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A gear report


jaapv
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Five weeks through Africa - from hot storms and fine sand to hot and dusty to rainforest and tropical rainstorms- Using a M9 and DMR.

 

Actually the gear was fine and kept going under all conditions, with a few hitches.

 

First off my main headache in the beginning was keeping the sand away from the shutter of the M9 - so I made a point only to change lenses indoors - still I had to clear sand grains from the helicoid of the Summilux 50 asph - after that I reverted to the M8 and Summicron 40 when going outside.

I loaded a new Sandisk 16 Gb Ultra and immediately the camera started acting up - it never did before, so I reverted to an old Sandisk card and compressed DNGs to have plenty of space on the 4 old cards I had and the trouble disappeared - proof to me that the cause is with Sandisk.

The only other hitch was that to segments of the LEDs in the viewfinder burnt out - no big deal.

In dust and heat no problems at all, except for the know issue that DMR chargers shut off over 45 degrees C. so I had to charge in the morning. The sensor dust could be controlled with the Rocket Blower in the bathroom in the evenings.

In the rainforest it was hot and wet,wet wet. The M9 viewfinder fogged up, and so did the the DMR. I had to take the DMR apart a couple of times to dry the contacts...

But the cameras did keep working, albeit with a slightly unstable DMR because of the moisture. I broke the tripod mount thread of the DMR.

The sticky tape on the Thumbie of the M9 gave up and the thingy fell off...

So I sent the gear to Leica today for a CLA and repair. Upgrading the M9 to chrome as well

Two accesories proved themselves invaluable when hiknig in harsh conditions: the Sun Sniper diagonal strap for the DMR with heavy zoom and the Novoflex walking stick-monopod. I will never travel without those again!

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It was not just condensation - it was pouring tropical rain for hours... I was quite relieved the cameras appeared to be quite water-resistant, they had been wet before, but not to this extent.

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I loaded a new Sandisk 16 Gb Ultra and immediately the camera started acting up - it never did before, so I reverted to an old Sandisk card and compressed DNGs to have plenty of space on the 4 old cards I had and the trouble disappeared - proof to me that the cause is with Sandisk.

 

That's like getting a stomach ache after eating a 32-oz steak and then saying it's proof the meat was bad

Why couldn't it be the firmware's inability to handle the newer card? My Canon dSLR has never had a problem with whatever card I fed it. OTOH my M9 is like a collicky baby in that regard.

 

I have to say I do greatly admire your positive attitude and perseverence w/respect to the relative weathersealing of the DMR and M9. I met with a "name" photog recently who shoots in the African jungle frequently, and he said he was "frankly amazed" at how (in his case Canon) had made dust and moisture incursion non-issues compared to what it was 20 years ago. They even have a non-fogging viewfinder. He did say the only issue that still remains is sand in the zoom mechanisms, which forces him to have his lenses serviced after every trip.

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You're fortunate to have had a card that worked, and that the camera didn't just freeze up as some have reported. That issue really needs to get sorted; no card, no pics...period. And, as you showed, past performance does not mean much. Reliability is key, and not just for remote travel.

 

Jeff

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Welcome back Jaap and thanks for the update, it's always great to compare notes with a fellow African traveller.

 

I must be really lucky, I started using Sandisk 16G Extreme 30MB/S cards when I went to Antarctica earlier this year and on 3 subsequent safaris since and have had no issues on either of my M9s.

 

Looking forward to seeing your images.

BYTW did you go to Katavi and Mahali?

Best

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I agree on the reliability remark - but as the camera had been reliable on the old type Sandisk and reverted to that state when it was reinserted, I find it hard not to find fault with the accessory that caused the problem. Strangely three other Sandisks that I bought at the same time do not show this behaviour - so it appears to me there is something going on in the manufacturing process of the cards. But Leica is working on it as we write.

 

As for weathersealing, it is my wish too for the M10, if only for my peace of mind.

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Welcome back Jaap and thanks for the update, it's always great to compare notes with a fellow African traveller.

 

I must be really lucky, I started using Sandisk 16G Extreme 30MB/S cards when I went to Antarctica earlier this year and on 3 subsequent safaris since and have had no issues on either of my M9s.

 

Looking forward to seeing your images.

BYTW did you go to Katavi and Mahali?

Best

 

Thanks Mike. Yes I did, Katavi was a bit disappointing as the game tends to disperse as the river dries out mid-September - second rate guiding did not help either-, but Mahale was absolutely amazing and the highlight of the trip, despite the rain.

Edited by jaapv
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Thank you for the report, Jaap!

I was just wondering when reading that part where you tell about the heavy rain: why did Jaap expose the cameras to that amount of water, or better expressed, how did he expose them to that heavy rain? Were they in the bag, and only came out for making the picture? When a heavy rain is falling I would not risk my cameras, ever...English is not my language, and when I read what I write it sounds silly even to me, but that's what I would like to know. In my case I would not take the risk, I think...

Thank you, again!

Cheers,

Manolo

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You are in 45 degrees C, hiking up a steep muddy mountain in the pouring rain and you may need the camera in a hurry. No you do not use a bag, it is too impeding. The DMR with long heavy zoom hangs on the left side on your Sun Sniper strap, the M9 with a 50 or 35 on the right from your shoulder. The spare batteries and one or two lenses in a pouch on your belt, your binoculars around your neck, a bottle of water in your leg pocket. You try to keep the downpour at bay with a flimsy plastic poncho with very limited success. That is it....Oh and your essential walking stick doubles as a monopod.

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Did you feel compromised by having to shoot compressed DNG? Or do you think there is not much to say about the inherent quality and flexibility in each format (comprressed and uncompressed)?
I did not see that as a problem. The reasons for shooting uncompressed are pretty esoteric anyway, albeit valid.
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I agree on the reliability remark - but as the camera had been reliable on the old type Sandisk and reverted to that state when it was reinserted, I find it hard not to find fault with the accessory that caused the problem.

 

But, haven't some reported problems using other cards? I know some reported problems even after Leica supplied the card; so maybe it's not the camera, but if the Company can't recommend an interim solution guaranteed to work, then it's their problem...and the users'.

 

Jeff

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I once reported a Sandisk card, years ago, that became corrupted ( on the M8 iirc) I threw it in the dustbin. I never had any problem on the M9 before - and I have a considerable number of cards that I use, mostly various types of Sandisk. I bought the last four 16 GB Ultra II a couple of months a go. Two are without problem, one acted up according to all the reports in the forum from go, one is still untested. What am I supposed to conclude from that? My solution is to carry sufficient proven cards with me to handle such glitches. Like I carry two chargers per system, and more batteries than I will need.

The reports on other brands are rather rare, and may represent the statistical "noise" of the maker-accepted failure rate. Otoh they may reflect the market shares, who knows?.

Edited by jaapv
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I really have no dog in this fight; my 2 M8.2s work just fine with all my cards. But, based on the problems with cards in the M9, I too would carry a bunch of them at all times, and be prepared to miss some possibly important shots. I'm just saying that one shouldn't have to do deal with this. And clearly Leica agree, since they're working hard to find a solution.

 

And, I'll repeat that some report (in the same sticky) that even cards issued by Leica have also failed, so clearly the only relevant test is in one's own camera. And even then, as Jaap's initial post shows, past results don't guarantee future performance.

 

I just hope new M9 purchasers who don't follow this forum get good advice from dealers on potential card issues, and precautions, until solutions are found.

 

Jeff

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Sand and dust can be just as much a problem as moisture. My wife founded an orphanage in Kenya and goes there each year to audit the books as it is a charity. Each time she comes back with a PanaLeica whose zoom has got stuck in a gritty kind of way. Each time I grit (mot juste!) my teeth and buy her the replacement that has come out since.

 

Chris

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Got a deal from B&H on 3 8gig class 10 Sandisk cards. Bought them knowing I could also use them on my other cameras. Just really appreciate the faster download speeds. In trying all three cards, all froze up the M9 within thirty shots. For better or worse, I was not surprised. I do have lots of cheap Sandisk cards, so no big deal.

 

Let's hope the expected, upcoming firmware fix will successful cure these issues. THanks to those working on this issue.

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