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Old April 24th, 2002, 11:11 PM   #1
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Bad or dirty playback head?

Our XL-1 which has served us so well during a non-stop shoot for over a month finally began to show a little wear and tear today.

Four blank horizontal bars appear on the screen only on playback. We can record with the camera and playback on another machine with no problems -- the bars appear on playback in the XL-1 only.

We tried cleaning the heads with a proper swab and head cleaner. We also tried a cleaning cassette. Neither method cured the problem.

Question - before I send the camera into Canon for repair, what's the consensus here - a badly clogged playback head that simply needs a more aggressive cleaning method (if so, what? how?) OR a permanently damaged playback head that needs to be sent to Canon for replacement? (The XL-1 got it's annual Canon checkup three months ago, prior to the current shoot.)

With the older, larger heads, cleaning was a simple matter, but these heads are so miniscule, I hesitate to do much tampering.

Thank you for any advise you might offer.
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Old April 24th, 2002, 11:31 PM   #2
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Ozzie,

I had the same problem about 6 months ago and no amount of cleaning seemed to fix the problem. I sent it to Canon and they fixed it no problems. Cost about $150
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Old April 24th, 2002, 11:38 PM   #3
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Thanks Adrian. Did you ever find out what the problem was? It's a little unusual for the playback heads to go since the camera is rarely used for playback.
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Old April 25th, 2002, 01:54 AM   #4
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It was all written in Japanese but from what I could make out they just gave it a good clean, maybe ultrasonically. For the cost they wouldn't have relpaced the head.
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Old April 25th, 2002, 06:41 AM   #5
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Hi,

Playback heads get the same wear and tear as the record heads. They are on the same upper drum assembly and the tape moves across them just the same. I'll pass on a quick trick that has saved me on a couple occasions. Fast forward a brand new tape. In playback mode put the camera into reverse scan or search. This "scrubs" the tape across the playback heads and many times works to remove the particles clogging the offending head.

I can't speak for Canon but the engineers at my old company used 99.99% pure denatured alcohol for cleaning the heads. Most solvants sold over the counter just aren't strong enough.

Jeff
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Old April 25th, 2002, 08:57 PM   #6
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Thanks for the tip. 99.99% denatured alcohol is what we used. I also tried your method of fast rewind. This is a pesky clog. The camera is on its way to Canon.
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Old May 14th, 2002, 07:01 PM   #7
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cameraworks for dummies

Our newest XL1s has less than 5 hours of use. Yesterday, we were shooting near a river on a hot day, took both cameras back to the studio, and had almost the exact problem Ozzie mentioned on playback (only the new one). It didn't happen every time we played, but almost.

Today we bought a head cleaner but decided to check the camera first. No matter what we do we can't duplicate the problem. Here's another part I don't understand, even after reading jtdonald's remarks: is it possible we could get into a shoot and have this intermittant problem affect the recording aspect, or will it just be on playback? Obviously, I don't know how these things work; I just don't want to mess up a paying job by having one bad camera. We've got a live performance at the end of the month, and I'm worried about getting the camera back from Canon in time. Any thoughts?

While I'm at it, any suggestions for a nice hands-free communications outfit (for audio guy and two camera operators)? Thanks!
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Old May 14th, 2002, 07:33 PM   #8
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Camcorderlady,

Sorry I can't recommend a good crew in Idaho, but there are quite a few in New York.

For what it's worth, the problem with my XL-1 turned out to be, according to the Canon repairshop, a bad drum. I'm not convinced their diagnosis was correct but I had no time to argue and I reluctantly dished out the $400+ it cost to replace. No need to worry since the intermittent nature of your problem suggests nothing more than a clogged playback head... I think.
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Old May 14th, 2002, 07:54 PM   #9
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Thanks for the reassurances, Ozzie, and I'm sorry about the repair bill. Ouch.

In reading my post I see that last question was really poorly worded. I meant something like high-quality walkie talkies for us--we ARE the crew!

Lorinda
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Old May 14th, 2002, 08:35 PM   #10
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Hi,
This seems to be an ongoing problem and I think it will get worse with the new tape transport system in the XL-1s. I think a lot of the problem is that if you ever, even once used a different tape, with a different lubricant, you're up the creek. I've had my XL-1 for 2 years and never had a problem, but I always use the same brand and type. Since the first tape, I have used Sony Excellence, so far no problems.

Bruce
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