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Bye, Leica. It was fun.

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Today I'm writing a check for $3,840.89 for repairs to my 007 and leaving Leica at the same time. 

 

I've been a Leica aficionado for quite a long time, well over ten years. I started out with an M7, then bought an M6, an M3, an MP, and followed Leica into digital with an M-9P. I had a slew of lenses with all those Ms, from the 35mm Summicron to the 90mm APO Summicron to the 0.95 Noctilux. And, honestly, it's been a lot of fun. My Leicas turned into those little, precious possessions that we all have because, well, just because we get such a kick out of them. With some guys, it's the big Taylor drivers in their bags. With others, its the air-cooled Porsche in the driveway. With me, it was those Ms with their jewel-like lenses. Plus, I really liked the idea of hooking up with a small, funky company that wasn't satisfied with stuffing its products with off-the-shelf materials, but was determined in going its own way, even if that meant a little weirdness (think of the M9's shutter). 

 

When Leica introduced the S2, boy, they were on to something, weren't they? New sensor size, new lenses—actually the best in the business—weather sealing. How wonderfully tempting it was. To describe the prices as "nose bleed" was a concerted effort at understatement. But this was Leica, the little camera company that could and did. I didn't buy my S2 and 70mm new, but just two weeks old for a cool $18K. Those were heady days. Loved, loved, loved them. I couldn't believe how awesome the files were. It wasn't too soon that I was able to pick up a 120mm, then a 180mm, and then a 35mm as prices started to fall back down to earth a bit. But the thing is, my enthusiasm for Leica didn't. It stayed up there in the clouds. I loved this company, this little runabout with this fabulous photographic history who was still thinking outside the box. Later on it improved on the S2 with the 006 and I snatched up a lightly-used one from "my" Leica dealer (Isn't that fun? "My" dealer says, yada, yada, yada). It didn't matter to me what Zeiss, Hasselblad, PhaseOne or anyone else was doing. I had thrown myself in with the Red Dot who had almost died a million deaths and I was the oh-so-happy camper with my avant garde Texas Leica (I'm from Texas so how cool was that?). 

 

And just when my bank account crept back from the grave, Leica introduced that are-you-kidding-me? 100mm. $7 grand? Are you kidding me? F 2.0? Are you kidding me? Weather sealed? Are you kidding me? Thank you, Leica! I'll make it up to my wife and kids later. 

 

And then before you know it. There it was. The 007 review. I had said to myself, "Self! You have the 006, a brand-new 100mm, all the other lenses you need. You certainly don't need this 007." But I'm not Spock, and I couldn't get enough of that review. David Farkas had taken the 007 to Iceland and his take of the punishment he could dish out on this Texas Leica made me think, "Gee whiz, Leica has done it again! How great is this? A Texas Leica that you can take anywhere, anytime in virtually any conditions." Listen to David:

 

“And yet, with all the water, all the time, the only item that I didn’t worry about was the S. I took special pride in seeing Nikon and Canon users tucking away their pro DSLRs into zip top bags, struggling to keep their cameras dry and protected from the elements, all while I continued to tough it out with the S in torrential downpours. When walking around in the rain, I had a few concerned hikers an campers alert me to the fact that I had a camera at my side, hanging off my shoulder, soaked. I assured them that the camera could withstand far more wetness than I could and not to worry.”

“The grueling conditions in Iceland truly put everything to test and showed me very quickly what I could count on. The S (Typ 007) withstood my constant punishment of water, water, and more water. It held up to rain, waterfall mist and salt water spray from crashing waves. I didn’t baby it whatsoever. No bags or covers. I carried it around no matter the situation. It never complained. It refused to function at anything less than 100%. And, I had no issues using the camera in such wet, cold conditions. All the controls on the camera can be operated with gloves, even soaking wet, freezing ones. Or, with numb bare fingers when I realized that gloves saturated with frigid water probably did more harm than good and removed them.”

http://www.reddotforum.com/content/2015/09/leica-s-typ-007-review/

 

So, what do you think I did? You are right. I slapped down the price of a small car for this CMOS monster with all its built-to-last construction and seals where "water and dust will stay outside where they belong, meaning the system will be able to withstand harsh conditions and retain its value." (catalog) Yes, I had the 006, but it was CCD and it didn't have all these "control elements and body components designed and coated in such a way that there is no danger of foreign bodies and moisture penetrating the camera's interior." Now I was even more embarrassed about how much I had spent on this system, but, hey, this was Leica's best stuff. I was still stoked on the products and this great little company. I didn't even care that the 35mm's AF had blown out. Leica said it had my back on that.

 

I packed up the 007 and 100mm for our trip to New Zealand for the Milford hike on the South Island. Was I worried? Are you kidding? This hike was going to be a walk in the park compared to Farkas's Iceland. Coincidently, this hike took place during the last week of the 007's one-year warranty. The camera performed flawlessly the first two days (yes, sunshine and spring-like weather). On the third day, we started out the hike in the early morning and there came a light drizzle. I was carrying the camera on a strap over my shoulder, over the straps for my backpack. I had read Farkas's review so many times I didn't worry about the camera at all. Plus, my backpack was full. As we hiked through a tree canopy, it began raining a little more, but nothing heavy, nothing like the "torrential downpours" that Farkas describes. It was a light rain, broken up by the canopy. I kept the camera under my arm, covered the whole time. Yes, it was wet, but, again, not any more than David's.

 

When we reached our first stopping point, a little lodge on the trail, a couple of the hikers pointed to the S, just like some had done with Farkas, and I told them, "No worries." But then I checked it out and saw that something was wrong. It turned on, but that's all it did. I wiped it down quickly, rearranged my backpack, stuffed it in the middle of all my clothes, and it remained there the rest of the hike. Later on, I could turn it on, but then it finally failed.

 

Today I am having to write out a check for $3,840.89 to have it repaired. Instead of taking my word for it or even owning up to Farkas's sales pitch,* Leica says, "We don't know what happened. It seems that the camera stood directly in water. We are not sure how this happened. The sealing is not built for direct water." And thus ends my fun relationship with my beloved Leica. I had eagerly bought into its marketing mantra of "family," enduring its sometimes-not-so-great manufacturing and software guffaws and glitches to join this contrarian upstart who touts its world-class craft and optical engineering. And, man, I liked it. But Leica's response which basically calls me out as a huckster or something has turned my 007, 006, and all their lenses into just another ordinary camera system, just another cold manufacturer-buyer relationship summed up in nickels and dimes—my nickels and my dimes.

 

And, you know, I bought an M-D just last month. Yeah, and a few weeks ago as I  was taking some pictures with it at a local museum, a guy walked up to me and said, "Hey, that's a nice camera! Leica? Oh, an M-D! How 'bout that new M10? You gonna buy one?" I beamed back at him, "Yep, already have it on pre-order." He gave me a thumbs up as he walked off. I wouldn't have the same reaction today. Leica has drained all my enthusiasm for all things Leica, even for the M10. I've got it on pre-order because I need it for a continuing project, but it will be the last new Leica that I will ever buy. And I hate that.

 

*I don't fault David Farkas at all for his review. He took an 007 to Iceland and it performed flawlessly in extreme conditions. Bravo! But I call it a sales pitch because he is a Leica rep and the primary purpose of his review was to sell cameras. If he had said, "Hey, I took the 007 well beyond what Leica says you can do with it and got away with it" that would be one thing. But he didn't. No doubt Leica has sold a bunch of cameras based on this review. 

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Thank you for the write-up. It would be helpful to see a few photos taken before failure to understand better the weather conditions in question.

 

By "direct water" I assume Leica mean they think camera was submerged rather than simply rained on. I can't imagine how a camera tucked under arm in rain can become submerged, but that seems to be the important distinction.

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I won't blame you and understand your frustration. I would say I would never use camera the way market bs claim it to be. And I can't even blame Leica that it can't perform under this condition as I really don't expect it can do that.

 

This conversation remind me one of first Leica S ad video is shooting high speed skateboard down hill from mountain and some exteam sport photography capture until you first time put S2 and their AF lens in hand, you almost fall out of chair to find these AF dinosaur tech. It is totally market BS, pure lies.

 

Having said that, I just bought a few more S glasses instead of quit the system. With right expectation, There are no other system approaching the whole package I am asking for for my photography need. The color, the rendering of the file, the ergonomic of operation, huge, bright view finder etc...I'd love to take the sacrifice to stay this system.

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BTW, for exteam condition shooting, I'd have a lot more confidence with canon 1d or nikon D5 or even D810 than Leica S. Those are the ones really just work with extensive backend tests before put into market material.

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Thank you for the write-up. It would be helpful to see a few photos taken before failure to understand better the weather conditions in question.

 

By "direct water" I assume Leica mean they think camera was submerged rather than simply rained on. I can't imagine how a camera tucked under arm in rain can become submerged, but that seems to be the important distinction.

 

 

Alan, I wish I had some pictures on the third day, too, but we started out before dawn and since we were under a tree canopy the whole time (before we got to the lodge) I didn't take any. The camera wasn't never submerged in water. If anything like that had happened, if say, I had dropped it even in a puddle or something like that, I wouldn't have had any problem cutting a check. 

Edited by pcsmythe

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The biggest error was to under estimate Nikon and Canon. Come on! They're creating the best gear there is. Leica is mainly poseur stuff (and I mean it).

 

The Leica M8 was 3 generations behind when it came out. The M9 as well. The M(240) was just a M9.2 and so on. Always a few generations behind. The Leica price is what makes it valuable. Price alone. Think about it and you'll realize. You drop 17$K on gear, therefore it is worth 17$K of love.

 

Anyways, I got burned by Nikon too. Two Df cameras under warranty and they didn't want to fix them. Cracked plastic lens mount plate. What used to be magnesium is now plastic. Couldn't believe it.

 

Good luck.

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Alan, I wish I had some pictures on the third day, too, but we started out before dawn and since we were under a tree canopy the whole time (before we got to the lodge) I didn't take any. The camera wasn't never submerged in water. If anything like that had happened, if say, I had dropped it even in a puddle or something like that, I wouldn't have had any problem cutting a check. 

 

I understood that the camera was never submerged. I was just trying to understand what Leica means by the somewhat puzzling phrase "direct water." (What would be "indirect" water? Condensation?)

 

Thanks again for sharing your story. I hope Leica will make it up to you, even if they've lost you as a loyal customer.

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I understood that the camera was never submerged. I was just trying to understand what Leica means by the somewhat puzzling phrase "direct water." (What would be "indirect" water? Condensation?)

 

Thanks again for sharing your story. I hope Leica will make it up to you, even if they've lost you as a loyal customer.

I was puzzled by the phrase, too. But one thing is clear: they didn't deem my account to be true.

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Have you reached out to David Farkas to see if he might contact Leica on your behalf?

 

There are videos of the SL being doused in water at official Leica events to demonstrate its capabilities. My understanding is that the S007 is similarly weather sealed.

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Yep...I've worked out, I only believe 1/4 of what it is on the www. From everyone.

 

Bad luck, and I'd feel the same way...if I'd believed it.

 

I think you'll be back with a Q.

 

all best for future intentions...

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A side point ... all reviews by people who have a financial stake in the reader buying the equipment, or who get any form of compensation or discount from the manufacturer, are not true reviews and should never be called "reviews".  This goes for all so-called reviews by brand ambassadors, dealers, company employees, etc.  They are never objective, never sufficiently critical, as far as I can tell.  Imagine book "reviews" by booksellers, or movie or theater "reviews" by the actors that appear in them.  Those would not be called true reviews.  Yet, somehow the photography world tolerates this mis-titling of articles that are not true reviews.  Several brands seem to have a culture of calling their sponsored articles "reviews", while a few seem to follow more ethical practices in how these articles are titled.

Edited by zlatkob

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You might want to contact Leica in Germany directly, if you haven't already. The recommendation I got from their execs after my dismal repair experience was to send the equipment straight to Wetzlar. They seem quite keen to help.

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As an aside, I hope that you have insurance to cover the repair cost (and/or to intervene on your behalf with the seller).  If not, you should get a good policy before reinvesting in other expensive gear, one that covers all circumstances the warranty does not, including damage, loss or theft, even if due to your own negligence (which doesn't appear to be the case here).

 

Jeff

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Hmmmm...

 

Leica's advertised weather resistance is now in question.

 

Leica's willingness to stand by their product is also in question.

 

Leica's willingness to help their customers is also in question.

 

Leica's willingness to accommodate long time loyal customers and treat them fairly is also in question.

 

So the problem is theirs. This dismissive attitude appears to be the prevailing company ethos despite talk of pro business units and better service etc.

 

Do they not see the impact this has? Or just not care?

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So, it seems, you used the 007 in a way that should be absolutely no problem. Leica receives the camera and finds evidence it has been submerged in water(?). I'll assume here they checked all the weather sealing and found no evidence of any issues. The only logical conclusion they can come up with is the camera went for a swim which is not covered by warranty. None of us were there to witness the treatment or mistreatment, we are hearing one side of the story. I'm not doubting the story, I'm also not willing to just assume Leica is completely at fault here. The story has some language barrier issues, a bit of lost in translation from what I can tell.

 

I'd love to see a written report from Leica describing the failure and cause. What was so damaged that it needed nearly a $4000 repair? That sounds like a lot of damage. Nothing that could possibly come from a light rain, even if it pentrated the body somehow through a bad seal. Something isn't adding up, could they have accidentally mistaken your camera for someone else's? 

 

I wouldn't write that check just yet. You need and deserve clarity. How much water entered the body, what parts did it damage. If it were submerged, I would assume taking the lens off would be quite a wet experience. 

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You might want to contact Leica in Germany directly, if you haven't already. The recommendation I got from their execs after my dismal repair experience was to send the equipment straight to Wetzlar. They seem quite keen to help.

 

 

All this comes from Wetzlar. 

 

 

So, it seems, you used the 007 in a way that should be absolutely no problem. Leica receives the camera and finds evidence it has been submerged in water(?). I'll assume here they checked all the weather sealing and found no evidence of any issues. The only logical conclusion they can come up with is the camera went for a swim which is not covered by warranty. None of us were there to witness the treatment or mistreatment, we are hearing one side of the story. I'm not doubting the story, I'm also not willing to just assume Leica is completely at fault here. The story has some language barrier issues, a bit of lost in translation from what I can tell.

 

I'd love to see a written report from Leica describing the failure and cause. What was so damaged that it needed nearly a $4000 repair? That sounds like a lot of damage. Nothing that could possibly come from a light rain, even if it pentrated the body somehow through a bad seal. Something isn't adding up, could they have accidentally mistaken your camera for someone else's? 

 

I wouldn't write that check just yet. You need and deserve clarity. How much water entered the body, what parts did it damage. If it were submerged, I would assume taking the lens off would be quite a wet experience. 

 

I've related the "written report" in my first post. The quote from Leica is what was forwarded to me from the NJ Leica rep, along with a comment that there was a lot of water in the camera. I'll say that the NJ rep has been very cordial. He tried to have Leica fix the camera under warranty or at least a reduced price, but no dice.  

 

I forgot to add that Leica is repairing the 100mm under warranty at no cost. So, go figure. According to Leica, I somehow submerged my 007 in standing water somewhere on my hike while managing to keep the lens above the water line. Whatever. 

 

Hmmmm...

 

Leica's advertised weather resistance is now in question.

 

Leica's willingness to stand by their product is also in question.

 

Leica's willingness to help their customers is also in question.

 

Leica's willingness to accommodate long time loyal customers and treat them fairly is also in question.

 

So the problem is theirs. This dismissive attitude appears to be the prevailing company ethos despite talk of pro business units and better service etc.

 

Do they not see the impact this has? Or just not care?

 

Bingo, after at least $50K in new purchases over the last five or six years. I'm dropping the check in the mail tomorrow because, what can you do with a inoperable camera? The window for needing a screen on my project closes tomorrow. If I don't receive an email that an M10 is on the way, then I'm canceling that preorder, too.  

 

Anyway, that's a wrap. And an exit. 

Edited by pcsmythe

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Accepting that the camera should not have failed in such conditions, Leica should have believed your explanation and done a warranty repair.  Even if they didn't, a quick check by them of Leica equipment registered in your name would clearly demonstrate that you are a high-end Leica customer so a goodwill repair was in everyone's interest.  

 

Are you not insured?

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