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Stefan Daniel

Serviceability M8 & M8.2 displays

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The problem for Leica is that the M8 is probably the most expensive product this display was ever used in. It was likely also used in things like early smart-phones and PDA's which were regarded as disposable if they broke. For the M8, the failure of this $40 component kills the (say) $2000 camera.

 

The lesson here is to test critical components which you are keeping as service stock which otherwise would be tested in camera production and field use. There's no point at all in simply putting the parts on the shelf and hoping all will be well when they are used.

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I think that you'll find the cost of the upgrade is not insignificant and probably beyond the reach of many, but hey, why are they bothering with Leica if they don't have the odd few thousand euros to throw away, this is a club for the elite (as says Leica spokesman celeb snapper Seal).

 

10 years life expectancy might be fair but some M8 owners have only had their cameras for 3 years. Is that a fair 'lifetime'? I wonder if Stefan had said in his gracious response that 3 years was as much as they could promise for M9 users, would the loyal supporters be as loyal??

 

As I said, the whole thing depends on how "generous" the upgrade offer is. And we cannot know as there are no fixed prices published - I guess the final price will be lower than the initial quote here in the thread. Yes, I would be unhappy if a broken camera cannot be repaired. But lets turn the game around: look how many M9 users happily upgraded their perfectly fine working camera to a M9P for quite a bit of money. So, everyone should consider, for which price you would be happy to upgrade your working camera to the next new model? And if the price offered by Leica for the upgrade of a broken camera is anywhere close to that sum, thats a great offer.

 

Peter

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... The lesson here is to test critical components which you are keeping as service stock which otherwise would be tested in camera production and field use. There's no point at all in simply putting the parts on the shelf and hoping all will be well when they are used.

But, Mark, it's rarely done that way in industry in my experience because the goods supplier (Leica in this instance) is unlikely to have the equipment to suitably test each critical component and to do so would unreasonably add to overhead and reduce the available labour force to build the goods. Typically a goods supplier will require the parts supplier to comply with a strict type test specification and production test regimen and will witness the type tests and a certain percentage of the production tests at the parts supplier's factory. Testing is the parts supplier's responsibility and his opportunity to confirm that the parts meet the goods supplier's (the customer in this instance) requirements. Adherence to requirements is then controlled through batch testing, auditing through random test witnessing and contractual obligations.

 

In this instance the LCDs didn't fail straight away (or presumably they would have been detected by Leica's quality assurance department before leaving the factory and rejected) so Leica couldn't have known they were faulty and testing them before they were put on the shelf would have shown nothing.

 

Pete.

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Pete, interesting comments but the testing regime you speak of may be appropriate to, for example, aerospace components but not what are strictly consumer grade electronic components. We do not know what the contractual arrangements were between Toppoly and Leica; Leica may not have even dealt with them directly but simply bought from a German distributor and any liability would be limited to the cost of the LCDs supplied as faulty and I doubt there would be any liability on the part of the vendor for consequential loss. They identify a batch of bad LCDs, send them back, "very sorry, here's your refund" and switch supplier.

 

They should have carried out a risk assessment for every part in the camera. Many parts will be under their own control or available from multiple vendors but others such as the Kodak (as was) sensor, chips from companies like Analog Devices, Xilinx, Samsung and of course the infamous LCD will only be available from single vendors and will therefore be at risk. It's precisely these parts they should have focussed on and performed sample testing. It may be the supplier's responsibility to test them but it's cold comfort if their liability is limited to giving Leica their money back.

 

There's an interesting comparison with high-end CD players where the CD transport is typically made by Philips or Sony and is subject to frequent model change. In low-end CD players, if the laser fails, you dump it. In high-end CD players, which will use a similar if not identical drive, you risk writing off the entire CD player with expensive parts if the drive is no longer available.

 

One high-end manufacturer I'm aware of buys 2 extra CD transports for every one they use in production so that each owner is assured a long service life; their assessment is that pretty much everything else can be fixed within normal service planning. They recognise that the extra CD transports sitting on a shelf may deteriorate with age so they periodically pick one out and test it. In that way, owners of these CD players can be reasonably certain of enjoying a long service life.

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<snip> It's precisely these parts they should have focussed on and performed sample testing. It may be the supplier's responsibility to test them but it's cold comfort if their liability is limited to giving Leica their money back.

<snip>.

Mark,

 

I think that there are two separate risks to control here, which are perhaps interrelated: the first is the risk that the parts on the shelf fail, and the second is the risk of single-sourcing.

 

It's difficult to know how Leica could control the risk of the LCD's on the shelf failing unless it had invested in a test rig to test each one at delivery and then again prior to installation into the M8. Such an approach would require similar test rigs for critical components in other products in addition to the M8 and the cumulative cost from test rigs, operators, and training appears to me to be unsustainable. Hence the tendency to place the responsibility on the parts supplier and control the risk with punitive liquidated damages and consequential loss accountability. I would hope that the parts supplier's liability ran to considerably more than just giving the money back. (My experience largely comes from the telecommunications engineering industry rather than aerospace.)

 

Since the LCD, or simulacra, appears to be available from a number of suppliers the second risk is eminently controllable by Leica by dual- or multiple-sourcing if the risk assessment indicated that this degree of mitigation would be appropriate. I think Leica would find taking this risk difficult to justify.

 

We should remember that the LCDs didn't fail until they had been in the field for some time so testing in the factory would have revealed nothing. Also, as far as I recall there have only been some 3 instances reported here out of an anecdotal 40,000 M*s and M8.2's produced so the percentage is tiny. (I'm not suggesting that this absolves Leica in any way but it does mean that - if correct - the risk of screen failure is very low.)

 

Pete.

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Pete

 

I've never said that each and every display should be tested but you gain a lot by sample testing. Sure, they may need a test rig to test 1 in 100 coming in but how difficult is that? PC running continuous test patterns through an interface board with the display gently cooking at Tmax. You are showing considerable faith by just putting the box on a shelf for service and hoping all will be well when those parts have gone obsolete.

 

I have no idea what contractual arrangements would have existed between Leica and the supplier but the idea of them imposing punitive liquidated damages is unlikely. Leica are small-fry when it comes to buying parts compared to the likes of Nikon who make more cameras in a day than Leica make in a month and, at the extreme, Apple, who make (or have made for them) more iPhones in a couple of hours than the entire M8 production run. I've been involved with small electronics companies who make Leica look like Apple. They have no clout at all. Standard consumer grade parts, limited liability, take it or leave it.

 

In any event, Leica are now paying the price of apparently not sample testing a $40 component. There will at least be some people who think they perhaps should have done. It's all part of them learning how to survive in the dog-eat-dog world of electronic parts supply (which I hate by the way).

 

Edit: I agree that the likelihood of screen failure is low. There was a rash of the coffee ring problems but these are rarely reported now. The problem comes when screens which naturally fail or are damaged cannot be replaced because Leica found its service stock was either affected in the same way or depleted replacing the in-service coffee stain displays. My 2 M8 displays are working fine behind their upgraded sapphire glass covers, and I don't expect any problems with them. Besides, I have a spare sitting in an anti-static bag

Edited by marknorton

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Fair enough, Mark, we're into the realms of supposition now since we have no idea of the scale of liabilities between Leica and it's supplier.

 

Would cooking a display at Tmax for a certain time be likely to force the failure mode that's occurred?

 

Pete.

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What you're trying to do by testing at elevated temperatures is to speed up chemical reactions which (approximately) double in speed for every 10 degree C rise in temperature, the assumption being that it's some kind of physical deterioration which will lead to failure. Whether the coffee stain problem would have shown up faster and within a reasonable test period, I do not know.

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... My 2 M8 displays are working fine behind their upgraded sapphire glass covers, and I don't expect any problems with them. Besides, I have a spare sitting in an anti-static bag

 

My misunderstanding of your statement, expecting my updated M8u with the sapphire glass cover to be much less prone to failure?

 

Or would this be just speculation and hence a ( reasonably priced) trade-in for a later model the recommended option?

 

At what price would be the third question - but not addressed to you.

 

In any case, you are not selling or tradeing-up your M8s, not only for sentimental reasons

?

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I think that there may be some confusion about the failure mode of the LCDs. There have been quite a few reports of 'coffee stain' effect on M8 LCDs over the years although this is undesirable the LCD continues to function. The cause is apparently moisture and dust entering through a faulty edge seal.

 

I had understood that the failure mode referred to in the recent storm of concern is a catastrophic failure of the LCD where either half or all of the LCD stops working at all (unless I'm the one that has misunderstood).

 

To answer your question, Tri, I don't recall reports of the coffee stain effect in LCDs with sapphire glass.

 

Pete.

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To be clear, if you have the sapphire glass, it's the same old LCD, they are separate components. My cameras are all early M8s, two upgraded to M8U and these are working fine. As I understand it, there was a bad batch of LCDs - and Pete my testing suggestion would not have spotted a problem due to water and dust ingress, I have to admit - which made it into cameras and the spare parts stock and by the time this was discovered, it was too late, the display was out of production.

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My understanding as well but do we know the nature of the "catastrophic failure" Pete was referring to?

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<snip>

 

To answer your question, Tri, I don't recall reports of the coffee stain effect in LCDs with sapphire glass.

 

Pete.

 

Believe me, it happens!

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Believe me, it happens!

Thanks, Brian, I'd missed that and sad to hear if it happened to yours.

 

Pete.

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My understanding as well but do we know the nature of the "catastrophic failure" Pete was referring to?

LCT,

 

The first post in this thread is the first mention I recall of catastrophic failure but I believe that two other members said they'd had a similar type of problem.

 

Pete.

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Thank you Pete, so BLS

i mean Blank LCD Syndrom instead of CSI (Coffee Stain Issue) if i understand well.

Did a quich search on blank LCDs here but aside from battery, SD card or motherboard problems, i've found only one post linked to the BLS and in this case the LCD had developed the coffee stain issue previously:

http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/2131088-post5.html

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In any event, Leica are now paying the price of apparently not sample testing a $40 component. There will at least be some people who think they perhaps should have done. It's all part of them learning how to survive in the dog-eat-dog world of electronic parts supply (which I hate by the way).

 

The failure rate of the LCD was amazingly low. (Almost everyone uses SPC today which does not require testing every component.) It is remarkably low if one adds the unknowable causes of failure such as inadvertent user abuse, exceptional circumstances, or even a cosmic ray burn.

Kidding about the last. Not applicable to LCD.

 

Pete: Would cooking a display at Tmax for a certain time be likely to force the failure mode that's occurred?

 

Cooling a quality LCD to -20F or heat to 160F would likely cause a failure. Temperature limits were one of the things I meant by "inadvertent user abuse". Add physical shock, electrical (static) events, and it is still amazing how few failures occurred.

Edited by pico

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... Cooling a quality LCD to -20F or heat to 160F would likely cause a failure. Temperature limits were one of the things I meant by "inadvertent user abuse". Add physical shock, electrical (static) events, and it is still amazing how few failures occurred.

Thanks, Pico, but a company would be unlikely to production test a screen to 160F (71C), which is well beyond the highest ambient record global temperature, because it's not designed to work in that heat. (Now I feel sure that you're going to tell me that's it's 160C in the shade in Minnesota right now.

 

Pete.

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Thanks, Pico, but a company would be unlikely to production test a screen to 160F (71C), which is well beyond the highest ambient record global temperature, because it's not designed to work in that heat. (Now I feel sure that you're going to tell me that's it's 160C in the shade in Minnesota right now.)

 

Last month was the hottest in all of history for us. I live in the Tropics of MinneSnowta.

I do not know how hot the M9 got last month but it was too hot to hold at one point. (From habit I carry the camera with lens facing in.) No failures of any kind, except me when I almost passed out. Saved in the nick by a Guinness.

 

Perhaps that heat might be attained in Death Valley in a car in direct sunlight with all the windows closed but the operating manual tells you not to do that so you shouldn't need to test for it. If the owner does it and the LCD fails then RTFM.

 

Pete.

 

RTFM? Manual? That's the shutter position off A, right? Right Turn For Manual.

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