GL2 Dirty Heads
I had to send my GL2 back to the factory for the heads to be cleaned after only 4 months. The playback was full of mosaics and it retained images.
I had used several different brands of tape in the camera prior to this problem as well as not always removing the cassette after each use.
Now that the camera has been fixed I am wondering if I can still use my previous cassettes long enough to transfer the video to my computer for editing? I have shots I don't want to lose but I also don't want to clog up the heads again.
I plan to stay with only 1 brand of tape after this - probably TDK from CostCo.
Any input on how to avoid anymore problems?
There are two kinds of DV tapes that use either wet or dry lubricant. The trouble starts when you start mixing these two tape types together in the same camera, so choose one or the other and stick with that brand. You can choose to buy any brand you want but if it was me, I'd buy the best tapes I could afford because the cheaper tapes have more glitches and dropouts than the better ones. I've always been told that all tapes from a particular supplier are manufactured the same way. However, during their quailty control process the ones with the least amount of problems are priced higher than the tapes with more glitches.
I use Panasonic "Master" series 83 min. DV tapes and have had great success with them but this is just a personal preference. I've also been told that the Sony MiniDV "Master" series are equally as good. Using a 60 minute tape is better than a longer one because the tape is slightly thicker and stronger with less chance of it stretching, etc. and causing problems that way. I use the 83 min. ones because I shoot in long segments. You may not have the same issue.
Always use your camera's SP recording mode rather than the LP mode. There are issues with downloading to your computer in the LP mode and SP gives you a better quality picture anyway. The faster the tape runs the better the picture. That's why a 60 min. Sony DVCAM tape only lasts 40 min. if you switch to DVCAM recording mode. They must be on to something ;-)
Keep a DV cleaning cassette in your camera bag but only use it in extreme emergencies such as having tiling problems in the middle of an important shoot. Follow the instructions on the cleaning cassette to the letter. Cleaning cassettes are VERY abrasive and will wear out your expensive recording heads far sooner than normal.
When you put a new DV tape in your GL2 you should choose to fast forward the tape to the very end and then rewind before you start recording anything on it. This will accomplish two things:
1. The fast forward-rewind thing will pre-tention the tape against the recording drum and keep it tentioned properly for the length of the tape.
2. The fast forward-rewind process also helps to throw out any microscopic tape particles and dust that can sometimes lodge in the tiny grooves of the recording drum and cause problems.
MiniDV tapes are not all that robust and are more prone to dirt-causing problems than most other tape formats. Consider that the audio part of the tape is about as wide as a pencil line and you'll get the idea.
Take your camera to an authorized repair facility for regular cleaning and maintenance. How often? Well it depends on how much you use it and how well you practice the methods I've just described. I send my cameras in once a year. Not to the Canon factory but to a local authorized dealer.
Remember, that cleaning cassette should only be used in dire emergencies.
[Don Greening] "Always use your camera's SP recording mode rather than the LP mode. There are issues with downloading to your computer in the LP mode and SP gives you a better quality picture anyway.
The faster the tape runs the better the picture. That's why a 60 min. Sony DVCAM tape only lasts 40 min. if you switch to DVCAM recording mode. They must be on to something ;-) "
That sounds like it MIGHT be true, but it actually ISN'T.
All DVCAM, DV SP and DV LP formats use the same video compression rate and are "electronically equal".
Ah, but it is very true that one should NEVER use DV LP speed on anything important...
but NOT because the picture is "not as good" as DV SP (when working properly, the image and audio are EXACTLY equal.)
The PROBLEM with LP speed is that the heads are spinning exactly the same speed as with SP (and laying down the same amount of DV info) but the tape is going PAST THEM at a slower speed so the space BETWEEN the head-tracks (swipes) is much SMALLER... so tracking the playback becomes VERY critical, so much so that it is rare that an LP tape can even be PLAYED effectively on any DV unit EXCEPT for the exact camera that shot the footage (so the heads are exactly the same).
Now, for this same reason, DVCAM records/plays 30% FASTER than DV SP.
Again, the image is EXACTLY the same quality (that's right, DVCAM has the exact SAME quality as any DV SP (even properly-operating DV LP) recording.
But the TRACKING is so much easier to maintain between units because of the wide distance between head-swipes.
AND, if there are any minor flaws on the tape (and there always ARE), they will "go by" much faster and the error-correction can take care of them more effectively.
So in THAT regard, you COULD say that DVCAM might have the potential to "look better" than DV SP...
but in reality, when everything is operating properly (and I rarely ever see any visible drop-outs), they are equal.
I have a GL1 and I had problems with the heads after less than a year (artifacts, "holding" part of the frame). I sent it to the Canon service and they charged me for cleaning the heads. They said that the found parts of video band in it. OK, fine. This was 2003. Since then I have been 3 times, always with the same problem. The last one last november. I filmed now about 10 hours and back to the same problem.
I met this guy who has a GL1 and a Sony 150, he told me he has the same problem with the Canon, but never with the SONY (although he uses the SONY as camera and video deck).
I use some good quality JVC bands, it shouldn't be a problem with that.
Anyway, even if I like the colors of the Canon gives I decided that my next camera will be a Sony.