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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 April 7th, 2007, 01:36 PM   #1
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Do Tapes Matter?

My XH A1 just arrived and it looks too purdy to touch!!! Anyway, I was thinking...

Forgive my ignorance, but if there are times when I want to shoot HD, is it a necessity to use Mini DV HD tapes only or can I still use standard Mini DV tapes? What if I am shooting SD...can I still use the standard Mini DV tapes or do I still have to purchase Mini DV HD tapes to shoot?

I ask this only because I still have a lot of other camcorders that use Mini DV tapes and I would hate to just let those standard Mini DV tapes just sit there.
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Old April 7th, 2007, 01:55 PM   #2
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All the tape is MiniDV tape, based on the form factor. My take on it is that you can use plain old MiniDV tape for shooting SD, no problem. You can use plain old MiniDV tape to record HDV, and it will probably work most of the time. But you probably should use a higher quality (read much less drop out) tape for HDV because the consequences of a drop out with HDV can be much more significant that with SD. You can of course use the HD-rated tape for SD. The main issues between regular and HDV labeled tape are quality control, uniformity, and perhaps somewhat higher output and better lubricants with the new HDV labeled tape.

The two most often mentioned brands for HDV in what I've read:

Sony sells a couple versions of what they label as HD tape, and it costs and arm and a leg. A number of people report good results using it.

Panasonic also offers tape labeled for HDV use; e.g., AY-DVM63AMQ, costs just an arm (you get to keep your leg). A lot of people report good results using it as well.

Tape is cheap compared to the cost of everything else, especially you rtime and and one-time events where ther eis not chance for a retake, so there are few, if any good reason to penny-pinch on tape.

So take your pick, and if it works for you there is no reason the change. Keep in mind that conventional wisdom is that if you change to a diffent type of tape (make or formulation), you should do a head cleaning. And search these forums for comments on brand of tape for additional comments on a popular subject.
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Old April 7th, 2007, 04:20 PM   #3
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AMQ vs. PQ for HD, SD. Oy.

I thought I had the whole tapes issue figured out, but based on what I'm reading in this thread, maybe not.

I just got the XHA1. Matter of fact, it's still in the box. I want to use Panny tapes in the camera but my order for AY-DVM63AMQ tapes got screwed up and delayed. I'm leaving town Monday and I want to practice with the camera, so I went to a store and got some Panny AY-DVM63PQ tapes. I figured I'd use them until the AMQs showed up.

Am I wrong? Can I not shoot HD using the PQ tapes?

Can I shoot SD on the PQ tapes and then HD or SD on the AMQ tapes?
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Old April 7th, 2007, 04:44 PM   #4
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It seems too many people worry about this. If you just want to "practice" & for non-critical work, the PQ tapes should be fine. In fact, there's many who have posted here who use them all the time for HD. If it were me, I'd use AMQ for critical HD work & maybe the PQ for SD & HD non-critical work.

So to answer your question... you can use ANY miniDV tape to shoot either HD or SD. The camera doesn't care really about anything other than the miniDV form factor. I do however recommend staying with the same brand, no matter which grade tape it is.

Stop worrying! Learn & enjoy :)

Bill

Last edited by Bill Busby; April 7th, 2007 at 04:46 PM. Reason: brain malfunction
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Old April 7th, 2007, 05:00 PM   #5
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Thanks, Bill!

Worrying stopped. Learning and enjoyment to come.


--Greg
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Old April 8th, 2007, 01:50 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Busby View Post
So to answer your question... you can use ANY miniDV tape to shoot either HD or SD. The camera doesn't care really about anything other than the miniDV form factor.
My [very] limited experience may force me to disagree. I just received my A1 yesterday, and as soon as I dropped a "normal" tape in - specifically, a 60 minute Sony Excellence DVC - an error message stating "Please Remove the Cassette" appeared on the screen in bright red letters. I then inserted the 63 minute Canon DigitalMaster tape which shipped with the camera, and I was off and running.

For what it's worth, the A1 manual says, on the top of page 23: "For recording in HDV we recommend you use videocassettes compatible with the HDV standard." I'm sure they do, since the HDV pro tapes cost a heck of a lot more! Who knows? Perhaps if I had simply ignored the error message, the camera would have worked fine, but it seems a fairly small thing to worry about. If the A1 wants certain tapes, I'm happy to feed them to it - it sure turns out some nice pictures in return.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 03:06 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradley Mauro View Post
My [very] limited experience may force me to disagree. I just received my A1 yesterday, and as soon as I dropped a "normal" tape in - specifically, a 60 minute Sony Excellence DVC - an error message stating "Please Remove the Cassette" appeared on the screen in bright red letters. I then inserted the 63 minute Canon DigitalMaster tape which shipped with the camera, and I was off and running.
This could simply mean there was slack in the Sony tape, the A1 detected it & to prevent any possible damage to the tape or the camera itself, it asks you to eject it. Do you think it would have acted differently if you had your camera set to record DV? I think not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradley Mauro View Post
For what it's worth, the A1 manual says, on the top of page 23: "For recording in HDV we recommend you use videocassettes compatible with the HDV standard." I'm sure they do, since the HDV pro tapes cost a heck of a lot more! Who knows? Perhaps if I had simply ignored the error message, the camera would have worked fine, but it seems a fairly small thing to worry about. If the A1 wants certain tapes, I'm happy to feed them to it - it sure turns out some nice pictures in return.
That merely means, it's best to use a high quality tape with a low droput rate shooting HDV because droputs behave very differently than with DV. It's not as forgiving.

Bill
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Old April 8th, 2007, 06:31 AM   #8
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[Quote]For recording in HDV we recommend you use videocassettes compatible with the HDV standard."[/Quote}

Note use of the word "Recommend," not "require." The sentience before that reads "Use only videocassettes marked with the MiniDV logo which is the requirement.

As Bill confirms, you can use any MiniDV tape for SD or HDV format, but high quality tape will give better results more consistent. The difference will not be a loss of image color, additional noise, horizontal streaks, or lower resolution, as can happen with low quality analog tape stock. With lower quality MiniDV tape stock you can expect to see more image banding, breakup and other digital tape read error artifacts, and perhaps a need to clean you heads more often. Because HDV uses MPEG type encoding, a tape imperfection artifact that lasts for one frame in SD could appear for many frames with HDV.

If you have had good results with specific MiniDV tapes shooting SD video in the past, go ahead and give that tape a try for your practive HDV shooting, and SD shooting if you like and let your results be your guide. But know what results you can expect to get from what ever tape you plan to use before you go into an important or a money shoot.

Again, blank tape is about the lowest cost part of a shoot, even if you splurge on the highest price tape.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 10:48 AM   #9
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Not that I have tried it yet but do you think that the message of "Please Remove the Cassette" would appear if:

1) The cassette is a standard Mini DV tape and
2) The XH A1 was set up to record in SD and not in HD.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 12:33 PM   #10
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I really don't know that much about tapes, but I've had the A1 since release and have used nothing but Panny PQ's with NO dropouts. Not a one.

As far as a "quality of picture" between PQ's and MQ's with the A1... I couldn't tell you since all I have used is the PQ's... but to me I don't see anything bad. I've been perfectly content.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 12:48 PM   #11
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It really doesn't matter if it says HDV or DV. The standard that it is writing to is 25Mbps to tape. It's data that's written to tape and not analog music. A higher quality tapes does not improve the 0 or the 1 that was written to tape. The quality of the tape has to do with longevity and it's tape quality and it's ability to write the 0 or 1 under worsening cirumcstances. All miniDV tapes will write 25Mbps data stream. Some will drop a few bits here and there.

But basically, as stated above, use a master quality tape for longevity. You don't want to lose any data to the bit bucket... :(
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Old April 8th, 2007, 01:33 PM   #12
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Tape use information!

1. There can be no difference in picture quality between ANY two tapes because all that is recorded is digital 1's and 0's. This is not linear, it is digital. There is no color or brightness differences, it is all digital, one’s and zero’s.

2. The only difference between standard MiniDV tapes and those sold as HDV MiniDV tapes is a degree of quality control during the manufacturing process. That does not mean that you won't have problems with the better tapes, you will if you don't follow the basic use principles. I have used nothing but Sony Premium tapes in all of my cameras, including two HDV cameras and now my HXL1 and have had not one drop out! These tapes cost about $3.00 each.

3. The very first thing to do when you receive your new camera is to run a cleaning tape through it. During manufacture, packaging and shipping there is a great possibility of various deposits getting onto the heads and tape drive mechanism. Go get a cleaning tape, brand does not matter. Use it about ten seconds at a time and use the tape only once, do not rewind. Clean your camera at a regular time interval, your decision, but many people use about 20 hours as a guideline. If you wait until a drop-out or another error happens, you have just defeated the purpose of using the cleaning tape to prevent errors. Don't be afraid to use a cleaning tape, that’s what they are for.

4. Few people recommend "Blacking" or "Striping" tapes any longer. This involved running the new tape through the camera with the lens cover on to lay down time code on the entire length of the tape. I do recommend fast forwarding and rewinding, if you have time, to insure the tape is tensioned properly before use. This may also eliminate getting that “Remove Cassette” error as the tape will be properly positioned and ready to use.

5. It is best to use the same tape all of the time. Tapes have two different types of lubricant, wet and dry. Think of them as graphite and light oil and of course very controlled and not like you and I would apply them. Anyway, if you mix the two kinds of lube you will get a sticky mess on the heads and other parts. So pick one brand of tapes and stick to them. If you buy tapes in bulk, say 20 to 50 at a time as I do, it will save you a LOT of money and go a long way toward insuring that you don't run out of your tape brand and have to use another brand. If you absolutely have to use another tape brand in an emergency, clean the heads on your camera before doing so.

6. Each brand of tape is slightly different. There are only about three manufactures, but many many brand names. You just don't generally know who made each brand. For example, Canon sells their own brand of HDV tapes, but they don't make them! The point being that you should stick to one brand again. This time the reason is that over a period of time, each tape will wear its own personalized grove onto the heads of your camera. This "mating" process helps to insure a good and proper contact between the tape and the heads. This will result in fewer errors, drop-outs etc... This is a good thing! Again, if you switch brands it may take quite a while for the mating process to be completed again, and generally you will get more wear. New grooves will have to be worn in and old ones removed. We are not talking thousandths here, it is in millionths of and inch or less, but it all adds up to wear and tear on your cameras heads and an increased chance of errors.

I hope that this information is helpful in making your decisions.

Thanks-Mike
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Old April 9th, 2007, 10:34 AM   #13
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I have had three miniDV cameras in my short recording history.

The first was a Canon GL1. I used the cheapest tapes at the local electronics store. Never had any problems.

The second was a Canon Gl2. I continuted to use the cheapest tapes, whatever brand, that I could get my hands on. Occasionally when switching tapes I'd get the message telling me to run the head cleaning tape. After a while I figured out this mostly happened right after switching brands of tape. So I stuck with the cheapest Panasonic tapes and never had any problems after that. I've probably recorded on 400 of these tapes in my GL2.

My current camera is the Canon XH-A1. Immediately after receiving it I was at an event and shot 10 tapes worth of footage. All on the cheap Panasonic.. I don't even know the Panasonic model for the tape but they're like $2.59 each if you buy the 10 packs. Anyhow, I had several dropouts. I'd never experienced this before and thought there was something wrong with the camera at first. I came here, did some reading, and bought some Panasonic AMQ's from B&H. So far I have run 30 of these through the camera and have had no drop outs so far.

So I would contend it does affect picture quality in that a dropout is pretty ugly and can ruin a shot. The good tapes do cost more, a little more than double actually, but it's worth it in the long run compared to what you're trying to get done.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 01:44 PM   #14
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Can someone post a link to B&H where they sell the AMQ panny tapes? They have a few MQ pannies on B&H... I want to make sure I get the right ones. I'm going to do a little comparison test with my PQ's.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 02:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deke Ryland View Post
I'm going to do a little comparison test with my PQ's.
Deke,

What specifically are you going to compare?

Thanks in advance-----Mike
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