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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old October 31st, 2001, 11:11 AM   #1
Tourist
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada
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Repair problem

Hi all,
Just new to this forum - what a GREAT idea!!
I have had an XL-1 for 2 years now. I was generally very happy with its performance until last winter when I started to see drop-outs/glitches appearing on the tapes. This problem was at its worst during one of my biggest jobs this summer (naturally!?) while shooting for the Sports Channel. I used a head cleaning tape a couple of times and this cleared away the vast majority of the drop-outs - but they still occasionally occured. I have been using DV for many years now and one of the things that most impressed me was the rarity of drop-outs. Now I feel that i can't rely on my camera.
I took my XL-1 to the Canon Canada Customer Service Centre in Toronto to have it looked at. Just as I was leaving, another customer came up to me and relayed a "horror story" he has experienced "trying" to get his 3 XL-1's repaired!? This obviously unnerved me.
When I got my estimate they said it needed a new "Recorder Unit" (over $900). I called to see exactly what the problem might be but was told that I couldn't speak to the techician and that it was simply a "wear-and-tear" issue?? I use the camera professionally but take extremely good care of it and certainly do not use it to excess. So I find it hard to believe that it simply "wore out" - just 6 months after the warranty ran out!? I wanted to find out more specifics on what the problem was so I don't repeat it, but could get no extra info. When I asked if the new Recorder Unit would "wear out" in about a year, I got the answer - "possibly"!? That is what I find very hard to swallow. I don't think its reasonable to expect a camera to fail so soon or so regularily. I don't know whether its worth proceeding with the repair if the XL-1 is this unreliable. Perhaps I should get it back and clean the heads myself - anyone have any head-cleaning tips?
Have any of you experienced similar problems? Besides the guy I met at Canon, I knew of 1 other fellow who could not get his 2 XL-1's fixed and eventually Canon took them back. Up to this point I really liked the camera and its concept, but now my faith in it is shaken. Any input would be appreciated.

Doug Knutson
Windswept Productions
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Old October 31st, 2001, 05:39 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Northern VA
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How may record/playback/pause mode hours on the unit?
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Old November 1st, 2001, 12:43 PM   #3
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Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada
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I don't know and am not sure how to find out (is there a hidden head-hours counter as in Betacam?)? Not that much over 2 years - I would say "normal" use, certainly no more and probably less than other cameras I have used. For a couple of projects I used the camera as deck to feed my Final Cut Pro and I wondered if all that shuttling, pausing, FF, etc. might have caused the problem - but the problem occured before this.
All I seem to get from Canon is that the heads have "worn out" - why, with such modest use and little time, is what I would like to find out. Am I doing something wrong (ie. using the wrong tapes, using it as a deck, not cleaning the heads enough - or too much??....) - there must be something. If the heads/recorder unit simply wears out a few months after the warranty expires, then I don't want this camera.

Speaking of head-cleaning - is there a "proper" way to clean XL-1 heads? Can't seem to get an answer on this.
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Old November 1st, 2001, 08:09 PM   #4
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Cleaning? Its in the manual. Only clean the heads when you start to see evidence of dirty heads during playback. Cleaning heads wears them because cleaning tape is an abrasive.

Head life should be on the order of 1000 hours of record/playback/pause time. But frequent head cleaning adds wear and shortens head life.
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