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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 April 2nd, 2008, 12:19 AM   #1
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Clean Heads error on new camera!

Ok guys please do not jump on my head for asking this question as I have done a search on this site and have read hundreds of posts and cannot find an answer to this question;

I have a Canon XH-A1 that is 4 weeks old, when I received it I ran a head cleaning cassette through it and have ran 4 Panny HD tapes through it. The other day, (Sunday) I took the camera from my house to my truck, onto a tripod in the outdoors at 10am and it was approx 38 degrees outside. I turned the camera on, (tape had 18 minutes left on it) pressed record and immediately I got the CLEAN HEADS ERROR on the screen, I hit record again, and then hit it again to re-record and got the same error. I rewound the tape to find that it did not record. I recued the tape, hit record again and it worked fine. Do you think that maybe I had some condensation on the heads or slack in the tape. If so what are my options to keep this from happening? This is really upsetting seeing how this camera is not even broke in yet and hasn't even had 5 hours of tape run through it. I have had nothing but bad luck with all 3 Canon's I have bought in the last three years.
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Old April 2nd, 2008, 07:59 AM   #2
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Condensation typically is an issue when you take a camcorder (or tape) that is cold from someplace cold to someplace warm and more humid. Going from warm to cold should not have caused condensation.

As you have noted, there are few if any previous reports of similar difficulties with the XH-A1. While the following may not fit your specific situation, at may apply to others using camcorders in outdoor environments:

Issues such as you describe may arise if you use camcorders (or store tapes) in environments where they are subject to exposures to dirt, dust, etc. All it takes is a a brief exposure (say, when inserting a tape) for foreign materials to get into the mechanism and potentially cause a problem at some point in the future - it may take time for the foreign material to find the heads. (It also could be caused by contaminants introduced on a batch of tape.) Digital video heads are small and much more susceptible to this than the old VHS/S-VHS tapes, or even 8mm/Hi8 format.

Some things folks have done to minimize the possibilities include: store and carry the camcorder and accessories in a good weatherproof case, only open and load tapes in a clean indoor environment away from wind, dust, etc., put masking tape around the tape compartment door seams to reduce the chance of dust entry while in the field, and vacuum the exterior of the case and camcorder before removing the tape/opening it after an exposure to dusty environments. If environments are severe, consider using a special housing for the camcorder while in the field.
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Old April 2nd, 2008, 08:47 AM   #3
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I have received the "Clean Heads" message 2 or 3 times in about 1.5 years of ownership, with a fair amount of use. I use the Sony mastering tapes exclusively. I've not had any dropouts however, so the system seems to have merit. I do carry a cleaning tape.
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Old April 2nd, 2008, 09:31 AM   #4
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I have not had any dropouts either (Knock on wood), but the camera has been in a dusty enviornment several times. SO does this mean I am going to have to keep running a head cleaning cassette several times a month?
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Old April 2nd, 2008, 12:03 PM   #5
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Page 147 of the manual appear to encourage frequent head cleaning, what ever "frequent" means. If frequent head cleaning solves the issue - it makes sense.
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