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Thread: Leica non-support system

  1. #1
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    Leica non-support system

    I am a fan of the Leica camera and have been since about 1998 or so when I bought my Leica R8s. Over the past number of years I had a brief dalliance with the M9 and now I use the S2 system and the little X2. For the most part I find the cameras well built, with good ergonomics, and great glass. So, you would think I might be a Leica Fan Boy - you would be wrong.

    As a working pro I find the support for the Leica S system horrific. I bought an S2P for the extended benefits of the warranty and service, such as shipment of a loaner within 24 hours when service was needed. When in Iceland I took a bad fall and although the camera was in a bag, the impact, while doing no cosmetic damage, toasted the mirror and the camera could not be focused. I called Leica New Jersey and they immediately sprang into action to get a replacement camera sent to me in Iceland. I was told the camera had to come from Solms, which I thought was good as it is a helluva lot closer to Iceland than New Jersey. Two days later (not the 24 hours as the service agreement indicates) I got notice the camera was on its way to the Reykjavik dealer, who was very sympathetic and helpful. The camera never got there. It got held up for paperwork issues at German customs, by the time that got it straightened out I was on my way back to the USA. Fortunately, I had a Pentak K5 with me as a walk around camera. It took fine images, but as my goal was to shoot landscapes with the S2, my trip was not as productive as it would have been. OK, I don't want to be a PIA about this so I will accept that this was a particularly unusual situation and crap happens. The next sequence of events isn't unusual and this is where Leica drops the ball on pro service for the S cameras.

    A few months back I discovered the AF was not working on my Summarit-S 35MM lens. I contacted Leica NJ, as usual the service department there was on the ball ready to help. They had me send the lens to them, they immediately forwarded it to Germany. A week later I get a notice that the repair will take two to three months! Two to three months? Normally Leica NJ will loan a lens, but in this situation but they did not have a 35MM to loan. When I called NJ about this they said they would see if they could expedite the repair and I think it came back in just over six weeks. Still, six weeks? When I send a body or lens to Canon CPS it is usually repaired and back in hand in three days, maybe a bit more if they need a part they do not have in stock, but it is usually a reasonable time period.

    I want to be clear that I have never had an issue with Leica NJ. The staff there is superb, my issue is with Leica service in Solms for the S system.

    I sent my S2 in for service January 3rd. It is March 1st and it is still in Solms and will be there for several more weeks. I waited until a last week to as for a loaner and they sent it next day air. Like I said, Leica NJ is great. Solms is not.

    I have come to the conclusion that as a working pro I cannot rely on Leica with their current service setup for the S system. I mentioned this to another pro and he said that Leica really doesn't expect pro photographers to use these cameras, they are made and marketed to doctors, lawyers, hedge fund guys, you know the well monied crowd. Based on my experience, I think there is something to that and it makes me sad.

    Photo from Iceland: Lupina, shot with Pentax K5 and Zeiss 25MM lens. I

    Aerial photo of Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin, Leica S2 with 120MM
    Last edited by aboudd; 1st March 2014 at 16:03.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Leica non-support system

    Aboud, first I can sympathize regarding how you feel about your experiences and the support you expect from Leica. What I often find with Leica is their service is very inconsistant and the stories I hear from others who have had multiple interactions with N.J. (which have some of the nicest, most helpful individuals) and Solms sort of confirms this

    For example, take 10 people who have basically the same issue that needs addressing and you'll often find stories relating 10 very diverse experiences. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to how and why things are handled a certain way. Maybe it's simply not getting a reasonably sufficient explanation, maybe it's something else. That's the maddening thing....I never know what to expect if I happen or want to send an item to them for whatever reason. As I said, my personal experiences have been very inconsistent, as well intentioned as they might be.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: Leica non-support system

    Dave is right Aboud. Based on varying stories on different forums, consistency of service for professionals seems to evade Leica despite their best efforts. They most certainly are not alone, and IMO may be better than most.

    Of course, this is heightened by levels of expectations that everyone who buys a S product has, not just professionals. The triple A type personality Hedge Fund guy or entitled Lawyer/Doctor wants preferential treatment same as you or I whether they actually really need it or not. In short, anyone that pays that kind of money expects first class service and who can blame them?

    I also opted for the S2P for the same reasons you did. 4 years in, my service experiences have been flawless, thus proving Dave's theory. Frankly, after a lifelong relationship with Leica M and R products and occasional service cock-ups, this has been a pleasant surprise.

    I do not attribute it to just being lucky. If I were truly lucky, nothing would have required service.

    However, I do not rule out being unlucky enough to take a hard fall in some place that is hard to obtain service, or foul ups like a loaner being detained during international shipment.


    I give partial credit for my S experiences to my lifelong Leica dealer Sam at The Classic Connection, who has rewarded my loyalty to his company by being a giant pain in Leica's a$$ if needed including going directly to Leica USA's president when necessary.

    I also give a lot of credit to Kelsey Fain, Leica S Product specialist in NJ who always seems to find a way. I have never even talked directly to a Leica service person about my S2P and lenses only her.

    If you ask a cross section of MFD owners of any Brand, you'll find just as many inconsistent service experiences. Often the difference boils down to their dealer relationship, and knowing who to talk to at the company itself. I have read some horror stories from Hasselblad H owners, yet after 9 different H cameras over a decade of use I have few complaints mostly because of my dealer, who almost always found a way either fixing something himself, or knowing exactly who to call at Hasselblad to expedite everything.

    Finally, my last line of defense against bad luck or unforeseen circumstances is my studio insurance that I'd invoke to have a rental house overnight a comparable kit which, to date, I've yet had to do. But that wouldn't rule out something getting hung up at customs anyway.

    These days, I wouldn't go anywhere without something almost as good due to Murphy's Law probably the Sony A7R because it is tiny. Not that almost as good is good enough but Sony's Mighty Mouse A7R can hold its' own in a pinch at 1/10 the price of a second S camera.


    Here's my S2P service experiences to date:

    S2P arrives, in short order the sensor cracks camera replaced overnight.

    Replacement S2P shutter button stops working, S2P loaner sent overnight for 8AM delivery, my camera goes outbound with same carrier. With a loaner in hand, I don't care if it takes them a decade to fix mine.

    New S35 develops an issue after about a month of use, lens replaced immediately.

    H to S adapter acts flakey with my HC lenses. Replaced no questions asked.

    I scratch the top plate of the camera loaner sent, no charge, repair is discounted based on S2P warranty details making it uncharacteristically reasonably priced.

    I opt to evoke the CS lens trade up promo Leica instituted with the launch of the S2. It takes them forever to get the CS lenses out the door, and I pay little attention to any proceedures they decide to do later which involved getting some sort of certificate. Time comes to do the deal, and my dealer intervenes on my behalf citing ignorance on my part mostly to do with a lack of clear communication to me as a registered owner. My dealer provides purchase invoices with proper dates, and Leica honors the original intent all my S lenses are replaced with CS versions for the difference in price between the two versions.

    After warranty expires, sensor develops a line of dead pixels, Kelsey Fain springs into action, contacts Germany. I DropBox her a sample as Solms Germany specifies, they remap the sensor and send firmware fix total time 2 days.

    YMMV

    - Marc
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    Re: Leica non-support system

    And it is not just for professionals. Even with me being an emphatic amateur Leica Solms has, over the years, provided excellent service. As soon as they are aware that I have a valid reason to need the camera they will provide a loaner for my gear , for instance when my M9 motherboard developed a fault just days before I was off for a six-week trip I got a loaner overnight, at a time that M9s were as scarce as hens teeth. Last September, again just before a long trip they managed to replace the LCD on my M in a four day door-to-door turnaround, etc. The only two mishaps I recall over four decades are a Digilux2 that was returned not working after a sensor swop and a Summilux50 asph that took three months to be calibrated due to a missing spare part.
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    Re: Leica non-support system

    My own S system service has been excellent, but things have occasionally taken some time to fix. I think the longest was 9 days, but that is including shipping from both ends. I find that when dealing with Solms, I talk to them directly...

    In any case, as for Iceland...unfortunately almost nothing gets here overnight, despite the geography. DHL, FedEX and UPS don't have special flights coming here...I believe it is all contracted with Icelandair. There are only a certain number of flights each day from most places, so if your package does not make it to Copenhagen, Frankfurt or some other hub before the cutoff time, it will be delayed. There is also the issue of customs, since Iceland is not in the EU...they only do the customs checks in the morning, and if the package is delayed somehow, it is kicked back another day. Basically, it's a small remote place, even if it doesn't always feel like it. I am the only person in Iceland with an S camera. Seriously...I know this for a fact, so it is not as if the Leica dealer is going to keep any stock. The distributor for Iceland is actually Danish. Leica says they are not able to offer 24 hour S replacement in all areas, and I think Iceland would fall in that group.

    That said, your two to three month service in Solms is odd and unfortunate. Have you talked directly to them about it? Andrea Frankl is the customer service manager, and very helpful in my experience...
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    Re: Leica non-support system

    Just a note, I do not want to give the impression that Leica QC and service is exemplary it is far from that.

    I could relate stories that'd curl your hair. A new M50/1.4 ASPH that took 3 trips to Germany and over 6 months to get the focus right, for example.

    But so far, the S service has been up to par. I've had much worse experiences with Nikon.

    - Marc

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    Re: Leica non-support system

    Yes, I agree! My first S camera did not auto-focus correctly from the minute I received it, so it went back, still did not work, and then they replaced it. My 70mm lens also had a problem, and then at one point my strap lug came right out of the camera! Luckily I caught the camera by the strap before it fell. So I have certainly had problems with the S. BUT, my experience with Leica professional service has been excellent. I only deal with Solms directly though, since there is no service here. I generally just deal with the customer service manager directly, and she knows who I am. Maybe that helps...I find the fact that you can pick up the phone and actually talk to the same person every time is a huge benefit for me...particularly since this country does not tend to have representation that is any more knowledgable or helpful than the end user...
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    Re: Leica non-support system

    Thanks for all your comments, they are appreciated but I would like share a couple of more thoughts. While I agree that these incidents could happen with other brands as well, my star-crossed history with Solms is particularly vexing. I do want to reiterate that I have nothing but good things to say about the team at Leica NJ, Kelsey Fain, Carmen Vargas and the others in repair and customer support do an exemplary job, it is the support they are getting from Solms that is the weak link. Unlike Marc's incident, Leica did not offer me a replacement for my in-warranty non-focusing 35, and NJ did not have a loaner. Six weeks for that repair - which was expedited by NJ, is simply not acceptable.

    Support from dealers like Sam Shosan is always great and appreciated. I bought much of my Leica R8 gear from him and he is one of the best Leica dealers I have dealt with, but it is Leica that should have the loaner stock needed for repair clients.

    Contrast my Leica experiences with this episode with Canon CPS.

    A few months back I sent my Canon 24MM TS-E II lens in for a look-see under warranty. Canon CPS service found something wrong with the lens mount that required a part that they did not have in stock. They could not guarantee the normal 3-day turnaround. While they maintain loaner items, this particular lens is considered specialized and was not on their list. Still, after a little discussion with a supervisor the service department arranged to pull the lens from their evaluation program and ship it to me right away. THIS is client service.

    I would like to update to the newer S, I hear the improvements are worth the switch, but this history with Solms gives me a good reason to hesitate. I don't really know why Leica doesn't set up an S repair center in NJ, maybe they do not sell enough S system cameras and lenses in the USA or they simply do not want to make the investment. All I can say is I am glad I don't have to send my Audi back to Ingolstadt for maintenance. ;-) End rant!
    Last edited by aboudd; 2nd March 2014 at 16:50.
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    Re: Leica non-support system

    I unfortunately have nothing but bad experiences until today. I'm a pro user and have been since 1968. In all those years of heavy use I have had no more than three or four repairs on my M equipment. Only one repair was under warranty and done by Leica. This repair was just a few years ago when a shutter failed in one of my new MP bodies. Service was slow taking six weeks but was done right. No problem at that time because I had four bodies.

    When I purchased my M9 the world changed. Both my camera and lenses have been back multiple times. My new M9 required a new sensor and main board out of the box. All five lenses of which four were new had to go back for calibration. My 90 apo asph summicron has been back three times and it still doesn't work properly. My body went back two times with it to get everything calibrated. Total time in shop even tling them I'm a working pro has been over six months and over $500 in shipping. Odd thing about the 90 is that it works properly on my film bodies but not my M9 and my M9 works properly with all other lenses.

    I received my body and 90 back this Monday after two months. I believe had I not gotten on their case it would still be there. The sad thing is it's still severely front focusing. Fortunate I got to the right person in NJ who was in a position to help. I was told to contact him if I has any more problems and I did. This morning after talking to a my contact I receive a call and learn that they are swapping my old lens for a new one.

    I can say this was a surprise which is greatly appreciated. The sad thing is the QC of a Leica is very poor IMO. Service has been horribly slow. No camera or lens should ever leave the factory with these kinds of issues and no repair should take this much time.
    M
    As others mentioned when I used canon I never had a repair over five days and loaners were never an issue. For the past couple of years I've gone back to Nikon. I had one repair in that time and it was 2 days in shop. Other repairs under NPS when I shot film never took more than one day.

    I really appreciate Leica stepping up and making a bad situation better. They did the right thing but the have a long wY to go to match Nikon sand Canons service.

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    Re: Leica non-support system

    I have a feeling leica has had a lot of complaints about their service. Monday when I received my body and 90 back there was a questionnaire about their quality of service and how it compares to other companies. When my problem is finally resolved I'll fill it out. I plan to be very honest with them with no sugar coating but I'm going to give proper credit to my contact who resolved my problem.


    Talking about Hasselblad, in many years of using Hasselblad I purchased a factory reconditioned 848 Imacon scanner direct from Hasselblad. After about 10 months it started developing issues. Support worked with me to resolve the issue but we were unable to. The scanner was shipped to them and essentially everything related to the problem was replaced. I basically had a new scanner and had it back in about a week. Problem solved.

    In the 80's I used Rollei 3003 cameras. Fantastic design but poorly constructed. I had 2 of which one was in the shop all the time. Rollei gave me a free loaner for over a year while my personal bodies were in for repair. That was excellent service.

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