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miniDV cassette woes

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Our department has been using various models of Sony, JVC, and Panasonic brand DVC camcorders; they have worked very well up until recently. Some have expired due to age, which is expected; however, when played back for capture or to review material on some, there have been black bars across the screen. Part of it, I think, has to do with our reusing our cassettes. Can these tapes be reused successfully? Is there an "expiration date"? Is there a best practice when using these cassettes that we haven't considered?
My last question (I promise): is there any way that a bad tape could ruin a camcorder?
post #2 of 7
In a nutshell:
- Tapes shouldn't be reused if it's to be used as a long term storage solution. Reusing tapes will likely make the MTBF (mean time before failure) much shorter.
- After being used once, depending on quality, handling and storage, tapes have a MTBF between 5-20 years. Note that DV isn't much affected by one failure, but HDV may lose up to 0.5 seconds of audio and video every time a bit is switched.
- If the tape was misused and has residue/gunk, it surely could gunk the heads of another camcorder. Cleaning the heads should fix the issue though.
- I remember reading about different lubricant used between makers, like some using an oil-based lubricant, while others using a power form. I also remember reading stories about mix and matching different tape makers possibly having a gunking effect when the two lubricants were mixing. The advice I read was to not mix and match different makes of tapes. I don't know how true that is, but I wanted to throw it in.

IMO, it's not worth ever reusing tapes at their price point.
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
I've heard about using the same brand tapes and camcorders too.

You said depending on the quality, handling, and storage of the tapes that their MTBF could be between 5-20 years. What would be the ideal environment? We keep our tapes on a shelf, in a room temperature area; however, some tapes are reused several times.

We have tried cleaning the heads of these camcorders several times over (JVC GR-D870U and Panasonic PV-GS120) and we still get the black bars. We'd really like to avoid spending money to get these fixed, but that might be our only option.
post #4 of 7
Can you post a frame grab of what you mean by "black bars"? If this is digital, data corruption is much more likely as far as tape problems go.
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
I've attached what the bars look like on our JVC camcorder. The other ones that have had issues look like this or show pixelated bars.
If it's a corruption, is it reparable?
post #6 of 7
First time I see this, sorry. Does it look like this if you try to play it on another camcorder?

If the data is corrupted, I'm not sure there's much that can be done to recover it.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Sometimes. The picture that I took was of a random tape on my desk trying to play in the JVC GR-D870U; it does that with every tape.
The black vertical bars and/or pixelated bars appear mostly after an event has been videotaped and we're trying to capture it.
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