Servicing of Leica M Type 240

Image Source: Leica AG Website

As per my understanding, all Leica M Type 240 cameras need to be sent back to Germany if you want to perform any repair or calibration work. If you have a bunch of other cameras sitting in your dry cabinet, this probably won’t bother you. But if it’s your on and only camera, then you are out of luck. When you send it to Germany, it simply means that you will need to wait for a month or two (if you are lucky) to get it fixed and returned back in your hand.

To Leica, this makes total sense. The M is a precisely crafted camera with components that have almost zero tolerance. They are hand assembled. They require tremendous amount of skills to get the extreme accuracy. They need specialised machines and equipments in order to service, repair or calibrate the camera.

To me, this is bullshit.

I came from manufacturing business background, though I’m not expert in it, but I understand the basics at least. My personal opinion about the M is, it’s a failed product from engineering and manufacturing point of view. It failed so badly. During the design stage of a new product, engineers should have already started to consider the serviceability of their product, together with the assembly process and etc.

So they ended up designing an M that require special machine to service, and the machine is only made available in Germany. According to some technician that I spoke to, the machine is heavy and expensive. Hence, it wasn’t deployed to other locations due to the limitation of where it can be placed and of course the cost of investing in the machine. A true engineering failure in my opinion. If the new product is going to introduce more problem than it solves, it fails.

Skilled technician can be trained, so if you say technician in Germany can service the M but technician in other countries can’t, it doesn’t make sense. Precision assembly is a combination of precise components, precise tools and technician skills. This can be happened everywhere, but due to the limitation imposed by their own for requiring a special machine, it was made impossible. Hence, all M users need to bear with the consequences and let their camera go on a 3 months vacation once in awhile.

Well, I may be wrong on some of my opinions above. Those are just my thoughts based on all that I know of. Anyway, maybe this is one of the “feature” of Leica cameras, maybe there are those who appreciate to have their camera travel all the way to Germany, but certainly not me. My M9-P has gone for vacation in Germany for more than 3 months, and it’s unacceptable in my opinion. If you want your customers to send in their camera to Germany for servicing, you should at least make sure the turnaround time is much faster and provide the necessary resources to support it. Imagine if I bought a Mercedes and they told me I need to send the car back to Germany for service and repair and it took 3 months to complete… this is crazy.

For now, All I can do is try to use my M carefully (well, I’m certainly not…) and hope that nothing breaks in between. And hopefully the next M will be more service-friendly. Till then.

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