Media quality has always been an issue, but in the past using a name brand product generally assured you that the tape was up to the job it was purchased for. The difference between "standard" and "extra high quality" tapes was mainly the box, and sometimes better components in the cassette.
The latest generations of equipment are using Mini DV tape, and some use floppy disks. Suddenly, name brand may not be enough.
The floppy drives used in some digital cameras are tiny, and fragile. A disk whose door sticks, or media turns stiffly can permanently damage the drive. Stay away from bulk packaged & generic disks. If you have a Sony camera, give it Sony disks for best performance.
The problem is even worse with the Mini-DV tapes. The tolerances these machines operate at are in the micron range. The tape has to float over a drum spinning at 9000 rpm. We have seen problems caused by even name brand tapes. These problems range from blocking (digital dropouts) to needing frequent head cleaning and even intermittent mechanical errors. The less expensive tape may not be cut as accurately, and/or the coatings may be more likely to transfer to your equipment, causing residue build up and all sorts of headaches. It just isn't worth risking your memories and equipment to save a couple of bucks on tape.
Once again, if you have a Sony, give it Sony tapes. If you have a JVC, give it JVC or Panasonic tapes. Sure, JVC tapes work fine in Sony, and vice versa, but if you bring your equipment in for a problem, especially an intermittent one, the first thing we, and the manufacturer ask is "what kind of tape do you use". If you are using TDK in your JVC Mini DV recorder, we will ask you to try a JVC or Panasonic to see if the problem goes away, before we try to fix something that may not be broken.
The manufacturers simply will not guarantee performance with other than their own tapes.
Halle's Service, Inc.
Last modified: March 31, 2007