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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 10th, 2012, 03:31 PM   #1
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XHA1 cleaning

Hello everyone, I have had a canon XHA1 for a while and have not cleaned the video heads on it.
This is my first HD camera and I am not sure on the process of cleaning the heads on it if it's different then the normal DV cameras. Anyone recomendations?
Thank you.
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Old July 10th, 2012, 04:18 PM   #2
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Re: XHA1 cleaning

I would reccommend using a cleaning tape from the same manufacturer as your tape brand you use. Then its the same process, press play and let it run for 10 seconds max.
Basically the same as dv Cameras. I try not to clean the heads too often only if I start to get drop outs.
Cheers john
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Old July 11th, 2012, 01:36 AM   #3
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Re: XHA1 cleaning

I have probably only done it with my A1's every 6 months or so. Definitely agree about using the same brand cleaner as the tapes you use. Pick a brand and stick with them
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Old July 11th, 2012, 03:04 AM   #4
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Re: XHA1 cleaning

After 50yrs using magetic tape in pro studios, I run my Panasonic DV cleaner tape before every days shooting. I run it for about 10secs and have no trouble with tape drop outs. Their instructions say you can run those tapes right through twice then discard them. This offsets complaints by folk who baulk at paying $$$ for a tape they can only run once. But I only run my cleaner tapes right through once, then throw them out, I don't want to deposit any crud back on the tape heads and guides.

Here's some more tips, dust and micro grit are the cause of DV tape dropouts so before you pop open the transport to load a tape, run a damp cleaning cloth/rag over the whole top of your A1 to clean off all the dust. The vibration of the transport (tpt) lid popping open will cause that dust and micro grit to fly up and down into the tpt. From there it'll get on your tape surfaces.

Try and change your tapes in a dust free environment, if you have just a few minutes recording time left on a tape, change it before you go outside.

After loading a new tape, spool it in for 10secs then back to the start before you record. This aligns it on the A1s tape guides, start recording about 10secs in, to avoid the actual start area of the tape. However pro outfits (when they used tape) record 15-30 secs of color bars and 1Kh tone at the head of tapes, so in post the playback can be lined up exactly for color correction and audio level .. it's good to do this with the XH-A1 cams, that's a handy feature from Canon.

When you load a tape, make sure it completes loading and lacing up in the tpt, don't close the lid too early, you'll jam the tape. This typically happens when you're in a hurry so if you do this, throw the tape away, you've damaged it and it'll just give you more trouble.

Some folk having 'trouble' using 90min tapes are advised on forums to use 60mins because 90min tapes are too thin. That's not correct otherwise the manufacturers would have stopped selling them years ago, because of repeated customer complaints.

90min tapes are 2 microns thinner than 60min and a properly lined up transport to factory specifications won't have any trouble. Another old furphy is the recommendation by some folk to 'blank' your DV tape by putting the lens cap on and recording right to the end before you start shooting. Don't do that because soon as you start shooting, you're erasing the 'blanking' .. that's just plain common sense.

When I start a recording, I first speak the date/day/time/location and ALL the camera settings on the cam mic. All these settings are a reference to study in post, and learn what looks and sounds best to you. If it's early morning, it really wakes you up too ;0

We record continuous time code right to the end of the tape so in post, scenes are easy to find. Logging the days shoot at night by timecode 00:00:00:00, is important later in post.

As a rule we only use tapes once then archive it, but if you keep your camera's heads clean and the tpt dust free, you should get 5 or 6 uses from a tape before it becomes a worry. On an important shoot, use new tapes. We use Panasonic 90min tapes because we can record more on them for jobs on location.

Don't use LP speed to record video, it's a gimmick on all DVtape cameras to keep up with the other manufacturers, started by Sony about 1970.
LP speed recorded DV tapes can cause other playback problems and drive you crazy.

Never leave DV tapes lying around out of their plastic cases, they'll pick up dust and crap, that'll get in the transport and cause tape dropouts.

Store your magnetic tape library in resealable airtight plastic fridge containers with some fresh sachets of Silicagel to soak up the humidity.
Keep the containers in a dark, temperature stable cupboard. HTH.

In 2010 Panasonic discontinued importing their cleaner tapes to Australia, DV tape production is slowly decreasing as solid state cams take over.
Keep an eye on stocks in your area. Have fun.

Cheers.
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Last edited by Allan Black; July 11th, 2012 at 03:51 AM. Reason: added more.
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Old July 11th, 2012, 10:30 AM   #5
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Re: XHA1 cleaning

Cleaning instructions are in the user manual. About the same as for MiniDV (it is essentially the same tape and heads).
Good to clean heads when you change tape brands, or after sessions in dusty environments..
Used dry cleaning tape - wet cleaning is NOT a good idea.
For many users, daily cleaning may be a bit excessive. (Todays tape is better, leaves less behind than the mag tape of byegone days.)
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Old July 12th, 2012, 04:59 PM   #6
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Re: XHA1 cleaning

Great advice from Allan.
I use an old sony mini dv camera as a tape rewinder. Before a wedding I fast forward the tapes and then fully rewind them to make sure the tension is correct .
All the tapes are then recorded with bars for 10secs before use.
We've had far fewer problems since we have done this and we also clean the heads before a wedding.
We use the mini dv cam to then rewind the tapes fully to save wear on the canons.
Cheers john.
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Old July 12th, 2012, 05:54 PM   #7
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Re: XHA1 cleaning

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Estcourt View Post
I would reccommend using a cleaning tape from the same manufacturer as your tape brand you use. Then its the same process, press play and let it run for 10 seconds max.
Basically the same as dv Cameras. I try not to clean the heads too often only if I start to get drop outs.
Cheers john
Thanks to everyone for all the good info.

Is there a reson why i need to use the same brand of cleaning tape as the tapes i use to record?

Thank you,
Martin
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Old July 12th, 2012, 06:22 PM   #8
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Re: XHA1 cleaning

Yes there is .. because it's made by the same manufacturer, it'll be compatible with the specifications of your recording tape.
Never ever buy unbranded cleaning tapes, even if the sales person says they're compatible and I'd watch out for counterfeit tapes too.

Buy at least 2 cleaner tapes at first, you can't easily see in the little window when one is about to run out .. and running out is just the pits.

Here's some more info which may be of help for new A1 users.

We bought Canon WD-H72 wide angle convertors and mount that lens before starting out and find we rarely take it off.
They come up in the BnH Used Dept occasionally, but right now they're on a great discount, at some time in the future they'll be gone
and this link won't work .. but ...

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search...rch=yes&sts=ma

When the WD-H72 is not installed, we put B+W 72mm UV filters on the cams to protect their lens.

The carry case we decided on is the Pelican 1510 with TSA combination locks for air travel. Check that your carrier will accept that rig for carry-on,
with avgas prices going up, some luggage weights have come down.

Bright color Pelican cases will attract unwanted attention .. buy Black.
Even so, I have spotted a couple of guys circling ours at an airshow .. I'm looking at fitting laptop alarms on the cases.

Cutting the PnP foam takes careful planning, lotsa time and patience. More foam is available if you muck it up, but buy Pelican.
There are more than 5 grades available and the cheap stuff will crumble into tiny bits and get in your gear.

Pick 'N' Pluck foam - cutting tips

We positioned the camera closest to the 1510 hinges so when the case is standing upright, the weight is at the bottom
and we keep fresh Silicagel in all cases.

Working outdoors a lot around dusty airfields, we covered all the A1 controls and open areas with low tack Cling brand black adhesive tape to keep the dust and grit out. We have large white plastic garbage bags to throw over the cams on the tripods, when we're having a break on location, watching out for hot days around 30C.

I personally like the white grid marker showing on the display (page 100), I've learnt to 'look through it' when shooting, it helps with 2/3s composition
when framing and levelling the horizon.

The Lanc controller we use is the Manfrotto 523PROi, < (note the i, it has improved firmware) and it took practice to be able to work fast on shoots ..
and we make sure we connect it to the cam before powering it up or risk shorting it out. Using a Lanc means you stand back from the A1 and use the LCD, so for outdoor work I made a stiff cardboard hood to shield the LCD from the sunlight. And you can turn the LCD brightness up a bit in the menu.

Fully charged, the Canon BP970 battery lasts us all day and then some. Storing the cams away for any length of time, we leave the battery installed, so the internal lithium battery keeps charged and retains the custom presets.

Another handy tip. When my A1 custom presets were new, I wrote a list of the 5 I was testing, on a small piece of paper and taped it to the back end of the cam battery, so it was easy to pop the battery lid to see the list.

It's a good idea to write a list of all the gear needed on locations and keep it in the camera case so you don't forget anything. Prepare everything, clean heads etc, the night before.

I see where some folk say using your A1 to upload footage to your computer will put too much wear on your A1 tape heads. Well you'll upgrade your camera, long before you get anywhere near to wearing out your heads. But there are some advantages in using a Canon HV camera to upload your tapes, if you shoot a lot, you could pick up a HV20-30-40 from ebay.

Whichever you use, run its remote control to shuttle the tapes in post, you can position the cam further away on your desk and it saves wear on the cam buttons. HTH.

Cheers.
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Old July 14th, 2012, 05:45 AM   #9
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Re: XHA1 cleaning

Quote:
But there are some advantages in using a Canon HV camera to upload your tapes,
Not the least of which is minimizing the possibility of tracking errors due to slight variations in tape path alignment among machines.
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