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Thread: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

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    Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    My Leaf Aptus 75 back did not work in the cold, so I paid the price and got a full repair, e-box replaced. I got better, now it works flawlessly in room temperature (it could have hickups before, troubles to boot etc even in room temperature), but it still fails in cold weather. The last test I did was in -5C (23 F), i e not an extreme temperature.

    The failures occur only when the back has become cold (ambient temperature), and then it can miss pictures and lock up, and instead of the beep sound that indicates it is ready for the next shot it sometimes emits strange noises instead and locks up. This happens even when battery indicator shows full battery. When battery is low more strange things can happen, write errors to CF cards and stuff. Low battery in room temperature is no problem, then it runs without errors until battery is out.

    I have one new Leaf original battery (manufactured 2011), and a larger battery which is older. Failures occur with both these, even when batteries are freshly loaded. I shoot with a tech cam with copal shutters and flash sync.

    As it works flawlessly in room temperature I'm assuming that it is unlikely that the error is caused by sync cable or CF card. I'm also assuming that while a bad sync cable could cause pictures to be missed, it would not lead to strange noises out of the speaker or lockups (which I get), so I don't think that is the problem. Maybe CF cards can become bad in cold and cause troubles, but I guess it is more likely that if a CF card works in room temperature (as it does) it should be no problem in the cold.

    I want to dig more into this problem and try to isolate and point it out as exactly as possible before I contact the dealer again.

    Anyone that has any idea of what the likely error is?

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    Subscriber Member jotloob's Avatar
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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    I have followed your thread on LULA for quite some time .

    I had a very similar issue with my CFV-16 some years ago and the back had to be sent to the factory twice .
    As a matter of fact , the specifications say it very clear .
    Operating temperature is : 0-45 C /32-113 F . Thats , what is guaranteed .
    I believe these specs are valid for all digital backs , with very little tolerances
    like , might be just +- 2 C .
    If some devices work fine below or above these limits , you are just lucky and its nice to have .
    Regards . Jürgen .
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    Yes I'm aware of the guaranteed range. It is like with Canon and Nikon pro DSLRs, as far as I know they don't guarantee operation in say -20C or give any guarantees at all for their weather proofing. But professional photographers expect a certain standard, and these companies strive to fulfill that with field testing etc, it would be a disaster for them if their gear get a reputation of being unreliable in the field. Not guaranteeing more in the tech spec is more a formal thing. You can't have a pro camera which can't be used outdoors in the winter.

    Maybe the medium format companies are different, I don't know. Most pro shooters work inside a studio anyway. I would not be surprised if the end result will be that Leaf says to me that they have fulfilled their tech spec and they won't do anything more. I would be disappointed of course and would have to sell the gear to someone in warm climate, but not surprised. In their marketing material they claim to be reliable, but this is a real test if this is true.

    No matter how high quality products a manufacturer makes, they can occasionally fail, and you don't know for sure if the manufacturer is serious about reliability until you have a failure and you get to see how they handle it. In that way I find it kind of interesting to go through this process, but if I got to choose I'd rather want it work by now. I really like the back -- when it works.

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    Quote Originally Posted by jotloob View Post
    I had a very similar issue with my CFV-16 some years ago and the back had to be sent to the factory twice.
    Did they fix it? Hasselblad is actually a brand I'm looking into switching to if Leaf fails to fix my problem. The climate in Sweden (Hasselblad) is a bit different than the climate in Israel (Leaf), so maybe they have a little bit better understanding of that a camera must work in subzero temperatures .

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    My Leaf was fine in temps as low as 19º F - except for rapid battery use. No other issues. Maybe Yaya has a point that one of the ancillaries (cord, card) is strangely acting up in the cold? Can't hurt to try. Wouldn't be the first time something wierd... Best of luck.

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff View Post
    My Leaf was fine in temps as low as 19º F - except for rapid battery use. No other issues. Maybe Yaya has a point that one of the ancillaries (cord, card) is strangely acting up in the cold? Can't hurt to try. Wouldn't be the first time something wierd... Best of luck.
    There seems to be no lack of examples of Leaf Aptus 75 backs working in very cold weather, so it *should* work, but mine does not. Remains to be seen if Leaf cares or not.

    I find it unlikely that a bad cord/shutter could cause a back to lock up. I shall try with yet a different CF card. My card is new though and formatted properly, only used in the back. I tested the card thing already before sending in for repair, but I shall do it again. I would be very glad if the error is on my side, but the tech cam interface is not exactly complicated, not much that can go wrong.

    My own guess is that there is something with the power circuits in the back that is bad, that power feed becomes unstable when cold, perhaps only to the "imaging module" which seems to be some sort of separate thing, which maybe is not affected by the e-box replacement. I shall try with firewire feed to exclude any battery issues, but now it is warm weather until after the weekend.

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    How about trying the freezer for the back, and keeping everything else warm?

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff View Post
    How about trying the freezer for the back, and keeping everything else warm?
    Maybe I'll try that, it will be a bit complicated to operate the back inside the freezer though, and I don't want to move it too quickly between freezing temperature and room temperature which would be mean to the electronics. I'll see if I can find a suitable deep box to put it in though so the cold air does not escape as soon as I pick out the back from the freezer to test it.

    (When working outdoor I pack the camera bag in room temperature and there's typically 1 hour or so until the first picture, so meanwhile the gear gets cooled down slowly inside the bag. And when getting home I leave the gear in the closed bag until it has reached room temperature again. That way I never get issues with condensation or other problems related to fast temperature changes)

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    Perhaps outside could be a good moderating in-between zone?

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff View Post
    Perhaps outside could be a good moderating in-between zone?
    Yes that would work nicely. The freezer test sounds like a good idea by now :-).

    Something like this:

    1) put the back in a box in the freezer with battery, 2) wait until cold (about -18C), 3) bring out the box outside (about 0C currently), 4) attach a warm shutter through warm sync cable (camera attachment not necessary) to trigger image taking, insert warm CF card, 5) provoke a failure 6) replace with warm battery and test if it fails then 7) feed power through firewire and test if it fails then.

    If it fails both with warm battery and firewire feed with the warm CF card (all which has proven to work well when all is in room temperature) then I guess the problem sits in the back. We'll see.
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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    Quote Originally Posted by torger View Post
    Did they fix it? Hasselblad is actually a brand I'm looking into switching to if Leaf fails to fix my problem. The climate in Sweden (Hasselblad) is a bit different than the climate in Israel (Leaf), so maybe they have a little bit better understanding of that a camera must work in subzero temperatures .
    Yes , the problem was fixed .
    But , i must say , that I never used the back at temperatures lower than -5C and I can not say , at what temperature the electronics were , when I attached the back out of my anorak .
    I can't speek for the technicians , but I believe , if they could build backs , which can operate successful at much lower temps , they woud have already done so .
    Regards . Jürgen .
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    For the fun of it I just tried to put my Aptus-II 7 attached to my Cambo WRS with lens, cabel and cf card in the freezer for 30 minutes.
    I took it out and it powered up and shot a couple of shots with no problems.
    The only issue I have experienced (which I also experienced in this test) in the cold is that the back sometimes "resets itself" meaning that if I have turned down the volume of the beep it is turned up again and if the screen is set to "out" it goes back to "in".

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pemihan View Post
    For the fun of it I just tried to put my Aptus-II 7 attached to my Cambo WRS with lens, cabel and cf card in the freezer for 30 minutes.
    I took it out and it powered up and shot a couple of shots with no problems.
    The only issue I have experienced (which I also experienced in this test) in the cold is that the back sometimes "resets itself" meaning that if I have turned down the volume of the beep it is turned up again and if the screen is set to "out" it goes back to "in".
    I believe you right away , but its not guaranteed . That means , if you operate your back at temperatures below the specs , the back can fail , but must not . That can differ from back to back out of the same series .
    I also believe , that electronics can work at far lower temperatures , for example for space missions , but it is surely a question of cost .
    Regards . Jürgen .
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    I did not manage to trigger any failure in my first freezer test (-23C), back detached shot black frames into the lid with the help of a wakeup sync cable (just pressing wakeup button, no shutter attached). Shall test more later when I'm home long enough to do another test.

    I'm a bit surprised as I've had some sort of issue every-time I've been out in cold weather, and I've not (yet) been out in as cold as -23C as this freezer is. I did not keep it in for very long though, maybe it had not become cold enough. (Un)fortunately the issue seems not to be dead easy to repeat...

    The battery indicator showed almost empty although the battery was full, so storing the batteries separate inside the clothing and attach only when shooting is probably a good idea.

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    Hang on a second...are you using a wake up cable with the Aptus? If so then that could be the problem as the Aptus does not require any wake-up signal.

    All you need is a simple Leaf sync cable, one of the top two in this article: Knowledge base for Phase One and Mamiya Leaf users

    For the CF card make sure it is formatted as a single FAT32 volume and do not use it in any other camera unless you format it after that.

    Yair
    Yair Shahar | Product Manager | Phase One | Mamiya Leaf
    e: [email protected] | m: +44(0)77 8992 8199 | yaya's blog

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    Quote Originally Posted by yaya View Post
    Hang on a second...are you using a wake up cable with the Aptus? If so then that could be the problem as the Aptus does not require any wake-up signal.

    All you need is a simple Leaf sync cable, one of the top two in this article: Knowledge base for Phase One and Mamiya Leaf users

    For the CF card make sure it is formatted as a single FAT32 volume and do not use it in any other camera unless you format it after that.
    Thanks. I know all this though :-). I don't use the wakeup cable normally, it's just a cable I happen to have laying around. I used that in this test as a trick to remove the shutter and other cable out of the equation. By pressing the wakeup button on the cable I simulate a normal shutter cycle, so I can test the back with no camera parts attached.

    It's not the kapture group kind, it's the type of wakeup cable that looks as a normal cable but has a tiny push button in the attachment, so one can indeed use it as a normal cable too.

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    You mean this one?

    So now you need to try the back with that cable and with a different lens/ shutter...
    Yair Shahar | Product Manager | Phase One | Mamiya Leaf
    e: [email protected] | m: +44(0)77 8992 8199 | yaya's blog

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    Quote Originally Posted by yaya View Post
    You mean this one?

    So now you need to try the back with that cable and with a different lens/ shutter...
    Yes that one! I will do the test but probably after the weekend, will be travelling.

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    Had it out all day the past weekend in -10C, with no failures. I kept the battery warm in my clothes and only slapped it on when I made the shot. Haven't succeeded in recreating the failures I had at first, so I don't really know what it was.

    The only strange thing I've had recently is that the "beep" sound after an image has been recorded stopped being emitted (i e the back became silent) in the middle of a shoot, but that happened in room temperature. The sound came back again after a reboot. Maybe it is a similar problem as reported by Pemihan above.

    Hopefully it is normal behaviour.

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    Okay, today it failed again at -1C. I ran one battery empty so it said no more pictures could be taken. Slapped in a full semi-cold batteri (had just put it in my pocket), took one picture, then it locked up with the green lamp blinking. Removed the battery tried with another big battery, boot failure. Power down, some white noise out of the speaker, then power up again, and then it started working again.

    I've not had time to shoot much since I got it back from repair, but will hopefully be able to do some the coming days and I'll see if I can see some pattern. Changing batteries and not having warm batteries seems to be something that can trigger failure. But it is not that easy to repeat.

    If it eventually starts working as it did today I can sort of live with it, but as I have had a complete repair I was expecting better function, especially since everyone is telling med that a Leaf Aptus should normally be reliable.

    I've dropped the dealer that handled the repair a line describing the problem so I'll see if they have any idea.

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    More shooting, more failures. This morning I was shooting about 20 images in -10C with a fresh warm battery before it failed. Then I replaced with a fresh warm battery, but failure continued.

    I think what it has problems with is writing to the card. After rebooting it said "Insert disk" on the first screen, without the beep though. Regardless of battery and remove reinsert card, rebooting etc it did not start working. So I gave up, packed up and walked towards home.

    But 15 minutes later I packed it up again, started it up and then it worked for a while, but after a few images I noted that the green lamp did not stop blinking, the interface was locked but I could still take a couple of images before it changed to blinking red and I could not shoot more. I'm assuming that what was happening is that it was again failing to write to the card, but the imaging module has a buffer so you can shoot a couple of extra images but when the buffer is full and write problems still persist the back is locked.

    I rebooted and then it start working again and this time it continued working, I could not repeat the error. I was now in the sun though so the gear was becoming warmer too.

    It's a bit messy all this because it happens often enough to cause trouble, frustration and lost images, but is very hard to reproduce when you want to test.

    I'm now making fresh formatting of a number of CF cards to have more to test with when I get the next failure. Perhaps it is a dodgy CF card. Can CF cards become dodgy from cold?

    I'll format on a windows PC using this guide:
    http://www.phaseone.com/en/search/ar...2&languageid=1

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    Failure of the day;

    Weather has been warm and sunny, only -3C this late evening, when I have made some more formal stress testing. I've had the camera in a shed all night to have it completely cool. Batteries warm though. Under this warmer condition its harder to provoke, I estimate that an error occurs in about 1 out of 50 images, and in this case a reboot helps. Earlier in the evening I had an error in +1C too, which actually is within official operating temperature (0C to 40C), so Leaf can't say it's working according to spec either. It's however quite hard to provoke the error at 0C.

    In colder conditions my experience is that errors happen more often and reboot does not always help.

    So what happens? In these warmer conditions I see two type of errors. 1) black images which have nil samples in them, ie not a normal black frame due to missynch, but some strange file. 2) green (or red) lamp blinking forever, ie there's blocking on writing to CF. When I navigate away and try to delete a file the attached error message is shown "The imaging module could not perform the operation that you requested. Press on/off button to restart the Leaf Aptus". At powerdown in this state the back sometimes makes a white noise from the speaker.

    In colder conditions I've also had GUI lockups but I could not recreate that in this temperature.

    The back has been tested with different (warm-kept) batteries, different sync cables and different CF cards, one of the integrity tested (no errors), all formatted according to Leaf's instructions on a Windows 7 PC, using compatible brands. Both FAT32 and FAT16 tested. Failure has been provoked with all combinations.

    To me it seems likely that the error is with the CF writing unit.

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    That line of Leaf backs (not sure about newer ones) with active cooling has issues with temperatures. Hot or cold. Both. You got good working range from about 0 to 28c. below or higher - it goes a bit ... funny. I cant really explain why, but i seen it happening too often to be a coincidence. I suspected power supplies, CF cards.. many other things.

    Honestly sayin' Leaf techs at MAC center seems to be very very little in line with real life and no help at all, unless is something truly mechanical. So i just developed habit of bringing film backs..

    They never quit. They just shoot away.

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    Quote Originally Posted by SergeiR View Post
    That line of Leaf backs (not sure about newer ones) with active cooling has issues with temperatures. Hot or cold. Both. You got good working range from about 0 to 28c. below or higher - it goes a bit ... funny. I cant really explain why, but i seen it happening too often to be a coincidence. I suspected power supplies, CF cards.. many other things.

    Honestly sayin' Leaf techs at MAC center seems to be very very little in line with real life and no help at all, unless is something truly mechanical. So i just developed habit of bringing film backs..

    They never quit. They just shoot away.
    Thanks, I have been suspecting that my Aptus 75 back is indeed not faulty, but that it simply is not better in chilly conditions than this. "Going funny" is a very good description, because various errors occur, and in a stressful situation you may not be observant of what really happened other than something locked up, made a funny noise, a file was corrupt, it missed a frame etc.

    Various Leaf representatives do claim that the product should be reliable even under those conditions though, so I'm a bit confused. I'll see what my dealer says, communication with them is very slow though.

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    Phase One / Leaf web support just got back, and I got it on black on white that they're not serious about outdoor photography, quoted below.

    I've got two "lemons" in a row , and they just don't take responsibility . The thing about reliability is just no more than marketing b*llsh*t, if you're unlucky and get into trouble they ditch you.

    I'm not particularly happy about having spent €2000+ on repairs with the only result lowering minimum work temperature from +5C to +0C . If they had informed me from the beginning that their backs suck this much I would have sold it to a studio photographer, instead of this waste of time and money .

    I'll make some more noise though, haven't yet heard back from my dealer.

    Hello,
    I am sorry if there is a misunderstanding about the capabilities of the hardware. The unit you have listed has an operational temperature of "0°-40°C (32°-104°F), Humidity: 15%-80% RH (non-condensing)".
    As you have stated you are shooting in temperatures of -10°C there is a large potential for improper operation. If you have experienced an error at 1°C then this is something we can focus on, however these errors only occur at that temperature AFTER the back has been subject to unsupported Operating Temperatures we cannot ensure it will perform properly until after it has been rebooted.

    The hypothesis you have purposed regarding the CF card is highly unlikely. The entire board stack is replaced when an E-Box is replaced, the unit is basically brand new with the exception of the CCD when an E-Box replacement is performed. If there were an error with the circuitury you would experience it in all other operational temperatures, not just lower temperatures. The reason we cannot guarantee proper operation below 0°C is not due to soldering or contact changes, it is simply due to the electronic signal changes at extreme temperatures. A signal delay that is expected to be a value of X due to operational temperature resistance, at an extremely cold temperature is much, much faster and therefore certain signals cannot even be detected as they are present and then gone before detection is even possible. This is not something specific to the Aptus 75, it is a basic principle of electronics.

    As we designate operational temperatures with the hardware, the fact that this occurs outside of those operational temperatures (aside from the one instance mentioned at +1°C) shows that your system is working "as good as it should" as this is what we can guarantee. Other user may claim that their units operate at colder temperatures but we could not possibly base the operational quality of your unit based ont he claims of other users. There are too many variables involved in such claims, including the truth behond those claims on top of perhaps completely different workflows.

    Based on the information in this case, it is not conclusive that your repair has failed in any way. If you can quantify the error that was seen at +1°C we would be happy to continue investigation, however if the errors are only present when outside of the manufacture operating temperatures I am afraid that there is no cause for concern regarding an "improperly working unit".

    I apologize for any misunderstandings regarding the operational limitations of the unit and look forward to recieving more relavent information with the reported error within operational limitations.

    Kind Regards,
    Phase One Support

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    Quote Originally Posted by torger View Post
    Thanks, I have been suspecting that my Aptus 75 back is indeed not faulty, but that it simply is not better in chilly conditions than this. "Going funny" is a very good description, because various errors occur, and in a stressful situation you may not be observant of what really happened other than something locked up, made a funny noise, a file was corrupt, it missed a frame etc.

    Various Leaf representatives do claim that the product should be reliable even under those conditions though, so I'm a bit confused. I'll see what my dealer says, communication with them is very slow though.
    Well.. If you are QUICK.. you can still do it. Albeit active cooling will bite you in backside very fast.


    Snow is here by Sergei Rodionov, on Flickr

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    Indeed, I have managed to shoot in the cold. It's work against the clock though, and you never know when it's going to fail, perhaps when you are about to complete the best shot of the day. I would not go hiking or drive far with this system.

    Possibly by killing the fan and storing the back inside my clothes between shots could make it work decently well.

    However, for me reliable photo gear is a great value in its own, it's a measure of quality, and I like to use high quality products. This is obviously not one of them, and as seen in the reply from Phase One / Leaf support above they don't care .

    The simplest consumer DSLR can do much colder conditions than this back. They must be using very poor quality components to get it perform this bad, and this in a back that originally cost $30K. It's a scandal.

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    Further communication with Phase One / Leaf support confirms that the active cooling and open vents of the Leaf Aptus and Leaf Aptus II backs make them unreliable in colder temperatures, and that they won't do any action as long as it works within 0-40C. So it looks like my back may perform just like a normal Leaf Aptus back, at least according to the manufacturer's view on what normal operation is.

    It's the first time I've managed to get an official statement from the company that the open vents and fan is a problem. Unfortunately the statements I got from Leaf representatives before I committed to this back was the exact opposite, that it would be no problem and that the back can handle cold temperatures without trouble. In that statement I naively included the assumption that if I got trouble they would fix it.

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    well.. at least my engineering degree and childhood spent in experimental physics lab proved to be not complete waste when it comes to analysis

    I shot with almost ancient by modern standards 4x5 graphlex in -40C .. froze me fingers off, but went out with good images...

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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    I've calmed down a little, and I shall start looking for workarounds . As it's mounted on a fairly bulky tech cam, I could add an isolating foam collar or something to avoid the cold air-flow without interfering with handling. It would be great if the fan could be disabled somehow, without taking the back apart and cutting the cable that is...

    I'm suspecting that the fact that the fan always runs at full speed when mounted to a mechanical camera may make up the whole difference between working in freezing temperature and not working. If the air would stand still the components would be able to heat themselves a little. As far as I understand all reports I've got from users having it work successfully and reliably in cold temperatures are those that have it mounted to SLRs that make the fan temperature-controlled.

  31. #31
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    Re: Works in room temperature, not in cold, likely error?

    The latest in this issue is that I sent it back for re-repair, it was away 5 weeks (it's on its way back now) but they haven't found any error or done anything, even if my back actually could fail in +4C. My guess is that they don't even have any equipment to do cold-testing so they've just done some basic room temperature testing (which of course passes). I did provide a very long and detailed error description in two copies, I wonder if they even read it.

    The unfortunate truth with Leaf is that if you get problems in cold or even just chilly, and some obviously do, they won't help you out. Getting a Leaf back and being an outdoor photographer is thus a big risk to take. Hopefully it's got better with the Credo series, but as I see it there is a problem in the support/repair chain when they can't handle this type of problem. Even well-designed backs can get problems if there is some partially faulty component with reduced temperature tolerance, and Leaf has so far proven that if that happens then you are on your own. My best guess with the Aptus is that it's been designed with such tight tolerances that brand new out of the factory some backs fail and some don't in chilly weather, hence the varying reports. If Leaf would take responsibility for their claims they would replace the e-box over and over again until they find a copy that works in the temperatures they claim, but they obviously don't do that.

    I'll fight some more with Leaf though, I'm not happy having paid €2150+VAT for a largely meaningless repair. Going from unstable to a bit less unstable (as the original repair did) is not that big of a value since I still can't trust this back on long outdoor hikes. The root problem is still there.

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