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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old May 14th, 2009, 06:35 PM   #1
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clarifying head-cleaning instructions

This is the first time I'm cleaning the heads on my XL2, in accordance with the camera's message, but it isn't clear to me whether I'm suppose to run my Sony cleaning cassette in play or record mode. The instructions say "do not to use this cassette to record" (isn't that obvious?), so I wanted to make sure something didn't get garbled in translation, and what they really meant was not "don't use this cassette in record mode!"

The XL2 manual provides no enlightenment on this matter.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 08:31 PM   #2
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Using the head cleaning cassette in playback mode will be fine. Follow the directions on the cassette to the letter. I generally do not recommend to anyone to use a head cleaning cassette anyway, because it's like taking sandpaper to them. I do recommend having one in your camera bag in case you get a head clog in the field. If your camera becomes unusable due to foreign material on the heads you certainly have to use something.

A far better course of action is to take your camera into an authorized repair facility and have them clean and adjust the tape transport mechanisms properly.

- Don
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Old May 15th, 2009, 12:24 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Don Greening View Post
...I generally do not recommend to anyone to use a head cleaning cassette anyway...

- Don
I would have to disagree with Don's quote. A simple 5 to 10 second (max) use of a good cleaning tape does no harm and has a positive aspect in that it keeps the heads clean and lets you continue filming without hiccup - and avoids hefty repair bills further down the line.

When the "clean heads" warning appears in the viewfinder it is time to get out the cleaning tape, but often it is a wise rule to run the cleaning tape for a few seconds at any time when you see bands forming in the viewfinder display well before the 'warning' shows in the display.

A good confirmed rule is always to stick to the same brand of dry tapes (Sony, Panasonic, JVC etc) and not change between brands. If you purchase a secondhand camcorder and don't know the make of tapes that the previous owner used, make sure to do a 10-15 second run through with a cleannig tape before you begin to use your chosen brand of new tapes (I prefer JVC, but feedback shows that it doesn't realy matter as long as you remain brand consistant).

In this same mode of thought, I also try to always use the same brand of cleaning tape as the main tapes used in the camcorder - eg if you use Sony tapes, then also use Sony cleaning tapes.

A single cleaning tape that is only occasionally run over the heads for 5-seconds to wipe off grime will last you an extremely long time, so well worth always keeping one in your bag.

The XL series of cameras - XL1; XL1s, XL2, XL-H1, XL-H1s etc are all well-built and able to take a lot of stick and prolonged use in difficult climatic conditions worldwide, and I've never had any problems with any of the models I've used so far through use of a cleaning tape.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 11:01 PM   #4
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Hi Dave,

I agree with Tony, run the tape in playback and ONLY for 10 second max.

Stick with one brand of video tape and you should have no problems.

In the old days we used to clean 1 and 2 inch decks with Q-Tips and isopropyl alcohol and never trashed a video head.
And if that couldn't trash a video head a head cleaning tape not going to do it.

Terry
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Old May 17th, 2009, 02:21 PM   #5
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Hi Terry and Tony,

As someone who has only used Panasonic tapes in their XL2 for three years, I may need to buy Sony tapes soon (as I didn't have time to re-order for the next shoot).

Here's a newb question for you both--Do you run the tape head cleaner FIRST, then the other brand name tape? (Would seem logical to do so, but wanted to make sure first :)

Thanks!
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Old May 17th, 2009, 02:23 PM   #6
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Oops! Just re-read Tony's post and he said to run the tape cleaner before hand and then put in your brand tape.

Best,
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Old May 19th, 2009, 10:29 AM   #7
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Thanks to for all the sound advice. Now that I've had a chance to inspect the results of 3 hours of shooting following a 10-second cassette cleaning, I face another dilemma. I've come across 3 instances of horizontal barring (image breakup), each lasting 1-2 seconds, and can't decide whether to run the cleaning cassette through one more time, or take the camera in for service. The problem is brief and infrequent, but nonetheless disturbing. Any thoughts?
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Old May 19th, 2009, 12:12 PM   #8
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Horizontal barring? I know what you mean. I already run tape cleaner, I switched tapes from Sony to Panasonic, and the problem, though infrequent (1 or 2 per hour of footage), persists. Thinking about having the heads proffesionally cleaned by Canon (never had this done before).

Piotr
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Old May 19th, 2009, 12:21 PM   #9
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The horizontal barring usually means that there is still some gunk on the heads.

Play the Cleaning tape through for another short 5-10 second run and it should then be OK.

If it still is a problem when you replace with the normal tape, then try to record normally with a brand new tape and then watch the playback to see if there is still any banding.
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Old May 21st, 2009, 05:32 PM   #10
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I generally run the head cleaning tape twice: once in playback mode and once in record mode (assuming that the record head isn't cleaned otherwise). I only do this on rare occasion, maybe twice per year, and I've never had a problem so far... but am I subjecting my XL2s to unnecessary wear and tear by cleaning in both playback mode and record mode?
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Old May 21st, 2009, 05:41 PM   #11
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Hi Ryan,

No need to clean the heads in both modes. It's the same heads either way.

Terry
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Old June 12th, 2009, 08:27 AM   #12
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What brand of normal recording tape should I use for the XL2?

I was thinking Canon brand but there are 2 options, so if Canon tapes are the right tapes then witch one?

THANKS
CJ
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Old June 12th, 2009, 09:11 AM   #13
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What brand of normal recording tape should I use for the XL2?
If I were you I'd choose a tape and stick with it. Tape is tape, and you won't get better pictures or sound if you use a $1 tape or a $10 tape, if you shoot LP, SP or DVCAM.

tom.
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