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M11 “File unreadable” message and lockup


Mac Sinclair
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My first M11 was fantastic until it became unresponsive after about 200 or so shots, so while a bit unnerving, the nice people at Leica Manchester sent me out a new one that arrived a week or so ago. 

Because of the issue, I’ve been extremely conscious of how the camera is behaving. So here’s the problem with the replacement. Yesterday I took the card out of the camera and put it into the card reader of my 2022 MacBook Pro running the latest version of Adobe Photoshop to import a single picture into Photoshop and camera RAW so I could review it. I suspect this may have changed the metadata on the file on the SD card, but this workflow has never caused my SL Type 601 to miss a beat, neither does this affect Fuji, Canon or m10-R cameras. 
So having seen the message, I tried to take a photo and the camera refused to fire, so I switched it on and off again.  Took a few more shots which reviewed OK in camera, went home and checked the card, no corrupted files. Transferred the files onto my computer, reformatted the card in camera.  The card is a suitable quality And was new for the camera.

Today I’m going to try and recreate the fault as it is unnerving and I certainly would use it for work. I am running firmware 1.4.0.1 which was loaded by Leica, so I may also try the new firmware, though that doesn’t mention fixing this fault and seems to be causing problems with cameras loosing their user profile data.

Is anyone else noticing these odd issues?

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Posted (edited)

Opening the RAW file in Photoshop will edit the DNG file. This is also why Leica will reject requested DNG files sent after Lightroom import.

If I do the same as you mentioned above, my camera will show the file as unreadable but I've not had it freeze up as a result.

I don't think the freezing is intended behaviour and is worth reporting to Leica. That the file is unreadable isn't a surprise for me though, and that is extremely unlikely to be fixed by Leica.

 

Edited by hmzimelka
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Processing original files on SD cards is something i never did so far (why not working on copies?) but i tried to replicate the OP's issue on my M11 with current 1.5.0.1 firmware. Camera did not freeze and displayed no message at all. Only a black screen with the number of the file in the center of the screen. Other photos were not affected. FYI.

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3 hours ago, Mac Sinclair said:

So here’s the problem with the replacement. Yesterday I took the card out of the camera and put it into the card reader of my 2022 MacBook Pro running the latest version of Adobe Photoshop to import a single picture into Photoshop and camera RAW so I could review it. I suspect this may have changed the metadata on the file on the SD card, but this workflow has never caused my SL Type 601 to miss a beat, neither does this affect Fuji, Canon or m10-R cameras. 
So having seen the message, I tried to take a photo and the camera refused to fire, so I switched it on and off again.  Took a few more shots which reviewed OK in camera, went home and checked the card, no corrupted files. Transferred the files onto my computer, reformatted the card in camera.  The card is a suitable quality And was new for the camera.

You should always lock the SD card before inserting it into a card reader or directly into your Mac. This makes it "Read Only" and prevents your computer from writing to the card while its importing files from it.

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Your narrative does not make it clear what exactly you were doing and in which order. This makes any kind of problem determination most difficult if not actually impossible.

However: did you turn off your camera before removing the storage card and before inserting it? Did you eject the card from the Mac's reader as required by the Mac OS?

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Thanks to everyone for their feedback… I’ll talk with Leica and also adjust my workflow to not check a DNG on a card so hopefully I avoid the “file unreadable” message. But my view remains the same, these types of weird behaviour simply don’t happen on other professional camera systems, or even my trusty SL, Leica really need to pull their socks up. Right now if a digital Contax II which accepted M lenses, or basically any FF Rangefinder alternative existed, Leica would have a problem I think.

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Leica had all sorts of problems with card compatibility with the M9.  As I recall, their advice was not to format the cards in camera.  I’ve been using SD Formatter since, with no problem.

I appreciate that the issue is probably limited to a small percentage of the cameras issued, and it is probably the result of a very specific combination of actions, but if you own a bricked camera the result is 100% failure.  That you might be in a minority is no consolation.  The immediate response from the dealer should be to replace the camera straight away.

While these issues may be software related (I haven’t heard of M-A or MP cameras bricking), surely we should be beyond this by now?  It’s a camera, not a MacBook Pro, or whatever the latest Windows based Surface Pro.  This all smacks of MS Vista.  The problem is the impact on Leica’s reputation.  This shouldn’t be hard.

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3 hours ago, Kwesi said:

You should always lock the SD card before inserting it into a card reader or directly into your Mac. This makes it "Read Only" and prevents your computer from writing to the card while its importing files from it.

No why oh why have I never thought of doing that! Thanks for the tip!

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46 minutes ago, Mac Sinclair said:

how do I reply to a message on this forum

To reply to the whole message, you click on the word 'Quote' just underneath the message you want to reply to. To quote just part of a message (as I did here) you select the part of the message you want to quote. A bubble pops up offering to quote the selected text. Click on the bubble. That's it.

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58 minutes ago, IkarusJohn said:

Leica had all sorts of problems with card compatibility with the M9.  As I recall, their advice was not to format the cards in camera.  

I recall different advice for the M9, which was use the cards Leica recommend and format them in the camera. But as ever with digital technology people try to go beyond a simple healthy and safe way to process images and try to find as many ways as possible to kill their workflow dead. I don't know what is wrong with downloading images onto another drive and then editing them, but it seems life is too simple and needs to be tested to the extremes. And for all the 'it never happened with my Nikon/Canon/Fuji' you can be sure somebody somewhere has broken it so never say never.

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18 minutes ago, 250swb said:

I recall different advice for the M9, which was use the cards Leica recommend and format them in the camera. But as ever with digital technology people try to go beyond a simple healthy and safe way to process images and try to find as many ways as possible to kill their workflow dead. I don't know what is wrong with downloading images onto another drive and then editing them, but it seems life is too simple and needs to be tested to the extremes. And for all the 'it never happened with my Nikon/Canon/Fuji' you can be sure somebody somewhere has broken it so never say never.

I received an SD card with my M9, and I had problems with it.  To be honest, I have never gone looking for inventive ways to manage cards and images.  I have gone with smaller capacity cards, of the best recommended brands, and not leading edge tech.  Turn the camera off, remove the card, plug it into my computer and download into LightRoom, then format with SD Formatter - never missed a beat.

My SL did shit itself (no idea why or how), took it to the dealer, they gave me their demo on the spot, and they provided a new replacement as soon as it came to hand.  I seem to recall my M Edition 60 misbehaving (I don’t think it completely bricked) - no replacement available, so it went to Solms got fixed and returned in short order.

While I like the way that Leica stands behind its products and almost always does the right thing, and they are a small company, they really need to address the technology better - electronic components, firmware and software.  I know it’s complex, but for the price and quality of their equipment, they’re falling below quality and price expectations.  Most of us are photographers, not tech geeks - the best available sensor and most streamlined operating system surely doesn’t require more than stable software.  I’m always reminded of the discussions I’ve had with software developers in the past - I don’t want to completely revise my systems to suit your software (unless I really have to), and I don’t want you to sell me what is possible.  I want something which meets my needs, and if it is proven and stable, so much the better.

I also feel that the M11 goes (unnecessarily) too far - I don’t see the point of the latest “enhancements”, but that is another topic, I guess.

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10 hours ago, pop said:

To reply to the whole message, you click on the word 'Quote' just underneath the message you want to reply to. To quote just part of a message (as I did here) you select the part of the message you want to quote. A bubble pops up offering to quote the selected text. Click on the bubble. That's it.

Got it, thanks for the tip. On the Leica issue I’m sure it will be minor, I’m just a bit paranoid after the first M11 failed completely and had to be replaced.

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9 hours ago, IkarusJohn said:

I received an SD card with my M9, and I had problems with it.  To be honest, I have never gone looking for inventive ways to manage cards and images.  I have gone with smaller capacity cards, of the best recommended brands, and not leading edge tech.  Turn the camera off, remove the card, plug it into my computer and download into LightRoom, then format with SD Formatter - never missed a beat.

My SL did shit itself (no idea why or how), took it to the dealer, they gave me their demo on the spot, and they provided a new replacement as soon as it came to hand.  I seem to recall my M Edition 60 misbehaving (I don’t think it completely bricked) - no replacement available, so it went to Solms got fixed and returned in short order.

While I like the way that Leica stands behind its products and almost always does the right thing, and they are a small company, they really need to address the technology better - electronic components, firmware and software.  I know it’s complex, but for the price and quality of their equipment, they’re falling below quality and price expectations.  Most of us are photographers, not tech geeks - the best available sensor and most streamlined operating system surely doesn’t require more than stable software.  I’m always reminded of the discussions I’ve had with software developers in the past - I don’t want to completely revise my systems to suit your software (unless I really have to), and I don’t want you to sell me what is possible.  I want something which meets my needs, and if it is proven and stable, so much the better.

I also feel that the M11 goes (unnecessarily) too far - I don’t see the point of the latest “enhancements”, but that is another topic, I guess.

Absolutely. My SL just does the job, and is more enjoyable because of its simplicity. My Fujifilm X100V is nice but not great and is spoiled by a sea of menus which have taken it away from what it is for.  My hope with the M11 was simplicity and high quality. To be honest with the menu being similar to my SL Type 601 it has generally been great… but from time to time I’m thinking “hang on, I’ve pressed the shutter button and it’s not firing”… I have run various IT development programmes where I have found the best software is the app that can’t be crashed by the user and is truly intuitive. Right now, my professional opinion on the M11 is that it is buggy and their support team aren’t being systematic on supporting customers to get to the bottom of issues. Also while I am writing this note on my trusty iPad Pro, it is a pain in the arse to use it to go through the instruction manual as you can’t mark up sections, flip between areas so easily on a PDF… a big omission putting a £7500 camera in a poxy box with no instructions… when the firmware is buggy.

My only other photographer friend who shoots on M cameras bought his M11 from Leica Manchester about a week after I got mine. Both cameras had to be replaced because they froze up. Neil is now so cheesed off that his replacement is doing weird things, in complete contrast to his M10-R that he’s demanded his money back. This is a real shame. I am very much hoping that my M11 will prove reliable, but certainly these issues suck the fun out of ownership and I’d never use the M for any work projects without taking a backup, or even take it on holiday without a backup which is kind of pants!

 

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2 hours ago, Mac Sinclair said:

[...] This is a real shame. I am very much hoping that my M11 will prove reliable, but certainly these issues suck the fun out of ownership and I’d never use the M for any work projects without taking a backup, or even take it on holiday without a backup which is kind of pants!

May i ask if you have updated the firmware of your M11?

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20 hours ago, Mac Sinclair said:

Thanks to everyone for their feedback… I’ll talk with Leica and also adjust my workflow to not check a DNG on a card so hopefully I avoid the “file unreadable” message. But my view remains the same, these types of weird behaviour simply don’t happen on other professional camera systems, or even my trusty SL, Leica really need to pull their socks up. Right now if a digital Contax II which accepted M lenses, or basically any FF Rangefinder alternative existed, Leica would have a problem I think.

You modify the DNG file in the computer and expect it to be readable in the camera after modifications. I call this optimism :).
M11's software could be tuned to reject the modifications inserted into the DNG, but it may require a specific internal structure for the files to work correctly.
BTW, M10 Monochrom (and likely M10-R) have the same issue. However, instead of an error, the camera displays just the file name instead of the image.

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9 hours ago, lct said:

May i ask if you have updated the firmware of your M11?

I am on the firmware 1.4.0.1 which it came with. The 1st copy came with firmware 1.3 which I upgraded to 1.4 then shortly after it locked up with the red light so it was replaced.

I therefore wanted to change very little while I tested the camera out so I could ensure it was functioning normally, also I wanted to give the new firmware 1.5 a few weeks to ensure there were no issues in light of the erosion of trust caused by the first one failing

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2 hours ago, SrMi said:

You modify the DNG file in the computer and expect it to be readable in the camera after modifications. I call this optimism :).
M11's software could be tuned to reject the modifications inserted into the DNG, but it may require a specific internal structure for the files to work correctly.
BTW, M10 Monochrom (and likely M10-R) have the same issue. However, instead of an error, the camera displays just the file name instead of the image.

Hi, yes I am beginning to think this maybe just a M11 trait, not shared with my SL or any other cameras I have. I don’t like it but I can work around it. 

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21 minutes ago, Mac Sinclair said:

Hi, yes I am beginning to think this maybe just a M11 trait, not shared with my SL or any other cameras I have. I don’t like it but I can work around it. 

Leica Q and SL seem to share similar code (no errors), while digital M cameras share a different code that shows errors when ACR modifies DNG.

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