Home News Leica M9 CCD sensor corrosion upgrade now includes M11 family and Q3...

Leica M9 CCD sensor corrosion upgrade now includes M11 family and Q3 cameras

Owners of Leica's M9-series cameras with sensor corrosion can now upgrade to the latest Leica M11 cameras… but they will have to write off their beloved CCD sensor body.

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Leica has released details of an expansion to its CCD Sensor Corrosion Upgrade Program. This program aims to address the issue of sensor corrosion in certain Leica camera models and provides customers with the opportunity to upgrade their cameras to the latest technology.

In the latest update, Leica has added the highly regarded M11-P, M11M, and Q3 cameras to the upgrade program. Owners of M9-series cameras affected by the CCD corrosion can take advantage of the program and benefit from being able to choose the latest cameras. More details and costs are included in this Leica Rumors article.

In an earlier upgrade scheme, Leica first offered only the M240 models as an M series replacement. The the then-current M10 however was not available in the beginning “due to the extremely high demand for the new Leica M10”. This option was added only later, exactly as it is the case with the M11 now.

Opportunity

The upgrade program that Leica offers remains an excellent opportunity for existing camera owners. This way, they can enhance their gear and keep up with the latest technological advancements. With the addition of the M11-P, M11M, and Q3 cameras to the scheme, as well as revised pricing and expanded eligibility, Leica continues to support those customers who purchased cameras over ten years ago.

While such a long-standing customer support is certainly extraordinary, it still points to a problem that Leica as a high-end, high-price brand has had for a long time now. The 18MP full-frame CCD sensor of the M9 proved to be everything but future-proof. While many fans of the M9 revel in the unique rendering qualities of the sensor, the corrosion issue soon occurred.

Leica started to exchange the sensor free of charge soon after the concerns became known around 2014. Obviously, this was to avoid the next PR disaster after the M8 black/violet issue. From 15 August 2017, the generally free replacement was limited to cameras which were nor older than five years. In all other cases, Leica initially charged €982 for a new sensor with a general overhaul and new one-year warranty. This was a pretty fair offer for sure.

To make things worse, even exchanged sensors started to show corrosion issues. At the beginning, they create errors that took like a dust spot in the sensor. Then, it becomes worse and worse. Eventually, the sensor will become completely unusable. Once it has started, the deterioration can no longer be stopped, according to various reports.

Kodak Sensor

The German Tech Site Golem.de, usually a reliable source, gives an interesting detail. “The error occurred in cameras of the types M9, M9-P, M-E and M Monochrom, which were all equipped with the Kodak KAF-18500 sensor, which is fitted with an infrared filter cover glass (Schott S8612).”

The sensor version that was used for replacement after 2018 has a reputation (so far) for not being corrosion prone. Since 2020, no more new M9 sensors are available. This is simply because the production batch is used, and no new sensors are being manufactured (hence the “upgrade” schemes). So better ask when you are buying a second-hand M9. In case of doubt, make an inquiry at Leica’s customer care. This applies all the more since prices for used M9 are still remarkably high.


Read here about the rediscovery of the M9

More on the CCD corrosion problem


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8 COMMENTS

  1. Apparently the Q3 camera is not included in the upgrade. I just heard about the sensor corrosion and I’m devastated. Not quite sure, what my next step is.

    • The article was based on a UK Leica press release, as far as I can remember. But we can check. In which country do you live?

      • In the UK. I would love to see that press release, as the customer service and Leica Store Manager in London say, its not on there.

  2. Kolari Vision offers a sensor repair service for all M9 versions including the Monochrome. It’s not cheap as they’re US based but looks like the only option if you want to keep your M9.

  3. The CCD sensors of the S2/S2P and S006 had corrosion problems as well, Leica replaced some, others were charged us$4000, but no upgrade program as far as I am aware.

    • Hi Mark, I don’t believe the S sensor corrosion issues were ever as widespread as the M9 sensor corrosion issues. And also, the M is Leica’s core product, the S clearly isn’t… Much more common with the S system were/are the AF Motor failures. Both of my S lenses have already had the AF motor replaced. I believe the first time they did it for free, now they charge something like $250 if I recall correctly, and (if you live in the US) the service turnaround time is about 2 months…

    • Only the M8 (2007) and M9 (2009) had CCD sensors, which were common at the time. From 2012 and the introduction of the M240, Leica adopted CMOS, along with most of the industry.

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