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Old July 24th, 2006, 03:20 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2005
Location: Aalborg, Denmark
Posts: 29
Panasonic AMQ gentler on tape heads?

Hi there,

I’ve searched this forum for an answer to these questions, but I couldn’t seem to find it. So I guess I’ll go ahead and ask.

1. Would Panasonic AMQ tapes significantly reduce tape head wear on my camcorder over PQ tapes?

Last year I bought my first camcorder and about 40 Panasonic PQ tapes. Now I’m on my last tape and need to get some more. Since then I’ve come across Panasonic MQ tapes which are now being replaced by AMQ. The MQ/AMQ tapes are apparently manufactured using something called S-AME (Super Advanced Metal Evaporation) technology, which supposedly increases the magnetic density of the tape by up to 4 times, and also reduces head wear on the camcorder.

I want to get some more tape really soon, and have to decide whether to stick with the AY-DVM63PQ, which have worked fine, or upgrade to the AY-DVM63AMQ. I am wondering whether the reduced head wear will “pay” the price difference between the two tapes. So I wonder how many tapes one has to shoot per year before it pays to use the less abrasive, but more expensive tape? How many of you folks have had your tape heads replaced because of normal wear and tear – and if so, approximately how many hours did you get on your heads before you had to replace them? I know this will probably vary from camera to camera.

In the store where I will be shopping the AMQs are twice the price of the PQs, so I could get twice the footage by sticking to the PQ, but if the AMQs offer significantly less head wear on my camcorder, I might consider a switch. Is there any way of knowing whether AMQs truly are gentler on the camcorder heads? My camera is a GS-400, so it’s not a really expensive one, and I know I might be overly concerned – but hey ...I really like the little cam. :-)

2. I’d also like to know how many times it’s recommended to reuse tapes, as this would also influence the cost of a switch.

3. And lastly, would it be recommended that I clean my tape heads when switching back and forth between PQ and MQ tapes?

Thanks for your input!

I’m off to bed now, but I’ll check back in the morning – thanks again for any advice!

Last edited by Halfdan J. Damskier; July 25th, 2006 at 12:59 AM.
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 12:33 PM   #2
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Join Date: May 2005
Location: Aalborg, Denmark
Posts: 29
Decided to continue with PQ

Okay it’s been a week now and no one has commented on the questions in my first post. I guess my questions must resemble the “what is the best tape?” type of questions which have already been asked and answered countless times in this forum.

So I did some more research on the topic, and I have decided to post my findings here. There might just be someone browsing these boards, who would appreciate the information or links I have doug out during these many hours of surfing the net. Phew! Please remember though that I am new to this DV-world, so my experience is limited. The information posted below are my findings based on information from the sources quoted at the bottom of this post. These sources are Panasonics own brochures and information found on different websites. The best sources would have been some sort of independent lab review based on real world tests – but I was unable to find any such reviews.

Apparently the difference between Panasonic PQ, MQ and AMQ tapes is:

Panasonic PQ:
Uses S-AME evaporation technology.
Uses a dry lubricant.

Panasonic MQ:
Uses S-AME evaporation technology.
Uses a dry lubricant.
+1 db C/N and 1 db Output compared to PQ

Panasonic AMQ:
Uses S-AME evaporation technology.
Uses a dry lubricant.
Enhanced lubricant and extra thick layer of DLC (diamond like carbon) enhances durabillity, epecially useful for still image playback and repeated rewinding and forwarding during edit.
Advanced cassette design. Anti-static treatment to the cassette lid repels dust.
A durable 2-way opening soft case allows you to extract the tape using only one hand.

The AMQ is essentially an improvement of the Master Quality tape, hence its name: Advanced Master Quality. As far as I know, the AMQ will replace the MQ tape.

In my first post I asked 3 questions. After having done this research my personal answer, to the questions I raised in my first post, would be:

1. No. Using AMQ instead of PQ tapes would probably not significantly reduce head wear on my camcorder. This last year I have only used about 40 hours of tape, and both the AMQ and PQ tapes use a dry lubricant. In Panasonics own brochures they state: “with our original dry type lubricant, video head wear is much less compared to other tape brands.” So it seems that both the PQ, MQ and the new AMQ tapes take advantage of the dry lubricants low head wear. To be fair, Panasonic did change the 500 hour head wear data in the new AMQ brochure as compared with the MQ brochure - so the AMQ might be a bit gentler on the heads. I do, however, have an old PQ brochure which states even lower head wear numbers after 500 hours of use, so I am not sure how much to trust such numbers. It is probably a difficult thing to measure.

2. It seems that most people here do not reuse their tapes. This is another good reason for me to stick with PQ as they only cost half as much as the AMQ tapes.

3. As I have decided to continue to use PQ tapes this question falls away. And if I were to use both types of tape, I would probably only use a cleaning tape if I had a problem. I hear that cleaning tapes should be used sparingly as they are abrasive to the video head.

Here are the sources I used, I tried to cross reference what I could:

Information on PQ:
Panasonic PQ brochure from 2001 - not on the Internet anymore. If anyone wants a copy I can forward it per e-mail.

Information on MQ:

Information on AMQ:

Information on the difference between PQ, MQ and AMQ:
This last link is a bit weird, as it refers to Large DV tapes, but shows a picture of a Mini DV tape. The information on the page should, however, apply for both Large DV and Mini DV tapes.

Here is one last link which goes into great detail with the whole tape issue and also provides some interesting tips on how to store tapes:

Some of the above links link to information on reseller sites. If for some reason you want to make a purchase after having read this post, please remember to support this site by having the official DvInfo sponsors in mind.

Happy shooting!
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