A Protest Post by Benedikt Eckhard

From Steve: Received this post and thought it was worth posting after the last post on cameras and equipment. Benedict used a cel phone to take this shot of his newborn baby. Gorgeous photo but sad story that I would hope is an isolated incident. Still, I congratulate Benedikt on the new baby and the beautiful photo!

Hi,

I used many cameras ranging from fantastic analog SLRs (Nikon F3), over digital compact cameras (Casio EX200), to digital SLRs (Olympus E520). About two years ago I read about the Leica M9 for the first time and was catched immediately. During that time the camera was soooo out of my league that I could only dream about it while reading blogs such as yours or Overgaards. About nine months ago came my chance: my wife got pregnant! – I managed to convince her on how important it is to have good pictures of our child and that the only way to get really good pictures is to buy THE camera. I knew that I needed time to practice focusing, so within the next three months I saved all my money, robbed my savings account and finally bought the M9 with a beautiful 35mm Summicron ASPH. From then on, I used the camera daily to practice my skills and get used to the camera. And then came the day: our daughter got born. Full of excitement I grabbed the camera for the first few shots and …. it failed!!! The shutter clicked but didn’t open!! Holy crap! I spend thousands of dollars on a camera that fails in the only moment it just MUST NOT fail!! Endless minutes passed by but the thing just didn’t work anymore! NONE of my previous cameras – no matter how crappy they were – had ever failed me! Do you feel my pain? Luckily I had my phone with me. And here it is: the picture which I would like my Leica to have taken, but instead was shot with a Samsung Galaxy S 2.

Best,
Benedikt

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44 Comments

  1. Good you did not miss the picture of your daughter, congrats, I am a dad too.

    Maybe Leica can do some QC courses at Samsung, maybe better, can Samsung make Leica’s? Seems the best of both worlds looking at your experience 😉

    Admittedly my totally battered M2 and pristine looking M6 never failed me in any way.

    Nowadays I choose for M43 (nice and compact lenses) or 6×6 film. My wife would kill me if I would buy 2 M9’s. Another idea: a bundle package of 2 M9’s + Samsung Galaxy for a reduced price?

  2. Yes, we could feel your pain. But s**t HAPPENS even if it is about a 5.000 EUR product. SOMETIMES the Best fails, too.
    Congratulations on your most precious possession – your child! – and hope you’re already enjoying your M9!

  3. After my Nikon D700 I bought a M9 (brand new) and 35 summicron (used) and my lens’ outer dial got loose and started not to command the f-stops. Camera got blocked most probably because of the card (New San disk card -again bought from Original Leica dealer in Paris) So all of the pictures got lost and I have to buy a new card and made the firmware upgrade.
    Whereas my Nikon fell from the table to a marble ground, my lens (24-70) bounced twice again on the ground and all are working perfectly. What I’m trying to say is; In all my years of Nikon usage- I didn’t face a single problem but with a camera so expensive as this one, it is a nightmare. A useless card in my hand, a useless lens in my hand, and a camera which I cannot trust whether all my next pictures will be lost or not after the shot. But needless to say if you can manage to take pictures, they are good.

  4. Wow, that is a lot of bad stories about failing Leica cameras. Never happenend to me that my old OM-1 or any of my Nikons failed. I’m curious if the X100 will be stable over time – so far I’m using it all the time.

    Btw. that foto is really nice considering it is a cell phone 🙂

  5. Beautiful image & congrats on your new family member.

    The same happen to me two month ago at Disneyland. My four year old daughter waited a full hour for a picture with Mickey. Finally she was first in line, Mickey hugged her – and my Leica M9 failed. Wonderful. Luckely that happend already before, so I new a quick removal of the battery will do. After a few seconds I was ready again – and this time it worked.

    For important family images the Fujifilm X100 replaced the M9 at our home. Not only because of the above mentioned bug, but the high-iso performance of the X100 for interdoor family shots. Clearly in a different league when compared to the M9.

  6. If ever there was a PERFECT illustration of the saying “The best camera is the one you have with you.” (that works) then THIS is it. Not a fan of baby photographs myself (especially my own as I was an ugly little…….!) although as they go, this is a fine example of the genre. I rarely use the camera on my phone (an xperia x10) though I have been glad of it on a few occasions.

  7. I forgot to point out that you wouldn’t have been able to get this shot with a Leica, because you can’t focus this close.

  8. You have a beautiful daughter and a unique story that goes along with her birth. Congratulations to you and your family!

  9. I’m glad that you Leica folks stepped up to the bar on this one!

    Instead of just blowing Benedikt’s problem off as a once in a lifetime occurence, all of a sudden there is a stream of failures with the Leica. Sorta like the meter problem that occurred on the early Nikon D2H bodies. Yes, I bought one of the first D2H’s and, yes, about a year later it failed. Had it repaired and it now has over 160,000 shutter clicks on it without a single hiccup!! Hope that is your experience with your replacement M9, Benedikt!!

  10. I wonder how leica still manages to sell their cameras for such ridiculously high prices! Quality control at their factory is horrible and customer support is poor. Leica camers are not reliable at all. I was in almost the same situation one year ago. I bought m8.2 which had deffective sensor, another 2 bodies I looked at (trying to exchange the camera) had the same problem, the fourth body of m8.2 appeared to be ok at first, but had a frozen shutter. Leica factory at solms refused to change the sensor. Funny, but even demo m9 at the store froze up several times. Finally I gave up. Leica hugely disrespects it’s clients. For THAT kind of money you can get 3,4 pro lenses and ff body from canon or nikon, or get something from mirrorless range of cameras which are also great choice and enjoy photography. As for me, now I have nikon d7000 which works as it should. I’m happy.

  11. Great picture. The eyes and nose are in perfect focus, while the toes show a slight bokeh. (Which is to say; I am not sure you are being 100% honest that this was taken with a cell phone.)

  12. I’ve heard in the past that in some photo contest; pictures of babies is an unspoken disqualification. I’m beginning to understand why. No offense but if you’ve seen one baby, you’ve seen them all. Get them when you can see what they are becoming.

    But yeah the M9 is an iffy little bastard, I’ve long since had enough with their recommended SD cards. Sandisk and Lexar can shove off for good because the only SD card I’ve had last me longer than two months without a single hiccup is a cheap 16gb Transcend class 10.

  13. Unfortunately this doesn’t surprise me. In the year I’ve owned my M9 it has failed on me numerous times. From not starting up in time to not starting up at all.. to having the battery charger fail on me during my travels and having the buttons malfunction. It’s sad that such an expensive camera has become the least reliable camera I’ve ever owned. Take note, Leica.

  14. I’ve learned to always have backups of every piece of equipment for an important shoot.

    I’ve had 2 M9 bodies die on me in the past couple of months. The first had the dreaded shutter crack which I discovered during Steve’s Seattle workshop, after the first day of shooting we were editing and I had a black and white line in every photo. I was able to shoot wide with the 28 cron and crop for the rest of the weekend. I immediately received a replacement M9 and the first day out it had the sensor fault after 110 shots.

    The third M9 is working so far, although just today I had a problem with no buttons working, seemed to be dead. Changed the battery, still nothing. Switched SD cards and it was back to normal. Somehow the SD card I was using the past 2 days just decided to make the camera malfunction.

    I purchased a M6 as a backup body a few weeks ago and carry that and a few rolls of film with me along with the M9, just in case.

  15. This just proves the old adage:

    “When going on an important shoot, always bring a Leica and a Nikon.

    That way, if one body fails, you’ll still have the Nikon.”

  16. Congratulations on your new daughter. She is beautiful!

    Also, congratulations on having the presence of mind to remember that your phone has a camera in it. I probably would not have with the excitement of a new birth.

    Cameras, even a Leica, are simply tools and sometime tools fail. This is one of Murphy’s laws, “All critical items are prone to failure during times of critical need.” Yes, it sucks! But it happens. Send your camera in for repair. Then use it till it breaks again. That is why you bought it. Though hopefully it will last much longer this time.

    PaulB

    PS. The time you spent practicing with your Leica shows.

  17. The best camera is the one you have on you. Although I’m sure if ~6 has his way though who can’t afford Leica wouldn’t be able to even OWN cameras.

    Not surprised yours broke down instantly. That’s what happens when you wear out jewelry.

    When you can an X100 you’ll have some lovely pictures of your beautiful daughter!

  18. I think the possibility of an M9 crapping out is in the back of every M9 (maybe also M8) photographer’s mind. There are times when I have to press the buttons on the back by the display a couple times before anything would happen (and this is after waking up the camera), and each time I dread that it’s THE time the camera has died. As Kay stated above, one really does need two M9s to be safe. One wonders if Leica has intentionally planned it this way…

  19. Oh man! How unfortunate! The good news: Beautiful baby, great shot, and you’ll have many more years of capturing fantastic photos of your child.

  20. Great shot … And proof that it is NOT always the camera that is responsible for good photos, despite what Steve says. 😉

  21. The moral of this story is: the camera doesn’t matter.

    You had the right camera at the right time.

    That picture could not be better if taken with an M9.

  22. congratulation on your birth of your daughter.
    Camera does not matter when it does not work… Very glad you have your Samsung with you. Besides, excellent shot…. love the reflection from body hair.. It is like an angle glowing in light…..

  23. Congrats for many things:
    -Newborn baby
    -Being able to afford an M9+35cron
    -Having a $700 cellphone

    I feel for your M9 crapping out (excuse my French) however, you are really blessed if you think about it. So it’s best now to just enjoy your baby no matter which camera is used to take her picture.

  24. I’d like to think of it as: “whatever helps you sleep at night”

    i mean let’s face it, the great debate of photographer vs. camera is never going to end, and it is just a slice of the image of the underlying greater scheme, human vs. machine.

    so i say, buy what you want if you have the money, or just use your mad skills on whatever you’ve got. you can claim the support for either side of the argument, whatever helps you sleep at night.

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