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SD card issue with Leica M9

Towards the end of 2011, Leica copped a hammering over M9-related SanDisk SD card writing gliches (e.g. zero-byte image files) introduced by this blog and others. The problem struck such a bad chord, Leica ended up setting up a corner of their forum to collect user’s problem reports. I’ve also encountered this issue a couple of times. In early Dec 2011, Leica released a firmware upgrade (v1.176). But have all SD card writing issues really gone away? Perhaps not – I read with interest this post on dpreview.com regarding unreadable images on a Sandisk Extreme Pro 8Gb card (replicated by others here). Using 2 separate M9s (one personal & one loaner camera) on two separate shooting occasions using 2 different copies of the same card (one brand new), James reported no images on the card on each occasion. This was after extensive shooting sessions and confirming images all-the-while via the back LCD. After using special recovery software, he was able to recover the images to some extent. Of course these were exceptional situations, but the fact it happened at all *twice* and separately, is rather alarming especially after the firmware update. One particular aspect of this latest problem was the corruption of the bottom third of many of his images. This has lead to a rather extended process of investigation. His dealer opted to take up the issue with Leica to investigate the matter. Weeks went by waiting for an update, all the while James was camera-less, but in the end, apparently there was no resolution other than an assumption of “user error”. The final outcome: last week James, fed up, returned his M9 for a refund and he’s moving to a different camera system. As a fellow M9 user and as a human, I really felt for him – I think it’s an awful situation. I honestly think Leica or his dealer could have done a lot better. Leica have lost him as a customer.

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Photo of the week

Each week I’m going to select my best pic from that week, and I’ll aim to provide some background about how or why the shot came into being – what did I do to achieve it, and maybe what I learned along the way. Maybe you’ll get some tips, or you can give me some tips for my improvement :-)

So to kick things off for 2012 – here’s my selected shot for week 1:

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Leica M9 initial impression

In this article I describe my experience with the Leica M9 after about 5 months of use.

When the Leica M9 camera was announced in late 2009, I did not pay any attention to it. I was a Canon person through-and-through. As a user of the Canon 5D & later the 5D Mk II plus various L lenses (mostly prime), I was content. However in 2010, I came to use the Zeiss 21mm Distagon ZE on the 5D MkII and fell in love with the Zeiss build and excellent image quality, even though it was a manual focus prime lens. Eventually I found myself using Zeiss lenses almost exclusively, especially after adding the Makro Planar 50mm & 100mm lenses. About a year ago, somehow I found myself reading about the M9. Now that I was a frequent manual focusser on the Canon, I became open-minded about the M9 (since it is purely manual focus) and my curiousity grew. The M9 is billed as the world’s smallest full-frame digital camera. As a person who enjoys photography when travelling, the bulk and heft of a DSLR plus various lenses is readily recalled when reading such a claim. However the high cost of the M9 put it out of my mind – or at least I tried to. As Dirk Ahlgrim wrote on his blog about the camera “if you can’t get it out of your head, you have to get it into your hands”. This situation equally applied to me. Eventually I rationalised my gear, and sold off a bunch of Canon gear to help fund the M9.

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First look at Android tablets

I’ve had approximately 2 months experience with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v, plus I’ve had a short hands-on trial of the Motorola Xoom. I’ll give some impression here, mostly about the subtle design-related variations & quirks since both run Android identically. In short, I prefer the Galaxy Tab.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v was launched in Australia on 4 May 2011 by Vodafone (hence the ‘v’ in the product name) with some anticipation as it was the first tablet released here equipped with “Honeycomb” (the Google codeword for version 3.0 of their Android operating system). Xoom was launched by Telstra approx 6 weeks later. Both devices can be bought outright, or with various plan over 12/24 months.

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Going green with white LEDs

With the recent push from the state government to encourage people to knock their electricity costs down, I recently looked into replacing our halogen lights with LED lights, which are approximately 70% more energy efficient compared to halogen yet emit the same luminous output. Just prior to installing them, I was impressed by the futuristic look of the heatsinks and the hexagonal arrangement of the LEDs within the enclosure (6 x 2W LEDs). It gave me a kinda wacky idea for a photo. Arranging them closely together in a rectangular configuration, and if shot from underneath, these might look like a rocket booster or similar. Well here’s the result – needless to say the installation was delayed a couple of hours while my photographic urge took over.

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