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M9 sensor replacement: Now you can turn your colour digital into a Monochrom

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Girl with Sunglasses: Leica M9 Monochrom and 35mm Summilux (Photo George James )

Owners of Leica M9s who were not lucky enough to get a replacement sensor under the defunct factory scheme are now on a roll. After news of Kolari Vision offering a $1,000 replacement (covered in this Macfilos article), we hear that yet another company is offering a similar service. You can even convert your old M9 into a Monochrom.

Night shot in Soho: Nichol and Lucy in Old Compton Street. Image Mike Evans, M9 Monochrome and 35mm Summilux FLE
Night shot in Soho: Nichol and Lucy in Old Compton Street. Image Mike Evans, M9 Monochrome and 35mm Summilux FLE

Maxmax is the second firm to offer a replacement service for corroded M9 sensors. A straightforward sensor swap costs $1,500 but Maxmax lists further interesting options, including the chance to convert your M9 into a monochrome camera.

Daytime in Soho, through the glass brightly: Caffe Nero, Soho, M9 Monochrom and 75mm APO Summicron (Photo Mike Evans)
Daytime in Soho, through the glass brightly: Caffe Nero, Soho, M9 Monochrom and 75mm APO Summicron (Photo Mike Evans)

For the same price, you can have a UV-VIS-R window to transform the camera into a full-spectrum colour device, although this will require the use of filters.

Of even greater interest is the option to replace the old colour sensor with a monochrome unit. You can even have a similar UV-VIS-R adaptation to create a full-spectrum monochrome camera. Either option costs £2,500. In the case of the Monochrome UV conversion, UV sensitivity will be around six times greater than that of the original colour sensor. Again, this option probably requires the use of filters.

You can contact MaxMax here

Girl with Sunglasses: Leica M9 Monochrom and 35mm Summilux (Photo George James )
Girl with Sunglasses: Leica M9 Monochrom and 35mm Summilux (Photo George James )

One strange fact that many of you will have noticed: Both these companies are based in New Jersey. The original CCD sensors for Leica were made by Kodak at the Eastman Business Park in Rochester, NY. In 2011 Kodak sold the Image Sensor Solutions business, including the manufacturing capacity, to Platinum Equity.

Leica Rumors reports that there is at least one other potential supplier in the wings. I am hoping for a more local facility to serve European M9 owners.

One positive aspect of all this activity is that a corroded M9 is no longer a write-off. As long as potential customers are confident that a repair is possible, un-converted M9s will continue to have a value.

Via Leica Rumors

10 COMMENTS

  1. One point is not clear to me. You modify the sensor of your camera and have it converted to monochrome, infrared, you name it. The image processor however stays the same and produces RGB raw files with the usual three channels; to produce jpegs it demosaicizes the “three channels” irrespective of the information they actually contain. Thus, you cannot obtain the same output and quality you would obtain using a camera that is natively monochrome or IR, can you?

    • You could be right, Andrea, but I am not technically proficient enough to answer. Perhaps one of our more tech-aware readers could comment.

  2. This seems rather expensive, since one can use a film camera, and change the sensor for anything between a five and ten quid, every 36 activations.

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