Leica service

My M9 finally came back after being away for quite a long time – just over 2 months – for a sensor exchange performed in Germany. So what exactly was the problem? I’ll never know, because the report that came back was rather non-descript. Moreover, since the work was done by Leica as a gratis ‘goodwill gesture’, the report made comment that Leica wont provide warranty for that repair.. Hmm.. Anyway, it seems like a good repair, so fingers crossed.

Here’s what happened to the sensor. I noticed several of my images had a small thin hair-like defect (shot at small aperture, when viewed at 100%). I presumed this was dust. When I inspected the sensor closely, I noticed a strange vertical hairline mark or line on the sensor, which ran almost perfectly parallel to the short side edge of the sensor. I did try to clean the sensor very gently with a cleaner, but this line could not be erased. I may have made it worse by my cleaning attempts, but what struck me upon very close inspection was a small dark line below the filter surface could be seen. This suggested a tiny crack existed just below the filter. So off it went to Germany via Melbourne for (hopefully) a repair under warranty.

So what have I learned as a result of this experience? (Some of the following mainly applies to Leica users in or near Australia)

  • Australian Leica users have limited access to service. Leica ought to upgrade the service capability of Camera Clinic in Melbourne (they did a great job as the intermediary in my repair). Seems like anything beyond a sensor clean, inspection or calibration, and the camera is off to Germany. I suspect the situation is similar for other ‘regional’ geographic areas. However by comparison, Canon’s service center in Australia is very comprehensive and probably world-class (their Sydney repair facility is comparable to the Shinjuku service center in Tokyo).
  • Leica apparently don’t stockpile critical parts like sensors – at least 3 weeks was wasted waiting for a sensor to come into stock. This was a little bit surprising given there have been isolated reports of sensors cracking (though my issue may not have been that).
  • During the repair process communication was stilted, and devoid of technical detail.
  • As for the sensor itself, I suspect the filter surface is extremely soft. Leica themselves refer to the filter as ‘cover glass’ but I wonder how stable the IR filter layer itself is (probably deposited over the ‘cover glass’).

Based on the above, I have some suggestions for Leica:

  • Two months is a long time – so consider authorising local distributors to offer a loaner camera in cases like these.
  • Leverage the Tokyo service centers. I’ve read 2 reports online that Leica Ginza can replace sensors in around 10 days (see links in Japanese here & here, or Google translations here & here). Allow Australian service centres to send cameras to Tokyo for faster turnaround.
  • While it’s interesting to see rapid retail expansion (eg. 3 stores and 2 boutiques in the US this year, plus Poland, Switzerland & others), it would also be really great to see some announcements about new or improved service centres.
  • Improve service communications to customers – don’t treat customers like people who don’t have a clue. At times, I had to chase up the progress. Please provide meaningful and timely updates (particularly when there are delays).
  • Place an optically-clear protective layer over the IR filter to protect it and provide a more durable surface for cleaning. Compare this to Canon’s ultrasonic sensor cleaner.  Not only does this attempt to move loosely-bound dust, it serves as a durable barrier that is cheaper and easier to replace in the event of a scratch or chip. As an aside, the IR layer is an absolute dust magnet.

Anyway, it’s good to have it back. Hope all goes well with the camera hereafter..

3 Responses to “Leica service”

  1. James

    Hey Michael,

    Glad to see that it’s back and working well! When I was getting my sensor cleaned in the UK the guys told me that it was very difficult to scratch the surface (I thought that I had but it was just a smear of some oil that was all over mine when new!) – the only time that they had seen them scratched were when people had used screw drivers in theirs to clean stubborn dust away….

    Anyway, glad it’s back and the creativity is flowing!

  2. Vito Tassone

    Hi Michael

    Glad everything was sorted out in the end. I recently acquired a used M8.2 which has been nothing but a treat until last week, now all I get when I shoot is a black image. I went on the Leica website the local Australian official Leica dealer/service centre is a company called Adeal, I have also heard that The Camera Clinic look after Leicas. Do you have any suggestions when dealing with these guys?

    Any feedback would be much appreciated.



  3. Michael

    Hi Vito,

    I suggest you call Camera Clinic in the first instance, ask for the Leica service desk and explain your problem. They’ll be able to advise you on what the next step is. They’ll probably want to inspect your camera & assess it (so be prepared to take it in or send it there). Camera Clinic have limitations with Leica repairs. Beyond basic issues, they’ll have to send your camera to Solms, and CC in that case will become your intermediary.

    Good luck,



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