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M11 service problems: a sign of bigger underlying issues


Patrickfoley@mac.com

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Back in early May my M11, then just over a year old, started failing to recognise Leica lenses attached. It didn't happen all the time, but often enough to be a real nuisance. And, when it did this, the shutter mechanism also seems to develop some kind of fault, sounding like it was firing several times for each shot (although only one image was recorded). I took the camera into Leica Mayfair in London, who told me it would have to be repaired in Germany, which apparently would take "around three months". 

Yesterday I got my camera back, after over five months and following a number of update requests from me. According to the invoice (no charge because the camera is under warranty), Leica had done the following:

Adjust range finder, Clean sensor, Adjust electrical./mech. assemblies, software update, cleaning, final inspection.

I inserted a fully charged battery, formatted a card in the camera and went out, delighted to use the camera for the first time in five months. So imagine my frustration when the camera showed exactly the same problem shortly after taking my first photo. Indeed, having tried the camera several times, the problem seems to be worse, occuring every time I use it whereas before it was only occasional. When I tried again this morning, the camera recognised the lens (in this case a 35mm Summilux FLE) for one shot, then immediately switched to showing 'no lens' on the screen and reverted to the odd shutter noise. 

I have contacted Leica Mayfair and am waiting for their response. 

My experience raises a number of questions. Are Leica M series cameras now getting so complex that (1) new models are released before all the bugs are ironed out, (2) Leica's service facilities are unable to fix some problems, and (3) Leica's reputation for engineering excellence is at serious risk. My answer to all three is yes. And based on that, I am on the verge of selling  all my M gear. Can anyone tell me why I should reconsider? 

 

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The way the camera recognize the lens, is the 6-bit code on the lens, read by the sensor on the bayonet of the camera. So if the engraving on the bayonet is not correct, it fail to read it. Or if the sensor on the bayonet is faulty it will have trouble recognizing several or all lenses. I had a Noctilux that didn't register on the camera 90% of the times, and Leica had to replace the bayonet and adjust the camera (I think it was the M240). 

Seems like they didn't understand the problem or didn't have the lens to test it. Anyhow, but that is the simplicity of the recognizing the lens. Rather mechanical reading of a lens code. 

You can do-it-yourself trick: Clean the sensor on the bayonet (there could be oil or dirt on it), and theck the 6-bit encoding on the lens of it looks clean and right.

 

Here is an explanation from my Leica Definitions:

 

Edited by Overgaard
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4 hours ago, Overgaard said:

The way the camera recognize the lens, is the 6-bit code on the lens, read by the sensor on the bayonet of the camera. So if the engraving on the bayonet is not correct, it fail to read it. Or if the sensor on the bayonet is faulty it will have trouble recognizing several or all lenses. I had a Noctilux that didn't register on the camera 90% of the times, and Leica had to replace the bayonet and adjust the camera (I think it was the M240). 

Seems like they didn't understand the problem or didn't have the lens to test it. Anyhow, but that is the simplicity of the recognizing the lens. Rather mechanical reading of a lens code. 

You can do-it-yourself trick: Clean the sensor on the bayonet (there could be oil or dirt on it), and theck the 6-bit encoding on the lens of it looks clean and right.

 

Here is an explanation from my Leica Definitions:

 

Don’t think it’s the lens. Its happened with more than one lens. And all my lenses work fine with my M11 monochrom. 

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3 hours ago, Nachtmsk said:

Did you rule out the lens as being the problem?

Take the camera to a Leica store and ask them to try it on one of their lenses. See if it still happens.

Mike

 

 

Thanks Mike. Its happened with more than one lens. And it never happens with my M11 monochrom.  And because it doesn’t always happen, there’s a good chance that everything will seem ok if I take it in and they try one of their lenses! 
 

incidentally, I have now noticed that the focus aid (i.e., a zoomed view of part of the image when focusing) no longer works. I just get a white rectangle in the corner of the screen. 

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8 hours ago, Patrickfoley@mac.com said:

My experience raises a number of questions. Are Leica M series cameras now getting so complex that (1) new models are released before all the bugs are ironed out, (2) Leica's service facilities are unable to fix some problems, and (3) Leica's reputation for engineering excellence is at serious risk. My answer to all three is yes. And based on that, I am on the verge of selling  all my M gear. Can anyone tell me why I should reconsider? 

 

I think that your frustration is causing you to overreact a bit.  It's just possible you have a bad component and it wasn't caught because it was intermittent. I doubt #1 is true. #2 might just need more detailed instruction as to what is happening .. send a video along if you can with sound. #3 Sell it all? Even the stuff that is working fine? Uh.. no.

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3 hours ago, Nachtmsk said:

I think that your frustration is causing you to overreact a bit.  It's just possible you have a bad component and it wasn't caught because it was intermittent. I doubt #1 is true. #2 might just need more detailed instruction as to what is happening .. send a video along if you can with sound. #3 Sell it all? Even the stuff that is working fine? Uh.. no.

Overreact? His brand new nearly $10k camera was away for five months and wasn't fixed. But then again many of us long time Leica shooters have become inured to Leica's under reaction when it comes to service, which is sad...

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Leica Boutiques really should consider offering a loaner service/plan when cameras come in for service that they automatically provide a loner camera; it would do wonders for customer satisfaction, provide confidence that no matter what happens to the warrantied camera that Leica has your back, and it could even motivate the Leica service centers to get the cameras repaired quicker so as not to have too many loaner bodies out at one time. 

 

Edited by RMF
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Haven’t had my M11 a year yet but I pray it doesn’t develop the same issue.  Other than an occasional freeze my camera is solid.  I had a Q2m for awhile and it was basically flawless so who knows what’s going on with Leica quality.  They def need to institute a loaner policy especially for M owners since this is a luxury brand.  You put your luxury car in the shop you usually get a loaner. 

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5 hours ago, RMF said:

Leica Boutiques really should consider offering a loaner service/plan when cameras come in for service that they automatically provide a loner camera; it would do wonders for customer satisfaction, provide confidence that no matter what happens to the warrantied camera that Leica has your back, and it could even motivate the Leica service centers to get the cameras repaired quicker so as not to have too many loaner bodies out at one time. 

 

Leica CS regularly offers loaners on request, if available. 

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18 hours ago, Patrickfoley@mac.com said:

Back in early May my M11, then just over a year old, started failing to recognise Leica lenses attached. It didn't happen all the time, but often enough to be a real nuisance. And, when it did this, the shutter mechanism also seems to develop some kind of fault, sounding like it was firing several times for each shot (although only one image was recorded). I took the camera into Leica Mayfair in London, who told me it would have to be repaired in Germany, which apparently would take "around three months". 

Yesterday I got my camera back, after over five months and following a number of update requests from me. According to the invoice (no charge because the camera is under warranty), Leica had done the following:

Adjust range finder, Clean sensor, Adjust electrical./mech. assemblies, software update, cleaning, final inspection.

I inserted a fully charged battery, formatted a card in the camera and went out, delighted to use the camera for the first time in five months. So imagine my frustration when the camera showed exactly the same problem shortly after taking my first photo. Indeed, having tried the camera several times, the problem seems to be worse, occuring every time I use it whereas before it was only occasional. When I tried again this morning, the camera recognised the lens (in this case a 35mm Summilux FLE) for one shot, then immediately switched to showing 'no lens' on the screen and reverted to the odd shutter noise. 

I have contacted Leica Mayfair and am waiting for their response. 

My experience raises a number of questions. Are Leica M series cameras now getting so complex that (1) new models are released before all the bugs are ironed out, (2) Leica's service facilities are unable to fix some problems, and (3) Leica's reputation for engineering excellence is at serious risk. My answer to all three is yes. And based on that, I am on the verge of selling  all my M gear. Can anyone tell me why I should reconsider? 

 

Selling a camera with a known problem will incur a huge financial hit. 

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10 minutes ago, jaapv said:

Leica CS regularly offers loaners on request, if available. 

In Wetzlar you sometimes need to prove you are a professional photographer with a form of issued press ID or similar to get a loaner.
Sometimes you also just need to prove you are very, very, VERY pissed off or frustrated.

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 I don‘t think this is on overreaction because of the frustration, it is just normal if you have a camera that costs 10k and should take 3months+ in service!

had the same with my m11 and summilux. But the issue was even less complex I thought (just a back focus, should be a routine correction), haha how stupid I was thinking Leica will understand anything. Came back as it was. If the camera was not under warranty the would have charged me 400 eur! Needed to go back again there until it got fixed.

just a few weeks back I sent them an email with questions on a vintage lens, they sent a weird answer so that I picked up my phone to talk to them and explain it as obviously they didn‘t get the issue. But then on the phone I was very surprised about the technician who actually did not understand anything. I was very confused that things like „range finder patch“ was not known and they corrected me then that it is called „Mischbild“ in German… was very upset and before sending the lens in (which will take 6 months!!) I will throw it away. 

long story short, Leica really has a severe Service issue. They are always really convinced they know what the issues are because each Technician has 200++ years experience that no one listens anyway to you…

Edited by jaapv
Pejorative attack on forum members removed
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10 hours ago, charlesphoto99 said:

Overreact? His brand new nearly $10k camera was away for five months and wasn't fixed. But then again many of us long time Leica shooters have become inured to Leica's under reaction when it comes to service, which is sad...

My feelings exactly.  And Leica reliability issues are something I have experienced in the past. My M10 Monochrom suffered from freezing issues for a long time, before a firmware update finally fixed it . When I sold that to buy a new M11 Monochrom the frame selector lever fell off after three days, luckily in such a quiet spot that I heard it (and the screw that held it) hit the ground. And my M11 suffered the freezing issues that many others have experienced, until a recent firmware update fixed that. Simply not good enough for $10k cameras.

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