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Old December 18th, 2005, 01:04 AM   #1
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Panasonic DVC tapes, camera incompatibility, etc.

I have an XL1s. I did a wedding as a favor (a paid favor) for a friend a few weeks ago, and he tells me (he's gonna edit it) that when he plays my tapes, there are parts with pixellation. Sometimes it's fine, he says, but when the camera's moving (pans, tilts), it seems to pixellate.

Now, I had to buy tapes that day, which was stupid, but I got panasonics. However, they're Panasonic DVC tapes, the low grade (you might also call them EJs). That was all that was available from the place I went, so it's what I got.

I didn't have any error messages or anything while shooting, and I watched a tape I shot a few days ago, with my XL1s, spot checked it, that is--and it looked fine everywhere I looked, so my camera seems to be okay.

Are these tapes crap?

My friend's doing his capture/playback with his own cam, a panasonic AGDVC10 (or maybe it's a 15--but the 15's pretty new, right? I think it's the 10)--any issue with playing tapes shot in an XL1s on different cams? I've heard of that kind of stuff before.

I hope these tapes aren't just irretrievable screwed up.

So, inclusion, #^@& you #^@& you #^@& you #^@& you Houston Camera Exchange---$70 for a box of 5 tapes that should be like $2 each??????

And #^@& me #^@& me #^@& me for being a dumbass and buying tapes last minute.
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Old December 18th, 2005, 07:00 AM   #2
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Panasonic EJ tapes should prove to be OK, and commonly sell for a bit under $3 each. I've not encountered any noteworthy problems using them in a XL1, GL1, and using Sony playback gear, as well as EJs shot in a VX2000.

Does your friend need a head cleaning? If her friend has persistent problems captureing your tape in his camcorder while it plays OK in yours, try a firewire dupe to his camera from yours, then he should be OK capturing rom the dupe.
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Old December 18th, 2005, 07:36 AM   #3
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Profanity edited and moved to the Long Black Line tape forum.

HCE has a lot of good stuff for for reasonable retail prices, and have actually gone above and beyond to help me with very little stuff before. But yeah, like any retailer large or small, they at times mark some stuff up excessively. I sold them some used old Kodak slide trays for 50 cents apiece and I saw the carrousels on the shelf later for $6.50; I rather expected that to happen and was just happy to have them out of my garage, but still felt a little "cheaped." Agree with you and Don that they grossly overcharged you for EJ tapes; I can get the MQ's from DVinfo sponsor Zotz Digital for about $5 or $6. If it is worth the bother to you, maybe bring your receipt and the box back to see if they mis-marked it? Also, HCE does sell some video stuff, but they really are primarily a still photography retailer.

Anyway, I doubt the tapes themselves are really responsible for the pixellation. Much more likely that it has to do with dirty heads like Don said, slight differences in head alignment between cameras, or perhaps, if the pixellation is occurring only during rapid changes in the image, maybe your friend's computer not keeping up rather than it being the tape?

Of course, companies don't release any technical info or specifications that don't help them sell more product. But you'll notice on the Panasonic tape web pages that they only compare the specs on their high-end tapes to other manufacturers, never between their own grades of tape. Scuttlebutt I've heard is that the main differences between the tape grades is the thickness of the coating layer, and perhaps that the higher grade tapes won't be cut from near the edge of the sheet of material from which they are made. Placed in a healthy camera, a new tape of any grade should be expected to record without incident.

If it is a head alignment issue, the tape shouldn't be damaged and you should be able to play it on your own camera and computer without trouble. Try playing capturing the tapes on your camera and if they behave properly on your camera and system, just give him the AVI's on DVD-R or a borrowed HDD.
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Old December 18th, 2005, 10:39 AM   #4
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I'll have to ask him about some of that--I don't know if it was only upon capture that it pixellated, or if it was during playback to a TV from his cam.

Also, I haven't seen the tapes myself yet, so as to whether they'd play in my cam, I don't know. Also, I don't use the XL1s for playback/capture anymore. I used to, but now I use a Canon ZR80. We're supposed to get together at some point, and I'll bring the canon and see if they play ok in it.

I worry 'cause I haven't cleaned my XL1s' heads in a loooooong time, but I haven't had any issues either. I shot a short film in October, went through maybe 4 or 5 tapes, and maybe one dropout in one frame of one tape when I went through that footage, and I've used it a few times since then, and no problems (til this wedding footage)--and I shot something this past wednesday that seems to be fine where I spot checked it, so I hope the problem's on his end, and not with the tapes themselves.
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Old December 18th, 2005, 01:30 PM   #5
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Go ahead and use the XL1S for playback and capture for these tapes. Should work fine. Let us know either way though.
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Old December 18th, 2005, 02:16 PM   #6
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Sounds like your XL1s is dirty or out of alignment. If the tapes play fine on the XL1s that would be the final indicator. You can either capture from the XL1s or dub to another cam/deck which will create a clean copy. Before you have your camera serviced dub any tapes that wont play back on other devices or they will be lost forever. I have my XL series cams serviced every year...



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Old December 18th, 2005, 02:35 PM   #7
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Well, I had the whole assembly replaced last year, cost like $500, and it doesn't get used very often at all (sometimes not for months at a time), so I'd rather not do that again any time soon, and it doesn't seem like I should have to, based on how much the cam is used.

I'd also rather not capture 4 hours worth of tape from it, not because I don't think it'll work, but because it's not good for the heads (I think the reason I was having the problems that had me get the whole assembly replaced is because I did playback/capture from it so much).

Let me clarify:

When I did the short film in October, and this other shoot Wednesday, I didn't view/capture the tapes using the XL1s as a deck at all, I used the ZR80 for all that stuff. So that means that in those two cases, at least, tapes shot in my XL1s played/captured fine from another camera.
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Old December 18th, 2005, 05:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Bass
I'd also rather not capture 4 hours worth of tape from it, not because I don't think it'll work, but because it's not good for the heads.
Four hours isn't going to break the heads. In fact it may be the only way to recover that video. Why not try one of those tapes and see. Using the camera for playback is not all that bad, providing that you're not doing it all the time. Four hours is no biggie. Give it a shot.
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Old December 18th, 2005, 06:52 PM   #9
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If I have to, I will, but first I wanna try the ZR80.
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Old December 20th, 2005, 05:15 AM   #10
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The nominal head life for industrial VHS gear from Panasonic was about 1000 hours. That is a lot of tape. I've not read any rated figures for the Canon mini-DV heads, but it may be on the same order of magnitude. With digital recording the image quality loss due to head wear will appeardifferent than with analog formats - probably appear as more digital read errors.

In some cases, the main difernce between standard and upgraded tape is the level of quality control and quality standard. IT is the same tape but controlled to tighter tollerances and fewer drop outs.

In other cases the higher grade tape may have a some what diferent formulation. You have to read the manufactureres literature and hope they give clues as to the differences.
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Old December 20th, 2005, 05:44 AM   #11
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I think I've only used those EJs a couple times, and seem to remember having issues each time.

As for head life, again, I had the whole assembly replaced last year, around September or so, and if I've put 50 hours on the heads between then and now, I'd be surprised.
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Old December 21st, 2005, 10:49 AM   #12
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I've had problem with drop frames and like others have said there are a variety of posibilities, the most obvious dirty/misaligned heads.

But in your case sounds like its because he is using a different brand of camera. Here's the rule i go by always use the same equipment/brand that you shoot with to capture with. I have a business associate who shoots with a canon consumer camera and I can't even read it with my sony equipment.
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