The Leica M9 is famous for its sensor producing excellent images with a certain depth in the right light conditions. It also has some weak points but still is favoured by many.

The back side of the coin is that it is known to have corrosion issues in the first models and Leica exchanged it for free for some years. The corrosion shows as dots on images, and can’t be fixed. Only replacing the sensor with a new one not having the production error is a solution.

Not all of the sensors will show the corrosion it is fair to say. But a good number of the sensors do fail.

There had been 3 recall campaigns for that sensor by Leica. Campaign 1 substituted with the same sensor for free. In campaign 2 the sensor was replaced with a new iteration of the old sensor (that still had the corrosion error in some cases).

The third campaign substituted the sensor with one that does not corrode and it started around the 4th quarter of 2015.

Still a wonderful sensor

Today some photographers, like myself, still love the images from this camera and here are some guidelines and ways to know what to do if you want to purchase a second-hand M9 today.

The Leica m9 sensor was produced from 2009 to 2014, with a sensor showing this corrosion error.

An estimated 180,000 Leica M9 cameras were produced and sold with a price tag of $8,000 in this period.

The 18-megapixel Kodak full-frame CCD sensor some claim didn’t have a protection layer on top of the light-sensitive plate. The IR Cut Filter (ICF) serves as the cover glass and this should cause corrosion. No matter what caused this, it was a fabrication error and clings to the M9 history.

According to Leica:

The sensors are equipped with a specially coated IR filter cover glass to ensure optimum imaging performance. Should this coating layer be damaged, corrosion effects that alter the filter surface may begin to appear after several years.

How to tell if your Leica M9 had the sensor replaced or not

The rule of thumb is that, if the sensor was substituted after mid-2015, there should not be any problems. It would be a new sensor generation. But you can’t tell by the serial number of the camera unless you contact Leica directly. Here are a few ways to be sure what sensor is in your camera, and if buying a M9 preowned ask the seller to prove the information.

To check are here some methods to do a proper check. Also, notice it is better to go through both methods to know if the sensor is the correct one.

You can write Leica providing the serial number and ask them if the sensor is new or old. They are the ones who have done the sensor replacement and will have the information.

You will find the information in the camera

Power on your Leica M9.

Activate by taking these actions: Push the delete button -> up (2x) -> down (4x) -> left (3x) -> right (3x) -> Info.

Then select (SET button) on hardware IDS and check the CCD ID number.

If you have 15 or 16 and above that number then it’s the new sensor (unless it is a very clever seller and the owner knows how to hack the M9 and set a fake number).

This all applies for M9, M9-P but not M monochrom as far as I know.

A further third extra check to see if the current sensor is free of corrosion is to point the camera to a bright sky, having the aperture closed down to add as much depth of field as possible. No corrosion, no problem.

The white dots with a dark edge around seen in the picture are a clear sign of corrosion.

Dust will show as dark points only. Rigth, a surface picture of a damaged sensor.

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