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Sony HVR-Z1 / HDR-FX1
Pro and consumer versions of this Sony 3-CCD HDV camcorder.

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Old December 20th, 2007, 05:49 PM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Hollywood, CA
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Tape transport problem? It nibble(s) at my tape!

Well here's a certified mystery...a solved murder but the suspect (my FX-1) still has no motive!

A few weeks ago I was filming "Allergy Season" (you can watch it on my website) when at the end of the day I tried to import and--mysteriously enough--my tape was jumping and dropping frames. I opened up the tape cover to see if there was any damage to the actual reel--and sure enough, about 1 millimeter's worth into one side of the tape was crinkled, all along the whole length of the tape!

Curious to see if this had been happening to what I shot previously, I imported the tape I made yesterday and although it wasn't as bad--the crinkles were a lot less--they were still there, and the tape still dropped out a whole bunch. So whatever was causing this had slowly been getting more severe over the course of two days.

Well I was peeved, because I have no idea what caused this, other than something in the camera transport was misaligned and was dragging/touching the tape along someplace it shouldn't be. My initial theory was that I had been tightening the camera to the camera plate too hard which was bending the interior metal structure of the camera and throwing the sensitive tape mechanism out of whack.

Well a few hours into "debugging" this mystery I inserted a different tape (same type and brand though) from a shoot I taped a few weeks ago, and oddly enough--the tape played fine! Recorded fine as well, absolutely no dropouts.

During my panicked frenzy to complete the video, I ordered a replacement rental camera (another FX-1) to use to import for a couple days. When I inserted the crinkled tape, the rental camera played it fine...for about halfway through the tape, and then started to drop out. Not ready to give up on the tape, I figured the rental camera hadn't been cleaned or something, so I inserted a cleaning tape and did that 10 second routine with it...and then the crinkled tape played fine again! For about 10 minutes, and then would start to drop out again. If I repeated the cleaning tape procedure, the camera would again start to play the crinkled tape fine, for about 10 minutes, before it would start to drop out again and I would have to clean the heads again with the cleaning tape.

What the @*#%( is going on here?

So I inserted the cleaning tape into my OWN camera and sure enough, the crinkled tape would play fine for about 10-15 minutes before needing the cleaning tape again.

Keep in mind, the entire time, my tape from a few weeks ago plays and records fine for as long as necessary.

Is my tape transport bad? Or was it just a bad tape or two? This will probably end in a "get it to a service center" response but the Sony warranty ran out in September and I can't find my Mack warranty card anywhere.

Last edited by Ben Winter; December 20th, 2007 at 06:20 PM.
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