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Old January 18th, 2011, 01:44 PM   #1
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How Much Video is A Lot?

I have shooting video professionally now for about four years. It seems as though the quality video from my cameras is degraded over time. Can anyone give me a rule of thumb for how much video shot on a camera is considered a lot? I have no idea when I should have my cameras reconditioned or if I even should. I have been looking at buying another used camera but again I don't know if video starts to degrade after 40 hours of use, 100 hours or more?

By the way I use a couple of Canon XL2(s) and Sony VX-2100(s).

Thanks

David
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Old January 18th, 2011, 04:49 PM   #2
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Well other than the heads getting nasty bad dirty or stuff getting out of alignment, IOW, some maintanence like head cleaning or better yet going to an authorized service center during a slow period once a year to be properly maintained, it's been my experience that the heads on most of the Sony cams like the VX2000/2100/PD150/170/DSR250s,300s,400s,450s,500s, etc will typically go for anywhere from 800 to 1200 hours of tape run. PLEASE NOTE, this is with some sort of upkeep maintenance as I mentioned above. HOWEVER, this is not carved in stone. You should however be able to get at least 800 hours from the Sony camera.
Having never owned an Canon I can only guess that the hours should be about the same for the XLs.

YMMV
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Old January 18th, 2011, 04:58 PM   #3
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Panasonic seem to quote around 1000 hours before head replacement is necessary ..I never used to clean heads!!! By using professional quality tapes and using them only once there is virtually no oxide on a new tape that can transfer to a head. Then again because I'm doing weddings and it's my living, I also replace my cameras between 18 months and two years so they never get to the "4 year" stage.

If you are just a hobbyist then it's a big ask to say "buy a new camera after 200 hours use" so probably a good service wouldn't be a bad idea. If you are sticking with tape for now..stay with the same brand, buy the best quality you can and only use your tapes once!!! It does pay dividends!!

Chris
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Old January 18th, 2011, 05:50 PM   #4
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Hi Chris,

I disagree there, new DV tapes do shed some oxide till they settle down .. after maybe 2 passes. It varies with things like the amount of tape guide and head wear.

There's a company here in Sydney called Greencorp Magnetics Pty Ltd - Preactor International Ltd who used to produce 1/4" mag recording tape and we got involved running tests for them, fascinating to watch the manufacturing process.

In manufacture, magnetic tape at the web stage (the big roll in the top picture) goes through a process called calandering (polishing) before it's slit into the required widths. This removes excess oxide.

Early new mag tape used to still shed varying amounts of excess oxide in use but the current generation of tape has better binders, but they still do shed. Mostly I only use DV tapes once and clean the heads before every important shoot.

I do agree that most ppl will update their camera well before they get anywhere near to wearing the heads out, and if you're using it for a living, get cams serviced once a year.


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Old January 18th, 2011, 06:31 PM   #5
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Ah, I see the problem...........

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Allen View Post
It seems as though the quality video from my cameras is degraded over time.

Quote:
By the way I use a couple of Canon XL2(s) and Sony VX-2100(s).
You are suffering from a very common condition amongst discerning videographers.

It's sweeping the planet in what has become something of a pandemic.

It's full medical name is HD/ 3D Obscuris Vera Involvens.

It's caused by being bombarded with HD/ 3D video from all quarters, left, right, front and behind, 24 hours a day. It's everywhere you look and there's more of it out there every single day.

The primary symptoms are a feeling that your SD video that used to look so whizz bang sharp, now, somehow, looks, well, just plain average.

This causes feelings of inadequacy and depression, followed by a significant loss of libido and self esteem.

Chronic cases are sad indeed, with the onset of irrational thinking (thoughts of "accidently" dropping one's SD camera from a pier, so the insurance company coughs for a new HD version, seems to be a favoured hallucination).

Desipite the debilitating effect of this condition, the remedy is suprisingly simple, if somewhat painfull to the wallet, but that is only a temporary by product that heals with time.

Simply trade out those SD camera's for one Canon XF300 or similar and you'll be on the road to recovery in no time flat.

Doctor CS will drop the bill in the post, it'll be slightly cheaper than that XF300, but not by much (I want one too!).


CS

Last edited by Chris Soucy; January 19th, 2011 at 03:46 AM. Reason: Missed variant and racked up the verbosity.
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Old January 18th, 2011, 07:13 PM   #6
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Yes David,

I believe Chris nailed it.
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Old January 18th, 2011, 07:42 PM   #7
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I accept Allan's oxide explanation but I have found that using new tapes does help a lot!!!

Just another reason to maybe switch is the cost of tape vs cards!! Admittedly I probably do 30 weddings a year and close to 30 commercial shoots a month so if I used tapes it would amount to a pretty penny!!!

I was paying close to $6.00 each for tape in packs of 10 ($60 a pack) and with cards they can, in theory, last a year or more. I change my cards after 6 months and retire the old ones but at a mere $35 for a Class 6 16GB card it saves me a fortune. Also you have no realtime capture which saves you an hour or more for each tape you shoot.

The savings, if you use your camera a lot, will be quite staggering after a year and be a nice offset from the new camera you have purchased!!

Chris
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Old January 21st, 2011, 08:35 AM   #8
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New tape is more abrasive than old tape. During the slicing process raw edges of the tape with in some cases protruding grains of material are exposed. These tape edges can be extremely abrasive, partly as a function of formulation and partly as a function of the exact process used for slitting. These tape edges can act like a hacksaw and I've actually seen metal tape guides seriously cut by these edges.

Tapes burnish with a couple of passes, so if you only use new media there can be way more wear on the mechanical components. Not usually an issue for the heads themselves.
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Old January 23rd, 2011, 06:05 PM   #9
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At the tape slitting stage, the web gets drawn through a series of carefully spaced knives .. these knives eventually dull and the blades lose their razor sharp edge, so they have to be changed and it's on a strictly programmed basis.

For expensive tapes they get changed more often than cheaper grades and it takes time to do it, so production is halted for a (costly) time.

The last pass through the knives for that shift is supposed to be carefully checked for width and edge accuracy. But I've seen what is called a Trapezoid cut, one blade got fractionally duller faster than the one on the opposite side for that tape width.

The result is, if you stood the tape standing on its edge for the full length of the tape, it would rise up in the middle and come down again at the end of the tape .. Trapezoid cut, one the banes of early production controllers, most of whom went bald over the term of their employment.

Production went on 24/7, and the employees signed an NDA, non disclosure agrreement, which is why you don't see posts, starting .. 'Hey I worked making mag tape for XXXXX' .. at least I haven't.

Expect to see news of XXXXX scheduling their last production run of DVtape, already Panasonic doesn't import their DV cleaning tape to Aust, and somewhere on here .. JVC has stopped making DV tape, which is really the end .. because they don't see the demand to make it worth repackaging XXXXXs tape.

These companies will eventually sell their tape plants to start up outfits who want to make a cheap buck, they'll cut costs as demand falls and we'll see the results in faulty tapes. I saw all this with the end of audio cassette tape. So don't wait too long to move over to solid state cams and keep a working DVtape machine to play yr tape archives.

If it wasn't for the current gigantic third world market, we'd have seen the end of magnetic recording tape long ago. In Africa, I saw that they still sell as many audio cassettes as CDs.

Cheers.
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Old January 27th, 2011, 06:45 AM   #10
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I want to thank everyone for taking the time and offering such great advice. I spoke to a small company who specializes in repairing and maintenance of the two cameras we own. They echoed much of what was suggested here, although they said that yearly maintenance was not necessary with the new cameras. They suggested to only send it in when we start to see any sleight degrading of quality. From talking with the repair company it sounds like the lens system of our camera has somehow gotten out of whack!

Your comments did make me realize something that I had not thought of. We use the same cameras to load the tape onto our computers. So in reality the time on our units has to be doubled.

One of the cameras is being sent in for maintenance but in the meantime I think I need to look for some kind of player to load the video onto the computer.

Thanks again.
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Old January 28th, 2011, 12:40 AM   #11
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Hi David,

a good tip with a brand new cam, is to first thing .. shoot yourself a reference roll of DV tape using all the features. Something like this Century Precision Optics Resolution Chart (4 sheets of 4 grids) can be very useful to check against later.

If you've been shooting with the same cameras for 4 years and you had a ref tape you could probably easily see that they do need total recalibration back to factory specs. Maybe knock up a couple of ref. tapes when they come back from the shop .. one for each cam. Then you could check one against the other ... aaarghh! never ends does it :)

And look around for a pre-loved cam that plays Ok. HTH.

Cheers.
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Old January 28th, 2011, 02:45 AM   #12
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Thing is, digital camcorders are like candles. You light them up, they burn as brightly in the first hour as they do in the last - and then they go out. There's no in-between, not unless you physically knock the lens out of alignment or do some damage to the tape deck.

I've always been suspicious of hours meters, too. 100 hours on a camera used on wind-swept beaches is not the same as 100 hours of weddings on summer lawns, and that's where you can come unstuck buying second hand.

And I too am with the recycle brigade above. Tapes are meant to be re-used, otherwise we'd never rewind them and play them into the computer. When I've done that and can see the tape is perfect and dropout free, it's much more valuable to me than a new, unwrapped tape, whatever it costs.

David - you're still using a VX? Presumably you're shooting in the 4:3 mode and using the Canon for 16:9? Who's asking for 4:3 stuff that you should be worrying about head hours?

tom.
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Old January 28th, 2011, 07:00 AM   #13
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Allen,

Excellent tip on shooting the reference tape when we first get a camera. I am definitely going to implement that policy from now on. Oh and I went and looked at the Resolution Chart - I think we will get one. Thanks

Tom,

I agree with you but the VX2100 does shoot in 16:9

We are planning on buying new cameras in the future and they will be tapeless, but we are holding off because the industry seems to be in a state of format confusion.

David
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Old January 28th, 2011, 10:11 AM   #14
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The VX2100 can indeed be switched to shoot in 16:9 in the same way your car can be driven with the handbrake on. In both cases it was never designed to be used in this way and in both cases the performance suffers hugely.

tom.
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Old February 2nd, 2011, 03:08 AM   #15
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We will argue to the cows come home about this but personaly i find cheap sony premiums best and if i use them once i get no drop outs but if i reuse i often get drop outs.
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