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One of the problems you’ll face sooner or later is the appearance of `mosaics’ or a black screen when you play your recorded video. The indication is your cylinder head is dirty. Before you rush your video camera to the service centre, you could try cleaning the head to set things right. The way to go about it is by using a video camera cleaning cassette.
Here are tips to take note of before buying a video camera cleaning cassette.
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Make sure the brand of cleaning cassette you purchase is of the same brand as your camera make. Once you’ve used a particular tape brand, do not switch to another.
Different brands of cleaning tapes are made of different kinds of chemicals, each specific to their camera brands. It will not be a disaster if you switch to a tape that’s of a different brand from your camera. However, if you want your camera head to last a long time, you would not want to take the risk.
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You may be tempted to pop the cleaning tape into your camera as soon after your purchase. Spend a few minutes reading the instructions that come with it.
The one thing you must remember is to use the tape in playback mode and not in the recording mode. What this means is you have to use the tape in such a way that you’re playing a pre-recorded tape. So, you use the PLAY button after popping your cleaning cassette into the camera.
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How long should you run the tape? The best guide is to follow the instructions that come the tape.
The standard practice is to run it between 10 and 15 seconds. Run the tape once for that duration and test your video playback. If the picture still turns up blocky, you can make another two attempts.
When you’re using the tape for the second or third time, remember not to rewind the tape before running it. Please note that you would have to wait until the tape reaches its end before you could rewind it.
The golden rule to remember is running the tape longer doesn’t mean a cleaner camera head. Treat a cleaning tape like a `sand paper’. Prolonged use may damage recording head.
If your problem doesn’t resolve after three tries, you ought to consider sending it to the service centre. Don’t keep on running the cleaning tape, hoping it would resolve your problem.
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To get the maximum benefit out of a cleaning session, do not use old prerecorded tapes to test your playback. You risk contaminating your recording head. Use a new tape to record and test your playback.
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Is it wise to reuse the tape after it has reached its end? Opinions differ on this matter. Some think you could use the tape up to three runs before discarding it.
If you’re really serious about preserving a recording head, you should use it only once. A cleaning cassette doesn’t cost much compared to the cost of replacing a recording heard or having it serviced.
Always bring a cleaning cassette with you when you’re out shooting. You’ll never know when your recording head will act up. You don’t want to mess up an important shooting assignment for want of a cleaning cassette.
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Even if your video camera is performing without a hitch you ought to consider using a cleaning tape once in three months if you’re shooting regularly or after 50 to 60 hours of camera use.