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Old January 18th, 2010, 11:16 AM   #1
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[XL2] Head Cleaning

So a couple weekends ago I had a shoot. I lost my entire first scene when I got the dreaded 'Clean Camera Heads' message. Even though (I thought) I had cleaned them the night before (before the message appeared, I was just trying to be prepared).

So the message showed up after filming for awhile, and I ran the head cleaner. The first two or three times, the message didn't go away, and I ran the cleaner again, until finally, after 4 times, the message went away. I don't know if it was the tape that wasn't doing its job, or maybe it wasn't rewinding enough? Or my heads were THAT dirty?

Anyways, so the message went away finally, and I continued shooting. I shot about 2 hours of footage the rest of the weekend.
After I captured I was watching the footage, and while 80% of it looks good, like it should, and ALWAYS has up until now, the other 20%, while not broken up by bands like the scene I shot before the cleaning, has pixelation in a way I have never seen with my camera.
I mean, even within a shot, the picture will go from pixelated to normal.

At this point, I guess I need to send in my camera for a professional cleaning/inspection (its about 4 years old).
But in the meantime, I have another short coming up in the next couple days. Is there something I can do to eliminate/minimize the chances of the pixelation occurring again?

This is really distressing. Of everything I don't do right on a shoot, I have never had to worry about picture quality at least!

Lee
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Old January 18th, 2010, 05:56 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Lee Stokes View Post
I don't know if it was the tape that wasn't doing its job, or maybe it wasn't rewinding enough?
Hi Lee,
I don't think I can offer any input regarding whether or not there are potentially other things going on with the heads that may cause you to experience the problems you are having.

But I must mention that the one thing that popped out at me regarding your post was your notation about rewinding.

How exactly are you using your cleaning tape?

Your reference to rewinding the cleaning tape first led me to wonder if you are running your cleaning tape all the way through during a cleaning, and then rewinding it to be used again for your next cleaning. Is this so?

If that is the case, then I'm wondering if you are not using the cleaning tape correctly, and subsequently may have even caused damage to the heads.

Typically, a cleaning tape ( in my experience ) is intended to be used in short intervals. I have read manufacturers' notations of 20 to 30 seconds after every 50 hours of use.

Conventional wisdom from many shooters I've spoken to suggest more realistically approximately 10 to 15 seconds after every 15 to 25 hours of use.

When the tape has reached its end, chuck it out and and get a new one. Some folks mention being able to get a reliable 2nd run out of the used tape, but since this is technically escalating the potential of depositing previously cleaned grime back onto the heads, this doesn't seem to be a prudent practice.

The cleaning tape is rather abrasive to cam heads. This is why it is recommended to use in short intervals only, so that it is relegated to scaling off the surface buildup on the heads, while impacting the actual head surface as little as possible.

Frequent use of such a tape at long intervals (such as using the entire tape at once) increases the likelihood of permanent marring damage to the head surface, and potentially requiring re-lapping or replacement.

-Jon
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Last edited by Jonathan Jones; January 18th, 2010 at 09:17 PM. Reason: fixed mixed up wording
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Old January 19th, 2010, 06:43 PM   #3
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Jonathan...

Yikes, now you've scared me! Thats exactly what I have done. Run the whole tape, and then rewound it for use again later.
Holy moley, I better look into this pronto.

Thanks so much, the first thing I will do is chuck the tape I have!

Lee
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Old January 19th, 2010, 07:06 PM   #4
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Cleaning Tape and XL-2 --

Hi Lee,

If you send in your camera to have it cleaned, etc., check out using a "dry" based mini-DV tape versus "wet" tape. I used Panasonic AYDVM63AMQ tapes for quite some time with hardly an issue. My understanding is that "wet" lubed tapes tend to leave more tape particles on the heads. You just don't want to go from dry to wet and back to dry lubed tapes.

And yes - never - ever - rewind a cleaning tape - I think you can get dry based cleaning tapes also. I would usually run the cleaning tape for 8-10 seconds maximum. I did not clean the heads until the "clean heads" message popped up. Good luck.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 06:53 AM   #5
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Lee, if possible, you should never re-use the same cleaning tape. Use it once and then replace it with a new one in your bag (they are cheap enough). The Canon tape-heads can take a lot more wear and tear than most people think, but using new cleaning tapes does help to prevent the build up of unwanted particles.

You don't need to run the tape for as long as 30 seconds. Often 5 seconds is normally long enough to clean the dust particles off the heads. I rarely let the cleaning tape run more than 10-seconds.

I use my cameras in adverse conditions of hot dusty/rain/foggy/snow/frosty climates worldwide and only once have I ever needed to run a cleaning tape for longer than normal, and that was when some stubborn gunge must have been on the heads and I needed to run the tape for about 25-sceconds and that cleaned it enough to continue filming.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 12:59 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Tony Davies-Patrick View Post
Lee, if possible, you should never re-use the same cleaning tape. Use it once and then replace it with a new one in your bag (they are cheap enough). The Canon tape-heads can take a lot more wear and tear than most people think, but using new cleaning tapes does help to prevent the build up of unwanted particles.

You don't need to run the tape for as long as 30 seconds. Often 5 seconds is normally long enough to clean the dust particles off the heads. I rarely let the cleaning tape run more than 10-seconds.

I use my cameras in adverse conditions of hot dusty/rain/foggy/snow/frosty climates worldwide and only once have I ever needed to run a cleaning tape for longer than normal, and that was when some stubborn gunge must have been on the heads and I needed to run the tape for about 25-sceconds and that cleaned it enough to continue filming.
Thanks everyone for the heads up about not re-using cleaning tapes. From now on I will only run it for 10 seconds, and when it reaches it end, I will toss it.
Meanwhile I am looking into getting the camera serviced, which I have never done, and its almost 4 years old now.

Lee
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