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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old February 4th, 2003, 03:53 AM   #1
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problem in cold weather situation

Hi guys,

I just returned from Austria, where I did a documentary about extreme ironing. Some people find it fun to iron their clothes on top of a mountain, or hanging upside down in a tree. I don't lie, in Germany and Austria this is an official sport, with world championships and everything.

So, I was filming these crazy guys in a sub zero enviroment, sometimes a little bit snow was falling on my XL1s. Everything went fine, until i had to change a tape.
I couldn't : REMOVE THE CASSETE was flashing in my viewfinder. The tape was ejected before I could press on the rec-button again. I tried over and over again, but the red sign kept on flashing. I tried several new tapes, it didn't help me.

I was terrified : I made a 15 houres-trip (I come from Belgium) to film, and the camera was letting me down. After carefully heating the XL1S up with a little gasburner from some distance, suddenly it worked : the camera accepted a tape again. I was so lucky!

Until I tried to watch the footage. I was getting back, on a nighttrain from München to Brussels when I putted the VCR-mode on, and wanted to watch my images.
Blue image!!!! Like nothing was recorded! No time-indication, nothing. I rewinded every cassete (I had 4 houres footage), pressed the play-button, and all I saw was a blue image. Second nervous breakdown!!!

This happended to me last week-end. The camera is now in my livingroom, and has a normal temperature by now. The tapes too.
Now I can see someting, but all images all distorted with grey horizontal lines.

Any reaction?

Thanks!
Dimitri.
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Old February 4th, 2003, 04:02 AM   #2
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In what tempature where you recording? I have recorded to
around -5 degrees celsius I think without any problems. I did
have a few glitches with some big bang from fireworks during
the cycling of years...
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Old February 4th, 2003, 08:02 AM   #3
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It must have been around -5° Celsius. I'm not wondered : the video-drums are very sensible. Due to the temperature, the tension of the magnetic 'wire' in the tapes can change.
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Old February 4th, 2003, 08:06 AM   #4
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I've read another post, one by Jeff Donald. It explains everything :


The temperature rating is a safety factor for Canon (and the user). Many strange things can happen below freezing. Motors get sluggish, tapes transport can slow down, LCD VF get dark etc. Canon doesn't want to try to trouble shoot all the possible camera malfunctions for below freezing temperatures. It could be a warranty nightmare. Instead, limit the specs to a range that the camera will give reliable performance.


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Old February 4th, 2003, 10:31 AM   #5
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You can get special "jacket" for the XL1s to keep it warm in low
temperatures. Try doing a search on polar. I don't think this will
be very cheap though.
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Old February 4th, 2003, 11:13 AM   #6
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Those polar jackets aren't cheap. $320 minimum for a new Portabrace. I was going to buy one this year, but I'm saving my cash for a new lense.
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Old February 4th, 2003, 11:48 AM   #7
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Brrrrrrr

I made a cover for mine. It's basically a raincover (open at the bottom) made from an old insulated ski bib. Inside, on both sides next to where it rests against the camera housing, I sewed pockets to hold a chemical hand-warmer. Works great, and it eliminated the problem I was having with the zoom getting jerky when the camera was cold.

PS: It keep my hands warm, too.
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Old February 4th, 2003, 02:22 PM   #8
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Charles' solution is a good one. I have a PortaBrace Polar Bear cover for my GL2 which has worked pretty well shooting all the way down to about -10F.

Building a similar cover for my XL1s would be time-consuming sewing work but it certainly can be done. There are 3 locations where you want to build interior mesh pockets for chemical hand-wamer packets: over the battery, over the lens motor and over the tape door. I would think that you could build an insulating insert for an XL1s rain cover from PolarFleece or another similar synthetic insulating bat material. Be sure to also fashion a lens cap/cover from this material, as the lens itself can lose alot of heat.

Without some temperature protection bad things will surely happen. Batteries die prematurely, lens servos get sluggish or freeze-up completely, the tape compartment's servos (which are very tiny) freeze quickly. Not to mention frost.
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Old February 5th, 2003, 08:03 AM   #9
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Way to be Charles...

That is a nice solution for those of us who don't have the dollars for a polar bag.

After stabbing myself with the needle a few times, I'll let you know. (There is this sweet elderly woman that lives in my building who loves to sew, maybe she will rescue me from my lack of sewing skills...)

Cheers!

Derrick
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