Leica Camera Sensor

Leica Camera sensor

The above image is a Leica M9 camera sensor underneath a fiber optic inspection light, captured with the iPhone 6 which is in many ways to my mind a modern concept of what the Leica camera was back in 1924.  That however is another post that I’ve been pushing around in my head that should get written at some point.

That said, the image above is apropos of nothing other than its sibling, a Leica Monochrom has gone back to Leica to be serviced for a sensor that has delaminated/corroded.  Its has already been at Leica service for a month now and I just heard back that they’ve deemed the sensor to be defective.  The good news is that Leica will replace it for free.  The bad news is that it could be several months before the camera comes back and Leica cannot give me a date at which the work will be complete.

This of course strikes me as completely absurd for a camera company, particularly a “premium” brand.  After all, more “pedestrian” brands like Canon and Nikon have Pro service programs that are pretty good.  They could all use a bit of improvement of course, and as @duncan noted: When it’s not tracked as well as a FedEx package, something is wrong. That said, I’ve been a Canon CPS member for years and I’ve always been happy with their service and their offer of loaners on very short notice.  Even Fuji has a loaner service geared towards pros and they are much newer at the camera game than the traditional giants. But Fuji also seems to really care about the customer which is something special indeed.

So, what is the point of all this whinging?  Not much other than to say that my experiment with Leica is wearing mighty thin.  I’ve really jumped in on this experiment with both feet and do enjoy the enforced simplicity and challenge of photography that the using the Leica encourages, but this sort of service experience, particularly for a working photographer would be a show stopper.  This reinforces the concept for me at least, that the Leica M series is a hobbyist camera for the über wealthy and not one that is used for anyone that expects to accomplish work.  Do they generate beautiful images?  Yes.  Yes, they do.  But…

2 Replies to “Leica Camera Sensor”

  1. Hey Bryan

    I’ve enjoyed browsing through your blog after finding a link to the Milky Way shots on Scoop It. I’m headed off to Santa Fe this week to get some shots with my Fuji X-T1 as well.

    I can really relate to this post. After 40 years with Nikon I picked up a Leica M9 shortly after it came out with the intention of leaving it and a lens or two to my son when I’m gone (plan on spending all my savings myself). Anyway I fell in love with the images it produced and more lens fell into my bag as my friendly sales guy would call me up and too much disposable income from 30+ years as a geologist left me hooked.

    In ’13 I got an M240 in a moment of weakness. As I was comparing images from the two cameras I read about the sensor issues with the M9 and went back to take a more critical look at the M9 images. All the time I spent fixing spots in the sky from what I thought was dust on the lens wasn’t dust at all. Every lens had the same “spots”. Off it went to Leica for service and I ended up getting an upgrade to the M-P after they confirmed the corroded sensor.

    A couple of days later I started looking at the M240 images. What a shock! Hundreds of spots everywhere at f11 and above in every image on all lenses. Most of my photos are shot more wide open but what the heck is going on at Leica. This went back to virtually day one with this camera. So it was off for inspection and cleaning.

    A couple of weeks later I’ve received the new M-P and we’re packing for a trip to Jackson Hole and the Cody Roundup when my friendly sales rep calls to tell me he’s got an M246 if I’m interested. Alrighty then, B&W landscapes with the Monochrom! I’m ready.

    The first evening reviewing those beautiful mountains and spots all over the sky! The sensor is filthy.

    Leica is really just pushing product out the door with little to any QC on their products. To say that I’m upset is putting it lightly. My poor sales rep is completely apologetic and the area Leica rep is seriously ill so seeing him hasn’t happened yet. I’ve written a letter to Leica but never received a reply.

    Sorry for the long reply but I thought you would relate to it.

    I started overhauling my blog back in January after a trip to South Africa but haven’t posted since then. I’ll put up a 3 shot merge of Lake Jackson today from the M-P you might check out. It’s shot with the APO 50 and the detail is just amazing.


    1. Hey Charles,

      Thanks for the note. As it stands, it has been 2.5 months that Leica has had my Monochrom with no idea on when it might come back. This was an interesting experiment and while I’ll not be selling the Leica gear, I am doubling down on Fuji. The old X-Pro1 is still an amazing camera that frankly is better than the Leica M-9. Additionally, Fujifilm cares about their customers, makes an outstanding product and are timely with their service.

      Love the shots of Africa… I *must* get there one of these days…

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