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

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Leica just lately discontinued its alternative service for M9 cameras by the widespread “sensor corrosion” situation that surfaced again in 2014. Now a brand new report claims that it wasn’t “broken” coatings that brought on the corrosion, however the truth that protecting coatings had been inexplicably omitted utterly.

LDP LLC, a digicam conversion and restore enterprise based mostly in New Jersey, opened up a Leica M9 rendered unusable by “corrosion” and was stunned 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. Overlaying the picture sensor itself is an IR Lower 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 enhance optical efficiency since every bit of glass mild has to undergo degrades the picture considerably.”

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

“It was once that if you happen to scratched the ICF, you can ship the digicam in, and they might exchange 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 pressure 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 truly happening.

“As a result of Kodak favored 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 are 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 (no less than I haven’t seen it).”

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

The Leica M9 with a horribly corroded sensor.
The eliminated sensor. The brown shade seen across the CCD was as a consequence of prior sensor cleanings.
What the corrosion appears like underneath a microscope.

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

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

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

“All these BG and UG kinds of glasses are inclined to oxidization. Variable embrace 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 suppose that sooner or later you’ll have an issue. That Leica / Kodak would try this boggles the thoughts.”

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

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

Llewellyn’s conclusion is that the “corrosion” Leica claims is because of a broken coating layer is definitely as a consequence of 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 no less than for my digicam (with the serial quantity handwritten inside 66,643), the defect was brought on 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 provided free replacements of faulty sensors for a time earlier than it started charging $1,600 to do the alternative. On Semi just lately determined to exit the CCD enterprise completely, forcing Leica to discontinue the M9 sensor alternative program final month and start providing clients with flawed M9s credit score towards a brand new digicam as an alternative.

For those who’re in love together with your “corroded” M9, nonetheless, and need to see it introduced again to well being, LDP LLC is now providing to exchange your oxidation-damaged ICF with a brand new properly-coated ICF for a charge of $1,500.

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