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marknorton

How to Re-Cover your M8 yourself

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A few forum members have already shown their cameras recovered by CameraLeather.com. Morgan is based in Burlington, VT which, aside from the cost of shipping and insurance, presents no problems to US based members to have the work done by him. Feedback on Morgan's service has been very positive.

 

For members outside the US who would like to recover their cameras, there's the added difficulty of customs and additional shipping cost and delay so the option to do the work yourself is an attractive one, for people in the US also. I'm not in the least intimidated by this sort of thing so it was clearly time for our old friend 3105477 to step up and face its next "challenge".

 

There's then the question of warranties and my understanding is that replacing the standard covering will not void the warranty (what's left of it for us early adopters - none for this particular camera) but you should not expect Leica to replace the covering if your camera goes in for service. As my "Anatomy" thread showed, there's only so much which can be done without splitting the clam-shell which in turn requires the cover to be removed. In that case, you could either pay for Leica to replace it with the standard one or leave the camera looking like a plucked chicken without one. You cannot expect Leica to work around trying to preserve your cover.

 

I bought a kit from Morgan of the back kid leather and he kindly provided me with some additional kits to try - the GripTac in black and grey which Walt has been very enthusiastic about and a couple of "second quality" leather kits to try before doing my camera for real with the more expensive black kid leather. It's not a big expense, even the most expensive covering for the camera and grip costs less than a single Leica IR filter.

 

So here's some information on how I recovered my camera and grip this morning in the grey GripTac. You may or may not like it on a black camera - the black looks great by the way - but the intention here is to show you how to do it. The choice of kits offered by CameraLeather allows you to go for luxury, security or, dare I say it, the aesthetically questionable! If you tire of it, or realise the orange ostrich skin effect was chosen in a moment of madness, it's not such an expense to try something else.

 

Looking critically at what I did, there are a couple of areas where I could have done better and I've pointed these out to you. This is the first camera I've ever recovered, so hopefully you can learn from my mistakes. As Morgan said, by the time I get to the black kid, I should be an expert!

 

What Do you Get?

 

Here's a picture of the kit. The three pieces of material on a single backing sheet, one for the camera and two for the grip, for good reasons I will go into.

 

 

Preparing the Camera

 

I recommend you remove the Frame Preview lever. As you can see, it's held in place by a flat screw. You may be able to undo it by pressing into it and turning or else by using a pencil eraser. You should certainly NOT take any metallic (steel) tools to it because you will damage the flat screw. Instead, you can buy a 3/8" flex clamp from micro-tools. This, when slightly splayed out, fits over the flat screw and with a firm grip at the ends to stop it slipping, you can turn anti-clockwise to undo it. Being made of copper, it will not mar the surface of the screw, though it's a good idea to grip the ends tightly to stop it slipping.

 

 

 

You can then remove the base plate and peel the standard covering back starting at the bottom left and right of the rear panel and peeling back slowly to avoid leaving adhesive on the camera. Work each side back until it is completely removed. You can then use a solvent (I used Eclipse and a Pec-Pad) to clean the surface of the camera, removing every last trace of adhesive. Then use a Q-Tip with Eclipse to work into the edges and corners. Be sensible about the amount of solvent you use. The Pec-Pad/Q-Tip should be wet but not dripping. When everything is clean, your camera will look like this:

 

 

Take a close look and see how there are recesses for the new cover to slot into - each side of the lens mount, around the lens release button, around the thumb wheel on the back panel. These are important because they help to stop the cover lifting at the edges and an important principle to follow when applying the cover is to fit the edges and let the bits in between take care of themselves.

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Preparing the Cover

 

The cover is very sticky on the back, so I recommend you cut the backing sheet in the middle so that you can work on one side and then the other. Place it on a surface you can cut into (kitchen chopping board) and use a scalpel to cut round the lens cut-out and then make a cut at the narrowest point. Do NOT cut the cover material, just the backing sheet.

 

 

You're going to cover the side with the lens release button first, so position the cover in place, avoiding stretching the central thin section and tape it in position using a low-tack (meaning: it will peel off easily) masking tape. Then replace the camera bottom cover which provides an important guide while applying the cover material. Do not try to

apply the cover material with the camera bottom cover removed.

 

 

The cover is sticky, so you should avoid pressing it firmly into position until the position is correct. Until you do, you can adjust the position of the cover material slightly, after pressing it firmly into position, it's impossible. You can get the entire cover into position and keep it sufficiently fluid to allow fine adjustment before the final "press down".

 

You're going to need a tool to work the cover material into position. It should be plastic or wood and I used a pair of chisel-ended tools which come with kits to replace iPod batteries or to replace mobile phone housings. These are ideal for working the cover into position and "tamping" down around the edges.

 

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Covering the First Side

 

Peel back just enough of the backing sheet to expose the cut out for the lens release button and a little bit (10mm) more. Then, holding the cover by each side, position it so that the top and bottom edges line up and the corner at the top of the lens mount is exactly covered, including a little excess to slot into the lens mount - I could have left a little more. You should then find there's also a small amount of material around the lens release button ready to be slotted into position using the tool. Use the edge of the tool to work around the lens mount and the lens release button and ease the edge of the cover into position.

 

 

Once this end is perfect, turn your attention to the strap lug and peel back the backing sheet to this point plus a few mm. Do NOT press down on the cover material as you go but instead concentrate on getting the fit round the strap lug correct. Stretch it just enough to go over the lug, check your alignment and fix it in position by using the tool to work around the lug. If you look at the pictures, you can see a bigger than desirable gap which I was later able to mostly correct because I had not pressed it finally into position.

 

 

Then turn your attention to the right had side of the back panel. Get the alignment at the end, top and bottom correct and you should find again you have a slight excess of material which you can work into the slot around the thumb wheel using the tool.

 

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Covering the Second Side

 

There's no equivalent of the lens release button on this side so you should work to get the alignment of the corner at the top of the lens mount and the hole for the frame preview lever centred around the lever fixing. Align top and bottom and press lightly into position, working the cover material into the side of the lens mount. You should now be able to position the narrow strip underneath the lens mount and work it into the recess in the bottom of the lens mount.

 

 

It's then the same as the other side. Move on to the strap lug and then onto the left hand side of the rear panel and around the USB socket. Concentrate on the edges and let the middle take care of itself.

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

That's it! Double check your alignment before pressing finally into position. I found it useful to keep the camera warm while working on it. I placed it on the Aga (a kind of always-on stove) in our kitchen which warms the camera to hand hot and keeps the adhesive pliable.

 

Here are some pictures of the completed camera, by itself and with a grip I had already covered in black GripTac. I can certainly confirm the completed camera in GripTac is superb and 100% secure to hold. One interesting characteristic of the GripTac is that it seems to tighten after being applied, so that now, a couple of hours later, it's taut and really feels a part of the camera.

 

The lens, BTW, is the classic pre-ASPH 50mm Summilux with B+W 43mm UV/IR filter and a very nice lens hood bought from HeavyStar for pennies on ebay.

 

[ATTACH]62103[/ATTACH]

 

[ATTACH]62104[/ATTACH]

 

[ATTACH]62105[/ATTACH]

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Recovering a Grip

 

You will have noticed two pieces of material to cover the grip, one slightly shorter than the other. If you take a look at the Leica grip, you'll see the material slots in under a plastic strip at the back to stop it lifting at the ends. When you remove the old covering, you have to clean underneath the plastic strip to allow the new material to slot fully into position. The longer piece is the same at the original Leica covering and is the one to try first. If you cannot insert it far enough under the strip, you can use the shorter material which does not have to be inserted so far.

 

To remove the old covering, you need to avoid using metal tools near the plastic strip or the top or bottom to avoid damage. I use an engineers scribe to slide into the material and prise the material out from under the plastic strip and you can then pull it off easily and clean in the same way as the body. Then, using a Pec-Pad soaked in Eclipse, you can rake out any remaining adhesive under the strip on each side to allow the new material to be slotted in under the plastic strip.

 

 

 

In this first example, I used the longer piece of material, had trouble working it fully under the plastic strip so that by the time I got to the other end, I had too much to work with - you can see the excessive loop of material. I then switched to the slightly shorter material and had no problems obtaining a perfect fit. Given the choice (and this

is what happened when I first recovered in grip in black GripTac), I would use the longer piece of material, however the shorter piece is fine.

 

Here are some pictures of the grip being recovered and on the camera.

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, here are some pictures of the camera and grip together.

 

 

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I think you might want to demonstrate it again using black GripTac. I think if my M8 looked like that I'd want it to slip from my grip.

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Morgan was kind enough to give me a sample to try, but I thought the grey would be easier to photograph... Wrong! It's coming off tomorrow and I'm going to try the verdigris green...

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Mark,

 

Interesting thread, but jeez, that gray covering really makes the camera butt-ugly. It's about as attractive as the jumpsuits worn by prisoners. Don't take the camera out in public or you'll embarrass it into some sort of electronic seizure. :-)

 

Larry

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Larry,

 

Boring. If you had bothered to read the thread (and I'm sorry if it was too long or that there were words you didn't understand), you would have realised that its purpose was to show those interested how to re-cover their cameras if that's what they want to do, not to endorse the grey as a colour choice.

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Mark,

 

Next time I'll remember to make a 48-point smile so you'll understanding when I'm teasing. As I said, an interesting thread.

 

Larry

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You know there must be a market for someone to offer a fitting service for those of us who are totally useless with our hands - I mean a scalpel for Christ's sake, there'd be blood on the carpet <grin>

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Mark,

 

Next time I'll remember to make a 48-point smile so you'll understanding when I'm teasing. As I said, an interesting thread.

 

Larry

 

Sorry, you'll appreciate that I'm feeling a little "got at" at the moment...!

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You know there must be a market for someone to offer a fitting service for those of us who are totally useless with our hands - I mean a scalpel for Christ's sake, there'd be blood on the carpet <grin>

 

Well, this arts and crafts stuff is not my usual habitat but it was OK...

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Mark,

 

Another excellent by-the-numbers explanation; thanks for taking the time to put it together and post it!

 

Now, I wonder where I could find some orange ostrich skin effect covering ... ? Perhaps I could make do with a Union Jack covering instead - it'd certainly blend-in well in certain parts of Essex ...

 

Pete.

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