Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1997/07/30

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Subject: precision, yeah
From: Kari Eloranta <>
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 1997 15:19:42 +0300 (EET DST)

John Gilbert <> wrote about his experences
with two M6's and M4-P. I'm glad he ok now if a bit disillusioned.
His experiences have given him some trouble but strangely his writing
brought me some relief. This stuff happens inspite of all the talk
about "precision". Today I had to take my M4-P to repair for the third
time in half a year. Same reason all times. 

Got this mint- body & 50mm a bit more than a year ago. Later added 35 and
some filters into the set. Last winter while I traveled in Ethiopia it
got a hit. Nothing major but I relied more on my F-1's after that since
I suspected that the 50 or the body might be out of whack. Glad I did so
since the images with it were somewhat out of focus - it was focusing
too close and only at f5.6 or smaller aperture dof covered the offset
well enough.

After the trip 50mm went to the factory for the usual six weeks and the
Leica rep. in Helsinki worked on the body. They returned it saying it
was now ok, just adjustment needed. Trusted them, put in on the shelf
and did mostly darkroom. Eventually the 50 came back from Germany.
And my next trip was lined up. A rather important one for me. The last
days before taking off were very busy as usual but some instinct told
me to test it. I put a roll of Velvia through it in the usual test
arrangement somewhat similar to John's. It clearly indicated that the
focusing problem was still there. The factory rep. couldn't anymore do
anything since their back-up body was out on loan. And I expected to need
a RF for some situations.

So I had to take it and do the fiddling around. Whenever there was a low
light situation that I couldn't cover with my Canons I shot it with the
Leica but focused a tad behind the subject. What a pain to do and you
still don't really know if you got the subject. Before leaving I had
studied the test slides very carefully and I knew which way and how
much the body was focusing wrong. But only approximately. After five
weeks and a bagfull of film from the jungle I brough the M out to
the repair and off to Solms it went.

Got it back after six weeks to my next project in Vienna & Geneva. I was
hopeful that the problems would have been solved. Was I into a surprise!
Opened the factory box in the hotel in Vienna and found a M4-P with a
familiar serial number which however didn't anymore have 28 and 75mm
framelines. The finder had been changed to either a M4 or M4-2 finder, a
scratched one as it turned out in closer inspection. And the focusing was
still off. I was mad as hell. The only relief was that I had one F-1 body
& the some lenses for it with me. The Canon is a perpetum mobile, the most
trusthworthy camera I've even held in my hands, par none. But it is not
a rangefinder and its glass is a tad below Leica level.

So when John says on the very day I bring my Leica for the same repair
job the third time
> I have become cynical about Leica's quality control. This is the company 
> that used to use the slogan "Leica means precision worldwide". 
I don't find it difficult to agree.

Do they get it right this time? Precison and quality, how do you guess
about that? Why do I have to? Fortunately I have now a stack of negs
to work on (mostly from the Canons) and can wait. The moment it comes
back it goes to test bench and again back to Solms until they get it
right. Unfortunately that is my only option - Finland is too small a
place to have professional Leica mechanics with all the necessary
equipment. In that sense germans or americans etc. are luckier - you
can upon recommendations pick a good "local" Leica mechanic, develop a
relationship and can trust that he will do the job right for you.

Ok, had to went this off. Don't be overly discouraged - even I still
like the sucker in a way... The camera that is, not the company.