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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 22nd, 2008, 11:45 AM   #1
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Dropouts Galore

I've shot about 40 hrs so far with my XH A1 with Panny AMQ's and it seems like just about every tape I shoot has at least one drop out. I have cleaned my heads a couple times and still have this problem. I had bought a big bulk pack of AMQ's from B&H and thought perhaps it was a bad batch of tapes. But after 30 or so tapes, I'm starting to wonder if that really is the problem, and that it isn't something camera related.

First off... is it normal to have a 1 dropout average per tape? Sometimes I get two... but most of the time it's just one dropout. It is causing me to have absolutely no confidence in "getting the shot", because now I feel like at any moment the dropout is going to happen.

Second... do you think this is a tape problem or a camera problem? If it's most likely a tape problem... would it be okay to switch over to Sony Brand tapes after shooting 40 hrs of Panny AMQ's? I know mixing tape brands isn't ideal... but I'm up for trying anything that can fix this.

Thank you for any help.

Deke.
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 01:00 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Deke Ryland View Post
I've shot about 40 hrs so far with my XH A1 with Panny AMQ's and it seems like just about every tape I shoot has at least one drop out. I have cleaned my heads a couple times and still have this problem. I had bought a big bulk pack of AMQ's from B&H and thought perhaps it was a bad batch of tapes. But after 30 or so tapes, I'm starting to wonder if that really is the problem, and that it isn't something camera related.

First off... is it normal to have a 1 dropout average per tape? Sometimes I get two... but most of the time it's just one dropout. It is causing me to have absolutely no confidence in "getting the shot", because now I feel like at any moment the dropout is going to happen.

Second... do you think this is a tape problem or a camera problem? If it's most likely a tape problem... would it be okay to switch over to Sony Brand tapes after shooting 40 hrs of Panny AMQ's? I know mixing tape brands isn't ideal... but I'm up for trying anything that can fix this.

Thank you for any help.

Deke.
Eliminate variables- have you tried Sony Digital Masters? I've had almost zero dropouts with these.

Are you shooting in any sort of dusty or dirty conditions? Do you clean the tape heads on a regular basis?

If you are shooting in a professional situation where every second of footage needs to be solid and you can't risk a dropout, I'd start with trying the best tapes available in combination good camera hygiene practices, and going from there.
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 02:37 PM   #3
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Do the dropouts occur on the Camera playback as well as the captured video?

Many times dropouts are a result of a poor firewire cable, card or even the PC itself. If it's good on camera playback that would eliminate camera and tapes.
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 03:11 PM   #4
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Do the dropouts occur on the Camera playback as well as the captured video?

Many times dropouts are a result of a poor firewire cable, card or even the PC itself. If it's good on camera playback that would eliminate camera and tapes.
These are tape dropouts... they occur at the same time in the tape when played back on the camera and on the PC.

I have not tied the Sony Digital Masters... I am a bit hesitant to switch brands this late... what is the word on switching brands after about 40 hrs of using Panny's? Will it gunk up the heads?

Shooting indoors in air conditioned environment. No dust or dirt to speak of.
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 03:56 PM   #5
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Hmmmm. I've always used Panisonic HD or Master Quality 63 min. tapes in my A1 and haven't experienced any dropouts to date. I've used the Master Quality tapes for years in my old GL1 as well and they have always performed well.
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 05:18 PM   #6
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I use the cheap Sony premium tapes and never had a dropout, it seams on this forum some people are plagued with dropouts and some have no problems.
If you change tapes just chuck a head cleaner through before inserting new tapes. I believe the problem regarding of 'guncking' up your heads comes from a few years back when different tapes used either wet or dry lube.

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Old April 23rd, 2008, 07:28 AM   #7
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what is the word on switching brands after about 40 hrs of using Panny's? Will it gunk up the heads?
"Gunk-ing" up heads is old information that dates to differences between Sony and Panasonic tape in the early/mid 1990s. That was a serious problem that hurt both manufacturers, so they worked out the differences and the 'gunk' problem went away in the mid/late 1990s, but the story persists on the Web, or if you happen to use some old tape stock from those early days of MiniDV.

Changing tape after a steady diet of one type may still lead to dirty heads (due to the different mechanical characteristics of tape), but not of the "gunk" type, and normal head cleaning at the time of the change in tape normally is sufficient to avoid a problem
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 08:26 AM   #8
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I too have only used MQ tapes, about 50 so far, without a single drop out.
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 09:32 AM   #9
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Lucky perhaps?

No problems at all using cheap sony premium tapes. Shot probably 60 tapes and never used a head cleaner. I do however own an xl1s which drops a frame or two per tape unless it gets the head cleaning treatment before each shoot. Same tape batch used for both cameras.
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 11:29 AM   #10
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So it sounds like a temporary fix is to run a tape cleaner before each new tape. I know there is so much hoopla over how harsh head cleaning tapes are... but let me ask again...

Is it okay to run a head cleaning tape for 10 secs before each new tape?
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 03:22 PM   #11
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Canon Repair

Deke,

Just sent my A-1 to Canon because the firewire port was not communicating with my computer. When it came back it turns out they replaced the port and the drums on the camera. I too was having constant drop outs (1-2 per tape). Hopefully this will take care of that. Just wanted to share.

Jonathan Schwartz
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 07:51 PM   #12
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Just sent my A-1 to Canon because the firewire port was not communicating with my computer. When it came back it turns out they replaced the port and the drums on the camera. I too was having constant drop outs (1-2 per tape). Hopefully this will take care of that. Just wanted to share.
Hey Jonathan... thanks for the note on that.... I am seriously considering sending it in for Canon to look at. May I ask how long it took from the time you shipped it out to the time you got it back? Also, do you need to pay anything for service? I think my A1 is about 2 yrs old. Not sure if there is a warranty period or not... didn't know how that works exactly.

Thanks!
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 10:13 PM   #13
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Repair

Deke,

I sent it out UPS last Friday. Was received by Canon on Monday and I got it back today! I was amazed. They say 5-7 business days, but mine was pretty much a same day turnaround. My camera is less than a year old so it was still under warranty. If you called the service center they could probably give you an estimate on drum replacement. Hope this helps.

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Old April 23rd, 2008, 10:58 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Howard Wilczynski View Post
I too have only used MQ tapes, about 50 so far, without a single drop out.
When the A1 was new I ran the cleaning tape for 10secs, then shot about 10xPana new 83min MQs at SP, no dropouts and haven't used a cleaner.

Recently despite being cautious, we changed tapes out on a light dusty airfield and got dropouts in the new tape. So what happened was some very fine dust got in the transport and some is still there. The tape following has 2 dropouts so I've upended the A1 with the transport open and carefully used a minivac set on high, then the cleaner. The jury is still out, and so is 2 of those rubber things....kidding.

See how we go, but Firestore is looking better as timecode goes by.

Cheers.
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