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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 February 28th, 2007, 06:28 PM   #1
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Head Life!

How long is it expected that the heads will last in a camera such as the A1. In the absence of a replay deck I use the A1 for replay and capture, is this going to seriously impact on the quality of the capture in say 100 - 200 hours or so? Guess that you would get a gradual decline in image quality as the heads wear? And then like my old car tape deck of long ago, chew up the tape!!
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Old February 28th, 2007, 10:27 PM   #2
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Image quality will not slowly decline...rather if the heads begin to show signs of excessive wear then you would see dropouts (pixelated or blacked out glitches) when the heads begin to lose the ability to accurately read the digital recording on the tape. I have seen in other posts on the site that the expected head life is around 1000hours but that may not be substantiated. I too use the camera for both video aquisition and capture to my PC. If you are very concerned with increasing the longevity of the camera I believe there is a much lower cost canon HD single chip camera that could be used as a playback deck for review and capture.
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Old March 1st, 2007, 01:52 AM   #3
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I personally challenge anyone to find someone that has actually worn out the heads on their camera at this price range. I'm not talking about freak accidents or other dropout related incidents, but someone that has great use from their camera and suddenly dropouts start becasue the heads have just worn out.
If you start seeing mass posts of people having this problem, then it is time to worry, but until that happens, it really should be the last thing on your mind.
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Old March 1st, 2007, 03:16 AM   #4
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XL-H1 owners who use tape, which came out in September 2005 must have used the camera for capture, since there was no deck that played 24F, nor an XH-G1/ A1 or HV-10/20 available until recently.
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Old March 1st, 2007, 05:43 PM   #5
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>Stefan Scherperel - "I personally challenge anyone to find someone that has actually worn out the heads on their camera at this price range. I'm not talking about freak accidents or other dropout related incidents, but someone that has great use from their camera and suddenly dropouts start becasue the heads have just worn out."<




I guess the other side of it is tape drive mechanisms wear out too. Quite possibly faster than a head would wear from tape friction/cleaning. While either situation (head wear or transport mechanism wear) could potentially cause dropouts, I think the camera is quite reliable.

Personally....I will use a gentle/sensible hand with the camera but only start to worry about all this after 1000+ hours hopefully.
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Old March 1st, 2007, 06:49 PM   #6
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I must sound like an a**hole saying this, but I don't ever plan on worrying about my heads on the A1. When the heads go, I'm going to plop down $500--hopefully in 2-3 years that's what they'll cost--for a firestore and just go DTE.
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Old March 2nd, 2007, 02:44 PM   #7
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I wore out the heads on my DVX100 but it took 4 years and about 1200 hours in dusty environments. Cost me $800 to replace them
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Old March 2nd, 2007, 02:56 PM   #8
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Back in my Betacam days I got 700-800 hours on a set of heads, which was the projected wear life. It cost about $3500 every time I did the overhaul.
Today, Sony estimates 1500 hours for their DVCAM equipment. I'm assuming most of the HDV 1/3" chip camcorders will get in that range under normal use.

When using the camera as a capture deck, it's only the play head that wears, not the record part. I'd be more concerned about the tape handling mechanism itself. Even so, I don't think it's a big deal. If you shoot 40 tapes for a movie, you're going to play back 40 hours, not a big deal. And you're not going to do that much all the time. Of course if you're a production studio with edit suites working 8 or more hours every day, that's different; but if you do that you're going to use full blown decks and other cameras anyway. For indy filmmakers and documentary producers, it's probably not a big issue at all. By the time the camera needs a head job, there'll be 10 new models on the market everybody will be wanting anyway.
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 02:17 PM   #9
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In the old days analog recordings exhibited a gradual decline in picture quality; namely a soft picture. In the digital realm, a bad head will produce a constant venetian blind type of head clog on a rather consistent basis...even after a professional cleaning.

With that said, the average life of video heads in a CLEAN environment is close to 2000 head hour of actual TAPE CONTACT. In a somewhat less perfect environment such as dust, sand and even animal hairs it will be less.
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 06:09 PM   #10
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The picture never got soft with my old Betacam BVW300. When the heads would get worn to the point of needing replacement, you'd start getting the old analog dropout problem that would appear as a horizontal streak for a few frames and then go away. The more worn the heads would get, the more frequent the problem.

Our decks, both Betacam and DVCAM have always got really long head life. In fact, we've never replaced heads on any of the decks, and one is about 12 years old. Most of the wear on deck heads, however, is on the play heads. The only recording they ever do is to make a master.
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 07:27 PM   #11
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I agree that tape transport is probably the bigger issue if you use your camera as a deck. If you capture everything by just hitting play, no (or little) problem - but if you log clips and then capture, the camera's going to be shuttling, stopping, shuttling back again, etc... And the tape is in contact with the playback head during most of that too...

If I were you, and you plan on shooting alot of tape at 24f, I'd go get an HV10 - I shoot 1080i on both my H1 and A1, so I use a Sony M10 deck.
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