Updated 17 November 2020.
- 1 Nothing Wrong with Your Camcorder
- 2 Try Recording with a Clean Tape
- 3 Get a Cleaning Tape
- 4 The Camcorder Head Cleaning Process
- 5 How to use Sony 8mm Head Cleaner : Caution
- 6 How Long Will a Cleaning Tape Last?
- 7 Can I Buy a Used Camcorder Video Head Cleaning Cassette?
- 8 What if the Head Cleaning Cassette Doesn’t Fix the Problem?
- 9 Don’t Use These Camcorder Head Cleaning Options
- 10 8mm / Hi8 / Digital8 Camcorder Video Head Cleaning Cassette Best Buys
Nothing Wrong with Your Camcorder
If you try to play your 8mm tapes and you see horizontal lines running across your screen or if you don’t see a picture or if you see a snowy image/blue screen, it doesn’t mean that your camcorder is faulty.
Before you entertain the thought of buying a new camcorder or sending it in for repair, consider the possibility that your camcorder head is dirty.
Yes, over time your 8mm camcorder heads will get dirty and it would have affect the quality of tape playback.
This could be due to exposure to dust through open air or through the tapes themselves.
There’s no need to push the panic button and rush it to the service center to clean your 8mm camcorder heads. You’ll be deprived of your camcorder for days, not to mention ending up paying a huge service fee.
Try Recording with a Clean Tape
This trick is not guaranteed to work. However, you may give it a try. Put in a blank, new tape if you have one. Record for about 30 minutes. Then try to play back the tape. See if the picture quality improves.
Get a Cleaning Tape
Your second option would be to buy a cleaning tape, a dry cleaning tape.
If you’re having a Sony 8mm camcorder, whether Video8, Hi-8 or Digital8, you’re advised to get a Sony 8mm camcorder head cleaning cassette.
Alternatively, you can check out the Exabyte 309258 8mm D8 18-Pass Premium Cleaning Tape.
The Camcorder Head Cleaning Process
In most instances, you just have to insert the cleaning cassette into your camcorder and play it for for not more than 10 seconds to clean your 8mm camcorder heads.
Your ‘dirty’ camcorder heads will be fixed and picture quality will be restored.
How to use Sony 8mm Head Cleaner : Caution
Don’t Exceed Specified Run Time
A word of caution – do not run the tape for more than the specified time in the manual when cleaning your 8mm camcorder heads.
Do not also rewind the tape. You should only rewind the tape after it has reached its end.
Don’t Do Repeated Cleanings
Don’t follow one cleaning session with a few more to make your camcorder tape head cleaner.
If the problem of horizontal lines and fuzzy images is due to a dirty camcorder head, one cleaning session should take care of the problem.
If it doesn’t, try another session just to make sure. Don’t do more than two for the good of your camcorder head.
Note that camcorder tape cleaners are of the abrasive type. Using it for longer periods of time repeatedly could lead to premature camcorder head wear.
If you can’t get your 8mm tape playing well after two cleaning sessions, chances are you may be having a different problem.
How Long Will a Cleaning Tape Last?
How long can you use the cleaning tape? You can use it for up to three to four passes from beginning to end.
It is estimated that you can undertake about 200 cleaning sessions with each cleaning tape.
As it is highly unlikely you would regularly use the tape once your camcorder head is ‘dry cleaned’, the cleaning tape should last you for a long time.
Don’t do periodic cleanings of your camcorder head just because you’ve ample cleaning tape left.
There’s no need to clean your your 8mm camcorder tape unless it can’t playback a good picture.
Can I Buy a Used Camcorder Video Head Cleaning Cassette?
Although 8mm camcorders are no longer in production, 8mm video cleaning cassettes are still available for sale.
The prices are exorbitant though. Some are used ones.
There’s no harm in buying a used 8mm camcorder head cleaning cassette, provided it has a good portion of it unused. It would be much more convenient and cheaper than sending your camcorder to a service centre.
What if the Head Cleaning Cassette Doesn’t Fix the Problem?
If picture quality doesn’t improve after using the tape, you should not attempt to clean it manually, unless you know what you’re doing.
Unless your camcorder head is physically damaged, a cleaning cassette would do the job for you.
If it doesn’t you should send your camcorder to a service center as a last resort to clean your 8mm camcorder heads.
Don’t Use These Camcorder Head Cleaning Options
Some users recommend cleaning your dirty camcorder head with alcohol swabs. This kind of ‘wet cleaning’ has its risks. You don’t know what kind of chemicals are used in the alcohol. They may be potentially harmful to your camcorder head.
The same applies to wet 8mm video head cleaning cassettes.
Also don’t use a brush to clean your 8mm camcorder head.
Always go for a ‘dry’ 8mm camcorder cleaning tape. Take a look at the options below.
8mm / Hi8 / Digital8 Camcorder Video Head Cleaning Cassette Best Buys
Sony V8-6CLD 8mm / Hi8 / Digital8 Camcorder Video Head Cleaning Cassette
You can use this 8mm video camera head cleaning tape with 8mm tape decks and 8mm camcorders.
Sony V8-25CLD 8mm / Hi8 / Digital8 Camcorder Video Head Cleaning Cassette
This 8mm camcorder head cleaner is still available for purchase at Amazon. Like the Sony V8-6CLD, it cleans all the heads of camcorders of all the three 8mm video formats.
Exabyte 309258 8mm D8 18-Pass Premium Cleaning Tape.
This is a premium 18-pass 8mm camcorder head cleaning tape. You can use it for a 18 times from beginning to end.
Users have seen good results with this tape. This is probably the only and cheapest non-Sony 8mm video head cleaning cassette available out there currently.
Take a look at the Exabyte 309258 8mm D8 18-Pass Premium Cleaning Tape. It comes with a one-year warranty.