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Old February 7th, 2003, 10:28 AM   #1
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Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
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camera hours

What constitutes a large, medium, or small number of hours on a video camera?
Does this ratio differ from pro-sumer cameras to professoinal cameras? ie, is 600 hours on an XL1 a lot, but 600 on a DSR500 a medium amount?
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Old February 7th, 2003, 08:20 PM   #2
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I tend to think of hours in terms of how long is it going to be before I have to replace the heads. When my main camera was a BVW300 (Betacam SP camcorder), it had a head life of about 800 hours, and I would get about that many hours, usually a little more, before head wear would start showing up and I'd have to have the maintenance done.

With the DSR500WS I now use, life is much better. Sony says head life on it should be around 1500 hours, about double the old Betacam. I don't know what expected life on the smaller chip "prosumer" cameras would be, and Sony doesn't publish that as far as I know. I'm guessing it probably would be close to the same, or maybe a bit less. Why don't we guess, say, 1000 hours for someting like a PD150.

So, if the camera had 500 hours on it, you could say it's had 50 percent of its head life used up. More than that I would consider a lot and would try to negotiate the price down because I would know I would have to get a head job done sooner than I'd like.

Again, that's just a guess. It could be that projected head life on those cameras would be less. Or more. Who knows. With professional cameras that get a lot of use, head wear is one of those maintenance items you just have to budget for. It's like tires or brakes on a car. You know you have to replace them periodically. I think that consumers, however, probably don't think about things like that much. And for most consumers, 1000 hours would probably be several years.

Well...this has sure been a long-winded way of saying...I really dunno, but it is an interesting question.
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Old February 10th, 2003, 01:01 AM   #3
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I'd love to know re: the XL1.
Especially in relation to how long it should work before the CCD needs to be replaced.
Mine is at Canon now and that's the repair diagnosis. They say I could've bumped or dropped it (never.) or 'just one of those things.'

Stats anyone?
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Old February 10th, 2003, 05:41 AM   #4
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I know of no sites that maintain statistics about the frequency of certain repairs. Even if they did, their statistical accounting methods would be invalid because of inaccurate sampling. Only the manufactures can provide that type of data and for obvious reasons that data is confidential.

Consumer Reports attempts that with some products (I don't think they track video cameras). But the data sampling would be too low to have accurate conclusions.

The average life of projection lamps (bulbs) are tested by lighting 100 lamps and waiting for 50 to stop burning. that is how the average life of a lamp is determined. The same could be done with XL1's, but the data would be pretty useless. Everyone uses and treats their camera differently. Cameras can be damaged during shipping and the consumer is unaware. That's why manufactures provide warranties that protect for a limited period of time. Presumably after a year any hide damages have shown themselves. After that period the consumer is responsible for repair costs.

If your looking for hard proof your camera needs repair then get it back from Canon and do further testing to satisfy your curiosity. My experience with Canon is that they are very trustworthy and honest and if they say the CCD needs replacement it does.
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Old February 10th, 2003, 08:01 AM   #5
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I have never heard of any CCD's wearing out yet. I don't think anybody knows how long they will last. If one develops a dead pixel, however, that has nothing to do with how old they are or misuse. That's a manufacturing thing and the CCD was going to go bad no matter what you do. You didn't say what your problem was, but if it's a dead pixel, you should complain loudly.
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Old February 10th, 2003, 09:04 AM   #6
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Location: Osaka, Japan
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Hours for a drum assembly

I took my XL-1 to get repaired, lots of noise on playback, cleaning tapes didn't help, I had to get another drum assembly/head. The tech told me they usually last for about 500 hours, that includes fast forwarding and rewinding. It took me a year and a half before I had to get a new one, this last time it went out in about 6 months.

There is no built in counter to tell you how many hours were actually run on it, someone mentioned on another thread that betacams have a counter that shows how many hours have been run on the heads, I don't know anything about betacams, so someone correct me if I heard wrong.

Luckily my camera repair was still under the six month repair warranty, so I got a new drum assembly and a whole new mike free of charge, Yeah!!! I made sure to tell them I wanted the old parts, so now I have the video head hanging from my backpack zipper. With Sony repairs they always include the parts they replaced, with Canon I had to ask them for the parts. I always want to know and see what they replaced. I took in my sony vx-1000 and found out they only have a 3 month warranty on repairs.

Sounds like a pricey repair. Hope it isn't too high. Let us know what Canon does to your camera.
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Old February 10th, 2003, 09:43 AM   #7
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Rik, not just Betacams but DVCAMs as well have hour meters so you know where you stand on head hours. For a camera that costs under $4000, 500 hours isn't all that bad for head life. But I'm surprised they told you that includes rewinding too. On professional cameras you track actual record hours as well as the others. So when they say the heads should last 1500 hours, that means 1500 hours of record time. At least that's what it meant in Betacam days. Guess I'll find out eventually if they mean the same thing in DVCAM. With Betacam, I always got into the habit of, after a couple of years past the last head job, checking the meters before any major shoot in time to have the maintenance done if necessary. When Betacam heads start getting to the wear limit, you end up with an intermittant problem that shows up sort of like a dropout, only usually red or green and it was always near the top of the frame. When that starts to happen, your only option for the moment is to check playback on every take and hope for the best.
I wish everybody would publish estimated head life. That's something you really need to know if you use your camera for steady production.
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