Leica M9 Sensor ‘Corrosion’ Due to Dumb Design Choice, Report Claims


Leica not too long ago discontinued its substitute service for M9 cameras by the widespread “sensor corrosion” issue that surfaced back in 2014. Now a brand new report claims that it wasn’t “broken” coatings that prompted the corrosion, however the truth that protecting coatings had been inexplicably omitted fully.

LDP LLC, a digicam conversion and restore enterprise primarily based in New Jersey, opened up a Leica M9 rendered unusable by “corrosion” and was shocked at what it discovered after taking a detailed take a look at the sensor.

Manufactured between 2009 and 2014, an estimated 180,000 Leica M9 cameras had been produced and offered with a price ticket of $8,000.

Contained in the digicam was an 18-megapixel Kodak full-frame CCD sensor. Protecting the picture sensor itself is an IR Minimize Filter (ICF) which additionally serves because the coverglass.

“Sometimes, the ICF is a separate piece of glass held in entrance of the clear sensor coverglass,” writes Dan Llewellyn, president of LDP LLC. “I don’t know if Kodak did that to decrease prices or maybe improve optical efficiency since every bit of glass mild has to undergo degrades the picture considerably.”

A typical ICF discovered masking the sensor in a digital digicam.

“It used to be that if you happen to scratched the ICF, you could possibly ship the digicam in, and they might change simply the ICF leaving the unique sensor within the digicam,” Llewellyn says. “Now, maybe due to the upper resolutions and the issue of getting the glass actually clear, the producers drive you to purchase a brand new sensor with the ICF already connected.”

Llewellyn had by no means seen a sensor itself corrode within the method Leica photographers had been experiencing, so he determined to dig deeper into what was really occurring.

“As a result of Kodak preferred to epoxy the ICF to the ceramic chip because the coverglass, possibly Leica couldn’t simply change the ICF,” Llewellyn says. “One concept I considered was that maybe there have been pinholes within the vapor deposition metallic coatings which might be utilized to the ICF. Possibly these pinholes the place oxidizing over time, however that’s nonetheless a curious factor as a result of coatings don’t try this (at the least I haven’t seen it).”

After discovering a superb situation Leica M9 with a horrible situation sensor, Llewellyn extracted the CCD and put it beneath a microscope.

The Leica M9 with a horribly corroded sensor.
The eliminated sensor. The brown colour seen across the CCD was due to prior sensor cleanings.
What the corrosion seems like beneath a microscope.

Llewellyn then used an artificial sapphire 1 micron polish and was ready to polish off a lot of the corrosion from the ICF. However then he discovered that the floor was really pitted from oxidation, one thing he had by no means seen earlier than.

Subsequent, Llewellyn fastidiously eliminated the ICF/coverglass from the CCD sensor and used a spectrometer to analyze it. That is when he obtained his largest shock.

“What I discovered was a filter that prolonged down to 300nm,” Llewellyn writes. “That filter doesn’t have coatings! […] Leica / Kodak used an uncoated Schott BG kind glass! The coatings seal the glass. Any individual actually screwed up.

“All these BG and UG varieties of glasses are vulnerable to oxidization. Variable embody time, temperature, humidity, ozone, and even the actual glass soften, however you’ll by no means put uncoated BG or UG glass in a digicam and never assume that at some point you’re going to have an issue. That Leica / Kodak would try this boggles the thoughts.”

Right here’s what Leica said concerning the corrosion again in 2014 after doing its personal investigation:

The sensors are geared up with a specifically coated IR filter cowl glass to guarantee optimum imaging efficiency. Ought to this coating layer be broken, corrosion results that alter the filter floor might start to seem after a number of years.

Llewellyn’s conclusion is that the “corrosion” Leica claims is due to a broken coating layer is definitely due to oxidation from having no coatings.

“Not ‘corrosion’; that’s oxidization attributable to a scarcity of protecting coatings,” Llewellyn says. “Silly, silly, silly. Now possibly they later began including coatings that later turned faulty, however at the least for my digicam (with the serial quantity handwritten inside 66,643), the defect was prompted through the use of unprotected glass.”

Kodak offered its picture sensor enterprise to the Platinum Fairness-owned Truesense in 2011, and Platinum Fairness offered the enterprise to On Semi in 2014.

After the sensor corrosion situation made headlines, Leica supplied free replacements of faulty sensors for a time earlier than it started charging $1,600 to do the substitute. On Semi recently decided to exit the CCD business entirely, forcing Leica to discontinue the M9 sensor replacement program final month and start providing clients with flawed M9s credit score towards a brand new digicam as a substitute.

When you’re in love along with your “corroded” M9, nevertheless, and need to see it introduced again to well being, LDP LLC is now providing to replace your oxidation-damaged ICF with a brand new properly-coated ICF for a payment of $1,500.

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