Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/07/09

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Subject: [Leica] Leica quality control (longish)
From: Charles Dunlap <cdunlap@es.UCSC.EDU>
Date: Thu, 9 Jul 1998 12:13:19 -0800

Over the years, there have been numerous isolated complaints on the LUG
about new Leica equipment arriving with serious problems. These threads
come and go, usually with someone chiming in to smooth over the disgruntled

I think it's time for a roll call, just to set the record straight, of
folks who have bought new equipment, from authorized Leica dealers, that
had to be exchanged or repaired within the first month of ownership.

My history with Leica quality control:

I have taken delivery of three new Leica M items

1) 50 Summicron-M (1996) -- No problems.

2) 90 Summicron-M (1997) -- Returned two lenses due to bubbles in the lens
coatings (front and rear elements). Finally, the third lens was ok.

3) M6 -- The first one (1996) arrived with a black particle on the
rangefinder mirror, a film speed dial with markers that weren't aligned. I
eventually sent it in to have these things tended to. Leica USA decided to
exchange the camera for a new one (no explanation, but I must assume that
there was a serious problem, perhaps a silent recall of cameras in that
serial number range).

4) M6 -- The replacement camera, an M6 HM, took two months to arrive. I
have had it for a week now. The film door doesn't sit snugly when the
camera is closed; it rocks back and forth, making a clicking sound. I've
never handled an M6 with this behavior. More serious is the bottom plate
lock. It was stiff when I first got the camera and is now binding,
resisting turning, and making a grinding noise. Much as I would like to
ignore those things and have a camera to use, I know that they should be
tended to, especially the bottom plate lock since it is getting worse.

So, I've taken delivery of 6 examples of new equipment from Leica and only
two of those (one 50/2 and one of three 90/2.8) have been in acceptable

That's about a 0.333 batting average, which is ok for baseball but
detrimental to a business with the motto "Fascination and Precision."
There's nothing fascinating about having to return equipment that isn't
made as precisely as it should be.

I am not angry at Leica or their distributors, merely frustrated. I have no
cause for anger since I have always been able to have the problems
addressed satisfactorily. But I'm sorely frustrated that I can't just go
out and buy a piece of supposedly top-quality camera equipment and have it
arrive in first-class condition. I feel like I'm buying from the seconds
rack at an outlet store.

Compare this to the Nikon equipment that I owned before moving to Leica M

I bought 6 Nikon SLR items:

1) 28-85 zoom: no problems
2) 75-300 zoom: no problems
3) 50/1.4 prime: no problems
4) Nikon 8008s body: no problems
5) Nikon FM2 body: no problems (very nicely made, very smooth functioning)
6) Nikon 60/2.8 macro: unevenness in turning of focussing mechanism,
exchanged for a second lens in beautiful condition

I examined this equipment as carefully as I do my M equipment. Out of 7
examples of new equipment from Nikon, 6 were in first-class condition.
That's a failure rate that is much more acceptable.

- -Charlie

- --------------------------------------------
             Charles E. Dunlap
         Earth Sciences Department
          University of California
            Santa Cruz, CA 95064
Tel.: (408) 459-5228    Fax.: (408) 459-3074

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