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marknorton

Anatomy of the Leica M8

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Thank you Mark for giving us all such great entertainment, 'at your expense'.

I was of course not able to see you through this process of dismantling, but I was impressed with the calm manner in which you described every step of the process. You are one of a kind!

-------------------------

Frans

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Thank you! It's interesting how many other sites link to it (scroll down for the link backs), also how many thread views there have been.

 

I suppose it was a risk taking it apart but apart from a cracked flex-print trace and a broken wire, both of which I repaired, it went back together fine and hasn't missed a beat since!

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ok Mark, now a crazy question from me, which I had for quite some time, and I would like to share with you...

 

So, according to visible dust, sensors gather dust or better attract dust, because of static generated inside the black chamber and sensor. how safe would be to use this??? Zerostat 3

as a means to eliminate what creates the mess all over? (static)

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I would ABSOLUTELY advise AGAINST using one of these anywhere near a sensor or any semiconductors out of circuit. You are asking for trouble if you were to accidentally discharge the very high voltage generated by the piezo-electic crystal into the camera circuitry.

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ok I was afraid as well for delicate cmos transistors, but what about indirectly. I mean, discharge lens for example... or discharge other non electric equipment for large storage periods...?

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I bought one these anti-static thingy's many years ago, when I still played vinyl records. Chocolate teapot is the phrase that springs to mind.

 

Wilson

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ok I was afraid as well for delicate cmos transistors, but what about indirectly. I mean, discharge lens for example... or discharge other non electric equipment for large storage periods...?

 

I go to great lengths to avoid static in my workplace, the M8 was dismanteld at a static protected workstation - conductive grounded workmat, grounded wrist-strap and so on.

 

As for whether it would be useful with lenses, I doubt very much there's significant static build up on them, so I just wouldn't bother. Instead check your humidity and use a humidifier if you find your working environment is prone to static.

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Yea, humidity is ok @ normal, 40-50RH static matte is also out of question, I'll just stick using the visible dust set as indicated, dry or wet. It's just that these dust particles are really stubborn...

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All I can say is, thanks God I did not buy an M8. I'll stick with an MP. Too much to go wrong in that M8. Looks waaay too fragile, short-lived. Luddite that I may be, I like metal gears and levers...

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Mark, thank you for the time and energy to demystify this device - and create other more interesting mysteries.

 

-Dan

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All I can say is, thanks God I did not buy an M8. I'll stick with an MP. Too much to go wrong in that M8. Looks waaay too fragile, short-lived. Luddite that I may be, I like metal gears and levers...

 

You might like levers and gears, but in reality these are the first to fail...

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mark,

 

i too missed this superb thread. many thanks for revealing so many secrets !

 

btw. now i wonder how in comparison a modern japanese camera looks from the inside. is it more state of art ?

 

michiel

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I would say the Leica M8 is well up to date, at least at the time it was designed. The difference is that the M8 is built around largely standard components - with the part no, you can find out the specification, cost, lead time. For a camera built in M8 volumes, it doesn't make sense to design lots of your own components, though I know there are some Leica developed components in there, for example, the light meter. Leica uses a Xilinx FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) which is a kind of customisable chip.

 

If you're Nikon, Canon or Sony, you can afford to design your own components and may well make them elsewhere in the organisation. Such components are specific rather than general purpose and, once you have paid the development cost, are less expensive at the margin, may offer higher performance and higher integration allowing tighter packing.

 

For example, the DSP board of a Nikon D3 looks rather simpler than the corresponding board in the M8; it offers higher performance (frame rate, if you want to use that measure), probably costs less to make than the Leica equivalent but would have been much more expensive to develop; that cost needs to be spread across the large number of cameras being made.

 

Never seen inside a D3, but a D2x is pretty full; the Japanese are masters at electronic packaging. I expect one of the challenges of the R10 has been keeping the size down when they haven't got the advantage of this higher integration. The idea that the R10 will be D300 size is, I think, optimistic.

 

That's not to put the M8 down, I think it is well made. Possibly, the inside finishing of the body casting, the plastic lens throat and the slightly agricultural appearance of the rangefinder are the weakest links. All IMHO of course.

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Mark, this is utterly fascinating - thank you!

 

Just as a matter of interest, what is the correct technique for repairing a broken track on a flexible printed circuit board (or I guess also on one of those ribbon connector cables made of the same sort of stuff)?

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John, the copper tracks are micro thin and sandwiched between the plastic layers and they are prone to cracking where they break out to a pad on the surface.

 

In my case, the flex print to bottom of the shutter release switch cracked because it got bent too close to the switch. To repair it, I had to run a fine wire, soldered at one end to the switch and at the other end to a tiny pad where it broke out to connect to a component. You run the wire along the surface, tacking it with lacquer in a few places to retain flexibility.

 

Calls for a steady hand, a micro soldering iron (which is all ready to cook the plastic, spoiling your day to put it mildly) and an illuminated magnifier!

 

Prototyping circuitry with such small components is tough, the days of the old "bread-board" are long gone.

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I tried to repair ribbon cables a couple of times by just soldering very fine individual wires, stripped out an old transformer, in place of the track that had cracked - not very satisfactory. I used to have to take off the tops of my various Contax SLR cameras as the copper tracks on the power switches/shutter release used to corrode from breath condensation and needed cleaning regularly. The ribbon cables seem to have been inserted by a worker with a shovel and were always crumpled and twisted. I developed a good relationship with Kyocera Contax UK and in the end had quite a few spares of the relevant ribbon cables for 139/RTS II/RTS III and RX cameras.

 

You need a high quality thermostatic micro soldering iron, micro thin solder and a steady hand to replace them. When you are finished, you must remember to remove the flux (TCE or BCFE is best for this) or it will all corrode again.

 

I always had plenty of BCFE (Bromo-chloro-fluor-ethane) as that used to be used in racing car fire extinguishing systems rather than the horrible corrosive foam they use nowadays, because it is kinder to the ozone layer. BCFE had to be replaced every 3 to 5 years and I would keep the old stuff, as it made wonderful cleaning fluid. The mechanics never used to mind if a fire extinguisher got fired off by accident, as it cleaned the whole engine beautifully. Now if you fire off an extinguisher by accident, they will hang you up by your finger nails, as it is hours of work to clean the horrible gunk off.

 

When I gave up on film SLR's, I gave all my spare ribbon cables to my local repairer.

 

Wilson

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Mark and Wilson

 

Many thanks for your very helpful replies. It honestly seems to be something that would not be within my competence. I'm fine at conventional soldering of drilled through (non surface mount) components and PCBs, but this really is something else! I'm stocked up with good old-fashioned lead-tin solder; hopefully enough to see me out.

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Mark and Wilson

 

Many thanks for your very helpful replies. It honestly seems to be something that would not be within my competence. I'm fine at conventional soldering of drilled through (non surface mount) components and PCBs, but this really is something else! I'm stocked up with good old-fashioned lead-tin solder; hopefully enough to see me out.

 

John,

 

The EU lead police will be on your trail. A friend of mine who restores church organs, very nearly lost his business, due to the fact that the EU decided organ pipes are a deadly hazard to the community. It was only due to intense lobbying by the entire European classical music community, that the legislation got amended, otherwise the days of the traditional pipe organ would have been numbered. The Europrats ignore that their hot air is probably a major cause of global warming.

 

Wilson

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