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Thread: Defective M9

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    Senior Member bradhusick's Avatar
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    Defective M9

    Lucky me. Yesterday I finally received my new M9. I got one of the defective M9 cameras that suffers from the "column defect" in the sensor. It dumbfounds me how Kodak could ship this to Leica and how Leica could allow this to ship. My dealer is working hard to get me a replacement ASAP. Here are crops of what the defect looks like (in every frame).

    I was also one of the lucky ones who bought an early M8 and had to have it replaced because of a defective sensor.

    I am the horse.
    Last edited by bradhusick; 17th July 2014 at 09:27.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Sorry to hear that Brad but this is another reminder why not to dive into an S2 system blind!

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    Re: Defective M9

    Hard Luck Brad
    These days, I think they use pixel mapping to sort this out rather than a sensor replacement (like every other camera company . . . only others do it in the firmware ).

    I also think that it can easily develop at any time, so it doesn't follow that Kodak sent out a faulty sensor. I had it on mine and it went away (go figure).

    Still, you should obviously have a new camera - I hope it comes really quickly!

    all the best

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    Re: Defective M9

    Thanks for your sympathy. I'll report here how many days it takes Leica to get me a replacement.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Bummer Brad, sorry this hit you twice. I am surprised that Leica doesn't at least shoot a few frames out of each camera to confirm all is well before shipping them...
    Jack
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    Re: Defective M9

    Brad,
    Don't feel bad. I had 4 M8's and all were bad.
    I eventually gave up. It is heartbreaking but at least the company stands behind the camera. Hopefully you'll have the new one fast.

    Best of luck and keep us informed...
    Don

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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    I am surprised that Leica doesn't at least shoot a few frames out of each camera to confirm all is well before shipping them...
    I'm flabbergasted that Leica don't have a better Quality Control / Quality Assurance system in place. From what happened with the M8 and now this with the M9, it begs the question of what kind of Quality Management System they are using (if any). It sure as hell isn't ISO9001.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Defective M9

    I don't know what they are using, but you do need to balance the reports of problems against the number of cameras shipped. I am under the impression that the M9 launch has gone much better than the M8 launch did, the known problems notwithstanding.
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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    I don't know what they are using, but you do need to balance the reports of problems against the number of cameras shipped.
    Carsten,

    My point is that a typical strategy for QC/QA is a zero-acceptance sampling plan where zero defects within the sample are allowed at QA, otherwise the entire shipment is returned to QC for re-checking. If defects are found, then the sample size is increased for a specific time period to be more stringent.

    Intermittent issues are always a hard one to check (Jono mentioned this issue on his sample went away), but one would expect a premium product to be defect free.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Defective M9

    Brad, I am sorry to hear about the defective M9 as well. Hope they will find a replacement for you ASAP. It's so disappointing when we have all been waiting for one to arrive, just to find out it is defective.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    I don't know what they are using, but you do need to balance the reports of problems against the number of cameras shipped. I am under the impression that the M9 launch has gone much better than the M8 launch did, the known problems notwithstanding.
    Point taken, Carsten, but I also wonder how many customers take delivery of their new M9 and never see the problem.

    Wonder how many early Canon 5DII customer never saw the white spots on the specular highlights from bright light sources?
    Roger
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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by beamon View Post
    Point taken, Carsten, but I also wonder how many customers take delivery of their new M9 and never see the problem.

    Wonder how many early Canon 5DII customer never saw the white spots on the specular highlights from bright light sources?
    Or, more properly, how many QC/QA inspectors never saw the problems!

    Cheers,

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    Re: Defective M9

    I know exactly how you feel... except mine had two lines through it. Hope they take good care of you on this.

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    Re: Defective M9

    I have already been contacted by Leica. They say it can be fixed solely in the system software of the camera. I am expressing it to them for the fix. I will update when it's returned.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by bradhusick View Post
    I have already been contacted by Leica. They say it can be fixed solely in the system software of the camera. I am expressing it to them for the fix. I will update when it's returned.
    Brad, I had similar problems with my M8 (not found them on my M9, lucky me). Solms also told me the could solve this with pixel mapping in the software but in the end they replaced the CCD, which IMO is a better option.

    Good luck,
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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by simonclivehughes View Post
    Or, more properly, how many QC/QA inspectors never saw the problems!

    Cheers,
    HI Simon - and others.

    First of all, I'm not saying that this is okay - certainly not

    HOWEVER.

    all these criticisms assume that this fault is demonstrable in the sensor when the camera is built - this is not necessarily the case (of course, I can't prove that they aren't dreadful at QA), but I do know that it isn't always visible at first.

    This is something which can easily crop up at a later date. (like all sensor pixel faults).

    Every other camera I'm aware of has some kind of pixel mapping facility to sort this out (Olympus cameras and most others do it automatically). Leica don't (pity that).

    The test camera I used definitely did not have the problem at first . . . then, about a month later it did - an obvious line defect with a dead pixel in it. . . . then, after a few weeks in Crete, it had disappeared again. Although, very occasionally, the dead pixel was still visible. This is easily verifiable by going through the shots.

    I'm not trying to belittle the problem - far from it. Brad should clearly have a new camera. I'm just trying to put a bit of perspective on the criticisms of Leica QA - i.e. it may be bad, but this issue certainly doesn't prove it! (although my personal opinion is that you shouldn't need to send a camera back to Germany to do a pixel remap).

    all the best

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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by bradhusick View Post
    I have already been contacted by Leica. They say it can be fixed solely in the system software of the camera. I am expressing it to them for the fix. I will update when it's returned.
    Keep us plugged in Brad.
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    Re: Defective M9

    I'm very intrested to see how quickly Leica resolves the problem. Sony was a 9 day turn around for me (expedited).
    Mike

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    Re: Defective M9

    I think Leica is trying to do the right thing. They offered me a new camera, but since the steel grey color is in short supply, they couldn't promise me a swift date. They assured me that the fix is solely in the software (not firmware) and that if I am not happy they will replace the camera as soon as they get a grey one from Solms. I'd rather have had a working camera in the first place, but I think this is good customer service.

    I'll let you know when I get it back from NJ.

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    Re: Defective M9

    These effects can happen from one shot to another - most likely this particular sensor had no defect as it was tested. I was asking a Leica-engineer because I had the same problem with my M8 after about one year and got a new sensor-board, too. He told me that Jenoptik makes the sensor-board and therefore also selects the Sensors from Kodak, as I was told they reject 2 of 3 sensors from Kodak! Then the mapping is done and the finished board is send to Leica.

    This particular effect seems to be more problematic because it effects the readout in a whole column instead of just one "dead" or "hot" pixel, it seems as mapping doesn't help - why would they replace a 2k$-board otherwise?

    The S2 has a self-developed board - I don't think it's manufactured by Jenoptik anymore. But the problem lies within the technology itself.

    In spite of popular belief, ISO9001 has nothing to do with actual quality - it became even popular to use it as an "excuse" for cost-cutting by actually buying cheaper components. It doesn't define actual quality standards but only ways to test it - they could simply define that such banding is normal and therefore every single of these cameras would pass qualit control... In fact, I know of many smaller companies that rather save the money for the quite expensive ISO9001-certification and invest it into better materials/machines...
    Last edited by georgl; 16th November 2009 at 08:27.

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    Re: Defective M9

    HI Georgl

    Quote Originally Posted by georgl View Post
    These effects can happen from one shot to another - most likely this particular sensor had no defect as it was tested. I was asking a Leica-engineer because I had the same problem with my M8 after about one year and got a new sensor-board, too. He told me that Jenoptik makes the sensor-board and therefore also selects the Sensors from Kodak, as I was told they reject 2 of 3 sensors from Kodak! Then the mapping is done and the finished board is send to Leica.

    This particular effect seems to be more problematic because it effects the readout in a whole column instead of just one "dead" or "hot" pixel, it seems as mapping doesn't help - why would they replace a 2k$-board otherwise?
    I think this was because in the past only Jenoptik had the mapping facility, so the boards had to be removed and sent back to Jenoptik. Now (as I understand it, and as Brad's mails suggest) Leica have the facility to do the mapping (and columns can be dealt with), so it's no longer necessary to replace the board.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by georgl View Post

    In spite of popular belief, ISO9001 has nothing to do with actual quality - it became even popular to use it as an "excuse" for cost-cutting by actually buying cheaper components. It doesn't define actual quality standards but only ways to test it - they could simply define that such banding is normal and therefore every single of these cameras would pass qualit control... In fact, I know of many smaller companies that rather save the money for the quite expensive ISO9001-certification and invest it into better materials/machines...
    Exactly, ISO only requires companies to "define" their level of control, and then monitor to that level......ISO does not set industry standards that companies must comply to. Many companies have in fact lowered their level of control, to one that can be achieved, sometimes with less stringent quality standards.

    Not saying this is the case with Leica, however an ISO certification only requires companies to meet self defined standards, regardless of how high the bar is set.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Sorry Brad about your new M9...

    Is there a trick to getting the column effect to show up more readily, e.g. underexposure, a certain ISO, etc. Also, does the column usually show up in a particular spot on the sensor or can it show up anywhere?

    Just want to check mine and make sure it is OK. Thanks.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by f1point0 View Post
    Sorry Brad about your new M9...

    Is there a trick to getting the column effect to show up more readily, e.g. underexposure, a certain ISO, etc. Also, does the column usually show up in a particular spot on the sensor or can it show up anywhere?

    Just want to check mine and make sure it is OK. Thanks.
    On mine the effect was always visible. However, you had to look very closely to see it at lower ISO settings, especially if there were a mixture of colors or textures in the area. The effect (defect) was always in the same place (I had two lines), and was most visible at higher ISO settings, and especially against solid and/or dark backgrounds.

    In the sample below, the lines are fairly apparent, and this was shot at ISO 2500, less so in the lower image.:
    Attachment 24910
    Last edited by Lloyd; 10th September 2010 at 10:05.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Thanks Lloyd. Am I seeing correctly that the column/line on the right is lighter than the one on the left? In the second image I can't even see the second line.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by Seascape View Post
    Exactly, ISO only requires companies to "define" their level of control, and then monitor to that level......ISO does not set industry standards that companies must comply to. Many companies have in fact lowered their level of control, to one that can be achieved, sometimes with less stringent quality standards.

    Not saying this is the case with Leica, however an ISO certification only requires companies to meet self defined standards, regardless of how high the bar is set.
    The point of my ISO9001 remark was to suggest that Leica, who had previously enjoyed a reputation for fine quality mechanical workmanship, has entered into new territory, and obviously is at a bit of a loss with regard to quality management of electronic devices.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by f1point0 View Post
    Thanks Lloyd. Am I seeing correctly that the column/line on the right is lighter than the one on the left? In the second image I can't even see the second line.
    Yes, that's correct. The one on the left was more prominent. Interestingly, that line corresponded to a hot pixel in the upper left quadrant, and which was only visible on in-camera jpgs.

    I started a thread about the line in the sensor of the M9, and posted a number of sample images. However, that thread seems to be MIA.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by Lloyd View Post
    Yes, that's correct. The one on the left was more prominent. Interestingly, that line corresponded to a hot pixel in the upper left quadrant, and which was only visible on in-camera jpgs.

    I started a thread about the line in the sensor of the M9, and posted a number of sample images. However, that thread seems to be MIA.
    HI Lloyd
    I think the defect is nearly always connected to a dead pixel - what I don't know (and can't find out) is whether, if you map out the dead pixel, the column defect goes away as well.

    all the best

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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by simonclivehughes View Post
    The point of my ISO9001 remark was to suggest that Leica, who had previously enjoyed a reputation for fine quality mechanical workmanship, has entered into new territory, and obviously is at a bit of a loss with regard to quality management of electronic devices.

    Cheers,
    How can you deduce that if the problems are happening after the cameras are shipped? Which is certainly the case some of the time, if not all of the time.

    I don't see how they are able to do precognitive QA. Mind you - putting pixel mapping in the firmware (like everyone else does) sounds like a fine idea!

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    Re: Defective M9

    I wonder how different or effective 'in the field' remapping (i.e. in camera by the owner) vs 'back to base' sensor remapping by the manufacturer is.

    The reason I ask is that there are a few cameras & backs that can remap the sensor but I have to assume that their effectiveness is somehow different to a more rigorous sensor mapping on the bench by the manufacturer. Is an in camera remap more aggressive and likely to map out more pixels over time?

    It's interesting to note that only a few manufacturers provide a menu option or default remap feature in the camera (I noticed that my GF1 does have this). Most of the mainstream makers do not - in my case that's Nikon & Leica and in the past it was also true of my Kodak digital back. I don't recall it being available on Canon or my Ricoh either.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    How can you deduce that if the problems are happening after the cameras are shipped? Which is certainly the case some of the time, if not all of the time.

    I don't see how they are able to do precognitive QA. Mind you - putting pixel mapping in the firmware (like everyone else does) sounds like a fine idea!
    Agreed, Jono, as I mentioned in my original post, if it is an intermittent problem then it can be a no-win situation. I also agree that pixel-mapping should be in firmware.

    In many industries, it is the customer that establishes and drives the QA goals. For example, my company services Set-top boxes and our customers (and the manufacturers whose equipment we are authorized to repair) demand a zero defect level.

    One would have thought that Leica had learned a lesson from the issues that had with the M8 series to implement a more stringent QA policy, including pixel-mapping so the customer can cope with issues that occur after the sale.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post

    It's interesting to note that only a few manufacturers provide a menu option or default remap feature in the camera (I noticed that my GF1 does have this). Most of the mainstream makers do not - in my case that's Nikon & Leica and in the past it was also true of my Kodak digital back. I don't recall it being available on Canon or my Ricoh either.
    Well, actually I think almost everyone does it . . . it's just that you don't necessarily have an option - I'm pretty sure Nikon and Sony have it, almost certain that Canon have it, and I know that Olympus and Pentax have it! They don't necessarily have a menu option though - I think most cameras do it automatically ever period of time (week, month, whatever). Try doing a bit of googling on this one and I think you'll find that pretty much everyone does it.

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    Re: Defective M9

    There is a reason most of the big companies have moved away from CCD's and adopted CMOS as the sensor of choice. CMOS chips are easier/cheaper to produce with much fewer defects and none of the temperamental problems that come with manufacturing CCD's. I think the issues that we are seeing is the "con" of going with a CCD, but perhaps for technical reasons, the CCD is necessary in the rangefinder design.

    The "pro" with going with the CCD is that I can clearly tell an M9 image apart from my Canon 5D Mk II images. There's just something about the way that a CCD draws that looks better, IMHO. Of course we need to give credit to amazing Leica glass, but even when using Leica R lenses on a Canon, you can still see the difference because of the CMOS chip versus the CCD in the Leica M9/M8.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by f1point0 View Post
    There is a reason most of the big companies have moved away from CCD's and adopted CMOS as the sensor of choice.[...]

    The "pro" with going with the CCD is that I can clearly tell an M9 image apart from my Canon 5D Mk II images.
    Putting those two parts together, one comes up with the statement that there is a reason the very high IQ companies (MFDB, Leica) have stuck with CCD. There is just something about that low ISO CCD look. Maybe it can be done with CMOS, but it hasn't yet, to my knowledge.
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    Re: Defective M9

    pixel mapping:
    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Try doing a bit of googling on this one and I think you'll find that pretty much everyone does it.
    I did. They don't (Nikon/Canon at least).

    I know with my Nikon gear that it really has to go back to Nikon service to get rogue pixels remapped. I assume that there's either a hidden service option or that they have remapping software that reloads the sensor mapping table. I have a few hot pixels on my D3x that appear occasionally but the raw converters will often map these out as part of the rendering and they also appear sensitive to the lighting of the pixels surrounding them. Touch wood - I've never had this happen with the Leicas so far, although the M9 raises the probabilities for this just due to pixel count.

    Btw, there is some credibility to the cosmic ray effects on the sensor (and you too!). Something to be aware of if you travel a lot with your camera.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    pixel mapping:


    I did. They don't (Nikon/Canon at least).
    Odd that - I did - and they do . . . not necessarily in the menus (as I said). Usually on a time basis, with a service shortcut.

    But . .. the point is that everybody does it, whether it has to go to a service point or not.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Odd that - I did - and they do . . . not necessarily in the menus (as I said). Usually on a time basis, with a service shortcut.

    But . .. the point is that everybody does it, whether it has to go to a service point or not.
    The last point I absolutely agree with. It's the ubiquity of this function being available to the end customer where I think we disagree.

    Anyway, the point is that it certainly would be a valuable option on the M9 that we could use as the camera ages without having to send the camera for servicing.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by f1point0 View Post
    Sorry Brad about your new M9...

    Is there a trick to getting the column effect to show up more readily, e.g. underexposure, a certain ISO, etc. Also, does the column usually show up in a particular spot on the sensor or can it show up anywhere?

    Just want to check mine and make sure it is OK. Thanks.
    In my case the line showed up immediately and for all of the frames. I only took about 15 photos total when I discovered the problem, packed up the camera and sent it to Leica.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by bradhusick View Post
    In my case the line showed up immediately and for all of the frames. I only took about 15 photos total when I discovered the problem, packed up the camera and sent it to Leica.
    Same with mine, there from the get-go. I had the same with my first M8, which I bought the first day of the M8 release.

  40. #40
    Senior Member Peter Klein's Avatar
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    Re: Defective M9

    Ouch, Brad, that must have been so frustrating. It's too bad that one bad pixel creates an entire line in the DNG files. And too bad that it requires a trip back to Leica (hopefully NJ, not Solms!). My humble Olympus E-510 has a hot/dead pixel mapping routine that takes care of such issues.

    Looking at a couple of the samples, I had one thought. We used to have issues like that in the film days. We called them "scratches."

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    Re: Defective M9

    I think some bad pixels can result from getting struck by cosmic rays. So a camera/sensor/whatever can be tested fine and then shipped and this can happen during shipping. Since there cosmic rays are partially shielded by the atmosphere, there are more cosmic ray events at higher elevations. This means that during air shipping, a camera is exposed to more rays than it is while sitting at Leica HQ. So it is feasible that a camera that is tested ok develops a fault after testing but before purchase.

    I'm pretty sure CMOS sensors are also vulnerable to this kind of thing. Where I think CMOS differs (as was pointed out earlier) is that if they develop a dead pixel, the whole column doesn't go out. I don't think the whole column is actually dead, it's just an artifact of how CCD's are read out. I'm pretty sure once the dead pixel is mapped out, the column will return.

    I'm not saying Leica knows what they are doing. I'm just saying that this doesn't necessarily mean that they are clueless and suck at testing.

    Oh, and it sucks that this happened to you (again).

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    Re: Defective M9

    That would mean there are more important things to address than weather sealing.

    This gamma ray explanation also would mean that the M9 (and like cameras) are not suitable for (air) travel.

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    Re: Defective M9

    It's true and well documented about the cosmic ray issue with sensors, particularly at altitude. There's really not much that you can do about this in practice - I guess a lead lined bag would help although you need to be practical about all of this.

    I know I've looked at this from the viewpoint as a multi-million mile frequent flyer. Not good actually since every time you fly you increase the chance of ionizing radiation affecting your tissue too. It's much worse on long haul flights vs short hops. Whether it's statistically significant is more of an issue for airline cabin staff than passengers but it is an extra risk factor for the 'c' word long term.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Yes it's true for all digital cameras as far as I know. The M9 is not special here. I doubt a lead lined bag would help at all.

    As long as there are pixel mapping routines available, losing one pixel out of 18 MILLION is not that big of a deal.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Is the problem in the center of the photo? Digilloyd (paid site) just released his ongoing review of the M9 and claims a similar problem with his M9. He explains it as something along the lines of the sensor possibly being built of two halves, and they are not mapping perfectly well. But he needs to do more research and testing to better understand it.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Quote Originally Posted by andrewteee View Post
    Is the problem in the center of the photo? Digilloyd (paid site) just released his ongoing review of the M9 and claims a similar problem with his M9. He explains it as something along the lines of the sensor possibly being built of two halves, and they are not mapping perfectly well. But he needs to do more research and testing to better understand it.
    Mine had two lines. One in middle of the left-hand side, and another closer to, but not in the center.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Update: Leica received the camera on Tuesday at 10am local time and sent it back the same afternoon, to arrive today! I will report on the success/failure of the repair when I get it.

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    Re: Defective M9

    Wow,
    Finger crossed that all is OK. If so Kudos due on the turn around (yes, I know no kudos on having to send it in).

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    Re: Defective M9

    Good news. No surprise on the service. Leica is the benckmark and always has been.
    Hopefully all is well with the sick camera.
    It was probably just a cold and it's feeling better after a visit to the Doctor.
    Looks like your in for a nice weekend...
    Shooter

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    Re: Defective M9

    HAPPY ENDING: I just received the camera from NJ (9:30am) and the sensor problem is totally fixed. That's a 27 hour turnaround time across the country! Christian Erhardt deserves lots of kudos for this great result!

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