First post, so please bear with me. I was recently given a couple of ex-hire Panasonic DVCPro camcorders (complete with lenses). One's an AJ-D215HE (which takes the larger tapes) while the other is a AJ-D700E (which takes the smaller 'medium' tapes). The latter had a few dry joints in the camera, and after dealing with these now gives a splendid picture via the video output (as does the D215) when powered up via an external DC source. Tapes for these machines are alas difficult to get hold of these days, and none are currently available on eBay (new stock, where you can find it, seems to be very expensive - certainly compared to mini-DV!).
Now to the questions. I have a full-sized consumer DV cassette (Sony DV180 ME) that's known to work. This has the physical characteristics of the DVCPro 'large' format, but it doesn't seem to work properly in my camera. The tape refuses to lace up properly in the D215, which has low hours on it. But then again, a label on the cam tells me to 'please use only DVCPro L cassette'. Is this to be expected? In other words, has Panasonic taken steps (minor changes in cassette design, sensor tabs etc.) to ensure that consumer DV media cannot be used? Or is it a sign that the VCR section of this cam needs attention?
The D215 has a Firewire output; luckily, I still have a computer with a Firewire port. I have copies of Premiere (courtesy of CS5.5) and Pinnacle Liquid Edition, both of which are claimed to support DVCPro. The D215 seems to output 'live' video via Firewire (I get a corrupted picture via the Firewire input of my Datavideo MP-6000 DVD recorder; presumably because DVCPro samples at 4:1:1 instead of consumer DV's 4:2:0) although I cannot get Liquid Edition to recognise it - presumably the software is looking for a VCR to control, and no tape is present. Is this indeed the case?
Rather than spend lots of money on new DVCPro media, does anyone reading this have some used medium/large DVCPro media they can sell to me cheaply (I'll refund postage/packing too) so that I can check my machines? If you're in a position to help, then please PM me. Should they be found to work, I'll be more confident when it comes to buying new tapes (and looking for a VCR that can dump footage from the medium-sized tapes into my NLE)! Yes, I know these machines are only 4:3 standard def, but picture quality is superb and I love the control the manual lenses give you. The project I'm currently planning would actually benefit from the Panny's 'old-time' format (which was the only one in use until comparatively recently!).
Thanks for reading this