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XH-A1 Starting to get tape-length dropouts.

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eric vinyard
XH-A1 Starting to get tape-length dropouts.
on Aug 18, 2012 at 4:03:57 am

I'm ready to put a bullet in my head over this. I'm seriously considering selling the camera and getting something that isn't tape-based, but I bought the XH-A1 for its manual controls and low-light capabilities, and I don't have any idea what else is comparable, especially considering the price.

If you have any suggestions on a camera or a setup I might strive to switch to, I'm all ears. Otherwise, I need to figure out what I can do to prevent this from happening in the future.

I tape local shows, usually in two acts, one tape per act. This is the second time this has happened; both times, halfway through filming, I noticed that the timecode seemed off - there appeared to be less tape remaining than I would have suspected at that point in the process. Upon going back to review the tape, I get spotty playback that hiccups and pauses every couple of seconds. There doesn't seem to be any way to recover the footage. From what I've read, this is a case of gunk or dirt getting on one of the heads and preventing a magnetic line from recording.

I've run a head cleaner through the camera. This has happened with two different tapes; one of them Panasonic, the other Sony. The cleaner tape was run after the last time this happened, and I've had a successful taping since.

Both times, this happened during the second tape. Immediately rewinding the tape and attempting to record again produces proper footage.

I really don't know what to do, since it seems the only way you can know for sure that you're getting this kind of dropout is by reviewing the footage you've taped, and for shows like the ones I record, this involves straight taping for 45 minutes.

What can I do?

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Roger Van Duyn
Re: XH-A1 Starting to get tape-length dropouts.
on Aug 20, 2012 at 3:05:34 pm

Well, part of the problem is the two different brands of tape. Pick just one brand of tape, and stick to it. The different manufacturers lubricate the tapes differently. Mixing the lubricants leads to problems. There are plenty of threads online about this.

Cleaning the heads will usually solve the problem for a while, as you've experienced.

You can get an external recorder for your XH-A1. That's what I do. I have an XH-A1 and an XH-A1S. One has the external recorder. The other captures directly to laptop through the firewire port. Each camera records to both tape and an external source, whenever possible.


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Paolo Castellano
Re: XH-A1 Starting to get tape-length dropouts.
on Sep 18, 2012 at 10:22:59 pm

Hello Eric,
you're not the first one to get this problem... Many times the dirt is so resistent that the head cleaner tape is not enought for the job, and you may be compelled to send the camera to Canon service.

Are you using consumer or professional tapes?
We noticed that using professional and/or master grade tapes the problem does not appear again. We are using two Panasonic models, AY-DVM63PQ and AY-HDVM63MQ (in the past JVC PRO HD tapes too, but now they are not anymore available anywhere).
Moreover we added an external solid state recorder (Datavideo DN-60) to avoid any problems... but since we are using it we did not get any drops on tapes :-)

Best Regards,
"Post Fata Resurgo"

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