Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/12/12

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Subject: [Leica] Survey results: R8 Reliability.
From: Martin Howard <>
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2000 14:33:46 -0500

These are the results of my Leica R8 survey.  19 people reponded to my query
and I got data on 31 cameras.  Clearly this is a very low number: I'm sure
that Leica has sold many, many more camera bodies than these 31: so bear
this in mind when reading this.

Secondly, out of the 31 cameras reported, 14 have always worked perfectly,
one camera body worked but the motor drive failed to rewind when attached to
it (subsequently adjusted by Leica), and the remaining 15 had problems which
required repair.

Another thing to bear in mind is that it is VERY likely that owners with
cameras that have developed faults were more vocal in reporting than those
with perfect cameras.  Several people expressed gratitude at someone
actually willing to listen to their stories and take them seriously -- all,
with one exception, had had problems with their R8s.

So, bearing that in mind, here is the list:

2,285,xxx    Complete lock up.  Returned to Leica.

2,285,xxx    Faulty rewind release caused film to be scratched
             unless held down during rewind.

2,292,xxx    Unreliable rear LCD panel.
2,292,xxx    Light leak through shutter.  Repair by Leica, twice.
             Subsequently developed a faulty light meter (spot
             meter wouldn't lock).

2,293,xxx    Light leak through shutter.
2,293,xxx    Defective rear LCD panel.  Returned to Leica.

2,297,xxx    DOF lockup, buckled shutter.

2,298,xxx    Problems with winder.
2,298,xxx    Strange indications on rear LCD.  Problems shutting
             back cover.
2,298,xxx    Scratched film, problems shutting back cover.

2,412,xxx    OK -- no problems.

2,413,1xx    OK -- no problems.
2,413,xxx    Skipped frames when used with MD.  Repaired by Leica.
             Failed to work at all with MD three weeks after return.
             Repaired again by Leica.

2,416,xxx    OK.  Leica replaced a switch during routine
             maintenance (had to do with motor/winder contacts).  This
             was a preventative measure: no problem had been experienced.
2,416,xxx    OK -- no problems.

2,417,xxx    Faulty light meter (spot meter wouldn't lock).

2,421,xxx    OK -- no problems.

2,428,xxx    OK -- no problems.
2,428,xxx    Dead in box.

2,434,xxx    OK -- no problems.  MD (000xx) OK.

2,430,xxx    OK -- no problems.

2,462,xxx    Jammed upon winding with winder, every time.

2,464,xxx    OK -- no problems.

2,465,xxx    OK -- no problems.
2,465,xxx    OK -- no problems.
2,465,xxx    OK. MD (009xx) failed to rewind film.  Camera had
             MD drive coupling adjusted by Leica.

2,475,xxx    OK -- no problems.
2,475,xxx    Aperture control lever failure jammed the lens to
             the body.
2,475,xxx    Aperture control lever failure jammed the lens to
             the body.  Shutter curtains developed problem, needed

2,476,xxx    OK -- no problems.
2,476,xxx    OK -- no problems.

There *appears* to be a pattern here -- later cameras seem less prone to
problems than earlier ones.  In particular, we can note that all cameras
with a s/n of 2,298,xxx or less have developed problems.

Mikiro ( has been collecting data on the various generations
of the R8.  He reports the following:

   I am now collecting info about R8 generations and revisions.  I
   heard that R8s have been made in the following four generations.

   1st: SN 2285000-2422000
   2nd: SN 2427001-2435800
   3rd: SN 2464101-2477300
   4th: SN higher

   The current generation has electronic boards much more resistant to
   static damage.  They are said to be trouble-free unless you open the top

Joseph Yao ( is a distributor for Leica cameras and
reported some time back on the LUG that he was getting new cameras with
lower serial numbers.  Perhaps this is a concious effort on the part of
Leica to confuse the issue -- otherwise potential buyers might stay away
from low serial numbers and thus Leica would be stuck with lots of unsold
stock.  This, however, is speculation on my part.

Conclusions?  As several people suspected, including myself, this is far too
little data to draw any conclusions from.  It would *appear* that there is a
trend: bodies with later s/n are more reliable than ones with earlier s/n.
However, there is are two problems with this reasoning: The aforementioned
experience of Dr. Yao, and that fact that some cameras when repaired by
Leica are completely replaced -- although the serial number remains the
same.  I know of at least one camera to which this has happened.  Since the
s/n is printed on the camera base plate, the entire body can be replaced
with a new one, just retaining the baseplate.

In closing, I would like to thank those 19 people who participated in this
survey, and especially those whose cameras have always worked perfectly:
they had less incentive to make the effort.  I'm very grateful for your

Ultimately, I guess, the question is: Would I personally buy an R8?  The
answer is, yes, I would.  It is the best manual focus SLR out there, in my
opinion.  I would want to buy it either from an individual I know and trust
who could test the camera for me, or in person.  And I would test it with a
winder or drive before parting with my money.  However, at the moment, as a
struggling PhD student, I need to divert my funds towards other things than
esoteric camera equipment.


- -- 
Martin Howard                     |
Visiting Scholar, CSEL, OSU       | People don't like to be parameters
email:         | in an equation.
www:        +---------------------------------------

Replies: Reply from Mark Rabiner <> (Re: [Leica] Survey results: R8 Reliability.)
Reply from Nick Poole <> (Re: [Leica] Survey results: R8 Reliability.)