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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old August 4th, 2005, 12:14 AM   #1
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XL2 DV in/out died again!

I've had my XL2 since November last year and this is the second time my firewire port has died! I cannot believe it!!!!

I'd been using it with BTVPro for some time until one day it just stopped outputting data. I took the camera to Canon and sure enough they informed me that the main PCB had probably blown.

When I got the camera back from Canon Australia (it took 6 weeks to repair because they needed to replace the main PCB and recalibrate the camera) it was accompanied by a letter telling me that the most likely cause was a faulty (poorly grounded) Firewire cable. They also said that I must switch off the computer (a Titanium Powerbook) whenever connecting to the camera. So I replaced the old cable with a brand spanking new Belkin Firewire cable and have been following the connection procedure as instructed. All seemed fine - until a few days ago that is. I followed the procedure, to the letter, wanting to avoid all problems because 6 weeks without the camera was a nightmare, and the firewire port died AGAIN! Incidentally I'd gotten 6 months of good use out of the camera before any failure, and two months of good use after the first repair.

I connect a Canon 1DS and various Firewire disks to the same firewire port on my laptop and have not really cared whether anything switched on or off and NEVER had a glitch of any sort. Since the death of the XL2 I/O I've been especially careful with all my Firewire devices, not realising how flakey and intolerant they can be. That's three years of daily use without any problems. So, is this a problem with the XL2 or my Powerbook and cable? I fear that Canon will blame me somehow, yet nothing else has ever had issues. What kind of voltage tolerances do they build the XL2 to?

Now I'm caught in the dilemma - return the camera and wait for another 6 weeks, or get a deck and record just to tape? If I wait too long the warranty for their repairs expires, but if I do send it in that's another 6 weeks. I can't really afford the deck now and enjoyed the immediacy I got from using it with BTVPro. Any thoughts?

Sorry about the rant, it's just that I love the camera and the output it gives me, but have been put into a panic attack on 2 occasions now.


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Old August 4th, 2005, 08:17 AM   #2
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You should contact Canon and let them know you aren't really happy about this second occurance. Point out that you have followed their advice to the letter since the first failure, and mention that no other firewire devices (especially the Canon 1Ds) are having any problems. I would request an expedited repair since this is a second failure in a short time.

If you are running the camera and the powerbook on AC power during capture, there could be a ground loop that is putting voltage where it should not be. I am thinking that you probably don't plug the 1Ds into AC power for transferring stills so that could account for one difference.

Keep us posted on what the outcome is.

good luck,

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Old August 4th, 2005, 09:39 AM   #3
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I wouldn't stake my life on this, but ... The Canon uses a 4 pin firewire and does not get any power from the computer. It shouldn't make any difference if the camera is on or not. Even if you are going to a 6 pin port, the other two pins, which supply power to devices that need it, dead end.

Firewire, especially the 4 pin is a small and flimsy connection. There could have been a more solid format for them to use. This problem seems to be a Canon problem as I have been using several firewire devices without incident.(Canopus ADVC 100, ADS firewire hard drive boxes, Sony GV-D1000, etc.)

I take really good care of my equipment and am careful about how I handle it. But the XL2 just seems a bit too fragile for "prosumer" camcorder. I started reading about all the problems after I bought mine and am scared to take it out of the case. (Not really, but I am paranoid)

Don't let Canon buffalo you. They should fix it without any questions. If they start giving you grief, tell them you are going to the Federal Trade Commision Consumer Protection, the Better Business Bureau, and anyone else you can think of, including an attorney. I'm sure they'd rather fix it than pay legal fees.

Wow! That thing must have cost an arm and a leg! - - - It did! I used to have three of each.
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Old August 4th, 2005, 02:50 PM   #4
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I've gotta have more experience with this than I think anyone else. I had HUGE firewire issues, with it first toasting the camera completely (3 times) , then after getting the camera eventually replaced, it simply toasted the Firewire/DV ports.
First off, Canon was awesome on this, never complained and fixed the problem each time. The first time they told me I had a defective cable, the second time they told me it was a "bent pin" in the camera, the third time they didn't know, by the fourth time, I was pulling my hair out in total frustration.
I took my computer into the shop...They scoped it and said I did have some voltage "irregularities" in the motherboard, which was sending spikes thru the DV cable. I did a whole motherboard/hard drive replacement, and since then (about 6 weeks ago) everything has been just fine.
I still get that fear in my heart whenever the computer is a little bit slow in recognizing the camera, but that's my own paranoia speaking rather than anything else.
My own experience leads me to wonder if the XL2's DV port may be a little too sensitive, but I cannot say for a fact.

My recommendation: take your computer into a shop and have it scoped out and see if they find anything. Then get the best MB you can afford and start over again.

Good Luck
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Old August 4th, 2005, 05:11 PM   #5
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Thanks guys

You've alleviated my fear that I was the cause of the problem. If I'd had known this, I probably wouldn't have bought the camera in the first place. Might need to invest in a Firestore or the like. I figure that if there is a device perpetually connected to it that does not have the cable going in and out of the camera terminal constantly, there should be less chance of failure. I mean, the camera has been great otherwise.

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Old August 23rd, 2005, 04:00 AM   #6
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Got the camera back from Canon today. It only took a week and a half this time around. They were quite accomodating really - not at all what I'd expected.

Interestingly, they gave me the same recommendations they gave last time: Replace DV cable; switch off both DV camera and computer; connect DV cable between DV camera and computer; switch on computer; switch on DV camera. I asked the technician who replaced the main PCB how i could test from where the problem originates - the camera, the DV cable or the computer firewire terminal? For how am I to know that there isn't a fault with my computer or my soon to be replaced DV cable? The last thing I want is for the camera to be in service again. I offered to let him check my DV cable and computer and he refused. He said if it failed again within the warranty period they would continue to replace the necessary parts - without question. Surely it would be cheaper for Canon to simply test my cable and computer firewire port - I mean I assume they build their equipment to a specification with particular voltage requirements and tolerances and should be able to test for that?

Anyways, all is well as long as the camera back shooting again.
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 06:58 AM   #7
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Hi Mark,

Camcorder repair facilities operate under a fairly strict line of procedures and policies. They are in the business of testing and repairing camcorders, and nothing else. The technician refused to test your computer and cable simply because he's not allowed to do so. Otherwise that would put Canon in the computer and cable testing business, which clearly they have no interested in. There should be a specialist in your area who can check your computer for you.

I have a feeling that the advice you received the second time around about not hot-swapping the camera via FireWire is a standard reply that's always included whenever they've done a repair to the DV port.

I should probably put a notice in my XL2 FAQ warning folks not to hot-swap the camera.

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Old August 23rd, 2005, 08:18 AM   #8
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Or maybe you should advise people not to use their $5000 camera as a deck at all if they can avoid it. I use a crappy Sony palmcorder that doesn't even record any more and it has been going strong for over a year now. Use a junk camera or shell out the $$ for a deck. It sounds like its worth it after hearing all of the fried FW port horror stories.
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 10:17 AM   #9
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i got a canon ZR80 camcorder to use as a tape deck. hadn't had any problems. i was too scared to use my 5000 dollar camcorder's tape deck.
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 11:53 AM   #10
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I never have used my XL2 as a deck, but I dont think it is real fair to say someone shouldn't... Are you going from 6pin to 4pin by any chance? I have a friend who has had that cause problems with his Mac and his VX2000.

ash =o)
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 12:02 PM   #11
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Well its not fair that someones camera get fried either. I didn't say anyone can't. I just said they could be advised not too. It seems like this has been happening to a lot of people. If someone is trying to make a livlihood using their camera something like this could be a big set back. This just seems like one of those problems where everyone just looks the other way. Canon blames the computer or cables. The Computer company blames Canon. No one is accountable or will even admit the possiblity of the problem. It just seems like the more warning you can give, the fewer people can get screwed.
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 06:00 PM   #12
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Think I might have to invest in a deck or one of those Firestore devices. Unless ofcourse they have a tendency to fry :)

Just to clarify, I wasn't using the camera as a deck per se, I was using it to record direct to disk on my laptop, bypassing the whole process of logging and transferring from tape. My experience raises the question of whether using something like DVRack, BTVPro or Canon's own software on a laptop is safe with any DV cam.

And to answer a previous question - the cable was 4-6pin (or 6-4pin depending on which way you look at it).
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 07:09 PM   #13
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XL2 DV in/out died again

Ahhh, how the technicalities of electronics frustrate and overwelm the pleasures of creative film making.After reading about the fire wire problems I'm not going to use my new XL2 as a deck, i'll just use my old JVC. Its one less technical problem to worry about.More technicality leads to more costs, leads to more headaches,leads to impaired creativity,leads to lousy films.
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Old August 24th, 2005, 03:14 AM   #14
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I think that the xl2 firewire port is flimsy and problematic. I bought an Fs4 from B+H, and it worked intermittently with the xl2. On one shoot, it just stopped recording.I tested it at home, and it wouldn't consistently capture from tape to the fs4 drive.
I returned it, and the replacement idn't work well either. On the xl2, it would record in synchro and slave mode, but there were problems recording from the tape in the xl2 to the FS4.It would lock up, and I had to un plug and re plug the firewire for it to work. Then I tried it with the gl1.The fs4 could capture from tape, but wouldn't record in synchro slave mode.
I thought that the FS4's wre the problem, but after reading some of these posts, I've come to the conclusion that Canon has defective firewire connections.
I guess i'll try to send mine back for service.
Bruce S. Yarock
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