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Leica Monochrom: The next level of malfunctions


jonnyboy
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I bought a Leica Monochrom (M1) after many years using a beloved M8.

As many, I was hypnotized by the huge potential of the Monochrom: the sensor, the high ISO, the details.. because of the price, I didn't buy it when it came out but as soon as the M246 hit the shelf it was the moment the price was a bit more convenient. I loved the camera.

 

After few months of regular use it developed a fault, every once in a while the camera would 'jam' whilst taking pictures so I brought it to Leica Mayfair for inspection and it went away for repairs in Germany. 

I was gutted, such an expensive purchase and it already showed faults? Anyway, Leica repaired with their own time (which we all know!) but at least it was a free repair.

When the camera returned the 'silent shutter' didn't really worked anymore...it suffered a bit of lag but I didn't really care.

 

Flashforward a year after I notice some black spots on my pictures. Jump on the Tube, Leica Mayfair....again, shipped to Germany. One month goes by, the camera return with a new sensor: yes the sensor had corrosion that many of us experienced. Ok, about two years with the camera and quite a lot of hassle to deal with...I'm scratching a bit my heads here, I bought something to enjoy and yes I do enjoy when it works...but I haven't experienced anything so faulty from any other brand?

 

Flashforward to last month, I went to Japan for some work and I decided to bring the Monochrom with me for such a great opportuniy. Enjoyed the trip, loved Japan, had a fantastic time with my Monochrom. Soon after I came back I went out for my usual stroll and I noticed the rangefinder on my Monochrom wasn't aligned anymore...vertically off, to be more precise. Off to Mayfair - again, off to Germany. I thought it was a rangefinder alignment problem but instead Leica told me there is a sensor alignment problem too. And it comes with a bill of £500.
From Germany, they is stating the camera is been dropped and because of the shock the sensor (and rangefinder) is a bit off now. I haven't dropped the camera, the body is in great conditions free from scratches, dents or heavy marks.

I mentioned I had the camera in my backpack the whole time but they are firm the camera is been dropped. They also mentioned this could happen even by just having the camera in a backpack.

 

Now, I'm aware a lot of people buy the camera to keep it in a shelf, to maintain the less usage and to have it into as many sort of protection as possible....but I actually brought it to use it and bring it with me, always doing my best to look after it but never forgetting the purpose of the camera, which is to be used.

 

I'm really disappointed at this point with this whole thing... I never complained about all this hassle I had to go through those years with malfuctions and all sort of problems that the company 'included' with the camera (is not my personal case, I read tons of post about corrosions and all sort of problems), now I even have to deal with (bad) assumptions and being charged quite unreasonable prices for situations I didn't even create?

 

I actually went to Japan to film some stuff, Im a filmmaker and I do carry a lot of equipment. How come none of my video cameras, not even my Ricoh GR suffered of anything?

 

I'm seeking advice, as I'm really really fed up with this whole thing. Yeah the camera is great when it works.... but I can't keep up with these sort of things: let's face it, probably one of the most expensive brand for photography, they carry themself as this synonymous of craftmanship and precision....but they still manage to mess up a whole series of Monochrom?

 

Camera is on hold in Germany now. Not sure if I'm wishing to carry on the repairs...seriously thinking about just moving away from Leica as I got the feeling their main target is people's pockets.

Edited by jonnyboy
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Sounds like some bad luck. The only thing I can say is that if the vertical alignment of the rangefinder is off (and wasn't before) that is usually the sign that the camera has been knocked and it would have to be a fairly hard/sharp knock to put the alignment off.

 

It's possible, perhaps, that the 'knock' happened during the flight, or at some other point where you weren't involved i.e. so didn't notice. I don't know why the sensor alignment would be off though, I'd have thought that was pretty firmly fixed inside the body.

 

The rangefinder mechanism is relatively delicate, although I've not had an issue with my M2 as yet and that's seen quite a lot of use.

 

I don't see any point in not having the camera fixed though - even if you decide to sell it, you still need it to be fixed.

Edited by earleygallery
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I'm from the opinion that if the shock was so strong it should show (at least) some signs. It may have been in on the plane or in the backpack....but let's be honest...do I need to stop travel with my Leica because is too delicate? Or everytimeI travel I need to have in mind is going to cost £500 extra to carry probably some Leica repairs. I think is not on. I had 2X Sony A7s II, plenty of lenses, Leica and Ricoh...I just the Monochrom came out shattered.

 

I think Leica should be aware they out a product out there which didnd't meet their standard. I'm not talking about only this recent problem but overall in general the Monochrom was a failure. You cannot sell a product which develop so many faults out of the box (jamming, corrosion, etc). is just not on. A customer is buying into the craftmanship and precision of this product. Imagine if the same thing would happen with Rolex...

 

It may be a case of bac luck but I feel Leica could do more to aknowledgetheir customer rather than dig straight into the pockets as soon as the warranty ends.

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I've owned rangefinder cameras which have had their share of backpack time without any resulting rangefinder misalignment.

 

I've also owned rangefinder cameras that definitely required calibration after impacts far too small to leave a dent or large scratches. As a previous poster pointed out, the actual rangefinder itself is very intricate, and therefore can sometimes prove to be delicate.

 

This probably isn't what you wanted to hear, but of all the types of equipment I have ever owned, a digital rangefinder camera is probably the last one I would ever carry in a way that risked even moderate impact. This is not just because the rangefinder is a delicate mechanism, but also because finding someone to calibrate on short notice is very difficult. Once upon a time any camera repair shop could have serviced a rangefinder. Not so anymore.

 

With the exception of rangefinder calibrations, now that you have a new sensor in the camera, I would anticipate it will be fairly reliable and last a long time.

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As was suggested in other similar post talking to someone up in Wetzlar service management may be a good starting point.  You get an estimate for the repair from the estimator who is just doing his/her job but doesn't see bigger picture.  Hopefully somebody more knowledgeable how to talk to Leica when s**t hits the fan will chip in.

 

with your MM1 service history of multiple repair trip and anecdotal poor / just in name quality control who is to say that during the last repair Leica seeded sensor misalignment to happen. 

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I'm from the opinion that if the shock was so strong it should show (at least) some signs.

No that’s not necessary. I had this vertical misalignment last year due to a fall at customs control at the airport. It was in my waistbag which fell from about 70cm on the stone floor. There are no signs at the body because the waistbag protected that. There was no misalignment horizontally; even the Summilux 75 was still perfect. I let it repaired by Will van Maanen, Leica acknowledged, but a lot less expensive and time-consuming. He’s always honest when he feels it’s better to send it to Wetzlar too. Probably too late for you now, but perhaps another time: http://www.kamera-service.info/index.php/en/

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I've owned rangefinder cameras which have had their share of backpack time without any resulting rangefinder misalignment.

 

I've also owned rangefinder cameras that definitely required calibration after impacts far too small to leave a dent or large scratches. As a previous poster pointed out, the actual rangefinder itself is very intricate, and therefore can sometimes prove to be delicate.

 

This probably isn't what you wanted to hear, but of all the types of equipment I have ever owned, a digital rangefinder camera is probably the last one I would ever carry in a way that risked even moderate impact. This is not just because the rangefinder is a delicate mechanism, but also because finding someone to calibrate on short notice is very difficult. Once upon a time any camera repair shop could have serviced a rangefinder. Not so anymore.

 

With the exception of rangefinder calibrations, now that you have a new sensor in the camera, I would anticipate it will be fairly reliable and last a long time.

I had my M9 recalibrated within the hour when it dropped on the asphalt from my car seat. I happened to be a twenty minute drive from Will van Manen. 

I would like to point out that Leica redesigned the M240 and M10 to be much more robust than the later film Ms,  M8 and M9 in this respect. It is very hard to knock the rangefinder out of alignment.

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Sounds like some bad luck. The only thing I can say is that if the vertical alignment of the rangefinder is off (and wasn't before) that is usually the sign that the camera has been knocked and it would have to be a fairly hard/sharp knock to put the alignment off.

 

It's possible, perhaps, that the 'knock' happened during the flight, or at some other point where you weren't involved i.e. so didn't notice. I don't know why the sensor alignment would be off though, I'd have thought that was pretty firmly fixed inside the body.

 

The rangefinder mechanism is relatively delicate, although I've not had an issue with my M2 as yet and that's seen quite a lot of use.

 

I don't see any point in not having the camera fixed though - even if you decide to sell it, you still need it to be fixed.

The sensor is adjustable and only has to shift a fraction of a mm to be out of alignment. Leica uses laser interference measuring to adjust it to 1/1000th of a mm.

 

The M2 is a lot more robust than the M4 through M9.

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Truly, you have had bad luck and I feel for you, but I do think, it's just that... bad luck.

 

The sensor issue? Well how the whole affair was handled by Leica put aside... I don't think you can blame them for a fault that appeared years after the camera was developed. I'm pretty sure they didn't 'include' this problem during development, it was really bad publicity and must have cost them a fortune.

 

Rangefinders are fragile and get out of alignment sometimes. It's a well known fact. As others have mentioned, you may not have dropped it or be unaware of a shock but it is likely that something happened out of the ordinary to cause the rangefinder misalignment. I've read somewhere that vibrations in aircraft can cause this but I don't know if that's true or not. Certainly Leica CS should not be insisting that you dropped the camera if you say you haven't... but anyhow, the fact is, for whatever reason, the rangefinder is now misaligned and needs fixing.

 

When the camera returned the 'silent shutter' didn't really worked anymore...it suffered a bit of lag but I didn't really care.

 

To be honest, this is the part I find most worrying as this really does seem to be a lack of quality control and should have been repaired under warranty right away.

 

Anyway, I can only suggest following the recommendation of contacting CS and so you discuss the whole history of your camera with them.

 

I hope it works out for you... I would love to have an MM1 :-)

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I truly feel like is one of those one where it always goes wrong. Never had a single problem with my M8....

 

Would it be a good move to repair it and sell it? I mean, I love the Monochrom I wouldn't change it with no other camera but I need something functional!

 

If a camera gets damaged by staying in a backpack it make me raise few questions...

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If a camera gets damaged by staying in a backpack it make me raise few questions...

I think you have to accept that this didn't and indeed couldn't happen. Any number of things would have happened without you being aware. Maybe somebody bumped into your backpack when it was not on your back and you didn't notice.

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I truly feel like is one of those one where it always goes wrong. Never had a single problem with my M8....

 

Would it be a good move to repair it and sell it? I mean, I love the Monochrom I wouldn't change it with no other camera but I need something functional!

 

If a camera gets damaged by staying in a backpack it make me raise few questions...

If you like dedicated monochrome consider M246. i have mine for almost 3 years now and no problems worth loosing sleep over, touch wood.

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Do you have insurance to cover the repair? If not, consider researching. Mine covers everything outside the warranty without deductible. But policies vary.

 

If you love the Monochrom experience, get it fixed and consider trading on a future M10 M. Or even an M10, which is capable of wonderful b/w conversions and is a much more robust camera, not just the RF.

 

Jeff

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I have posted this before - so apologies for repeating myself. Airplanes vibrate at very high frequencies from the gas turbine engines. Many times this can knock the rangefinder out of adjustment. You can feel it by simply touching the seat support in flight

 

I ruined my rangefinder adjustment on an M3 on flight to Switzerland. As Jaapv says - newer models are more robust.

 

My solution - keep my camera on my lap during flight takung care not to let camera rest on armrest. Probably overkill and definitely a pain. However - rangefinder has stayed ialigned for several years...

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It is not at all certain that a possible M10M will have the same b&w character as the MM1 because of the longer DR. The MM1 could well remain a unique camera re b&w rendering.

 

 

If the OP is having trouble with camera stability, the M246 is a significantly more stable platform. I love the MM1 "character" as much as anyone as I still own mine and recently posted some pictures from it. 

 

But, the 246 is a better camera when it comes to all things objective. 

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