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Old May 7th, 2009, 09:35 AM   #1
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Tapes not playing in Sony Decks - SD 60i

For one of my clients, I shoot SD 60i with the A1. When they try to then play or capture the tapes in their various Sony decks, and also one Panasonic deck, the tapes have many issues. Stuttering playback, funky audio dropouts, glitches, digital noise, and in one deck the tape just won't play at all. This has happened on many tapes throughout the year. A few lucky tapes have played back OK one one of the decks, but none of them have been issue free. The tapes play perfectly fine in the A1, so luckily I have been able to dub from the camera to one of their decks to give them playable tapes.

What could be causing this issue? Any help is appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 10:55 AM   #2
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Are you shooting in LP (90 min) mode? That can cause issues from camera to camera. Tapes recorded in standard definition SP (60 min) mode should be able to be played back on any MiniDV camcorder.

I hear the reason for this is because the LP mode is not a real DV standard, leaving camera manufacturers to come up with their own implementations.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 01:49 PM   #3
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Yea, definitely not LP mode. It's strange, as some tapes work fine, then others are completely unplayable. And the tapes come from the same box, and were shot one right after the other.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 05:06 PM   #4
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Usually when a tape won't play back on a deck it's because either the camera's heads or the deck's heads are out of alignment. It's possible for both to be in legal alignment, which is usually + or - Xmm. If the deck's range is + or - 2 X and the camera is too, the camera could be at +2 and the deck at -2 and that would mean 4X, so the tapes might not play. If the camera is out of alignment, it would play back a tape it recorded fine, but that tape might not play on other decks.

But the symptoms you describe don't sound like head alignment problems. If one tape is bad on one deck, it's bad on all their Sony decks, is that right? I'm suspecting some type of recording problem although it doesn't sound like what I've seen for the typical head alignment issue. However, the easiest test to make first would be to change tape stock. Get something good like Sony's DVCAM tape, use your head cleaning tape (according to directions), and try out some new tapes and see what happens. If that doesn't work then you probably should send the camera in for adjustment by Canon.

One other thing...just to be certain, it might be a good idea to go to a dub house or someplace that has a Sony DVCAM deck and see if one of your bad tapes will play. Just to eliminate the possibility that your client's decks might all have lots of miles on the heads with no maintenance. That happens. In fact, I'd do that first just to be sure the problem is on your end.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 07:25 PM   #5
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Hi Bill,

The tape works differently in different Sony decks. They are all DVCAM decks, but the tapes play better in the more expensive DSR 1500 than their DSR 20's. I do know that the decks have not been serviced in a long time, aside from just using a head cleaning tape, so that could be the issue. But other vendors that shoot on the same tape as I do (Panasonic Advanced Master), but shoot on HVX200s have no issues with their tapes, which is why I think it's my camera.

I am not opposed to switching to the Sony DVCAM tapes, but I have been shooting exclusively Panasonic for two years now, will it be bad for the camera if I switch (even if I run a head cleaning tape first)?
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Old May 8th, 2009, 04:31 PM   #6
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If other people's DV tapes are working OK, same tapes and all, then it's starting to sound more like a camera head alignment issue. The more expensive DVCAM decks will often play a tape that was recorded slightly out of alignment whereas the cheaper ones won't, because of the type of drive mechanism some use. I know the DSR2000 will play back almost anything. I used to have a system with a DSR1800 and it would play back some tapes that another deck wouldn't.

It seems to me with all you've said that the heads are probably just a bit out of alignment. And since there's some tolerance in all decks, that could account for a tape playing in one deck but not in another.

The more I think about it, the more I don't think it's the tape. If there was a problem with the tape stock, it probably wouldn't play back in your camera OK all the time, but if the camera's recorder is out of alignment, then it would play back whatever it recorded OK while some decks might play and others might not.
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Old May 11th, 2009, 09:40 AM   #7
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Hi Bill, thanks for all the good info.

So what do you think is the best way to fix it? Just call Canon support and tell them I think the heads are out of alignment, or just tell them the symptoms of the issue? Is this something that is a relatively easy fix for them, or something expensive/complicated?
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Old May 11th, 2009, 11:19 AM   #8
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Tell them the symptoms. You don't want to diagnose it yourself from what we've discussed. There could be something else going on. I'd call and tell them what is happening. I know they have a set fee for looking at the camera, but I don't know what head alignment might cost. Probably somebody in the XL1 or GL1 forums could tell you because that used to be a pretty big issue with those cameras. I used to hear a lot about original XL1 and GL1 head alignment problems and saw numerous cases of it from friends who had those cameras.
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