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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old March 27th, 2003, 11:27 PM   #1
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I Just got home from shooting some footage at a church. (nothing to important but stuff I wanted to keep) I have a xl1s which I just got about 3 weeks ago. (very happy) But all the footage from start to finish was grey, over half of the whole screen was grey. Now it's partly my own fault because about 30 min into it the camera flashed telling me the video heads needed cleaning, well I didn't have a cleaning tape (I know but I just bought the thing and needed more money).

But what I'm kinda mad about is that all the way up to that 30 min it never told me the heads were dirty, but the whole tape from start to finish is like that. Is there anyway to salvage the tape? What do I need to do in the future to avoid this?

Thanks

p.s. I used a Maxell tape in SP
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Old March 27th, 2003, 11:41 PM   #2
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I consistently use cheap tapes. I used to always get Maxells but I found some pana's even cheaper, so I switched. For price, nothing else. NARY a problem.

The key with DV is to never change the type of tape you use without first cleaning the heads. Apparently there are different types of lube in the tape material and mixing them can cause some gunking up of the heads.

This can get tricky when you have a batch of old tapes and then switch to different ones when going from taping to replaying them.

Head cleaning should only be done as few times as possible as it's a bit abbrasive.

Ya never know if the head was clogged during the recording or during the playback, so give it a go and let us know!
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Old March 28th, 2003, 12:10 AM   #3
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Jacob,
Sorry to hear of your misfortune. I don't know if the footage is recoverable but I wouldn't bet on it.

A cleaning cassette is really an essential component of any kit.

But 3 weeks does not sound like enough time to clog-up the heads unless
  • you've been shooting ALOT of footage,
  • you're re-using old tapes over and over, or
  • you bought the camera used and did not send it to Canon for servicing after purchase.
Are any of these the case?

Tape brands and usage are frequent topics here, and the subject is a bit off-topic to your problem. But my philosophy, shared by many videographers, is to select a good brand, use the best tape available in that brand, and use it only once. Tape is cheap, even the premium grades of tape, particularly when measured against the potential loss of an event that cannot be re-created.
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Old March 28th, 2003, 12:28 AM   #4
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Thanks for your guys help, the xl1s is the first pro camera I've bought and still learning alot.

Ken I did not buy it used I bought it straight from B&H. The tape was new never been open till tonight, and I don't think this would be considered using it ALOT, but I've probably recorded 25 hours. Is that to much? I'll get a cleaning cassette right away. I've never had this happen to me with vhs, high 8, digital 8, and mini dv. Ya I've had to clean the heads before, but never a total drop out the whole tape. I also tryed playing the tape on another sony cam but still the same. Thanks for your help!
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Old March 28th, 2003, 12:39 AM   #5
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I had a total drop out of 98% of the video and audio on a miniDV tape shot during a wedding a few weeks ago. No reason why and no warning. If I only had one camera shooting, it would have been a catastrophe.
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Old March 28th, 2003, 12:40 AM   #6
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Hmmm. The general guideline I follow is to clean the heads after every 15 or so hours of total tape roll time (record + playback) -or- before shooting something very important. Others might use more liberal procedures. Many folks claim that you should run a cleaner tape on a new camera before it's ever used to remove any gunk left over from manufacturing.

Honestly, given your responses, I would not rule-out an equipment defect. Run a cleaner but keep a close eye on the cam for a while. If it balks again soon it probably should visit Canon for adjustment.

Good luck, Jacob.
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Old March 28th, 2003, 11:19 AM   #7
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Ken, interesting you mention sending it to Canon for service after purchase, are there serious know flaws with the camera off the production line?
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Old March 28th, 2003, 11:26 AM   #8
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None that I'm aware of, Andrew. The most common issue (although not a generally common issue) I've seen around here is that of head alignment. All cameras are QA tested before packing. But stuff happens.
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Old March 28th, 2003, 03:56 PM   #9
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It could be your tape your using. I know all about trying to save money and all. But I'm not a real fan of Maxell tapes. Sure they are cheap, but dont seem to be as good as my Sony ones. So after one or two 5 packs of Maxell tapes, I went back to Sony. I rarely use the same tape twice for recording, so all my Maxell tapes were fresh just like yours. But I found them more prone to 'jitters' or some 'fall-out' on occasions than Sony ones. The Sonys seemed to handle a bit better in humid conditions as well, so I like them for that as well.
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Old March 28th, 2003, 04:05 PM   #10
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One other thing

Jacob...does the grey bit on the tape stay in the same place the whole time? I had a camera a few years back a Pro Hi-8 one and it must have been knocked or something but the recording had similar to you, but slight movement on edge of effected area with sporatic 'hiss' type things on bottom of screen. And after service was down to heads being a little disaligned or something along the lines of that - it was a few years ago so memory not that good.

So if it is still continuing after trying another tape I would get it checked out.
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Old March 28th, 2003, 06:09 PM   #11
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I had a similar incident... My XL1 was only about 3 weeks old when I started getting all kind of problems during playback. I sent it to Canon and they said there was a problem with the heads alignements. I Requested a new Camera and they sent me one. This one lasted 6 month and then similar problems occured. Sent it to Canon and guess what? They said there was some head alignement issues (again!) that they needed to replace some parts! We eventually got rid of our 3 XL1/Xl1s. After some investigation and some talking to fellow videographers, I found out that a few them also have had issues with "head problems" with their XL1 I also found few threads on some forums complaining about such issues.
Now I am not saying that Canon makes bad cameras nor am I saying the XL1 is junk. I am just sharing my experience with you and I know how you feel!
Hopefully your case is just an isolated incident!
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Old March 29th, 2003, 07:14 AM   #12
 
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FWIW, there are many people who pre-roll their new DV tapes. During the manufacturing process, magnetic media is deposited down on the tape substrate as the tape is wound on the reel. Beleive it or not, this is packaged and shipped right from this step. As such, there can be a significant amount or loose magnetic media trapped between the tape rolls. This can easily clog the transport and heads on a camera. The idea of pre-rolling is to run the tape thru the machine on fast forward all the way to the end and then fast rewind. This releases any trapped particles without running the tape into the heads. The conventional idea of pre-rolling to lay down time code is not what I'm referring to, here.
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Old March 30th, 2003, 02:04 AM   #13
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My new XL1S started having major audio dropout problems about two months after purchase. The video would play fine but only about 95% of the audio was recorded. The first time it happend, it resulted in me having to completely reshoot half of a days work. I eventually sent the camera and a tape showing the problem to Canon. They couldn't duplicate the problem but went ahead and replaced the entire head assembly. So far I've gone about five months without any problems.

I'm now in the habit of shooting several minutes of tape and playing it back before each shoot. Although I love the camera, I still don't feel very confident in the reliability of my XL1S and usually rent a Sony DSR-300 for the big money work.

For the record, my XL1S was purchased new from B&H and shipped by FedEx Next Day Air. Not sure if there's anything to that or not.
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Old April 12th, 2003, 01:40 PM   #14
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I have heard that some of the XL1S cameras have dropout problems and is due to transport or head problems. I am packing mine up as I type for a FOURTH trip back to Canon over the past year. Seems to happen every 3 or four months. No more fixes though, new camera is all I will accept or I'll ask for a refund.

"Although I love the camera, I still don't feel very confident in the reliability of my XL1S and usually rent a Sony DSR-300 for the big money work."

You are right on with this statement Greg and it is exactly what I told Canon the last time I had it in the shop. Just finished a commercial shoot for a national spot and had the talent go over each scene several times. Lucky I did because when I got back in the studio over 50% of the takes had drop out. That is unacceptable.

What I don't understand is why. I have owned a GL-1 for almost 2 years. It has close to 2000 hours of tape across the heads and threw the transport without more than a few dropouts. It has never been in for service and it certainly is a true field camera, having been in rain, extreme heat, dust, cold, dropped twice (EEK!), you name it. I know there were mechanical modifications made on the new XL-1S from the XL-1, but seems they may have messed something up in the process.

Here we fight hard to prove to national companies fixed on having BetaSP shoots that the XL-1 series is a professional camera and has the picture quality to get the big jobs done and I can't get the darn thing to work.

The camera will be sent out this next week and I should have my new one in hand shortly after. If there are still problems with a new camera I'll be going back to my JVC pro line. Not as comfrotable in the field, but I never had a problem with any I have owned.

Good luck and hopefully your problem isn't as severe.
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Old April 15th, 2003, 08:18 AM   #15
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The only trouble i've ever had was with using the free 30 min canon tape that came with the camera. After using it a few times it became totally unusable, all i got on play back was a screen full of random coloured blocks. Upon changing tapes to maxell i noticed that the canon tape was crinkled. The playback on the new tape was the same until after a few minutes of recording and play back the new tape seemed fine.

I've never had the problem again. I constanly use maxell tapes and fequently re-record over some of them and they work fine for me.


Regards

Nick
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