Best mini dv tape to use for documentary in Africa

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by juanala, Sep 19, 2003.

  1. juanala

    juanala Guest

    Hello everyone, sorry i didn't thanked the people who helped me last
    time, so here it goes: thank you very much, your advises really helped
    us a lot. I have another question about the best tapes to use for a
    low budget documentary to be shot in Africa. I'm about to buy a big
    lot of them in one go, around 200 of them, and i was wondering, for a
    mini dv Sony VX-2000, which tape is the best, i've been looking on
    Sony's, Panasonic's and Maxell's, the last one is the cheapest, but i
    still one to know about quality and if one of them works better in
    high temperatures and dusty conditions. If any of you has had any
    experience with them or has any piece of advise i'd appreciate it a
    Thanks guys!
    juanala, Sep 19, 2003
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  2. juanala

    RGBaker Guest

    All three of the tapes you mention are fine -- your tape handling is
    critically important. Store the tapes in a cool, dry place. Keep them in
    their dust wraps until you use them; seal them in a zip lock afterwards.
    Heat is a BIG enemy of tape. So is humidity, dust, smoke, vibration,
    sunlight ...

    Once you've shot your tapes, they are priceless ... imagine if you had to
    replace the shot. My shoots seldom extend to 200 tapes per session, but if
    I do shoot ten or fifteen I seal them up, lock them in a Pelican case and
    carry them with me until I'm home. If I said I put them under my pillow I
    be exagerating only a little.

    I'm sure you know that the 'quality' of the image is identical no matter
    what tape you use -- it is 'reliability' you are after & any brand name tape
    is good; your tape handling habits (bars for the first minute of tape, never
    advance or rewind, use a little medical tape to seal the camcorder/tape lid
    shut if in a dusty situation ...)

    RGBaker, Sep 20, 2003
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  3. You are always safest by using the same brand tape as the make of your
    camcorder. That way you know the tapes were designed to provide the best
    service with your camera.

    Best regards,
    Craig Scheiner
    Executive Producer
    CPS Associates
    Video Production and Publication
    Craig Scheiner, Sep 20, 2003
  4. Having shot five programmes in West Africa over the last decade, on Beta
    SP, Hi8, DV and DVCAM, I now have over 200 tapes in the archive, about
    80 of them on DV/DVCAM. The DV was all VX1000 and the DVCAM PD150. Since
    1995 with the VX1000 and continuing with the PD150 we have always used
    the cheapest consumer Panasonic which have proved 99.9% reliable in the
    most harrowing and extreme conditions. They just need sensible handling,
    keep them out of the direct heat and dust etc. The main issue is to do
    everything possible to keep the interior works of the camera free from
    the ingress of dust, particles and water, particularly when loading
    tapes in the open air. That dust is a killer, like talcum powder. Use
    camera tape to seal the loading door up. They can over heat in the most
    extreme conditions, but our old VX1000's just turned them selves off,
    took a rest in the shade and came back all system go every time.
    Umbrella bearers make useful crew.
    Moving Vision, Sep 21, 2003
  5. juanala

    F.Snoeren Guest

    Not really the case!
    F.Snoeren, Sep 24, 2003
  6. Perhaps you'd like to amplify, rather than just making an unsubstantiated

    Best regards,
    Craig Scheiner
    Executive Producer
    CPS Associates
    Video Production and Publication
    Craig Scheiner, Sep 24, 2003
  7. juanala

    F.Snoeren Guest

    Dear Craig,
    Just to add some substance.
    Most tape standaards have a mechanical (a.o. positioning of the dat area,
    with and tolerance of the tape etc.) and magnetical (a.o. sensitivity for
    magnetic fields) specification.
    The magnetic head has to "work together" with te tape.
    Adherence to this standards by the tape manufacturer is determining wether
    or not it's a good tape.

    The suggestion that a "brand x" tape works better with the same brand of
    tape mechanism suggests that Brand X takes the freedom to deviate from the
    standard with both mechanism and tape.
    F.Snoeren, Sep 25, 2003
  8. juanala

    David McCall Guest


    I have not been following tape quality lately, but there used to be a difference.
    Whatever was the most popular tape would soon become the worst tape to use.
    The theory was that a certain tape would develop the reputation as being the
    best quality, and then their quality control would fall apart and another company
    that had nothing better to do than to do proper QC (because their sales had
    slumped) would wind up having the best quality, until they became too popular.
    That may not apply anymore, but it probably does to some extent.

    I suspect this has more to do with quality differences, than companies arbitrarily
    deviation from the established "standards".

    David McCall, Sep 25, 2003
  9. Yours is the first mention I've heard of this standard. All else I've read
    says each manufacturer designs and makes its record head/tapes as a system
    which is not necessarily as compatible with other brands. I've read a number
    of posts by shooters experiencing more dropouts with tape brands other than
    their camcorder brand, and playback difficulties also with mixed brands. My
    experience is that I have fewer problems if I use the same brand tape as my
    camcorder than if I don't.

    Best regards,
    Craig Scheiner
    Executive Producer
    CPS Associates
    Video Production and Publication
    Craig Scheiner, Sep 25, 2003
  10. juanala

    RGBaker Guest

    Not all manufacturers of hardware make tape ...
    RGBaker, Sep 26, 2003
  11. juanala

    Tony Mueller Guest

    my experience is that I have fewer problems if I avoid using JVC hardware...
    my Sony, Canon and Panasonic gear can interchange tapes just fine, every
    time I use somebody else's JVC gear, the heads clog.


    Tony Mueller, Sep 26, 2003
  12. juanala

    Hughy Guest

    Your dropout experiences are valid.

    Minor dropout is usually caused by inconsistent magnetic evaporate
    deposited on the tape base or material momentarily lodging on video heads
    and preventing the magnetic domains being magnetised properly. Often the
    grunge is dislodged a couple of seconds later and on another tape pass,
    the "bad" section will be perfect. Every manufacturer seems to suffer
    from this sometimes, but I've seen some ng users state that this doesn't
    apply to Sony tapes (I have no experience with Sony tapes).

    However severe head clogs aren't caused by differences in brand per sé,
    rather they are caused by differences in lubricant chosen by the

    AFAIK there are only two lubricant types, wet and dry. Tapes from the
    same manufacturer can use different lubricant, eg. Panasonics EB and EK
    series use dry lubricant. MQ and PQ series use wet lubricant (thanks
    RGBaker). If you use a Panasonic wet tape then follow it with a dry, or
    vice versa, you'll get an instant head clog (my experience) and you'll
    also contaminate the tape for about 60 seconds and make that section
    unusable in future. I threw my contaminated tapes out.

    Many posters reported head clogs when early (1997) Sony tapes were mixed
    with any other brand. I therefore have never ever bought a Sony tape
    (only because my first purchases were Canon and Panasonic).

    I think that the hype of manufacturers to use "their" tape is exactly
    that - hype. Provided you choose a major manufacturer, any brand will do
    so long as you stay with that brand. If you are *sure* of the lubricant
    used on different tapes, IMHO you may then safely vary what you buy. The
    problem being that manufacturers generally refuse to comment on what
    lubricant is used on what tape (I've asked and been refused that

    I'm not sure whether wet lube or dry lube is a better proposition. It
    may be that wet lube is cheaper to produce (explaining Panasonics recent
    move to wet lube for their pro tapes) - but it also may be that the
    latest wet lube is superior in some manner (as Panasonic claim).
    Marketing (any company) will always try to obscure the facts when it
    doesn't suit them, making me very skeptical of manufacturers claims.


    I can be found at airways underscore electronics at bigpond d_o_t c_o_m.
    If you spam me, I **guarantee** that I'll report you.

    Hughy, Oct 1, 2003
  13. juanala

    Mike Metzger Guest

    I'm probably going to get laughed off the NG for this post, but I've been
    using a Sony low-end camcorder for the past couple years. I asked when I
    bought it what brand of tape and the sales guy said Sony. So I was very
    obedient and stuck with the Sony brand for the first year or so. But we were
    on vacation and I ran out of tape and the only miniDV I could buy was Fuji.
    I closed my eyes, held my breath and inserted it into the cam. No problem.
    Since then I've become really reckless and used at least 3 other brands. All
    of these have been the low-end consumer quality. (Here's the laughing part)
    I didn't even KNOW there was a "pro" quality available for miniDV.

    So were doing this 3 camera shoot where I rent the whole kit from the local
    video rental shop. First time for me. I even hired a crew, since I didn't
    know how to work a switcher. (more laughter). The rep asks what format. I
    know I'm going to have to edit all this myself (low post budget), so I look
    around and then whisper "uhhh, can you do it on miniDV?" He says "sure" and
    that was my first intro to the Panasonic MQ tape. If I had read this thread
    6 months ago I would have never tried it, but I got the tapes home, and
    happily popped them into my little Sony camcorder and captured away.

    So, here's my really dumb conclusion...the consumer camcorder's tolerances
    are probably loose enough that the mix of wet/dry lube and different mfgs.
    can be handled without a problem?? So far (knock on wood) I've had no head
    clogs or dropouts.

    Now, I will return you to intelligent posts and I will return to my blissful
    newbie ignorance.

    Mike Metzger
    Mike Metzger, Oct 1, 2003
  14. juanala

    RGBaker Guest

    When wet/dry lubes conspire to create gunk, no tolerance laxity will save
    you. Best to avoid mixing, or you are playing roulette ...

    RGBaker, Oct 1, 2003
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