Leica's M8 fixes

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by RichA, Nov 24, 2006.

  1. RichA

    RichA Guest

    The introduction of Leica's first digital M series hasn't gone quite as
    smoothly as they will have hoped, before the camera even reached owners
    some reviewers spotted some issues with the imaging side of the camera
    (Banding, Mirror/Ghost effect and IR sensitivity). Leica issued a
    statement two weeks ago that they were aware and were working on a
    solution. Today they have announced the 'action plan', firstly that the
    Banding and Mirror/Ghost images issue can be rectified by returning
    your camera to LEICA for repair (and that all new M8's leaving Solms
    will not suffer from this problem). Secondly the solution for 'above
    average' IR sensitivity are IR filters which attach to the front of the
    lens, Leica will be offering two free filters to all M8 owners.

    Press Release:
    Upgrade for the LEICA M8 available

    11/24/2006 - Since delivery of the LEICA M8 started as of the end of
    October 2006 we have received the endorsement of many happy users.
    Nevertheless, in some fairly rare situations, some annoying effects may
    occasionally occur. Even though these artifacts neither happen often
    nor to everyone we want to eliminate the effects by providing the
    following solution.
    Issues reported as "Banding" and "Mirror/Ghost images"

    Our engineering teams thoroughly investigated the root causes of these
    effects. They have developed and tested a robust remedy - an upgrade
    for the M8 - to eliminate any re-occurrence. We have taken extra
    precautions to not only make sure that the problem does not surface
    again, but that this remedy will enable every M8 to meet and exceed
    Leica performance standards.

    Cameras shipped from our factory as of November 27th, 2006 will be
    equipped with the upgrade. Therefore, and because they will be tested
    thoroughly, we are confident that they will be defect-free.

    All customers having received their LEICA M8 before this delivery date
    will be offered an upgrade free of charge in Leica Camera AG's Customer
    Service in Solms. To upgrade your camera please, register yourself on
    our website as of December 6th, 2006. After you have registered you
    will be contacted by Customer Service to make an appointment to send in
    your LEICA M8.
    Please note that even without this upgrade all cameras delivered before
    this date are in working order and can be used normally. Even so, we
    recommend you to have the upgrade performed.
    Above-average sensitivity for infrared light (synthetic fabrics are
    rendered with a slight magenta offset)

    During the development of the LEICA M8, we made important design
    choices to insure that the camera delivers the quality in images the
    Leica M System is known for. Keeping the protective glass cover on the
    sensor as thin as possible on the one hand has the benefit of allowing
    the full potential of Leica lenses on the LEICA M8 to be utilized with
    respect to their sharpness and contrast rendition, but it also absorbs
    less of the infrared light. In everyday photographical use the
    resulting above-average sensitivity for infrared light may lead to a
    faulty color rendition, especially in the case of synthetic fabrics
    which - depending on the ambient light - cannot be rendered fully black
    but only with a slight magenta offset.

    Our solution: We will offer special screw-on type UV/IR filters for all
    Leica M lenses. With respect to the Leica M's compact build the
    combination of a thin absorption filter on the sensor and a screw-on
    interference filter on the lens represents the best technical solution.
    It completely eliminates the color offset caused by infrared light.
    When using lenses from 16 to 35mm, we suggest opting for the 6-bit
    coded ones, in order to prevent a color offset towards the edges. No
    disadvantages must be expected for the images when the LEICA M8 is
    equipped with the latest firmware (from 1.10; available as of early
    December 2006).

    Leica Camera AG offers every LEICA M8 customer a basic kit of two UV/IR
    filters with diameters of her/his choice and free of charge. Delivery
    will commence as of early February 2007. In order to receive the two
    free IR/UV filters, please register yourself as of December 6th, 2006,
    including your name and address as well as the camera's serial number.
    After your registration you can order two filters of choice which will
    be delivered to your address. Additional filters will be available from
    your Leica dealer.
    Continuing improvements through firmware updates

    As is common with digital products, Leica Camera AG is constantly
    working on improving firmware details such as in the case of the
    automatic white balance. All improvements will be made available for
    our customers as downloadable firmware updates.

    We are confident these corrective technical measures will fulfil every
    expectation of even the most demanding customers.
     
    RichA, Nov 24, 2006
    #1
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  2. RichA

    bmoag Guest

    If anyone is unhappy enough with their M8 to want to give it away I will be
    happy to take it, IR warts and all . . .
     
    bmoag, Nov 24, 2006
    #2
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  3. Red flag: the bandpass of interference filters changes with
    viewing angle.
    Yeah, right. Firmware does not fix out of band filter response.

    This sounds like a band aid that is going to fall off.

    Roger
     
    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Nov 24, 2006
    #3
  4. RichA

    RichA Guest

    I pretty much figured they'd do the filter fix. Scraping the Kodak
    sensors and re-fitting them with new ones with a stronger IR filter
    attached would have been....expensive. These sensors were spec'd for
    Leica so I wonder if they were the ones who specified the weak IR
    filter?
     
    RichA, Nov 25, 2006
    #4
  5. Leica uses a 6 bit optical code on newer lenses for identification
    purposes: http://www.leica-camera.us/news/news/1/801.html . I
    assume that this means some of their embedded software need to know
    the focal length of the lens in order to eliminate "color offset".
     
    Gisle Hannemyr, Nov 25, 2006
    #5
  6. RichA

    Alan Browne Guest

    Lens ID encoding so the firmware knows which lens is mounted allowing
    for the aberation correction. Leica will add the codes to your existing
    lenses (or at least some of them).
    Every DSLR maker has had product introduction issues. Considering the
    lack of manufacturing might at Leica and that it is not an electronics
    co. at all, it is not surprising that they have had these issues.
     
    Alan Browne, Nov 25, 2006
    #6
  7. I don't think that one has to be a manufacturing giant to a) Have a
    thorough understanding of IR contamination issues, b) Test their
    solution to these issues.
     
    achilleaslazarides, Nov 25, 2006
    #7
  8. That's the surprising part. If they had said during the introduction that
    they had to accept some IR sensitivity as a trade-off to get the most out
    of their lenses, then I guess that most people would have accepted that.

    However, now they simply look incompetent.
     
    Philip Homburg, Nov 25, 2006
    #8
  9. RichA

    Alan Browne Guest

    Any product line introduction carries risks that there will have been
    things overlooked, under estimated for risk or over estimated for success.

    In order to test for something, you first have to identify the risk or
    problem and then design for it and test it. They may have not gone far
    enough in their evaluation or assessment of the liklihood of the problem
    appearing.

    As for their "might" (not giantness) this goes to identifying the risks
    before they occure.

    I'm not apologizing for Leica. At the prices they charge and in
    maintaining the Leica excellence ideal in all of their marketing, one
    would expect flawless execution.

    Prinicpally they also have debt (lots) and shareholders (somewhat
    patient). This leads to pressure to get the product out and to not
    bankrupt the place while doing so.

    Cheers,
    Alan
     
    Alan Browne, Nov 26, 2006
    #9
  10. "Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark)" <>
    wrote in message SNIP
    Yes, I already noticed that several years ago on my Powershot G3 when
    testing the effects of IR contamination on color saturation/accuracy
    with the B+W 486 IR/UV cut interference filter:
    <http://www.xs4all.nl/~bvdwolf/main/downloads/B+W_486_reflect.jpg> .

    At 7.0mm zoom position (=approx. 28mm at 35mm full frame equivalence):
    <http://www.xs4all.nl/~bvdwolf/main/downloads/G3_07-0_LM_486_C.jpg>
    it is already visible without manipulation on an out-of-focus ()linear
    gamma graycard shot.

    Even the 28.8mm (=approx.115mm @ 35mm FF equiv.) position is not void
    of the effect, but might be obscured by detail:
    <http://www.xs4all.nl/~bvdwolf/main/downloads/G3_28-8_LM_486_C.jpg>

    SNIP
    Leica already had to use special offset micro-lenses to combat light
    falloff issues, due to the non-retrofocus lens design on this M8
    rangefinder. Not having to account for an SLR mirror box ("the Leica
    M's compact build") allows more symmetrical lens designs, but
    unfortunately (for angle of incidence issues) the exit pupil is closer
    to the focus plane for normal to wide focal lengths.

    The fact that their newer lenses are bar coded to detect the focal
    length, and the (by design) thinner CCD IR filter window, suggests to
    me that Leica was aware of the potential issues of oblique angles of
    incidence, and has a postprocessing fix attempt in place to address
    several issues (in addition to an attempt to mitigate the lack of an
    AA-filter).
    I agree, especially since in my opinion it is better to fundamentally
    avoid these issues, rather than 'fix' them in postprocessing.
    Aggregate 'fixes' tend to create their own need for further 'fixes'...
     
    Bart van der Wolf, Nov 27, 2006
    #10
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