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Old March 14th, 2009, 09:41 PM   #1
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How often should I use a head cleaner?

How often should I clean the heads on my XHA1? I have about 9 hours on the camera so far. I noticed today when I was in playback mode (I had the camera hook up to my television) the tape seemed to skip. I hit rewind and played the same part over again and it was fine) this happened once before is this a dirty head issuie? Has this ever happened to anyone before?
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Old March 14th, 2009, 10:38 PM   #2
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Kevin,
If you search the archives you will see many discussions about head cleaners and their use. Some people hate them, some like them. I fall into the like category if used sparingly and correctly. A technician who I use to replace and repair gear recommends using them with a new camera or with new heads on an old camera once so the heads have a more uniform wear pattern from the begining. Often new heads do have a few more dropouts until they get some use on them. Use the head cleaner every 50 hours of recording, if you get a warning, if you were in a dusty environment or you notice some dropouts. The head cleaner does not mean you can skip normal maintenance which could mean a cleaning by a repair technician.
As for the tape skip or freeze problem this has happened to many people for many different reasons. Try and figure out if it is repeatable using a test tape so you can start and stop the tape without worrying about a master being damaged. It could be a dirty tape path, tension issue, tape quality issue,head issue or some combination. If it is repeatable ask Canon if it is worth getting checked out, again search the archives and you will probably find many threads related to this
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Old March 14th, 2009, 11:59 PM   #3
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Hi Kevin,

I pretty much only use a head cleaner if I start to experience numerous drop outs or if I have to change the type of tape I'm using (i.e. due to the producer or director wanting a tape stock I don't use).

Also, Canon does recommend cleaning the heads on a brand new camera.

I have an HV20 I use as my deck and I just captured over 40 hours of tape with it and didn't have to clean the heads. Unfortunately that was situation where the director wanted to use a different tape than I usually use so I the camera got a head cleaning immediately before I started and immediately after I started the capture.

Garrett
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Old March 15th, 2009, 12:18 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Garrett Low View Post
Also, Canon does recommend cleaning the heads on a brand new camera.
I've seen this statement many times that manufacturers recommend this, yet I've never seen it in print (manuals, addendum's, their websites, etc), nor have I heard it verbally from a reliable trusted source. I'm not saying it doesn't have any validity. I'm just saying one would think it would be standard practice from manufacturers to include this in user manuals.
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Old March 15th, 2009, 02:07 AM   #5
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I've seen this statement many times that manufacturers recommend this, yet I've never seen it in print (manuals, addendum's, their websites, etc), nor have I heard it verbally from a reliable trusted source. I'm not saying it doesn't have any validity. I'm just saying one would think it would be standard practice from manufacturers to include this in user manuals.
If this urban myth were true one would really expect the manufacturer to run through a cleaning tape on the newly manufactured camcorder before packaging it up. Leaving it to the eventual purchaser who may or may not have heard on the grapevine that this should be done is a crazy idea if the advice were really necessary. If it's not in the manual then Canon do not recommend it.
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Old March 15th, 2009, 04:18 AM   #6
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It IS in the Canon XL2 Manual, Page 32.

Also, read page 110.


(In the English versions)
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Old March 15th, 2009, 05:17 AM   #7
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This is from page 27 of the XH-A1 manual:

"Before You Begin Recording
Make a test recording first to see if the camcorder operates correctly. If necessary, clean the video heads."

Of course, you are free to ignore this if you like. It's only your recordings that are at stake. :)

Richard
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Old March 15th, 2009, 06:01 AM   #8
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This is from page 27 of the XH-A1 manual:

"Before You Begin Recording
Make a test recording first to see if the camcorder operates correctly. If necessary, clean the video heads."

Of course, you are free to ignore this if you like. It's only your recordings that are at stake. :)

Richard
That's on page 25 of my PAL manual. The meaning of that sentence is clear. If you have a problem then clean the heads. It does not state 'Before using the camera for the first time you must use a cleaning tape' which is the frequently propagated myth that I was referring to. I just found an XL2 manual online & the wording is the same.

Canon advises you to clean the heads if they are dirty. Canon does not recommend you to run through a cleaning tape on a brand new camcorder.
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Old March 15th, 2009, 11:27 AM   #9
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Nigel,

I spoke with a Canon Rep who specifically told me it was SOP to clean the heads on arrival. He also told me that cleaning the heads with a tape head cleaner for ten seconds before an 'important' shoot - was HIS standard operating procedure. I asked how often that was, and he shrugged "Once a month? I really don't worry about it wearing down the heads."

His last name was Chung.
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Old March 15th, 2009, 08:28 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Nigel Barker View Post
That's on page 25 of my PAL manual. The meaning of that sentence is clear. If you have a problem then clean the heads. It does not state 'Before using the camera for the first time you must use a cleaning tape' which is the frequently propagated myth that I was referring to. I just found an XL2 manual online & the wording is the same.

Canon advises you to clean the heads if they are dirty. Canon does not recommend you to run through a cleaning tape on a brand new camcorder.

Hi Nigel. More accurately, Canon advises you to test whether the heads are dirty before using the camera. IMO, it is a more dangerous myth to suggest that a new camera does not need the heads to be cleaned.

Richard
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Old December 11th, 2009, 07:47 AM   #11
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head cleaning

It seems like I'm getting a message to clean my heads only when I'm shooting in freezing temps is this normal. i have cleaned my head. now i have the XHA1 now i know they say NO SONY tapes does that mean i shouldnt use a sony head cleaner as well ?
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Old December 11th, 2009, 08:22 AM   #12
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Hi Chas. There should be no problem using Sony tapes with the XH-A1, unless you have previously been using other brands like Panasonic or JVC. It is mixing different tape brands that can sometimes cause gunge to build up on the tape head. If you just select one brand (any brand) and stick with it you should be OK.

Regarding head cleaners, as far as I know, there is no need to use the same brand of cleaner tape as the video tape you use.

Richard
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Old December 11th, 2009, 04:17 PM   #13
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Yes you should use the same brand head cleaner as the brand of DV tape you use. There's plenty of info about it on the web.

Sony uses a wet lubricant and Panasonic a dry type, it says so on its cleaner tape. As to how often should you use the tape, the Canon HV20 manual says .. often. I run mine before every important event. Cheers.
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Old December 12th, 2009, 08:12 PM   #14
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"Yes you should use the same brand head cleaner as the brand of DV tape you use. There's plenty of info about it on the web.

Sony uses a wet lubricant and Panasonic a dry type, it says so on its cleaner tape. As to how often should you use the tape, the Canon HV20 manual says .. often. I run mine before every important event. Cheers. "

Hi Allan. The trouble with info on the web is that a lot of it is not reliable. For example, there are many conflicting reports of which particular Panasonic tape types use wet or dry lubricants. And it's possible the lubricant type has changed over the years as well. If some Panasonic tapes use wet and some dry, which cleaning tape would you select then?

And BTW, the label and packaging with my Panasonic cleaning tape doesn't mention lubricants at all. This doesn't surprise me, since a cleaning tape is meant to be abrasive and only used for very short periods.

Richard
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Old December 12th, 2009, 11:47 PM   #15
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wetdrywetdrywetdry.... I can't think of anything that's been more confusing than this wet vs. dry debate with MiniDV tape. Many years ago though it was more of an issue. We knew it, the tape manufacturers knew it, but it took years before anything was done about it. And even then there's still issues, albeit more minimal than now. I still will run a head cleaner before I choose to change brands. I've been conditioned that way.

Re: head cleaners. I've noticed Panasonics packaging that says "dry type" and I STILL say it has nothing at all to do with what lubricant process is used for the physical tape. If it did wouldn't one think it would mention something on their blank media packaging as well? I believe it says "dry type" because it's referencing back to those horrid "WET" head cleaners that we all saw for VHS & Betamax. Remember those? There was a bottle of fluid you put a few drops into openings in the shell? It wasn't long before they all got a bad rap. I ruined 2 home vcr decks back in the day using that crap.

Here's a "wet type" head cleaner :D
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