The M9 and amazing customer service from Leica at the Solms factory by Lee Craker

The M9 and amazing customer service from Leica at the Solms factory.

Hello Steve,

First let me thank you for all the work you do. Your site is very informative and helpful.

My saga with the M9 began 2 months ago. I was preparing for a documentary shoot in North Thailand for a project on the elephants of Thailand, and as I was assembling my gear, I thought it would be a good idea to get my sensors cleaned as I was experiencing dust that was resistant to the squeeze blower I have here at my home in central Thailand. I use a very good and reputable store in Bangkok for my camera needs and dropped 2 Nikons and my Leica M9 for sensor cleaning. I specifically asked if they were able to clean the Leica sensor, and they said yes, as they do carry Leica and although they are not a full line Leica dealer, they are authorized to carry Leica products, including optical products.

Four hours later I picked up my cameras and headed for the airport. During the first 3 days of the shoot I shot all three cameras. The two Nikons were clean as a whistle, but the M9 showed substantial dust spots, in fact so bad that I retired the M9 for the remainder of the shoot. I contacted the camera store and they apologized, there was a mix up in communication. Their repairman did not touch the Leica, and asked if I would return it for inspection upon my return to Bangkok. I did, and the report I received was scary.

Their repair center closely looked at the M9 sensor under magnification, and said the “dust particles” had melted into the sensor. I never found out if this was the case or if the “dust” was just stuck firmly to the sensor, no matter, as things turned out. I left the Camera store and headed to the official Leica Boutique @ Silom center. They told me they did not do repairs and took down my name and e-mail. I received an e-mail from Leica Thailand a few days later. The Thai gentleman was very nice. At their request I went to the Leica website where I had registered the M9 and fond I had 3 days of warranty left on the camera. Over the next few days, there was much discussion with Leica Thailand on what I would need to pay to have my camera serviced. I corresponded with the gentleman at Leica Thailand for a couple of weeks, which was drawn out because of their need to e-mail Singapore to give me a response to my questions. I really did not feel comfortable with the situation in Thailand, so I sent an e-mail to customer service at Leica in Solms Germany.

Their response was prompt and comforting. I knew from the first e-mail that Solms would do everything they could to help me. After several e-mails and sending sample photos to Solms, I received this response. “I checked it out with the technician. You will receive a new sensor from us free of charge as gesture of good will.” I sent my M9 to Solms and they … “replace sensor, adjust sensor, replace printed circuit, adjust range finder, clean range finder, adjustment of all parts, cleaning and end control” … In essence my camera was completely refurbished, all at no charge. I was astounded and grateful. Lets face it; dust on a sensor is generally a user issue. It happens in all cameras that do not have a fixed lens and some that do. Somehow holding that camera now is more meaningful than before. It sounds silly, but the incredible customer service of Leica has made me value the camera more and respect it more. The day I got the M9 back I made this photo, and once again looking at the screen was so happy to see the fantastic IQ, of a Leica M9.

Lee Craker

Website: http://www.leecraker.com
Facebook: http://tiny.cc/ge6f0
Blog: http://www.leecraker.com/wp/

 Nakhon Nayok, Thailand

29 Comments

  1. I have a new M,and having problem with it,had send in to the Malaysia’s store for repair for all most 2 months,after take back the camera,the problem still the same never solve.I send in a mail to the following mail address for my complain (customer.care@leica-camera.com &info.lcap@leica-camera.com),but till today, there is still no respond or reply from them.I am not sure whether it is a correct address to send,hope some one can give me an advise .Thank you very much.

  2. I have just got my Leica mp9 back from Leica Solms after sencor became full of dust wich service partner here in Norway could not get away.
    Leica did put a new sencor and have adjusted the shutter for free.
    This took 40 days, and I may sell my Leica gear since I also got a few other cams ( Nikon D700 and D800) wich dont have those Leica problems.
    I like to take phothos not wait for a cam on “holiday” in Germany…… 😉

  3. Hello Lee,
    I live in Bangkok Thailand .I have this problem also ;thank you for your post that help me know where to seek help. I sent my e-mail and photo which show the problem to customer service of Leica in Solms .
    They promptly responded to me ,but they said that I need to contact service centre in Singapore.
    Do I should send my M9 to Singapore or asking them for sending directly to Solms as your case.
    Thanks again for your helpful post.
    Best regards,
    Peera

    • Hi Peera,
      May I know which email address are you send to for your complain?Please advise.Thank you.

      Regards,
      Philip

      • Hello Phillip,
        You should enter Leica website and select your country as Germany then you can contact directly to Leica customer care AG.
        After e-mail them ;they reponsed promptly .
        I sent my M9 myself Via UPS facility due to my M9 is more than 3years old ,beyond warranty from local dealer in Thailand .
        They repaired and overhauled my camera and sent my M9 back to my home’s door within less than 3 weeks duration. I paid for sending cost and Tax when it came back to Thailand.Other expenses were covered by Leica AG.
        Leica customer care AG will never disappoint you. I totally agree with Lee Craker.

        Best regards,
        Peera

  4. I think CCDs are more prone to dust collection than CMOS sensors and the M9 doesn’t have any anti-dust shake when you turn it on or off. Replacing a sensor that delaminates after 2 years on a £5000 camera isn’t good service, it’s fixing something that shouldn’t have happened in the first place. They shouldn’t just do it for free, they should do it for free and compensate you for the fix time. Under EU law you have a reasonable expectation of quality and right to fix or reparation 6 years after purchase. It’s not good enough, just as strap lugs falling off and trashing a camera that they might fix and a Zeiss lens that they won’t isn’t good enough.

    • Totally agree with you Jason,I got my new M for less then a month already facing this problem,send in for almost 2 months for repair,come back the same problem is still there ,email my complain to the following address which I got it from their web side ,till now still no reply,(info.lcap@leica-camera.com & customer.care@leica-camera.com).hope some one can advise what can I do next.I did send in for repair again,hope it would not repeat the problem again ,it is wasting my time.

  5. I’ve just sent my M9-P back to Sölms because the sensor was damaged by particulate – they’ve replaced it for free. I can’t wait to get it back, and I’m also very happy with the service. Every time I’ve had to deal with Leica they’ve been amazing.

    • Hi Lee,

      I have been living in Thailand for nearly 18 years. As a businessman myself for the last 30 years I always support a good dealer, stay with him/her for years and decades and most times even don’t negotiate the price as I know how hard it is to decades and most times even don’t negotiate the price as I know how hard it is to run a business by yourself.

      Not so in Thailand! First of all the prices are higher than b&H in NY although the guys in the Big Apple surely have higher costs than the shops here.

      Second of all a lot of sales staff don’t know anything about the products, after one hour search on the web you know more than them (not only the camera shops).

      If you get to a warranty issue nobody wants to support you – I had to involve the police onse with a totally wrong installed zircon in my car (did not work out, had to go to another shop and pay myself)

      I asked several shops carrying Leica to trade in my V Lux 3 for upgrading to X2 (app. 2 400 $ in T) – all refused, we did not even come to the issue of pricing!
      (I actually would have been ok with half price after 6 months).

      I sent e mails several times to Leica dealers for a second hand M 8 or 8.2 and never got a reply! I asked them to inform me if a M 8.2 gets available I told them I was not in a hurry but preferred the .2 version, they never replied!

      When my secretary calls they say “no have 8.2” then they forget about me – only the body costs second hand 5 months salary of my staff and I pay good salaries!

      My next camera will be Fuji x 100s gray import in Panthip Plaza or let a friend buy it in the US on the internet.

      Nevertheless Thailand is a great country I will live here until the end of my days.

      Best regards
      Heiner

      • Hello Heiner,
        I can appreciate your point of view. It is tough to find a good camera shop in Thailand. And yes the prices are 10% to 20% more here. If you get extremely lucky and have a friend ship a camera to you, and it is overlooked by customs you will be fine, but that is risky. If you import from B&H you will pay 20% more. I have quit bitching about this, as it’s not going to change and I don’t need to take up my day with anger and frustration. All that said though, I do use a camera store here that is excellent. They are knowledgable and trustworthy. Their Name is AV Camera. http://www.facebook.com/avcamera?fref=ts I deal with them a lot and consider them my friends we talk on FB regularly. I purchased my X100s and other items from them, and received 1 day mail delivery here in rural Thailand a couple of months ago. It is real and has a warrantee, which you may not get at Panthip. I also sold them my X2 and M8. I received 30% more in cash payment than KEH in the US offered. They do carry Leica, but do not have the M240 yet, they do have the ME and MM, and yes the price is over what you would pay in NY, but a little less than VAT is going to slam you with if you order it from the US and import it. Best bet I think is to fly to Singapore for the M240, after airfare you will still end up saving a little money. Anyway cheers and enjoy Thailand.
        PS if you do talk to AV, tell them you know me and introduce yourself to Taywa Tak, you will be in good hands.

  6. My M9’s sensor was horribly dusty just weeks after I bought it new – and I believe the dust was in the camera from the factory. I’ve read similar accounts online. Dust on M9 sensors is something you simply have to learn to live with and handle. But that doesn’t mean sending it in to wherever to have it cleaned.

    I’m very careful when I change lenses… but, once a month or so, I’ll check the sensor for dust. My camera’s not bad now – it took me awhile to get rid of the original dust – but every few months I need to clean the sensor. And, invariably, the blower doesn’t work on all of the dust. So… I wet clean the sensor. It’s actually quite simple, and, after you do it a couple of times, your hands stop shaking and it becomes less of a big deal. A delicate swipe, swipe and you’re done. Maybe you have to use the blower on a stubborn spot in a corner, but that’s it.

    I believe, if you do this regularly, you’re not going to have dust stuck/melted to the sensor. If you ignore it, there’s a chance you will.

    Is there a chance I’ll sneeze and crack the sensor when I’m cleaning it? I suppose. To tell you the truth, I’m more nervous about using the rocket blower, which takes effort and requires the the nozzle to be fairly close to the sensor to blow anything off. But I’m not going to treat my M9 like a luxury item. It’s a tool that needs my occasional attention. And if I happen to screw up the sensor when I’m cleaning it? Then I’ll pack it in a box and send it in.

  7. Glad things turned out for you! I wouldn’t expect anything less from a company like Leica when dealing with an expensive camera like the M9. After all, gadgets do break and it’s nice to see a company doing what it can to help get the issue resolved, even if it’s one rare instance. Reminds me of how Tesla would send out a field technician to you if your Model S breaks down.

  8. I’m really sad and disappointed right now. I’m disappointed with Leica, I’m not happy with some of your readers ( who I’m sure will feel the same about me ) and lastly I’m a little peeved if you don’t stand up and perhaps comment that it is upsetting that a company with this history should not be following the all-to-familiar manufacturing path of a manufacturer rushing things out the door but more than willing to fix them later. Let me summarize: Apparently to some a $9K camera on the planet Earth isn’t a luxury purchase. In the space of a few hours on just this site, several people have reported similar issues and the response has been generally ” Well, the service is superb”?? Huh? Steve, you had a focus issue with a NEW $5k lens in Rio and everyone either shuts up or passes it off as quite acceptable with several charming ditties! If hand-building a manual focus camera in 2013 and releasing a slightly different flavor every six months means accepting these type of functional issues then WOW, Jonathan is right – the emperor has no clothes. It reminded me of when Leica produced 4 identical cameras ( M4-P?) to celebrate an anniversary of the Leica Historical Society of America. Cameras were produced with either an L, H S, or A at the serial number so, like McDonald’s, you might want to ‘collect the whole set’.

    Steve, I know you’re upset with critical comments from other reviewers and some readers, but if you subscribed to an enthusiast car site ( maybe Porsche or Ferrari ) and read about several other people having engine problems with their new babies and Porsche simply said “We’re very sorry sir, we’ll fix it for free” how would people feel if the moderator didn’t address the issue on behalf of their readers, that a machine of this heritage ( read: mostly established R+D ) should not have these problems leave the factory? You have a powerful position and responsibility to your readers. I also think that if you don’t stand up for them you do risk losing credibility.

    Respectfully,
    Bill

    • Support your commend ,totally agree what you said,because I am facing the same issue now,after write in a complain ,no reply, no respond,..

  9. I had exactly the same issue with my M9 although mine was out of warranty, but was still repaired free of charge. I was told it was the sensor delaminating, it should not happen, so don’t worry. I was also offered a M9 on loan. You get what you pay for, well done Leica.

  10. Good to see Solms service so prompt and courteous; I hope I never have to find out whether Nikon is as good.

    On that subject: I recently sold my 3,5 years old, 13k clicks, D700 to a professional photographer. He checked for dust spots, couldn’t find any. My use has seen frequent lens changing and all sorts of conditions, including the windy Dubai desert (and beach, and sea 😉 ). I wonder if some cameras are more prone to catching dust than others. Maybe the mirror does some protecting here.

  11. I’m a proud owner of a M9P as well as a X100S so I don’t mean to upset fans, but, If I’m spending this kind of cash on a luxury item then I would expect that level of service at the very least. The fact it took a couple of weeks alone for a decent qualified response is shocking really.
    In my business we work with IT technology and trust me if a client paid this cash and had to wait this long for a suitable fix then we wouldn’t have jobs.
    For example, Cisco offer a 2 HR swap out in Hong Kong/Singapore/London/US/(Probably the ROW nut I only work in these regions) on their HW if you pay the support fees.
    Clearly its not an apple to apples comparison, with both companies vastly different in output and size but if one company can do this on a massive scale whilst still negotiating the very strict security laws in HK for networking hardware then Leica should at least provide the support mentioned above.

    Enjoying the site and the opinons of all. Thanks!
    Rich

    • Richard, If Leica M9 is a “luxury item” for you, you shouldn’t be treating it as a camera, like we all do. Instead, keep it under a glass dome and you won’t have any problems with it

      • Hi Milo. I don’t think my definition of a luxury item was anything more than a expression of its cost rather than how I use it. No glass boxes. Just high expectations.

        Thanks

          • Agree with Richard. Any supercar like porsche, ferrari, etc are luxury items and i am pretty sure not many of their owners will put them in a glass box.

            Honestly, the more you pay the higher expectation you have. I am not fully satisfied with Leica quality (reliability) esp with that amount of money you spent. comparing with those jap like nikon or canon, they cost a lot less but you rarely encounter sensor issue, let alone memory card problem. having said that, i still enjoy the moment i take photo with my m9p and its output. heard the new M doesn’t have memory card issue but i have no use of its video function so i’ll just stick with mine.

  12. I’m afraid this is a very common story. I took 2 M9 bodies, one with 500 shots only, to the HK Leica Distributor for cleaning before a workshop. Both sensors were deemed needing to be replaced due to “manufacturing defect”. One was out of warranty yet Leica still replaced it and paid for shipping. Good service indeed, but does not bode well for the longevity of the cameras. There is some talk of Leica replacing ALL M9 sensors when brought in for cleaning, but this may or not just be internet talk.

  13. I had exactly the same problem on my M9 a few months ago. Dust spots didn’t go away after sensor cleaned. Sent it back to Leica Germany via local camera store (I am in NewZealand), and it came back with a new sensor, re-calibrated RF, new skin…and no charge! My almost-2-years old M9 is like new on my hand now!! Many many thanks to Leica.

    The guy at the local store told me when a camera goes back to Leica Germany for repairs. They will fully dissemble the camera into basic parts, diagnostic the problem, replace any problematic parts, then they send it back to the factory production line for re-assembling. It will go through the whole production line along with the new cameras, with RF calibration, QC, etc… If this is ture then I think Leica’s customer service is unbeatable!!

    • I having the same problem like you ,but the result is not as lucky ad yours,I send in my M for repair,after took me almost 2 months,get back the camera,same problem still there ,but I not sure where they had send in my camera for repair,now ,I got to send in again,hope they will send in the right place this round.it is wasting a lot of time.

  14. People, the king has no clothes! Until technology has to advance sufficiently to solve the issue of dusty sensors, disposable electronics, esp. whiskering solder leads, and easily blown-out dynamic range, film cameras are the way to go. Thinner, non-battery dependent design, a fresh sensor with every crank, or a new type of sensor with each film type, infinitely repairable, and gorgeous bona-fide film look, analog M’s are hidden in plain view. Not to mention, way cheaper?

    Signed,
    former digitalholic

    • On the downside, you’re stuck with whatever film is currently loaded, your maximum print size is about 1/2 what you can do with an M9, you can’t turn around the shoot anywhere near as quickly, you can’t show a client a processed shot minutes after you have taken it, you can miss the shot you need while changing rolls yadda yadda… The list goes on. I shoot as much film as I do digital, really doesn’t everyone already know the ups and downs of each medium and do they need reminding of the film aesthetic differences

      • Max print size? This is a misconception. Film has no max print size. This is kind of a weird thing but bare with me. Up to a certain size, digital images look a lot “better” (subjectively) than film does when enlarging. You can print an 18mp file without up-res’ing to about 13×19 @ 300dpi. At that size and smaller the digital image will have a similar look to what medium format used to look like. However when up-res’ing your images, it’s going to flip around. The degradation of the digital file will continue to get worse and worse, while the film image will sort of just look like a bigger version of itself from when you got beyond the max detail you could pull out of the negative or slide. I’ve seen mural sized prints from 35mm and they generally do not look bad like overly enlarged digital. Just grainy, but with smooth tones and no breakdowns of the tonal gradiations in color or contrast. I would venture to say that a 40x50ish image optically enlarged from a 50 ISO black and white negative or lets say cibachrome made from a Velvia or Kodachrome slide will hold up a bit better. You’re going to have grain, sure, but the digital image will exhibit issues of it’s own like pixelation, or artifacts from the upresing algorithm. Many people these days mask those with digital grain. So to say there is a max print size is just not truthful. I myself prefer to have a negative and a digital file. I can keep scanning the neg at higher resolutions for bigger prints, and if I lose track of the file, the negative remains. Best of both worlds, if you ask me. Workflow and budget notwithstanding.

  15. I have had my m9 and MM both go back to Germany for exactly this problem 🙁
    Not as hardy as a film M by far . But I still continue as nothing gives the same experience as an M

    • I bought spring 2012 Leica m8.2 new, it got the “coffee stain” problem to back Windows. Leica dont have spare parts anymore and they offered Leica m-e to buy at 3500 euros.

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