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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old May 15th, 2007, 11:19 PM   #1
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XL2 Tapes & Head Cleaners

Hi. We purchased a 2nd hand XL2 two years ago and have used it since. It was used for shooting and capture. We have used 4 different tape brands and a TDK Head Cleaner. We've cleaned the head but the tape eject sign still appears. We believe the camera should be put to service. How many hours of use can the XL2 heads take before they need to be serviced? Also, what is the best recommended brand of tape and head cleaner to use on the XL2? Do we need a certain head cleaner for the XLH1?
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Old May 16th, 2007, 09:56 AM   #2
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There is no specific set time for the XL2 to be serviced that I know of, but there is a general rule of thumb that many people adhere to: don't mix your tape types. Some tapes use a dry, powder-type lubricant and others use a wet lubricant. If you mix the two together, you can end up with a nasty mess on and around the heads. Canon don't address this issue in any of their literature, but it makes sense and it sure doesn't hurt to stick with one brand of tape.

They do speak to head cleaning, though. From page 110 of the Owner's Manual:

- To maintain the best picture quality, we recommend cleaning video heads frequently with the Canon DVM-CL Digital Video Head Cleaning Cassette or a commercially available dry cleaning cassette.
- Tapes already recorded with dirty video heads may not be played back correctly even when you clean the video heads.
- Do not use wet type cleaning cassettes as this may damage the camcorder.


If I were you and had been using different tape brands, I would at least have the heads cleaned professionally, if not a full service. After that, find a tape brand you like, and stick with it.

Finally, when I was looking at the Manual to answer your questions, I noticed a section on Condensation, right below the head cleaning text shown above. It occurred to me that New Guinea probably has some humidity associated with it's climate, and that taking an XL2 from an exterior shoot back to an air-conditioned home or office could cause some serious condensation problems. I suggest you read this portion of the Manual carefully.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 01:02 PM   #3
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I have been switching tape brands like crazy in Canon cameras for years, and I've had no troubles. Jack says that that the consensus is that it's bad to mix brands; that's not entirely true. Many will say that if you typically use one brand and then just switch out of the blue one day, that would be a bad idea. If, however, you switch brands often, then stick to that as a kind of routine.

At the end of the day, there's no scientific data that says switching brands is necessarily bad. To be fair, there's no proof that it's not bad, either. A lot of people buy into this whole thing, but I personally think it's a crock.

I certainly don't think it's logical to immediately assume your camera will need a full (and expensive) trip to the Canon Service Center simply because you've mixed tape brands. Lots and lots of people, like me, mix brands for years and years with zero issues. Send your camera to Canon when/if you have trouble with it--since you are having trouble, Melanie, maybe you do need to send it in. If you're a nervous type, send it to them once a year for routine cleaning and maintenance--if you can afford it. If you registered the camera and joined the "xl user's group," you'll get a discount on this routine maintenance.

As for the use of cleaning tapes: I think Jack's advice on this point is not quite right either (sorry Jack, no offense meant). For the most part, use them only when you are having trouble with your tapes (dropouts, etc.). They are very abrasive, as you might guess, and overuse of them will wear down your heads. Use them as little as possible. I can't even remember the last time I had to run mine through the camera.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 01:16 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarrod Whaley View Post
At the end of the day, there's no scientific proof that says switching brands is bad. There's no proof that it's not bad, either. A lot of people buy into this whole thing, but I personally think it's a myth.
I have no idea whether is a myth or not, but if i erred, it was on the side of caution. I did say, "...it sure doesn't hurt to stick with one brand of tape."

Quote:
As for the use of cleaning tapes: I think Jack's advice on this point is not quite right either (sorry Jack, no offense meant). For the most part, use them only when you are having trouble with your tapes (dropouts, etc.). They are very abrasive, as you might guess, and overuse of them will wear down your heads. Use them as little as possible.
That's OK, and I don't take any offense, but I didn't give any advice on cleaning tapes one way or the other. I simply quoted the Canon XL2 Instruction Manual.
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