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Thread: Finally, "Back In The Saddle Again."

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    Super Duper
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    Finally, "Back In The Saddle Again."

    My M8 "Service Saga" may be finally over (sorry for the long "cautionary tale".)

    As mentioned previously, in early November, I had finally become fed up with the spotty results of my M8 system, turned over the entire kit to my friend Irakly Shandize, PAID him to test everything and write a detailed report. (I was just too busy, and he writes equipment reviews). His well documented report confirmed my suspicions ... both M8s rangefinders were off, and 5 of my 9 M lenses were out of calibration ... including a 50/1.4 ASPH previously sent to Leica service twice for focus issues.

    I called my long time dealer Sam Shoshan @ the Classic Connection and unloaded on him about all this ... including how pissed I was that I had to pay to code most of my lenses, some still under warranty, and buy 6 IR filters to supplement the 3 Leica had sent me (the 4th free one never arrived). He went to Roger Horn who delegated the mess to Robert Fisk who promised to get it all done in "professional time" (he subsequently left Leica in the middle of all this.)

    On Dec. 3rd, I put it all in a Lowpro Bag inside a Hardcase and shipped it to Leica service with Irakly's performance chart ... less the M135/3.4 & WATE which were sent to Sam to sell.

    Leica service NJ promised most would be done by Christmas ... except one M8 that needed the original update in Germany. That deadline wasn't met.

    It wasn't met in Jan. either. I received one M8 and the three wide angle lenses the very end of Jan. which were the 3 lenses that only needed coding and the rangefinder adjusted. With that delivery, I was informed that all the other gear was now being shipped to Germany for repair. They had waited 2 months to do that.

    Last friday, I received the balance of the gear, 3.5 months later. From preliminary use it seems all is now well, (but I'm cautious about the 75 Lux until I test it more, and both M8 meters seem to over-expose a bit.) The 50/1.4 ASPH and 35/1.4 ASPH appear to be perfect, as does the 90/2AA. Meanwhile, one of my battery chargers pooped out ... which Sam replaced overnight.

    Cost to me: Zero. I don't know how Sam pulled that off, if he foot the bill or part of it ... and I really don't care. What I can say, is that Sam Shoshan repaid my long term loyalty to him with loyalty to me and dogged determination to "fix" this and get me back shooting.

    I had dumped my trusty M7s in favor of going rangefinder digital wedding work. My intention had been to make the M8s my primary wedding kit, with some use of Canon AF. That obviously never happened. I cannot imagine being a professional photographer that primarily depended on the M8 for their livelihood. I know Guy has been able to do this, but I'm not Guy. I'm just a photographer that's spent a few hundred thousand dollars in Leica M and R gear over the past twenty years.

    Hope the new fellow in charge can sort this out and get Leica back on track.

    Hasn't dampened my absolute enthusiasm for the M as one of my favorite photographic experiences. When the package arrived I grabbed it all and started shooting everything in sight ... even though there was nothing to shoot ... LOL!

    One of the "nothing to shoot shots" ... still love the pictorial qualities of the 75 Lux ... focussed on the forward open petal.
    Last edited by fotografz; 15th April 2008 at 06:44.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Finally, "Back In The Saddle Again."

    I have had very similar experience in getting my 2 m8 s and 10 lenses calibrated. Took over a year with all the fast lenses making several trips to Solms. But now it works the way I remember my film M s......just dead on focus almost everytime. Having had a single problem in over 4000 images since everything was fixed in January.

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    Re: Finally, "Back In The Saddle Again."

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    I have had very similar experience in getting my 2 m8 s and 10 lenses calibrated. Took over a year with all the fast lenses making several trips to Solms. But now it works the way I remember my film M s......just dead on focus almost everytime. Having had a single problem in over 4000 images since everything was fixed in January.
    A YEAR! I feel privileged that this has taken just 3.5 months. 3.5 months of inaction out of my warranty BTW ... not to mention the 3 months the 50/1.4 was gone prior to that. Ridiculous.

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    Re: Finally, "Back In The Saddle Again."

    I know exactly how you feel. I sent in my M8 to be fixed -- the rangefinder was off and it did not read lens codings. It had not read lens codings since day one of when I bought it. I only got around to sending it in in January, because I knew it would take them forever. In any case, I just got back the camera yesterday. Their initial estimate was 6-8 weeks, but it took them 11. After 8 weeks, I called them and asked them what the status was, and they said no one had looked at it yet, and would not for at least another week. Apparently only two people can work on that part of the M8, and one was on vacation and the other was training people. It is absolutely ridiculous.
    1. If you only have two people available to work on a camera, make sure that they don't both have other responsibilities that leave you with NO ONE to do the work.
    2. If you tell a customer that something is going to take 6-8 weeks, live up to that estimate. I have sent in many many things to Leica, and it is a very rare day indeed if they are anything less than two weeks longer than their estimated time.
    3. If you are going to have something at your service center for months without anyone so much as looking at it, why the heck wouldn't you give it back to the customer and tell them to send it in before they might be able to look at it. The car mechanic doesn't ask you to give him your car 2 weeks before he can fit you in for an appointment, so why does Leica make you do that. They should set up a queue system so that people with semi-functional cameras can at least use them until they might conceivably be looked at. It is absurd.

    No other camera maker subjects their customers to this level of abuse, as far as I am aware. Rollei service is 1-2 days, Hasselblad is quick...these are pro companies who despite being smaller than Canon and Nikon, manage to have quick service turnaround. Why can't Leica do the same? It has been like this since at least 2002, when I bought my first Leica.

    Oh, and I forgot to mention. When they sent me back my camera? No battery. So now I only have one battery to use until they get around to sending me mine or a replacement.

  5. #5
    Digital Dude
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    Re: Finally, "Back In The Saddle Again."

    Being new to RF and the M8 I also have a potential lens/camera issue. When I received my M8 & 28-cron in November/December I took hundreds of photos and not one came out in focus! Ok, I wrote off my bad experiences to just “being new” while also using a 1.35x on the eyepiece. However, when I received the 50-lux and shot one weekend I realized it wasn’t me. The 50-lux shoots a bit softer although focus seems a lot better than my 28. Still, I’m suspicious of the rangefinder as well. After reading all of the stories about Leica service, I’m more inclined to send my gear off to DAG for calibration.
    Regards,

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Finally, "Back In The Saddle Again."

    As a newcomer to Leica digital, I admit that stories like these are disturbing.

    Just this morning I read an article in the New York Times by a journalist who revealed that any time he reviews an Apple product, even when the review is overwhelmingly positive, any comment that might even be perceived as negative (as in his review of the iPhone which he basically called perfect and revolutionary but also mentioned that it was a bit "pricey") yields a torrent of email from the Apple faithful accusing him of being an agent for the competition.

    As an Apple user since the 80s, I understood. And see something of a parallel with current Leica products. For the enraptured, everything suffered seems worth it. To the uninitiated or an outsider, the sheer quirkiness, cost, and questionable quality control/service seem ludicrous.

    Years of loyalty to Apple have paid off, finally. But I now question my resolve to pledge my allegiance to another struggling company with a wonderful product that appears to be more potential than actual fact. Stories like the one that fotografz tells are not helping my confidence in Leica. There are enough similar stories to actually make me nervous. Nervous enough so that I have put potential purchases of additional M8 gear on hold.

    For a couple of months I've been thinking of buying a 75mm lens and even went so far as to purchase the viewfinder magnifier in advance. But the frequent stories of focus errors and long repair times for them has stopped me on at least 3 separate occasions when I was one click away from buying the lens. I just can't justify paying thousands of dollars for a lens if there's even a chance of it being incorrectly adjusted from the factory.

    So please, Leica, get your sh*t together. I very much want to be one of the faithful. I promise to send you a lot of my money if you can only get the basics right. I honestly don't care about full frame sensors, LCD screen covers, or shutter noise. I just want a camera with lenses that focus accurately.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Finally, "Back In The Saddle Again."

    Marc so happy it is finally all back but that took forever and I agree with everyone's sentiments on getting things done in a timely fashion. Honestly not sure i could ever get down to one body just because of this. i will not make excuses for Leica they know they have a huge issue here and they promised me at PMA they are changing the whole repair section around in NJ. Now i do not know what they have done to improve things and I have not had to send in anything since . Although i could probably use a rangefinder focusing adjustment again on both bodies just to be on top of things. For the consumer i hope things have gotten better. They make a nice product but this area is really hurting them. As a Pro that actually depends on this gear to work and work all the time, there is always that bad feeling that i will go down. After my SDS experiences you just can't blame me for that sediment. But i have been going strong for quite awhile now except for my batteries in the cold. I love the Leica gear and i do love the people that work for leica , they truly try to do there best and they have a good heart . But this product needs to work and needs to be repaired much quicker than certainly Marc's case. I really hope they can turn this around.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Finally, "Back In The Saddle Again."

    Stuart Unfortunately there are two components to service thru NJ (1) the customer service process ..which should include all the customer communications, service writing and logistics. (2) the actual repair process which may include coordination between NJ and Solms. Neither of these have worked in the past and you can only speculate about the future. They create a situation that builds on even small problems. The customer service process hasn t really changed ..it never worked ..but pre M8 your turnaround was within a month. So by the time you complained your repaired item was being returned to you. I know, at least in NJ that they understand the issues , only time will tell if they can increase capacity fast enough. Solms is a different issue IMHO ...they just have an attitude problem....how else could you explain the need for repeated trips on the same items, missed repairs,2-3 weeks in return shipping etc. Getting information on an item in Solms is also non sense. They have a excellent tracking system ..if you get the Solms work order number you can track it to the day. They can even tell you the week your item will be worked on. You can check it on line thru the Leica website. But try to get the Solms work order number thru NJ ..its like a Swiss bank account. I am really hopeful that we will see some improvements over the next few months as this will be important to the M8 upgrade strategy. But at least for now all my equipment is working perfectly and I wouldn t trade it for any other. Roger

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    Super Duper
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    Re: Finally, "Back In The Saddle Again."

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    I am really hopeful that we will see some improvements over the next few months as this will be important to the M8 upgrade strategy. But at least for now all my equipment is working perfectly and I wouldn't trade it for any other. Roger
    I wouldn't trade it either Roger ... at least now that it seems to be in relatively good working order. This is mostly true because there is nothing else out there like it IMO. It's also true because I wasn't kidding or exaggerating about my life long investment in Leica equipment. Hasselblad and Leica have been constant creative companions for most of my photographic career... and I buy a LOT of whatever give me a perceived edge. It's not rational, it's linked to creativity which can be downright irrational.

    This gives Leica two valuable marketing tools to work with: a product with a unique selling proposition, and a loyal user base with an emotional connection.

    Now we all know Leica has to expand their market beyond that loyal user base. However, it is marketing 101 that you keep the loyal base happy because they can be an evangelistic, unpaid sales force, or your worst word-of-mouth nightmare. Photographers DO listen to other experienced users of any gear ... especially this kind of gear.

    Any brand can cruise on the equity they build up with their consumer base. There are numerous case-studies of this in the marketing world. That equity is like a bank account, you can make withdrawals from time-to-time, but run it to long without making a deposit, and suddenly there's nothing left.

    Stability of the platform has been the chief attribute of the Leica M system for multiple lifetimes. So, I DO NOT agree that it is just a service issue. That so many new products need service in the first place is a core issue. I am willing to conceded that a new digital camera wouldn't be perfect. Personally, I'll put up with a certain amount of penalty to be an early adopter. The IR issue was proof of this tolerance since I kept the M8 and didn't stick with my M7s for another year. But the "equity bank" is running low for me, and I hope they make a "deposit" soon.

    If Zeiss were to launch a M mount digital rangefinder in the middle of all this ... what then? The optical advantage of Leica would suddenly be diminished or neutered. Leica is running on the "Unique Selling Proposition" equity, and making huge withdraws on the emotional connection. If the product itself came under attack, they'd have little to fall back on.

    All my best to Leica's new leader. ANY help I could ever provide is his for the asking ... anything except silence.

    BTW, I am writing an article on digital photography for a worldwide forum with millions of viewers, and am using my M8 as a positive example of formats available. All I can say is welcome home old friend ...
    Last edited by fotografz; 15th April 2008 at 06:44.

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