Leica M9/Sandisk Misalliance

Started Aug 8, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Irakly Shanidze
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Leica M9/Sandisk Misalliance
Aug 8, 2011

The problem:

As everybody knows by now, reports about Leica M9 problems with the latest Sandisk cards are multiplying like Hydra's snake-haired heads. As someone who relies upon the M9 for income, I took this business very seriously and decided to get to the bottom of the problem for mine and everybody else's benefit. So, I dedicated my Sunday to connecting dots in this zero-size-file-and-dead-SD-card puzzle.

The facts:

Sandisk cards purchased recently are for some reason not compatible with M9 cameras. The symptoms that this incompatibility causes are well-documented and reproducible. They are available all over the net, just google "leica official statement on sandisk m9"
Leica M9 is not the only camera that refuses to work with these cards.

Older cards from Sandisk work just fine. This is my personal experience (I happen to use Sandisk Ultra class 4 cards for the past year) and of many M9 shooters whom I know.

AsI gathered from a reliable source, new Sandisk HD Video cards should not be used with M9. Most likely, it has everything to do with a high bandwidth that these cards are meant to withstand.

Today I received a report from someone whom I have no reason not to believe that a blue class 4 32GB card purchased five days ago caused the same problem: zero-sized DNG files.

At this point even Leica engineers do not know whether this issue is software, or hardware related.

My speculations:

Probably, something in the card firmware, or even physical structure had to be changed to accommodate new bandwidth requirements. It makes me think that in an attempt to make their production more efficient, Sandisk implemented the same change in all of their SD card types regardless of their class and professional designation. Consequently, all cards, both regular and HD, made after this change had been introduced have the same incompatibility issue with the M9.

My conclusions:

Due to lack of information, it is impossible to say with all certainty who is at fault, and whether this issue can be easily addressed.

If it has something to do with M9 hardware architecture, I wouldn't light my candles on an easy fix coming any time soon from Solms.

If my theory is correct, Sandisk will recall the cards and come up with an alternative way to ensure HD compliance.

My advice:

Do not send your cameras to Solms, unless you want to help US Post Office.improve its pitiful bottom-line.

For now, stay away from Sandisk cards made in July 2011 and later. Old cards work just fine.

Remember that every minute spent bashing Leica, or Sandisk, or both, is the very minute that you are stealing from the time that you could use to take pictures.

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