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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 11:32 AM   #1
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Advice please xl1,xl2 users

Hi,
My canon xl1s was bought used less than two years ago.
The camera had the "Eject cassette" problem, so me and the seller decided to send the camera to Canon authorized service center (only one here).
We ended with new tape transport unit (including video head).

A few weeks ago I had a message "Insert cleaning cassette head is dirty".
The time code was broken (started again from zero) and I got pixelation (you can see it on the attached grabs).
Sent the camera to Canon and after a week I got a reply that the camera looks OK and there is no problem with it. After I insisted on another check, I got a reply that there is a problem with the video head and it must be replaced .
And that what we did (payed for that).
After an hour of use I had that message again with pixelation and broken timecode.
Send it to canon again, this time I had a reply that there was no alternative but to change all transport unit (including video head again).
This time I was not charged.
But...you guessed right, after less than an hour of use , pixelation again!

I am sending the camera again for repair.
Meanwhile, if any of you had this phenomenon and know what really is the problem and how to deal with it, please let me know.
If any of you is or was a canon tech person it would be even better.

Thanks
Sassi
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Old February 4th, 2008, 09:49 AM   #2
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that's a dirty head...happens every once in a while. Have you tried a head cleaning tape? Also, always use the same brand of tape to help avoid that.

1 other thing I do when possible (when shooting on a fresh tape) is to "pack" the tape...meaning when you first insert a new tape, fast forward it all the way to the end and than rewind it back to the beginning. This also helps to avoid head clogs.
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Old February 4th, 2008, 10:32 AM   #3
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I see the posted images are in a sandy/beach location. Any chance you are getting sand or airborne dust in the camcorder. That will play havoc with with the camcorder.
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Old February 4th, 2008, 12:50 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies,
From your replies I understand that this kind of pixelation is expected when the video head is dirty, but shouldn't a cleaning cassette solve the problem?
There was nothing special with that location (I don't think sand got into the camera).
And a new head getting dirty after 15mins of use don't make logic (and that happened twice).
I heard of users getting that message after a few years of use not minutes.
Sassi
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Old February 4th, 2008, 09:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sassi Haham View Post
Thanks for the replies,
From your replies I understand that this kind of pixelation is expected when the video head is dirty, but shouldn't a cleaning cassette solve the problem?
There was nothing special with that location (I don't think sand got into the camera).
And a new head getting dirty after 15mins of use don't make logic (and that happened twice).
I heard of users getting that message after a few years of use not minutes.
Sassi
When I purchased my 1st used XL1s the first thing I did was clean the heads with a tape head cleaner. One pass of the head cleaning tape was not enough. I started using the head cleaning tape every time I changed tapes for something like ten tape changes. After three consecutive cleanings I noticed a distinct drop in odd behaviors. After ten cleanings most issues has disappeared. I guess it takes a long time to get rid of all of the contamination one gets if tape brands are changed.

In regard to "packing the tape" ... Years ago, multi-projector 35mm slide presentations were driven by a data track recorded onto 1/4" reel-to-reel audio tape. When our "show" moved to a new location we would often have timing irregularities during the first run of the show in rehearsal which would not occur during the second run.
We finally surmised the tape would slip laterally during in the jostle of transport and get bound within the reel, causing friction and therefore drag. The drive motors of the playback deck couldn't maintain constant playback speed, which threw all of the cues out of sync.. Once we started fast-forwarding and then rewinding the reel our problems disappeared.
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 09:10 PM   #6
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One question I would ask is if you are reusing the tapes. I got those same problems you were getting when I reuse tapes.

Discontinuous timecodes can also occur when you reverse tapes. Also if you are recording over old tapes you can have the same problem.

As far as tapes go, it is a good idea to stick to one brand of tape. Mixing tape brands can cause tracking problems. A pass with the head cleaner helps when you are switching brands, but mostly I try to stick to one brand to minimize this problem.

Another tip is to secure a clunker Canon miniDV camcorder. Use this camcorder to act as your tape drive. You can advance, rewind, and process all your video. That is what I do and allows me to keep all the extra time off the XL's tape drive.
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