Update: Leica has issued the following statement addressing the reports of sensor corrosion. Our original story follows below - note that since then, Leica has confirmed that it will replace affected sensors at no extra cost regardless of the camera's age. Initial information indicated that Leica would charge a fee to replace sensors in cameras purchased more than three years ago.
Important Information Concerning the CCD Sensors of the Leica M9 / M9-P / M Monochrom / M-E
In some cases, particularly when using the camera models Leica M9, M9-P, M Monochrom or M-E with smaller apertures (5.6-22), effects caused by corrosion of the sensor glass may be encountered. Leica offers a free replacement service for the CCD sensors of cameras affected by this problem as a goodwill arrangement. This goodwill arrangement applies regardless of the age of the camera and also covers sensors that have already been replaced in the past. Customers who have already been charged for the replacement of a sensor affected by this problem will receive a refund.
We have now identified the problem and are currently concentrating our efforts on finding a permanent technical solution. The marks on images mentioned earlier are related to the properties of the CCD sensor. The sensors are equipped with a specially coated IR filter cover glass to ensure optimum imaging performance. Should this coating layer be damaged, corrosion effects that alter the filter surface may begin to appear after several years.
The effect described does not affect the CMOS sensor of the Leica M (Typ 240). Should you be considering an upgrade from your camera to a Leica M or M-P (Typ 240), Customer Care would be pleased to make you an attractive offer following a check of your camera and under consideration of the model and its age.
If the imaging quality of your camera gives cause for complaint in this respect, we recommend that you send it directly to Leica Customer Care or the authorized Customer Care department of your country’s Leica distributor. As longer waiting times may otherwise occur, the camera should only be sent to Customer Care after prior arrangement.
For us, it is important that we offer only technically faultless products. We are therefore particularly sorry if the imaging quality of your camera should be adversely affected in any way. We hope that the goodwill arrangement we have decided upon will allow us to remedy the problem as soon as possible and rebuild and maintain the trust you have always placed in our brand.
A growing number of Leica users are reporting white spots appearing on images taken with M9, M9-P, M Monochrom and M-E cameras. The common element in all of these models is their 18MP full frame Kodak CCD sensor which is protected by a piece of Schott S8612 glass. As well as the regular models, this issue also has the potential to affect any of Leica's many special editions that were based on the M9, including the $29,000 M9 Titanium.
In comments on Leica forum La Vida Leica, a company representative confirms that that the issue is a result of 'corrosion effects on the cover glass of the CCD sensor in Leica M9, M9-P, M Monochrom and M-E cameras'. Meanwhile Leica appears to have has removed references to contact-cleaning the sensors in its M-series models from its German-language website.
|Images showing signs of a corroded glass layer over the camera's sensor
[image: La Vida Leica]
Corrosion manifests in the form of white halos around darker specks, rather than the dark spots created by dust on a sensor.
Leica's solution for owners of affected cameras is a long-term sensor replacement program that covers free replacement for up to three years from the purchase date. After this time, replacement fees will be subsidized by varying amounts depending on the time since purchase, or since last sensor replacement. A further comment states that should a customer be looking to upgrade to an M (typ 240), they will be made 'an attractive offer as a part of our goodwill arrangement'.
The current wait time for a warranty sensor replacement is roughly three months and Leica has confirmed that these replacements could be susceptible to the same problems in the future (and were this to happen, the new sensors would also be covered under the same 'goodwill arrangement').
If you own a Leica M9, M9-P, M Monochrom and M-E, you can check for white spots in the same way as you might check for dust. Stop down the lens, and take a picture of the sky, or a sheet of white paper. At 100% examination, dust spots will manifest themselves as dark spots on your image, whereas the so-called 'corrosion' will appear as white spots or white rings around dark spots (see images above).
We've reached out to Leica and have been promised an official response to the problem very soon. Meanwhile, you can follow updates over at La Vida Leica.
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