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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 January 13th, 2008, 07:33 AM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Las Vegas, NV
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Going Tapeless

I have read in this forum and others about which brand of tape to use and I still have questions as to which tape to use in the XH-A1.
I am considering going tape less for some of my larger events, I was considering using a laptop such as the asus g1 series:


which has an external esata connection along with an external sata 7200 rpm hard drive as my capture drive.
Will this set-up work and second I use edius 4.5 to edit with, will edius 4.5 allow me to capture stright from the XH-X1 to an external drive via a laptop without having sync issues. of should I get something like dv rack. I would use canon console control 1.1 but can't afford that option yet.
Jeff King is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 13th, 2008, 12:02 PM   #2
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When I got my XH-A1, I spent an hour searching the forums for information on which tapes to use. Eventually I found what seemed to be the "mother of all tape brands issues" thread. I didn't bookmark it and I don't remember where it was. Just now, however, I did a quick search and found this set of recommendations form Mike Teutsch:


"1. There can be no difference in picture quality between ANY two tapes because all that is recorded is digital 1's and 0's. This is not linear, it is digital. There is no color or brightness differences, it is all digital, one’s and zero’s.

2. The only difference between standard MiniDV tapes and those sold as HDV MiniDV tapes is a degree of quality control during the manufacturing process. That does not mean that you won't have problems with the better tapes, you will if you don't follow the basic use principles. I have used nothing but Sony Premium tapes in all of my cameras, including two HDV cameras and now my HXL1 and have had not one drop out! These tapes cost about $3.00 each.

3. The very first thing to do when you receive your new camera is to run a cleaning tape through it. During manufacture, packaging and shipping there is a great possibility of various deposits getting onto the heads and tape drive mechanism. Go get a cleaning tape, brand does not matter. Use it about ten seconds at a time and use the tape only once, do not rewind. Clean your camera at a regular time interval, your decision, but many people use about 20 hours as a guideline. If you wait until a drop-out or another error happens, you have just defeated the purpose of using the cleaning tape to prevent errors. Don't be afraid to use a cleaning tape, that’s what they are for.

4. Few people recommend "Blacking" or "Striping" tapes any longer. This involved running the new tape through the camera with the lens cover on to lay down time code on the entire length of the tape. I do recommend fast forwarding and rewinding, if you have time, to insure the tape is tensioned properly before use. This may also eliminate getting that “Remove Cassette” error as the tape will be properly positioned and ready to use.

5. It is best to use the same tape all of the time. Tapes have two different types of lubricant, wet and dry. Think of them as graphite and light oil and of course very controlled and not like you and I would apply them. Anyway, if you mix the two kinds of lube you will get a sticky mess on the heads and other parts. So pick one brand of tapes and stick to them. If you buy tapes in bulk, say 20 to 50 at a time as I do, it will save you a LOT of money and go a long way toward insuring that you don't run out of your tape brand and have to use another brand. If you absolutely have to use another tape brand in an emergency, clean the heads on your camera before doing so.

6. Each brand of tape is slightly different. There are only about three manufactures, but many many brand names. You just don't generally know who made each brand. For example, Canon sells their own brand of HDV tapes, but they don't make them! The point being that you should stick to one brand again. This time the reason is that over a period of time, each tape will wear its own personalized grove onto the heads of your camera. This "mating" process helps to insure a good and proper contact between the tape and the heads. This will result in fewer errors, drop-outs etc... This is a good thing! Again, if you switch brands it may take quite a while for the mating process to be completed again, and generally you will get more wear. New grooves will have to be worn in and old ones removed. We are not talking thousandths here, it is in millionths of and inch or less, but it all adds up to wear and tear on your cameras heads and an increased chance of errors."

Since I started with a Sony HC1 and my initial library of tapes consisted of Sony Premiums, I have continued to use Sony Premiums across the board with the Sony HC-7, Canon HV20, and now the XH-A1. I have been sticking with this same brand and type, and have only had insignificant dropouts twice during a two-year period. Others will recommend other brands of tapes, and some will say you should use HDV quality minidvs to reduce the chances of dropouts when filming. I used the Sony HDV quality tapes once on an important trip, but switched back to the premiums ("regular") during the trip with no losses. I can get the Sony premiums at local grocery stores if I need them, and for me they are a known quantity. I am not suggesting that you use them, just showing you why I picked them. The important thing is to stick with one brand. Hope that helps.

Pat Reddy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 13th, 2008, 04:21 PM   #3
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I worked with magnetic tape for 46yrs and I agree with all that. There's a big problem looming and it's solid state.

I saw this when CDs replaced audio cassettes. The majors will cease producing DV tape once sales drop below a certain level. They'll sell their plants to lesser companies who see a fast buck, they'll keep the standards for a while then as their sales fall they'll start cutting manufacturing costs by using cheaper components and less quality control.

We used BASF tape from Germany, wonderful we never had a problem. They sold their plant to Qantegy in Korea and within 6 months we were in deep dodo with various defective pancakes of audio cassette tape.

IMO unfortunately we'll see that again. With the CES releases there's less DV tape cams than ever before. Sure there's still a big pro market and there's the third world market, but they buy cheap tape anyway.

I bought the last 50 Pana MQ 83min tapes from BnH should last me for a while then it's hello Firestore. Keep a weather eye out and consider stocking up on your brand in time to still get the good stuff.
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Old January 20th, 2008, 10:03 PM   #4
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Dear Pat,
Thank you for this post. I needed to know all that. I had heard to stick to one brand of tape. I talked with a guy on the cruise ship, he said he had several tapes that you use break, I think he was talking about the plastic cassette. Have you had this happen?
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Old January 21st, 2008, 02:23 PM   #5
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Hi Kenneth, I haven't had that happen. A few times the cassette case has cracked but not the cassette.


Last edited by Pat Reddy; January 21st, 2008 at 02:24 PM. Reason: spelling
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