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The grass really isn't greener.

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by OzRay, Nov 7, 2010.

  1. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    One of the things that has always impressed me about Olympus cameras, apart from the image quality, is their overall build quality, reliability and aftersales support, and it seems to me that this has clearly flowed on to the m4/3s system. I'm not familiar with Panasonic, so I can't make any judgements in this regard, but I was fairly happy with my LX3. The E-P1 and E-P2 have been hauled around everywhere and I treat them pretty much as I do my E3 kit. The E-PL1 is primarily my wife's camera and has travelled to Bali and back and many other places, usually in her handbag when not being used. None of them appear to have suffered at all so far. For relatively inexpensive gear, they seem to hold up very, very well. I can't say too much about the lenses, as the only Olympus m4/3s lenses that I have are the 14-42mm zoom and the 17mm prime, but neither have shown problems.
     
    This brings me to the topic at hand; which is, that I've been researching the Leica M9 for quite a while, out of an interest in possiby getting one. However, I've been thoroughly disappointed in the number of problems reported by users and a lot of this applies to brand new cameras. It's not just one issue, but a wide variety of problems: cracked sensors, sensors with surface issues, shutter issues, image issues, card reading problems, card writing problems, battery issues, lens mount issues, control dial issues, and lots of other 'niggly' things; things that should not be happening with any of today's cameras, let alone one so expensive and supposedly built under the best QC in the world. For a camera that costs 12X more than an E-PL1, as much as a 1DsIII and nearly as much as a D3x, it's astounding that Leica hasn't been able to maintain better overall quality. The image quality is wonderful (when it works) and I don't care that high ISO is not up to that of Canon/Nikon full frame, Kodak sensors never were, but the colour is great; however, why aren't the basics up to a higher standard?
     
    It appears that all of these problems are taken in their stride by Leica owners and Leica almost seems to have been forgiven for such basic failures, even if their after sales support is woeful. And many are accepting a repair of a brand new camera, rather than a replacement with another new one. Were even the lesser issues evident with any other brand, even a $600 camera, people would be baying for blood. I guess the bottom line here is that while I was seriously pondering an M9 (I still don't quite know why), I just couldn't reconcile owning one and encountering one or more of the issues that appear so common. This quote from the Rangefinder Forum kind of sums it up: 'I so want to love this model [M9] and the company but there are too many stories like yours that make me stick to my 43 year old M4 and use other manufacturers for digital.' Some even report the M8.2 to be a better camera - go figure! 
     
    I guess for the moment, I'll just have to wait and see what Olympus offers in their next iteration. And I'll hold onto my 4/3s gear just in case. 
     
    Cheers
     
    Ray
     
  2. Kosta

    Kosta Mu-43 Veteran

    435
    Sep 29, 2010
    Australia
    interesting read, thank you :)

    your title is bang on, the grass isn't always greener!

    I spoke to a guy in Auckland just passing by - i asked him about his m9 because I had never used a rangefinder before, and he had it in and out of service 3 times since he bought it 1 year ago! :( unlucky!
     
  3. deirdre

    deirdre Mu-43 Top Veteran

    661
    Aug 9, 2010
    Lost my first response, so this one will be shorter. I've just purchased a used M8; I wanted to get an M9, but I have other priorities first. I've been through this same soul searching and research as you have.

    Leica makes cameras ten at a time. Ten. There's no huge production line the way there is with other products; they're essentially handmade.

    First, you really don't know, based on internet complaints, how reflective that is about complaints as a whole. It's always good to take these things with a grain of salt until you get the measure of each and every complainer. I know from my own work in software QA that complaints are not always what they seem. That said, there do seem to be some issues.

    Second, l-camera-forum is a far more established community with a lot of professional photographers, who have more equipment on average, and may be harder on it, too. They are also more demanding of exactitude. I can't find the thread, but I remember one person who sent two bodies and seven lenses to Leica for service because some of the lenses focused slightly differently on one body than the other.

    Third, I have the home office phone number of my Leica rep and I haven't bought any new products yet. Try that with Olympus.

    My GF1 went through New Zealand and Australia in my handbag, where it lives every day. I have only a neoprene bag around it.

    The cracked sensor isn't a cracked sensor, but an IR filter over the sensor. As mentioned in that thread, it'll spontaneously show up. I don't know the cause, nor have I researched it deeply, but I can think of two non-manufacturing reasons it could (theoretically) happen: a) dropping the camera, though it'd have to be a hard jolt; b) using an incompatible collapsible lens. BTW, this is an issue that couldn't occur on the M8 as there was no IR filter, which caused its own set of complaints.

    Nor have I heard about shutter issues; some have perceived shutter lag, but it's a perception, not a reality, and some are not used to the speeds that digital writes at (especially onto a slow card) vs. film.

    The only image issues I've heard of are corrupted JPEGs on bad cards that can occur with any camera, though there was one person I recall who had trouble with multiple cards.

    Most of the battery issues seem to be related to third-party batteries; this is, in part, due to the relative difficulty finding Leica batteries.

    The others -- well, maybe I haven't read as exhaustively as you, but I haven't seen reports of them.

    As for the comment, someone using a ~40 year old camera is one that's probably been through its initial adjustments, and Leica's undoubtedly had to work out some of the kinks in a new product just like anyone else.
     
  4. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    Essex
    John
    That certainly presents the other side of the argument, Deirdre. I feel for you, losing an even longer response than that. It's happened so often to me that now, if I'm planning a long post, I type it first in my word processing software (where I can regularly save what I've written) then copy and paste to the forum when I've finished. :smile:
     
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  5. deirdre

    deirdre Mu-43 Top Veteran

    661
    Aug 9, 2010
    I see people with all kinds of technology skill levels trying to diagnose problems, so I come to it with the skepticism I can't seem to turn off when I get home from work.

    I also have some respect for how difficult it is to catch everything, no matter how hard one tries. I have no idea what things are actually like in Solms, but Leica's a small company that'd fit in a couple of buildings of my own workplace.

    I've tried hard to figure out: is there an issue that would significantly affect my enjoyment of an M9? I think probably not.

    My reason for holding off on the M9 wasn't the reported issues, but rather that I realized I could buy a used M8, a decent recent lens, and a new computer for the price of the M9. I still plan to get an M9.
     
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  6. pdh

    pdh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    598
    May 6, 2010
    I expect there aren't really any problems with the M9 that can't be solved just by turning it off and then turning it on again ...
     
  7. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    Essex
    John
    ....and tapping it firmly on a table several times if that doesn't work. :biggrin:
     
  8. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Midlothian, VA
    Richard Elliott
    Maybe the problem is the fact it is essentially hand assembled. Robotics have reached a level of precision and consistency that frankly we mere mortals cannot match.

    I can believe if they automated the process they could make more at higher quality and lower cost.
     
  9. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Now that is a sad thing to think about.

    My only experience with Leica service has been a mixed one. On the downside, the Sony sensor in my Digilux 2 suffered from the known failure that afflicted that same sensor in that and other cameras, and Leica had my camera in Solms for many, many months (I lost track of how many) before they sent it back to me. On the upside, they fixed it for free several years after the original warranty had expired since it was a known issue, and they offered me the option to trade it in for a new M8 at a very low price (basically offering me trade in value similar to the original price of the Digilux 2) as an alternative for them waiting for the replacement sensor from Sony. On the balance, I was happy with them.
     
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  10. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Midlothian, VA
    Richard Elliott
    I'm not certain it is sad - the mechanical quality historically of Leica's is superb. But as parts get smaller to make room for all the new electronics and features something has to give. Robots can do certain jobs better and more consistently than humans, especially on a micro scale. If the same people spent the time on quality control instead of building that would be value added on top of what other vendors do and could possibly bring back that Leica reliability. Not hand-built cameras but hand-tested and certified. At those prices knowing someone spent time shooting, testing all aspects of the camera, would give me a warm fuzzy and then some. Include test results and a note from the tester and even some of the test pics.

    On the other hand robotic customer service cannot match people and obviously Leitz has that down in spades.
     
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  11. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    I have neve had a bad issue with Leica service in over 40 years. Even when my digilux had the sensor changed, it was back in 2 weeks. The M film cameras never took even a week turn around.

    The M9 has it's issues but still is a great camera.
    If I had the funds, I'd have the camera in heartbeat.
    Some of you from RFF know the issues I had with the M8's. I wouldn't go there again but the M9.... In time...

    Ray, the grass is greener on the other side. Why, because there's more BS there to fertilize it.
     
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  12. grebeman

    grebeman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Nice one Don, I must try and remember that :rofl:

    Barrie
     
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  13. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I certainly agree that you need to take forum posts complaining about issues with a grain of salt, but I've read more than forums and there's a degree of consistency across the board regarding the quality of the M9 build/execution. No one complains about the image quality, but there do appear to be issues that, often enough, affect the ability to take images.

    The interesting thing is that there appeared to be very few complaints about the M8.2 and some believed that what you gained with the M9 weren't all that substantial. I guess electronics have introduced a whole set of new challenges for Leica and trying to combine the mechanical aspects of the body with electronics has caused issues (the M9 being only their third camera in a relatively short space of time).

    Maybe it's like the case of not buying the first model release of a car, as there are bound to be issues that have not been picked up, or left for the public to complain about if they are perceived to be bad enough. And like with cars, many died in the wool enthusiasts will overlook issues just to have the newest model.:wink:

    Cheers

    Ray
     
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  14. deirdre

    deirdre Mu-43 Top Veteran

    661
    Aug 9, 2010
    Oh, I'm sure there have been issues, just not sure how to interpret reliability as a whole.
     
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  15. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    Essex
    John
    I think you can only really judge on your own personal experience. If your camera has never let you down it's 100% reliable. If it lets you down even once at a critical time then it's 100% unreliable. :biggrin:
     
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  16. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Ray,
    The M8.2 was not really a brainstorm release. It fixed most issues that happened with the M8. The M9 seems to be following the history of the M8. I will probably wait to see what the M9.2 does. Hopefully it will address the issues and resolve them. At any rate, personally I don't like paying to be a beta tester. That's how I felt with my M8's.

    Leica sent me some filters for my lenses. I was freaking out. You mean I'm supposed to put a $89.00 filter on my $3500.00 lens.
    Well.... Nuff said.... I love the concept of the M9 and someday maybe, Leica will get it right. Till then, I'll save for the newer model.
     
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