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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old November 10th, 2007, 02:42 PM   #1
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Tape Drop Outs, Video Freeze

Hi, I'm a long time lurker on these boards, but this is my first time posting. I purchased two XH-A1s this past Spring and have been experiencing what I believe some others on this board have experienced as well when playing back footage shot with the XH-A1.

Essentially, every so often, I get a piece of footage that will freeze for 1-1.5 seconds, losing audio and time code, and then continue to roll as if nothing occurred. Before you ask, yes I've cleaned the heads with a Panasonic Head Cleaner and I am using AMQs.

Sadly, I have two of these cameras, and both unfortunately exhibit the issue. Sometimes a second playback will fix the issue. Other times, the problem is permanently on the tape. I actually sent one of the cams off today to get evaluated at the Canon Service Center. Hopefully they will find the source of the problem and will be able to fix my other camera as well.

I know this topic has been talked to death, so I'm not going to ask the usual question of what's causing the issue, such as the tapes or the camera or even the environment. Instead, I was curious if it's just a matter of HDV as a format being much less stable than DV. I had a Sony VX-2000 for about 5 years that never had a single issue and I used the cheapest Sony tapes possible. I just find it hard to believe that if the HDV format was that unstable that we wouldn't hear more about it. At any rate, what do you guys think? Is HDV really that unstable, or is the XH-A1 having some frame drop issues or are AMQ tapes not as good as we thought?

Last edited by Dustin Svehlak; November 10th, 2007 at 02:45 PM. Reason: hit submit by accident, sorry! First time and all.
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Old November 10th, 2007, 03:58 PM   #2
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Dustin,

Because of the type of compression used for HDV, using log GOP (Groups of Pictures) a single drop-out will be just what you describe. DV didn't have this problem, because it did not use the GOP structure I believe. HDV is more highly compressed and in fact the file size for a comparable length of footage is smaller with HDV.

Not sure is you cleaned the cameras when you first received them, but I would suggest you basically start from scratch. They should have both been cleaned before you put your first tape in them.

Do you have any of those cheap Sony tapes left? They are all that I use in my XLH1 and I have never had a drop-out, (fingers crossed and knocking on wood as I type!!!!!!!!!!!)

I would start by cleaning both cameras really well, maybe 15-20 seconds each, then try using one of those cheap tapes and see what happens. Remember not to rewind your cleaning tape, they are one use only. If you rewind them, you end up putting the stuff you took off the first time right back on.

Don't be afraid to clean the cameras really well and often.

Mike
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Old November 10th, 2007, 10:09 PM   #3
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I've found that HDV (HDV 2,Sony & Canon) is the same file size as DV and since they are the same data rate at 25Mbps that makes sense.

But as far as recommending cheap Sony tapes for HDV, a warning: I've been shooting with these tapes on the XL-H1, XH-A1 and XH-G1 for several months and am increasingly noticing dropouts on each tape. Sometimes it is not a worry, other times it is catastrophic (like on single-cam coverage of a dance performance). It is because of the long-GOP compression like Mike said, and the interframe dependency.

But several of these dropouts are enough for me and I'm going to try the Sony HDV tapes. Sure, they are 3 or 4x the cost, but when you can't afford dropouts it seems cheap.

So, yes, HDV is that unstable, but it is also kind of miraculous in that you can produce high-definition content so affordably. Like any format it has pros and cons.

Having researched this ad nauseam here and elsewhere, the general consensus for HDV seems to be: A) buy the highest quality-tapes you can afford, and B) keep your camera clean.
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Old November 11th, 2007, 05:16 AM   #4
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i have only used sony premium tapes since i started with hdv[sony cams]i do get the odd drop out one or so per tape on average,sometimes the drop out is only a playback one,recorded ones are there for good but i edit them out.i know some say they use premiums and have no drop outs but i have not been that lucky.
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Old November 11th, 2007, 08:09 AM   #5
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I've been using Panasonic AMQ tapes and had not seen a single dropout in dozens of tapes...until recently.

I did a shoot with another guy who also has an XH A1 back in late May. He bought all the tapes. Just a few weeks ago he finally got around to loading the footage and that's when we discovered the dropouts. There were several on two tapes from his camera and one on tape from my camera.

As far as we can tell, all the tapes that had dropouts came from one box. He had bought 4 or 5 of the 5-box sets. I don't know if they all came from a single case of if maybe one box came from a different shipment.

Neither of us has had any dropouts on any of the AMQ tapes purchased before or since that shoot. I've shot maybe up to 20 tapes since then with zero problems. However, now I've become gunshy about the AMQ tapes. Before my next shoot I'm going to switch to the pricier Sony tapes, the ones that are about $14 from B&H...I don't recall the numbers offhand. Almost double the price, but tape is still the cheapest thing on a shoot. I didn't start using the AMQ tapes because they were cheap--I thought they were the best because lots of people were using them with no problems.

When the dropouts occurred, the other guy's camera was new but the head cleaning tape had been used. He had shot only 4 or 5 tapes beforehand. All the dropouts happened during interviews, in clean environments, and neither camera had been shooting out in any dusty areas beforehand (although we did later).
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Old November 11th, 2007, 08:38 AM   #6
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Just to be clear, I was not really trying to get anyone or everyone to use cheap tapes. The point I was trying to push was cleaning your camera and keeping it clean. There have been so many posts here saying how bad it is for your camera to clean it. The word "sandpaper" has been used at least dozen times (search for it and see)! The longer you wait to clean the heads the more stuff builds up on it and the harder it is to clean it off. Just think of other things in your life that you have to clean like windows, your oven, shower doors etc.. The longer you wait to clean them the more work it is and the harder you have to scrub. Pretty soon that 10 second cleaning won't do the job anymore and the camera must be sent to the "cleaners."

There is one other thing that I do, as well as many others, that may help. I always fast forward the tape to the end and then rewind to put even tension on it. Correct tension against the heads is also important and if it is not right it can also cause a drop out.

One last thing, some individual cameras react differently to one brand of tape or another. With my JVC HDV camera I used JVC tapes, no problem. When I got my first XL1s I tried to use those same tapes and had problems. I cleaned and cleaned the heads, but to no avail. I was ready to throw a fit, thinking it was bad and that I would have to send it in for repair, when I stuck in a Sony tape and tried it. The Sony tape worked fine and I never had another problem with the camera. In fact, it is still in use by my brother who shoots weddings with it. That was four years ago.

So, keep your camera clean and use the best tape you can afford. If you still have problems, clean your camera again. If the problem persists, try changing tape brands.

Best of luck to all---Mike
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Old November 11th, 2007, 10:13 AM   #7
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First of all, thanks for all the responses, guys. I really appreciate the help.

I plan on switching tape brands to the Sony HDVs you guys have been mentioning. As it is, I've sent one of my XH-A1s off to the Canon repair center already, so I will update you if they come back with anything. The one I sent was having the least amount of problems, so if they happen to find something I'll definitely know to send the other in as well.

So weird though... I hope it only turns out to be a tape issue. But better safe than sorry.

Last edited by Dustin Svehlak; November 11th, 2007 at 10:17 AM. Reason: Failed to mention a bit.
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Old November 11th, 2007, 02:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hull View Post
i have only used sony premium tapes since i started with hdv[sony cams]i do get the odd drop out one or so per tape on average,sometimes the drop out is only a playback one,recorded ones are there for good but i edit them out.i know some say they use premiums and have no drop outs but i have not been that lucky.
Chris when you say "premium" are you talking about the DVM-60PRL? That is what I have been using and one or two dropouts per tape is exactly what I've experienced. Just trying to narrow it down here...
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Old November 11th, 2007, 03:15 PM   #9
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i do not think that cleaning tape is like paper sanding, but the result could be the same.
Head clogging is a slow process. So using a cleaning tape (and later than sooner) could suddenly restore your head in a good status but with the result that some tape recorded with an half clogged head could not play anymore as well as expected. That could be the origin of this urban legend that cleaning head could be sometime a bad idea.
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Old November 12th, 2007, 06:13 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Hill View Post
Chris when you say "premium" are you talking about the DVM-60PRL? That is what I have been using and one or two dropouts per tape is exactly what I've experienced. Just trying to narrow it down here...
premiums are dvm60PR3 IN THE UK benjamin.
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Old November 12th, 2007, 10:41 AM   #11
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Thanks. Looks like basically the same grade of tape.
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Old December 4th, 2007, 12:58 PM   #12
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Sorry to ressurect this

Hey guys, sorry to ressurect this long dead thread, but I got my camera back and thought I would share.

Essentially, they claim they fixed something, but all they mentioned were basic adjustments were made to the video tape housing, or something to that effect. I haven't had a chance to mess with the camera since I received it back, but since they claim they did make some adjustments, I feel it necessary to send in the other XH-A1 that was having more severe drop out issues.

Anyways, I'm still at a loss for what's going on. I don't know if I should stick to AMQs or move on to the more expensive Sony HDV tapes at this point. I guess I will wait and see what they say about the second camera repair.
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Old December 4th, 2007, 02:50 PM   #13
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I'm sorry to tell that I have no good experiences with Sony HDV tapes.
This is from another thread:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showpost....1&postcount=23

Bw
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Old December 4th, 2007, 02:53 PM   #14
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hdv tapes

When I bought my XH-A1 on friday, Brian from Zotz told me that the
Panasonic DVM series tapes are the ONLY tapes that should be used with this camera because they use a dry lubricant that will not clog heads or transports.

Most other brands use some form of wet lubricant which, according to Brian, WILL cause dropouts and clogs.


Brian's exact words to me were, "if you use nothing but the DVM tapes and use the head cleaning tape every now and then, you should never have a problem with dropouts.

mike
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Old December 4th, 2007, 04:37 PM   #15
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I am having a similar problem, but what I don't understand is that it doesn't seem to be an actual dropout on the tape. I say this because I can go back and capture the portion that froze during capture and it will capture just fine. This is with Panasonic AMQ tapes and has only started happening in the last few months.
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