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Leica failures and dealing with Leica (UK) service

New M6 fails after 8 rolls of film

A few years ago I bought a new Leica body. A few days later I was shooting a job in low light and one that required discretion so I took along a couple of M6s. About half-way through the job I noticed that the new M6 shutter was not making the normal sound. I tried different shutter speeds and it sounded as if the shutter was always working at around 1/60th or 1/125th. Fortunately I was able to finish the job on the other M6.

As I was very busy and needed the camera in a hurry I took it to my local (non-Leica approved) repair guy who quickly found that a small spring had broken. The spring was a piece of wire about 25mm long bent in the middle. Strangely it had broken, not at the elbow but had fractured on the straight part. Bad material? Poor heat treatment?

He quickly made a new spring and I was back in business that afternoon. It cost me about £20 (around $30) - far cheaper than going through Leica's laborious warranty process.

You can read more about "The proverbial Leica Quality" on Leica's web site.

Leica (UK) hourly rate: £1,000 ($1,500) for a botched repair!

During the Euro96 riot in London's Trafalgar Square (see Euro96 for the pictures) I was attacked three times (see Euro96: press attacks). During the second attack one of the rioters tried to tear the speedlight off my M6. They managed to bend the hotshoe quite badly.I sent the body to Leica (UK) for repair for which they charged £80 (around $120).

When I got it back I looked at the hotshoe plate with some curiosity as the serial number is on the plate and I wondered if they stamped the original body serial number on the new plate. To my surprise they hadn't even replaced it but just tried to push it back into positon. It was still bent.

I happened to be in a bar with a journalist at the time so I put the camera on the counter, took out my trusty Swiss Army penknife, removed the plate (one screw), bent it straight and replaced it.

Total time: 5 minutes. If Leica (UK) had bothered to do the job properly they would have been charging £1,000 (around $1,500) per hour!

Routine service for an M6 makes it worse than ever

Ah... light leaks. One of my M6s developed some bad light leaks through the back. Most repairers don't have access to the test equipment and replacement seals so it was off to another encounter with Leica (UK).

Two months (TWO MONTHS!) and £250 (around $400) later the camera came back. I load a test roll and check it out. The metering was so wildly off it was not possible to get and underexposure indication even at 1/1000th @ f16!

Strange, it was fine before.

So back it goes to Leica. I wonder how long it will take this time?

Useful links to get you out of trouble

  • Leica's website in English.
  • Find your nearest Leica service department (UK photographers may prefer to send their cameras to Germany).
  • It might be useful to print out a copy the service report form in Adobe Acrobat format to accompany your equipment.
Link to contacts page