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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 July 7th, 2008, 04:01 PM   #1
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clean heads on new XH A1?

I think I read but can't find it now that you should clean the heads on a new camera right out of the box. Is this true?
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Old July 7th, 2008, 04:18 PM   #2
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Yes. Definitely. 100% true. Use a head cleaning tape...but don't overuse it. Follow the directions exactly. Usually, that means put the camera in play mode and let the tape run for 10 seconds. NOT record mode.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 04:25 PM   #3
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This goes for any new tape-based camcorder. Never rewind the cleaning tape; just discard it when it eventually reaches the end of the cassette. Ten seconds is the longest you'll want to run it.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 05:10 PM   #4
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Knowledge is golden

Many thanks for the knowledge base.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 05:36 PM   #5
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I've never heard of this before. Cleaning the heads on a brand new camera out of the box? What is the reasoning behind doing this?
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Old July 7th, 2008, 07:34 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Bill Pryor View Post
Yes. Definitely. 100% true. Use a head cleaning tape...but don't overuse it. Follow the directions exactly. Usually, that means put the camera in play mode and let the tape run for 10 seconds. NOT record mode.
Bill, why should you not use the cleaning tape in record mode?
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Old July 7th, 2008, 08:23 PM   #7
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Because the camera will try to record on something it can't record on and you could screw up the record heads.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 08:54 PM   #8
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If this "clean heads before first use" has any validity or reasoning why do manufacturers choose not to advise this sort of thing. I've never owned a camera that had such a written warning. Is this along the lines of the old "wet vs. dry" blah blah scenario where they also chose not to include some sort of addendum sheet with a new cam purchase?

Silly stuff :)
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Old July 7th, 2008, 08:56 PM   #9
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I must have missed that step in the manual, thought I read the whole thing before turning the camera on. Will any brand work, or is there a super special one to use for the A1?
Hopefully I can just buy it at K-Mart or Sears. I've used my camera for 4 hours of tape, with about 7 hours of playback for editing. Today I noticed during a playback the image in one particular segment freezes for a couple of seconds before continuing.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 09:09 PM   #10
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I must have missed that step in the manual, thought I read the whole thing before turning the camera on.
Bill, you didn't miss it... it's not there. And yes, any name brand cleaner will do.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 09:15 PM   #11
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This is off the subject, but have you ever had the tape during playback freeze a frame for a split second before continuing? Same place every time. Is this the proverbial 'drop out'?
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Old July 7th, 2008, 09:29 PM   #12
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This is off the subject, but have you ever had the tape during playback freeze a frame for a split second before continuing? Same place every time. Is this the proverbial 'drop out'?
...and after searching the forums it looks like this is a classic case of dropoutitis.
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Old July 8th, 2008, 01:30 AM   #13
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Anyone care to elaborate on WHY you should run a head-cleaning tape on a new camera? I've never heard of that before, and I've never seen it in a manual. If anything I've learned that you should only use a head cleaning tape very rarely when your camera is showing signs it needs a cleaning.

Why would a brand new camera need it's heads "cleaned"?
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Old July 8th, 2008, 01:43 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
I've never heard of this before. Cleaning the heads on a brand new camera out of the box? What is the reasoning behind doing this?
Well, Canon themselves say (PAL manual p.25)
Quote:
"Before you begin recording
Make a test recording to check if the camcorder operates correctly. If necessary clean the video heads [p 144] "

Also p 91:
"Playing back a tape
If the playback picture is distorted, clean the video heads using a Canon Video Head Cleaning Cassette or a commercially available digital head-cleaning cassette [p 144]"

and p144 itself:
When the message "HEADS DIRTY, USE CLEANING CASSETTE" appears, when the playback picture becomes distorted, or if, when playing back a tape in HD standard the picture and/or sound becomes stops momentarily (about 0.5 seconds) the video heads need to be cleaned.

To maintain the best picture quality, we recommend cleaning the video heads frequently with the Canon DVM-CL Digital Video Head Cleaning Cassette or a a commercially available dry cleaning cassette.

Tapes already recorded with dirty video heads may not play back correctly even when you clean the video heads.

Do not use wet type cleaning cassettes as this may damage the camcorder.

If the playback quality does not improve after cleaning the video heads it may indicate a malfunction. Consult a Canon Service Centre."
On the other hand, I know a well respected technician who would never let a head cleaning tape anywhere near a consumer camera let alone a prosumer or professional camcorder, on the grounds (haha) that you might as well use sandpaper on the heads. He is firmly of the belief that video heads should only be cleaned manually - using solvents - by someone both skilled and trained. Frivolous cleaning should be discouraged on the "if it ain't broke..." principle. He advocated a routine of planned manual cleaning on professional camcorders.

On his advice, I used several Sony camcorders for 6 and a half years (many hundreds of hours of filming and capturing) on the same brand of tape without cleaning the heads once.
This was SD DV not HD, so maybe that's a factor.

I'm still very nervous about using abrasive head cleaners.
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Old July 8th, 2008, 01:59 AM   #15
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Colin, thanks for the response. I think I'm with you. I'd rather not start off my camera's career with some abrasive action on the heads.
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