same as Sony's PHDVM-63DM DVCAM Master Digital Cassette tapes?

I have heard from sources that Canon uses a "dry" lubricant and I have been told that Sony uses a "wet" lubricant. Can you confirm either of these?

Can you confirm that Sony makes Canon's DigitalMaster tapes?

Canon Re:
Our miniDV tape manufacture may change from time to time but the tapes themselves always meet the miniDV standards. We do recommend a dry type luberciant which, appear to be the only type on the market for miniDV.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Please let me know if we can be of any further assistance with your Canon XH A1.

Thank you for choosing Canon.


Technical Support Representative

Notice where I made the text bold. It appears that she is saying that all the manufactures including Sony use a "dry" lubricant.

I will post again when I get a reply from Sony.

P.S. She doesn't know how to spell "lubricant".

Don Palomaki
June 25th, 2007, 03:34 PM
In the past Canon has used Panasonic brand tape. In fact my XL1 came with a Panasonic blank tape, not a Canon labeled tape, and the bias setting instructions in the service manual for some Canon camcorders specified use of Panasonic tape.

Wet and dry was an issue years ago in the early days of MiniDV, and at that time all tape was Panasonic or Sony. After the initial problems, they got together and resolved the lubricant compatibility issues in the 1990s. About that same time there was a shortage of MiniDV tape (the word on the street was that Sony had a plant fire). Today the issues with brand changing is not so much lubricant, as other slight differences in tape properties, that may lead to dirty heads, but not the serious clog mess caused by different lubs in by gone days.

Panasonic was probably the first to advertise dry lubricant with their higher end MinDV tape (master series). "Diamond-like coating" may have first appeared on a Sony Hi8 tape in the 1990s that evolved in to MiniDV tape.

Today there are probably a half dozen or (fewer) actual makers of MiniDV tape, and many other just putting their name on the package. Consider the MiniDV tape, it has several basic components; the tape itself, the cassette, and the case. With outsourcing the way it is, all three could come from different manufacturers.

So Canon's words about different manufacturers is no doubt spot on.

Kevin Amundson
June 25th, 2007, 03:43 PM
Nice post Don. I have to say I agree with you. There are tons of examples of different companies using the same plant to build their products, and other companies like DELL and LEXMARK printers. They are the same printers just with different logos on them.

Robert Morane
June 25th, 2007, 05:50 PM
So, is the bottom line : doesn"t matter if you use Sony or Pana tapes?

Don Palomaki
June 26th, 2007, 07:22 AM
It matters mainly to Sony and Panasonic. To the camcorder user any differences will be difficult to spot, if there are any. However, you will probably see some differences between the cheap consumer and the more expensive professional tapes. Beyond differences in packaging, it they appear as more drop outs or tape read error artifacts with the cheaper tape, and perhaps somewhat shorter useful life.

When you find a tape you like, it becomes one less thing to worry about.

Trish Kerr
June 26th, 2007, 07:41 AM
I use the panasonic AY-DVM63AMQ (DV/HDV) and have not had any issues so far. They are higher priced tapes though.


Kevin Amundson
July 26th, 2007, 04:21 PM
I got a reply back from Sony today.(1 month and a day later) I have never in my life had to wait a month for someone to reply to an e-mail I sent. Anyway here's there answere to the same question I asked Canon:

Response (Sunshine Benner) 07/26/2007 01:58 PM
Dear Mr. Amundson,

In regard to your inquiry, Sony does not make Cannon tapes.

Don Palomaki
July 26th, 2007, 05:27 PM
And Sony misspelled Canon using two letter "n"s.

FWIW: Cannon marketed connectors (e.g., the original XLR, aka "Cannon plug"), never marketed video tape to my knowledge.