URGENT! URGENT! All three VX2100’s are asking for Cleaning Tape. HELP!

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    • #48027

      I have three VX2100’s. Last Summer during a rather humid outdoor wedding shoot I had two of three cameras ask for a cleaning tape, one right after the other. We’ll label these cameras (A, B, & C). With cam (A), instead of cleaning, I put it in the case, then got cam (B).

      It worked fine for about 30 min then also asked for a cleaning tape.

      Cam (C) never asked for a cleaning tape and I never had trouble from it until recently (I’ll elaborate later).

      I’ve asked on this forums a couple times about humidity recovery but the answers were always that it will clear up after letting it sit. I followed their advice before using any cleaning tapes.

      A day later, after allowing the cameras to sit at a constant temperature (indoors), I tried to test record for about 10 minutes with the cams again. They seemed to work fine. I periodically checked them with no problems. So I thought that the “Let-it-dry-out” method worked.

      During the next wedding shoot a month later, after about 45 minutes, camera (A) began acting up again. It asked for a cleaning. Upon playback, the footage prior to the error message was glitchy. I ran a cleaning tape, then let the cam sit.

      Then during the ceremony I used cam (B). After about 20 minutes, it also asked for a cleaning tape. I cleaned it then had no further trouble for the rest of the night.

      Tonight, I was prepping my tapes for a shoot tomorrow. During the process, I was asked for a cleaning tape from Cam (C).

      I have a small Panasonic cam that I use to download all my tapes and to do playbacks so that the heads on my VX2100’s won’t get worn out. I’ve inserted different brands in every different combination for nearly 4 years and have only ever had to use a cleaning tape maybe twice with no problems. But with my expensive pro cams I’m cautious and careful. But I seem to be having all the problems with them. WHY WHY WHY???!!!

      Point of Thought:

      1) I only had trouble from all three cameras after recording in stop-start-stop-start fashion.

      2) The cameras were all in LP mode.

      3) I only use and have only EVER used SONY tapes in these camcorders.


      1) Is this a common problem with the VX2100?

      2) Is the fact that LP mode runs the heads slower, mean that there is more of a chance that the heads will get clogged?

    • #197534


      I have experienced this problem and it has always been related to humidity. To solve it, I put the camera (I have done this with both VX and Z series Sony cameras) in a raincoat that came with the carrying case. That has been 100% effective both for shooting on humid summer days as well as in the tropics.

      Another trick is to keep the camera and its tapes heated a few degrees above ambient temperature to prevent condensation. You can do this by putting the camera in a cardboard box with a 60 watt light. Of course, this only works where electricity is available. Don’t put the bulb against the camera, just use it to warm the air in the box which should be somewhat open. The goal is to keep the camera and tapes at around 90-100 degrees F or, warm, not hot, to the touch. An alternative is to put the camera in the sun. As long as the equipment is warmer than the ambient temperature you won’t get condensation. These methods will also dry out an affected camera mush faster than just letting it sit.

      Finally, forget that LP mode. It does not make the head rotate slower, it makes the tape move slower which puts the diagonal recorded stripes closer together. The effect is lower signal to noise ratio due to unwanted signal from slightly overlapping adjacent stripes which means head/tape contact is more critical. Most of the time the LP mode works okay, but if you are working under degraded conditions due to humidity, it could be the difference between good footage and dropouts.

      These things have worked for me and I hope they help you.


    • #197535

      This has happened to me on my HDR-HC1 camcorder numerous times, mostly in humidity – I re-inserted it several times and it did the same thing to the point a defect operationally. At least that’s what I think it was. Now, I can’t get the tape compartment closed for anything – no warnings or messages, just a tape compartment that won’t close whether there is a tape in there or not.

      But before, I’d often get the “re-insert tape” error until I finally rubbed it off on my shirt.

    • #197536

      Thanks for the replies.

      Unfortunately, the humid filming day was last summer (1year ago) and the cameras are still experiencing problems. I have not shot in any humid or outdoor conditions since that day. Everything has been in nice churches or hotels at room temperature. No going in and out. But the same problems occur.

      “Please insert a cleaning tape” And the footage is spotty immediately prior to the message appearing (upon playback). So I figure it’s got something to do with the heads. Ever since that day last summer. Grr.

      It can’t be a coincidence.<span style=”font-size: 10px;”>It’s on all three VX2100’s not just one. I don’t have this problem with any other cameras. Even the el-cheapo’s that I only paid $100 for.</span>

      These VX2100’s were new when I bought them in 2007.

    • #197537

      It is possible and likely that the clogs are bad enough, or even tape head damage severe enough, that a deep cleaning, even head replacement has become necessary. I personally do not think a tape head cleaner will do the job for you now

      I purchased all my XL1 Canons at the same time (one digit apart in serial numbers) and the same situation happened to me during a particularly hot, humid event week involved with producing a week-long homecoming series for an area high school. We were in and out of air conditioning, AND I wasn’t at the time aware of tape stock differences using TDK, Panasonic and Sony tapes with abandon. Oops.

      I soon had to replace the heads in all my Canons to absolutely correct the problem that had become more persistent than intermittent. You may be at that point with your cameras. The probable reason all of them are having the problem, to some degree more or less, is that you’ve used all of them in the same environments and probably about the same amount of time – two camera shoots, third cam backup, etc. They’ve all reached the same point of condition at pretty much the same time.

      I had to purchase a throwaway (based on MY smaller budget determinations, as in the pro industry my Canons are considered throwaways πŸ˜‰ to finish a couple of gigs, and had some severe client problems due to camera malfunction until I bit the bullet and paid for these extensive and expensive repairs.

      Though this will not help you today it might help in the future. I don’t care what others claim, say or what theorists state as fact regarding the wear and tear on heads by constant tape head cleaning. I run a cleaner through my cameras for 10 seconds each before each and every commercial gig. I occasionally use denatured alcohol and swabs to brush across whatever points inside the tape path I can readily reach and I occasionally use an air-pump device to blow out any visible or perceived “dust bunnies” not really but you get the idea.

      When traveling from any given location to another and especially if it is a part of the year where auto air conditioning is needed I not only wrap my cameras in extra large Ziploc bags (leaving the air that gets trapped inside as well) but I also seal a couple of silicon moisture absorbing packs inside.

      Oh, and like you, I now ONLY use Sony tapes and use other devices for playback or feed, master recording to/from the editing system.

      Since this costly experience (knock on wood) I’ve not experienced a serious tape head clog or dew warning and have had only the extremely rare half-second or shorter glitch in my acquisition stock.

      What you’ve experienced with your cameras is not a negative factor regarding their quality or performance capabilities, nor were they with mine IT SIMPLY JUST HAPPENS and those who say they NEVER experience this even when NOT using tape head cleaners or when using whatever brand strikes their fancy or is available at the moment should consider themselves and their equipment touched by angels.

    • #197538

      Not what I wanted to hear but very helpful Earl. Thanks. I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case but assumed it might be.

      Luckily I didn’t have any trouble at the shoot last night. It went of without a hitch.


      Why does it seem that MiniDV cams are so volatile or delicate or whatever word works here. I have an old Hi8 camera that still works perfectly and has never needed any type of service? Heck, I’ve used it in the rain before and I still works like a charm.

      But my first MiniDV cam back in 2005 lasted no more than 6 months and it was done for. Now these 3.

      There should be some sort of warning on these things. I wish the Flash Card cams were not so much.

    • #197539

      my personal experience with wet/humid or cold conditions and cameras is to use plastic bags and uv filters as raincoats when working (rubber bands at the lens and hair scrunchies around the bottom) , but the real damage comes when putting away after shooting… I take silica desicant packets and ziploc freezer bags and suck all the air out before sealing the baggies, then let the camera acclimatize indoors before open the baggies. once indoors, they get sat in a warm dry place for a few hours before going back to their pelican cases for storage…

    • #197540

      No engineering logic here, eventvideoguy, but just my opinion based on some perceived logic: I think it has to do with the smaller, thinner tapes, and all the smaller elements inside the camera that work with the tape to get the signal.

      On average, I’ve had good luck with my Canons over the years mainly due to the painful learning experience I outlined previously, and now doing pretty much a similar routine as Don points out. My cameras get several hours of work laid on them weekly, so considering that amount of usage compared to the average consumer I guess this represents pretty decent mileage overall.

      The tapes, and systems while not nearly as clunky as the older systems, are simply not as robust, and while still pretty sturdy considering the use and abuse they can experience are more susceptible I think to the elements. A microscopic bit of dust on a VHS or High 8 system could be considered a golfball or boulder in the smaller units.

    • #197541

      Other than a new pair of shoes or new electronics, where can I buy some of those silica gel packs. I’ve never actually seen them in a store anywhere.

      Thanks for the advice guys.

    • #197542

      Hobby shops and other businesses that cater to people who do handicrafts. We have a store here called Michael’s that offers the stuff for those who do things with flowers that require being “dried” before working with them. There are larger packs available that can be used and occasionally placed in an oven set at a low degree to replenish.

    • #197543

      Oh. We have Michael’s here to. I’ll go check that out tomorrow.


    • #197544

      Hi Guys,

      I also have a Sony VX 2100 and I also experience the same head-clogging problem. How I get around the problem is by not leaving the camera in stand-by mode for longer than about ten seconds. Either I run the tape which results in unnecessary footage or start and stop as required.

    • #197545

      Interesting point. During this last shoot (totaling about 6.5 hours per camera), I steered clear of the LP mode for the first time in a long time. I didn’t have any cleaning tape errors pop up (Thank God!). All oft the footage was perfect.

      I also plan to find some of those silica packets to place in the cameras to reduce the moisture as Earl suggested. I’m gonna do some more test shoots before my next big event.

      Thanks for the tips guys.

    • #197546

      I went to Michael’s to look for the Silica beads. They don’t sell them there anymore. They have this Blue colored stuff for flower drying now that comes in a big tub.

      It looks like it could be a large jar of the silica beads except it doesn’t say it anywhere on the container.

      I’m gonna try the other similar stores around here.

      Hobby Lobby and AC Moore

    • #197547

      That blue stuff should actually work if you put it into some kind of potpourri bag or other fine mesh container. It should really still be silica. Also, somewhere there are large such bags of silica that can be revived after a few hours in a warm oven and used over and over again. I forget what the brand is.

      Well, just did a Google search for silica desiccant and found this link: Silica Gel Packets, see what shows up there, they claim a variety of “products for dehumidifiers to prevent moisture damage.”

    • #197548

      It has been quite a while since this topic was posted but I do have new information to add. I ran into troubles during an extremely cold weather shoot (about homeless camps) and used a cleaning tape to good effect. For a while. But the problem popped up more than I like so I took the next step.

      Cleaning tapes are okay for what they are designed to do. But essentially, they are sandpaper for the video heads. Oxide buildup will occur over time (especially with certain tape brands.) Far & away the best plan is to actually clean the oxide off the video heads using tape head cleaner & swabs made for cleaning tape heads, both available at Radio Shack.

      This is a moderately difficult task and generally requires removing the cassette door for access to the heads. But it has solved my glitchy recording problems. I will admit I was taught how to clean heads by a video engineer, so I’m comfortable with the process. But be aware, it is possible to permanently damage the video heads so extreme care is necessary.

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