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Old November 13th, 2002, 02:51 PM   #1
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Head Cleaning Cassette Tape

Hey Guys,

I'm just reviewing some of the previous threads, and thought I'd find out if anyone knows for SURE, how often one should use a head cleaning cassette. And a response of "whenever it's needed", doesn't really work for me either.
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Old November 13th, 2002, 03:55 PM   #2
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How about:

Whenever "you feel" it's needed?


Really, that's when I use one.
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Old November 13th, 2002, 04:26 PM   #3
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Why is that?

If I advise you to clean your heads before every time you switch tape brands or clean every time you have something worthwhile to shoot, you might
feel better at first that you have "solid" advice. Once your camera's heads are worn out in short order, you may change your mind about solid advice.

I NEVER clean unless I have a major shoot _and_ I haven't cleaned my heads in 100 hours of use. Or if have to switch tape brands after many hours of using the other brand.

I personally will not clean unless I get a clog. Hasn't happened in at least
300 hours of shooting, under all kinds of conditions, in the field.
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Old November 13th, 2002, 04:35 PM   #4
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If you are suffering from occaisonal dropouts then clearly you should try cleaning the heads, if not then clearly there is no need.

You will know when you need to clean the heads by the sure deterioration in recording quality, otherwise it is somewhat paranoid to worry about it.

I have heard that the use of a cleaning cassette can wipe out 4-10 hours of head life - frankly I find this hard to believe.

But in any case unless you are shooting 1000s of hours then obselescence is your enemy not wear - in other words you will probably change your camera for a newer model before it wears out, no matter how often you use a cleaning cassette. So I feel sure if you are in doubt use one, according to the instructions.

FYI, Canon says use one about every 20 hours in the manual, but I think if you use one good quality brand then this is conservative. I use nothing but Sony DVCAM mini cassettes and I have shot much much more than 20 hours and I have never used a cleaning tape, what is more I have never had a drop-out.
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Old November 13th, 2002, 05:17 PM   #5
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It really depends on how important the the work you shoot is and if it can be reshoot should a problem develop. Keep in mind that dropouts can occur at any time and have various causes. Just by regularly cleaning the heads does not mean a dropout will never occur. If your shooting events that cannot easily be reshoot than I would clean the heads before the start. What's better a wedding with no audio or a tape head with 4 hours less life on it? I shoot some scenes for clients that would be almost impossible to reshoot. If the taping was not satisfactory because of dropouts or other defects I could loose the client. Better safe than sorry for those type jobs.

Other projects I do like taping hawks in flight, I don't worry so much about. I also have the opportunity to review that material in the field. If I start to see a problem I can run a cleaning tape through it and keep taping.

With digital I don't worry so much about head wear. Analog recording and cleaning reduced the head life (and picture quality) with each pass. Digital is either recording a signal or not. Digital picture quality is good or not.

Jeff
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Old November 13th, 2002, 06:17 PM   #6
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Didn't someone say that running a cleaning tape through between switching brands wasn't really sufficient, and that you should get a professional cleaning if you're going to switch?
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Old November 13th, 2002, 09:50 PM   #7
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I'm very comfortable with opening up an XL1 and using a swab to clean various posts, rollers and drum. However, the post production facility I used to own did repairs. So, I don't recommend opening up your camera. But cleaning tapes do not remove all the residue from the rollers. I've run cleaning tapes and then cleaned the camera with a swap. The second cleaning removes various amounts of debris from the parts. Would it be enough to clog the heads? Probably not but you can never tell. If you switch tapes a lot, I would routinely clean with a swap fairly regularly.

Jeff
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Old November 13th, 2002, 10:20 PM   #8
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Just sort of stick a q tip in there and clean away?
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Old November 13th, 2002, 10:57 PM   #9
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Only if you like giving Canon lots of your money. I don't recommend opening your camera unless you've been trained or recently won the lottery. If you switch tapes a lot be prepared to have a pro clean your tape path and heads fairly often or get trained on how to do it. Part of cleaning the heads is by feel. It isn't really something I can teach over the internet. It would be like trying to teach someone how to drive a stick shift over the net. It might be possible but the clutch would be a little worse for wear.

Jeff
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Old November 14th, 2002, 06:59 PM   #10
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Why is changing tape brands a reason to clean the heads?

Steve Siegel
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Old November 14th, 2002, 07:13 PM   #11
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Different brands use different chemicals to coat their tapes. When these chemicals mix, they can goop up.

I also heard on another list somewhere a fellow who used compressed air (from a large compressor)to clean his heads (on a deck). He claimed he could just blow the debris away. Never having looked inside my camcorder closely, I would worry that you might blow other little bits and parts away as well.

To those who have 'gone inside', how feasible does the above sound? If the head could be isolated for the air blast do you think it would work?

Ken
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Old November 14th, 2002, 07:21 PM   #12
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It is not the recommended procedure in any service manual I'm aware of. Many times there are small springs that could easily be dislodged from there fastenings by a misdirected blast of compressed air. After all, accidents do happen.

Jeff
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Old November 14th, 2002, 10:59 PM   #13
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Just spend the $100 to get your heads cleaned, and demand that your camera only accept a certain tape brand from then on, unless your clients want to include the cost of a cleaning in whatever they're paying you. That's my two cents.
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Old January 24th, 2003, 03:30 PM   #14
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Head Cleaning Tape

Anyone use the head cleaning tapes?

If so how often do you use it on the XL1s??? Or does everyone just clean them with head cleaning tape if show signs needing cleaned, or do you just get it cleaned professionally during a yearly check up service?
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Old January 24th, 2003, 03:45 PM   #15
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It's an absolute necessity. I generally run one after every 15-20 hrs. There are instructions and recommendation included with the tapes.
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