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Hi,

I’m having some long time light leak issues with my MP. I noticed it about a year ago (bought it new in January 2020), until then, I didn’t have any issues at all. First, I thought it was a faulty film canister, but I tried fresh film from different brands and manufacturers, and I was having the same issue so, as the camera was in warranty, I decided to send it to Wetzlar.

3 months after, I received the camera and, after a couple of test rolls, I was having the same issue, so I thought it might be my process, as I develop my film at home, and I was assuming that Leica is a serious company and they did their job. Last April, I shot a roll of film colour, sent it to the lab and there were no issues at all.

I had a darkroom hiatus during the Summer and last weekend I developed three rolls: two of them shot with the MP and one with the M4-P. I used a different tank as I used to, a new changing bag and fresh chemicals, just in case, and I had the same issue in one of the rolls I shot with the MP (the other one was shot at night). The roll shot with the M4-P came out perfectly exposed and clean of light leaks, so I can discard my developing process.

I see that some leaks follow a pattern and sometimes the sprockets also generate some patterns, so maybe it happens in the take-up spool area? 

Has anyone experienced something like this? It’s driving me crazy and I’m thinking about sending it again to Wetzlar before the warranty expires, but that would mean another three months of repair service and not knowing where the issue comes from.

I’ve attached some images of my negatives. The positives are shot before sending the camera to Wetzlar. The negatives are form the last roll I developed yesterday.

Many thanks in advance.

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A couple of points. 1) I had a light leak in an M4-P, back when they were current (about 1982). Cutting to the chase - the light was leaking in around the front rewind-clutch lever (the one to be flipped to R to rewind film). And shining right through the camera body to the film in the gap between the winding sprocket shaft and the takeup spool. Which conforms to Joanone's experience that the leak covers parts of both the frame behind the shutter - and the previous (already advanced) f

Ok, I'm going to try to share everything in the most organized way I can. Last night, after developing the last test roll, I did it. The light comes from the upper side of the winding sprocket shaft next to the frame window. Here's a picture where the light leak can barely be seen when I put the exposed film inside the body. Hello guest! Please register or sign in to view the hidden content. Hallo Gast! Du willst die Bilder sehen? Einfach registrieren oder anmelden! It definite

Just wanted to share a quick update, I managed to send the MP back to Wetzlar last week and last Wednesday they sent me a confirmation of receipt. Will keep you posted on how everything goes, but last time it took 3 months to have the camera back. Thanks again everyone for your help!

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I've seen some light leaks, and I've seen some light leaks, but that is an aggressive light leak that I've never seen before.

Its coming from above (image projected by the lens is upside down and back to front). It's so radical the first question would be 'is the rear door closed properly before the baseplate has been attached ( a body half case could mask other light leaks in this situation)'? Alternatively have you looked to see if there is any torn film stuck in the camera?

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I have experienced similiar light leaks on a Canon rangefinder camera where the felt light trapping material at the film door hinge had perished. However, the Leica M film door does not use light trapping material but interlocking 'channels' that prevent light creeping round the edges. The film door is made of pressed metal and possibly there is a manufacturing fault in your example or has become distorted in use. The film door on my M4P is less well made than the doors on my other M bodies, being too tight against the edge of the top plate resulting in scraping of the black paintwork (but no light leaks).

As suggested above try diagnosing the problem by placing strips of black electricians tape over each of the four sides of the door then expose a couple of frames with one strip at the time removed, after a control exposure with all strips attached. Make notes whilst doing this obviously.

A replacement film door might be the cure.

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9 hours ago, 250swb said:

I've seen some light leaks, and I've seen some light leaks, but that is an aggressive light leak that I've never seen before.

Its coming from above (image projected by the lens is upside down and back to front). It's so radical the first question would be 'is the rear door closed properly before the baseplate has been attached ( a body half case could mask other light leaks in this situation)'? Alternatively have you looked to see if there is any torn film stuck in the camera?

Thanks for your suggestions, Steve. I always make sure I close the rear door properly in both of my Leicas and I've never experienced something like this in the three years I've been using my 40-year-old M4-P. That's why this is frustrating for me coming from a brand new MP that has been serviced by Leica in Wetzlar. I'll check if there's anything suck in the inside of the camera just in case, but any strange object would be detected by the technicians the first time I sent them the camera. Anyway, I'll check everything carefully.

8 hours ago, jankap said:

Do you use a case? Please tape the rear door with black tape. The sample 11+11a is different, the others are alike.

I don't use a case, but I'll shoot a test roll with the rear door taped. Thank you!

 

7 hours ago, onelensman said:

I have experienced similiar light leaks on a Canon rangefinder camera where the felt light trapping material at the film door hinge had perished. However, the Leica M film door does not use light trapping material but interlocking 'channels' that prevent light creeping round the edges. The film door is made of pressed metal and possibly there is a manufacturing fault in your example or has become distorted in use. The film door on my M4P is less well made than the doors on my other M bodies, being too tight against the edge of the top plate resulting in scraping of the black paintwork (but no light leaks).

As suggested above try diagnosing the problem by placing strips of black electricians tape over each of the four sides of the door then expose a couple of frames with one strip at the time removed, after a control exposure with all strips attached. Make notes whilst doing this obviously.

A replacement film door might be the cure.

Thanks for the insights. Yes, I'll definitely do some tests under the bright sun using masking tape and taking notes.

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1 hour ago, Joanone said:

I don't use a case, but I'll shoot a test roll with the rear door taped. Thank you!

You could do further tests with the test film. One part with tape another part without and keeping  the camera in full light (sun). Also transport the film direct after shooting some pictures and also wait some time to transport before shooting a picture. Take notes of what you do.

A new camera 🤨

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9 hours ago, jankap said:

You could do further tests with the test film. One part with tape another part without and keeping  the camera in full light (sun). Also transport the film direct after shooting some pictures and also wait some time to transport before shooting a picture. Take notes of what you do.

A new camera 🤨

Today at noon I shot a full roll under the strong Spanish sunlight. 10 frames without tape, another 5 with the rear door fully taped, 5 more with the left and right sides taped, 5 more with the top and the bottom sides of the rear door taped and another 10 without tape again. Gave a good sunbathing session to the MP :) I'll try to find some free time to develop the roll during this week.

9 hours ago, jaapv said:

I would resend it to Leica, and keep in touch by telephone during the repair. Send these images with it.

I'll definitely do it. The last time I sent the MP they requested digital files and negatives in physical format. I'll emphasize that they didn't solve the problem and I'll request to keep in touch during the repair. Thank you, Jaap!

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A couple of thoughts.......

Are you sure the leak hasn't happened during processing? I'm puzzled by the sprocket hole 'images' especially.

If not that then my guess is that the leak is coming in from the viewfinder/rangefinder area rather than the rear door baseplate as it's hitting the 'top' of the frames.

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28 minutes ago, earleygallery said:

A couple of thoughts.......

Are you sure the leak hasn't happened during processing? I'm puzzled by the sprocket hole 'images' especially.

If not that then my guess is that the leak is coming in from the viewfinder/rangefinder area rather than the rear door baseplate as it's hitting the 'top' of the frames.

Thanks James, I'm with Jaap, as I developed three rolls at the same time: One shot with the M4-P, one with the MP at night and another one with the MP in bright light situations, the only one which ended up with light leaks was the one I shot in Summer bright light situations, so I discarded a faulty processing.

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55 minutes ago, Joanone said:

Thanks James, I'm with Jaap, as I developed three rolls at the same time: One shot with the M4-P, one with the MP at night and another one with the MP in bright light situations, the only one which ended up with light leaks was the one I shot in Summer bright light situations, so I discarded a faulty processing.

One thing to consider is the 'leak' is very hard edged but with some falloff across the frame, but it's perfectly reproducible as an exact replica, unlike generalised leaks that vaguely come in from one direction.  For it to be hard edged it has to be very close or even touching the film surface as an obstruction, and not necessarily a leak. Whether that obstruction is in the camera, torn film, or in processing its difficult to say.

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Ok, so yesterday I developed the test roll and I got some interesting results.

The way I shot the entire roll was: 10 frames without tape, another 5 with the rear door fully taped, 5 more with the left and right sides taped, 5 more with the top and the bottom sides of the rear door taped and another 10 without tape again. All of the shots were shot with the 50mm summicron with the lens cap on under direct sunlight at my balcony. In order to separate the different parts of the roll where I taped/untaped the rear door, I shot a frame without the lens cap on, overexposing the shot on purpose.

It turns out that there are no light leaks when the camera was shot with the lens cap on, so the leak is appearing then the shutter is fired. The leak affects partially the exposed frame, but it especially affects the previous frame. It's like something on the inside reflects light and creates leaks.

Here's a sample:

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That's very odd! If it's leaking that badly I'm surprised you got any results at all previously.

What do you see if you look at the shutter curtains from the back and shine a bright light into the lens mount? I have heard of leaks due to slack in the shutter curtains but this appears to be excessive.

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37 minutes ago, earleygallery said:

That's very odd! If it's leaking that badly I'm surprised you got any results at all previously.

It definitely is!

37 minutes ago, earleygallery said:

What do you see if you look at the shutter curtains from the back and shine a bright light into the lens mount? I have heard of leaks due to slack in the shutter curtains but this appears to be excessive.

Just took a look at it and I didn't see anything weird. It looks normal to me and I see no light leaking from the curtains.

I'll definitely send the camera back to Wetzlar.

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I'm not sure I understand the testing procedure of shooting with the lens cap on, but it's the repeating defined pattern between 19 and 19A and 20 and 20A that still has my attention, it looks like something hard edged is broken. It appears to be there in every circumstance except your night time shot. Have you checked the strap lug on the film advance /shutter button side of the camera, has it maybe pulled loose? That would perhaps explain the direction of the light seeming to come from above (film upside down in the camera etc.) and spreading down over the film.  And a longer shot, have you checked the tripod bush in the baseplate, has it been attached to a tripod or accessory that has a screw that's too long and it's popped the bush open when tightened? 

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12 hours ago, 250swb said:

I'm not sure I understand the testing procedure of shooting with the lens cap on

My intention with shooting with the lens cap on was to reduce the 'visual noise' of having a picture in the frame. In that way, I could identify the exact shape of the leak. Thanks to that, I've discovered that it only appears when the light comes through the lens, and not from the rear part of the body.

12 hours ago, 250swb said:

it's the repeating defined pattern between 19 and 19A and 20 and 20A that still has my attention, it looks like something hard edged is broken. It appears to be there in every circumstance except your night time shot. Have you checked the strap lug on the film advance /shutter button side of the camera, has it maybe pulled loose? That would perhaps explain the direction of the light seeming to come from above (film upside down in the camera etc.) and spreading down over the film.  And a longer shot, have you checked the tripod bush in the baseplate, has it been attached to a tripod or accessory that has a screw that's too long and it's popped the bush open when tightened? 

The frustrating thing is that I've checked everything carefully: baseplate, strap lug, etc. Even I've fired the shutter with the rear door open in front of a flashlight and I haven't seen anything weird. My only guess about the leak's pattern is that maybe it's caused by reflected light on a metallic piece, maybe the cog for the film sprockets?

Tomorrow I'll call the Leica Store in Madrid (bought it new from them) to send it back to Wetzlar.

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