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Checklist for buying used M9
Old 12-20-2012   #1
kennylovrin
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Checklist for buying used M9

Hey guys

As I've posted a few days ago, my fairly recent purchase of an M6 has left me wanting an M9 as well more than before. It used to be the Leica dot I guess, but now after using the M6 for a while it is more than that. (In all honesty, it was the Epson R-D1 that got me going for true rangefinders to start with, still miss the R-D1 finder).

Anyway, today I was out shooting and did the "mistake" of feeling up an M9 in a store where I was purchasing some film. I've never held one before as I've always considered it to just not be worth the asking price. Problem now is that I'm starting to ignore the price tag.

Anyway, a used M9 is in fact within my reach financially, I am just not sure if I still find it worth it, to pay that much for a camera, no matter what camera it is. I mean, if I buy one, put it on the desk and think "ok, here I have a used camera for ~$5000 (approx. swedish used prices) containing years old electronics". I need to process that thought for a bit longer.. On the other hand, I think I have to get it out of my system, if nothing else. hehe

Well, enough with the talking..

What I really wanted to ask is if anyone know of a good checklist to go through when looking at a used M9? I've found a few for film Ms since before, but can't recall seeing one for the M9.

I mean, it is in fact a pretty hefty price to pay for electronics, getting a dud would be such an anti climax that I don't even want to think about it.

Thanks,
Kenny
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Old 12-20-2012   #2
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The M9s are beasts. Rarely do they break down. I wouldn't worry too much about hidden defects on those cameras. Check the usual: shutter at low speeds, shutter curtain, rainbow on LCD, etc. But if i were you i'd wait another 3 months until the new M starts shipping. There will be another big price drop when M9 users sell theirs to upgrade. I woudn't be surprised if the price drops to around 3500.
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Old 12-20-2012   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kennylovrin View Post
Hey guys

... Problem now is that I'm starting to ignore the price tag.

Anyway, a used M9 is in fact within my reach financially, I am just not sure if I still find it worth it, to pay that much for a camera, no matter what camera it is. I mean, if I buy one, put it on the desk and think "ok, here I have a used camera for ~$5000 (approx. swedish used prices) containing years old electronics". I need to process that thought for a bit longer.. On the other hand, I think I have to get it out of my system, if nothing else. hehe ...
Hi Kenny - You know you're in trouble now, and it's just a matter of time before you have an M9.

I bought my M9 used from another RFF member a couple years ago, so the market is different now. It worked out well for me, and it was comforting that it was still within the original warranty period. OTOH, Leica has been very liberal in handling inherent problems even outside the warranty, excluding abuse breakage or loss of course.

I can't really come up with a check-list above the mechanical issues that would be similar for an M6 for example; just see that the screen displays a just-taken pic, run through the menus etc.
Edit: Good suggestion from JSU... You usually have to really pixel-peep at 100% to see a line (had this on my M8), but a hot pixel may even be visible on the rear LCD.

The only unfortunate thing I've found with the M9 is that it's sensitive to oblique light rays from compact wide lenses, producing a red tinge on the lower left and cyan on the upper right. It's slight, often not noticed in busy scenes. This doesn't happen with more telecentric lenses intended for digital use, such as the Leica 18mm and 24/3.8. Lenses that are physically longer are ok in general. For instance I've had this problem with the compact Zeiss 35/2.8 C-Biogon but not with the 35/2.0 Biogon. If and when it's bothersome, it can be fixed in post. Leica has mitigated this somewhat in latest firmware upgrades.

The M9 is a magnificent camera with lovely image quality. If you get one, I expect you'll enjoy using it.
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Old 12-20-2012   #4
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Put a few different cards in it and check for any errors.
Check each battery that the camera is coming with for full function. Ask if there are any shutter or image issues when the battery gets down below 50%.
Ask if there have been any horizontal lines that are yellow and or magenta. This indicates a possible shutter error (happened to mine and Leica replaced the shutter.
make sure the rangefinder is accurate at close focus and infinity.
Check all the buttons for easy and quick response. They aren't sealed so they can get gummed up easily.
Check the inside of the camera for any marks in the black paint from less than graceful lens mounting.
Take a flashlight and physically look at the sensor while it's on bulb for any grease, spots, haze, whatever.
Check the bottom plate where the lug opposite the locking mechanism goes through the plate. These are commonly cracked.
If it has the stock Leica strap and you plan on using it, make sure the strap adjusters don't slip. The newer Leica straps suck. My old one from the early 80's is still in amazing shape and never slips.
Get a RAW file and run it through M9Info to see how many shutter actuations the camera has had.

Good luck!

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Old 12-21-2012   #5
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Thanks for the replies guys! Seems to be pretty standard stuff generally!

I'm thinking if waiting as long as I can and hopefully the prices will go down a bit more as mentioned when the new M is released. At the same time though, if I jump on a M9 I would love to do it before my trip to Thailand in mid February. I guess I'll just see what happens, probably will sell off my dslr kit first anyway, I get totally stressed out when I have too many cameras.

Would you guys say its better to go with a slightly lower cosmetic standard from a reputable dealer, than a nicer cosmetic condition from a private seller, given its the same price?

What I mean is that dealers are often somewhat more expensive, but often give some form of warranty and often a cla before putting a camera up for sale.

On the other hand, if failures are rare, then maybe the extra warranty isn't so valuable?
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Old 12-21-2012   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kennylovrin View Post
Thanks for the replies guys! Seems to be pretty standard stuff generally!

I'm thinking if waiting as long as I can and hopefully the prices will go down a bit more as mentioned when the new M is released. At the same time though, if I jump on a M9 I would love to do it before my trip to Thailand in mid February. I guess I'll just see what happens, probably will sell off my dslr kit first anyway, I get totally stressed out when I have too many cameras.

Would you guys say its better to go with a slightly lower cosmetic standard from a reputable dealer, than a nicer cosmetic condition from a private seller, given its the same price?

What I mean is that dealers are often somewhat more expensive, but often give some form of warranty and often a cla before putting a camera up for sale.

On the other hand, if failures are rare, then maybe the extra warranty isn't so valuable?

Hello, I'm hoping (dreaming of?) buying a used M9 in 2013. I think I'll feel most comfortable buying a used one from a dealer, preferrably a local one, that offers some sort of warranty or return period (even a couple of months), then buy from a "stranger" private seller - even if I have to pay more for it.

Next in preferrence would be to buy from a reputable member of RFF.
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Old 12-21-2012   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil_F_NM View Post
Check the bottom plate where the lug opposite the locking mechanism goes through the plate. These are commonly cracked.
Commonly?
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Old 12-21-2012   #8
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It is pretty easy to miss getting the lug through the slot when replacing the bottom plate, and if you fasten the latch, the bottom plate could be bent at the slot. Something to look for I suppose.

The design could be better, IMO, and it seems Leica recognized that in the new M typ 240 changing back to something more like the film M configuration.
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Old 12-21-2012   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSU View Post
Hot pixels

Shoot a frame rated at ISO 1600 or 2500 and underexpose a stop, do another under by two stops and another under by three stops.

Look for a straight line (one or more) of light, this will indicate a hot pixel(s).
I have a hot pixel on my brand-new M9-P.

What should I do?
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Old 12-21-2012   #10
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Lycka till med din kommande M9 / Good luck then you find your M9.
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Old 12-21-2012   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maggieo View Post
I have a hot pixel on my brand-new M9-P.

What should I do?
Sorry to hear that, Maggie, but it can be handled gracefully. Your Leica dealer will be your best first step. Lacking that, phone Leica in New Jersey: 800-222-0118, 201-995-0051 (repair 7). Sarah usually answers the repair line. If she is not there, it is likely to be Carmen Vargas. You can reach her on a separate extension as well (x9932).

Tell them the symptoms and the camera serial number and go from there. You'll need their ok before shipping them the camera. After they look it over they'll send a repair estimate, probably $0.
• Perform pixel/column restoration
• Upgrade to current standard
• Check and adjust for good working order

I sent them mine for hot pixel issues on 2/19 and got it back on 3/16 just within the warranty period, but they've been liberal in providing warranty service for things like this even outside warranty.
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Old 12-21-2012   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug View Post
It is pretty easy to miss getting the lug through the slot when replacing the bottom plate, and if you fasten the latch, the bottom plate could be bent at the slot. Something to look for I suppose.

The design could be better, IMO, and it seems Leica recognized that in the new M typ 240 changing back to something more like the film M configuration.

It is like looking for nothing. As long as the plate fits and depresses the small pin, all is good. The plate seems stronger on the M9 then the M8. Brass as opposed to zinc/aluminum (?).
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Old 12-21-2012   #13
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Considering that the M8 doesn't appear to have parts available 6 years after introduction (recent post re. rear screen no longer available, for one), why would one consider buying a used- or new- M9? At these prices, they are not impulse buys (well, maybe they really are
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Old 12-21-2012   #14
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Thanks so much Doug!

I bought my M9-P from B&H, because there's no Leica dealers anywhere close to Lincoln, NE. So, I guess it's time to call Leica?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug View Post
Sorry to hear that, Maggie, but it can be handled gracefully. Your Leica dealer will be your best first step. Lacking that, phone Leica in New Jersey: 800-222-0118, 201-995-0051 (repair 7). Sarah usually answers the repair line. If she is not there, it is likely to be Carmen Vargas. You can reach her on a separate extension as well (x9932).

Tell them the symptoms and the camera serial number and go from there. You'll need their ok before shipping them the camera. After they look it over they'll send a repair estimate, probably $0.
• Perform pixel/column restoration
• Upgrade to current standard
• Check and adjust for good working order

I sent them mine for hot pixel issues on 2/19 and got it back on 3/16 just within the warranty period, but they've been liberal in providing warranty service for things like this even outside warranty.
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Old 12-21-2012   #15
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Originally Posted by Zonan View Post
Considering that the M8 doesn't appear to have parts available 6 years after introduction (recent post re. rear screen no longer available, for one), why would one consider buying a used- or new- M9? At these prices, they are not impulse buys (well, maybe they really are
With that logic it would mean that everyone currently owning an M9 should sell it befor it becomes impossible to repair it?

Even of one already owns the camera they're still out with the same amount of money as the current used market prices essentially. The only difference might be they paid a higher price a while back, and that price difference is the cost of owning it for that time.

However, you do have a point in the fact that myself for example am a bit nervous of parts running out for the M9, should I move forward and buy one.

There is one difference though, and it is that the M-E essentially is a brand new camera that will have to be supported for quite some years, and it's the same as the M9.

On the other hand, I'd love, and I am seriously considering, an M9, but for some reason I don't find Leica as a company to be very trustworthy. Not sure why though, I just have that feeling.

My understanding is that the ME is already discontinued. If that is in fact true, that's really strange. That can only mean their only purpose of that model was to have people pay premium for old tech for a few months, while at the same time draining the M9 parts stock and let it fall into the same situation as the M8?
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Old 12-21-2012   #16
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennylovrin View Post
With that logic it would mean that everyone currently owning an M9 should sell it befor it becomes impossible to repair it?
Exactly!
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Old 12-23-2012   #17
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I'm really close to actually deciding to get a M9. I have two questions that perhaps not everyone will like, but for me they are of value so I have to ask;

1. Is there any general indication to wether silver or black is more popular?
2. What is the general opinions here regarding how easy it is to sell a M9?

The reason I ask this is because I am one of those people that doesn't really know if I will really like something until I actually have it. So while I know some people have mentioned here that they never buy anything with the intention of selling it again, I am totally the other way around. I almost always factor in selling it again, before I buy something.

So to me it actually make sense to buy the variation of the M9 that would be the easiest to sell again if I would end up regretting it. In this case I'm pretty confident that I won't regret it, so it's not of super importance, but I still want to consider it. Think of it what you may.

The thing is I've found a local store selling a silver m9 to what seems to be a pretty good price, I suspect they sell it with some kind of warranty, and I have no real preference for color myself, but I have this feeling that black ones are a lot more popular than silver ones? If so, it might affect both purchase price and selling price if it comes to that.

Kenny
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Old 12-23-2012   #18
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1. Black is more popular than the painted gray (not chrome or even close to it) by quite a margin.

2. Right now the market is becoming worse regarding digital M sales due to the recent release of the Monocrom and the upcoming type 240 CMOS camera. I had my M9 for almost two years and sold it for $3000 + a Nikon SP in partial trade. Total value was about $4400 at the time of sale. That was in June of this year. prices are even lower now for the most part. It was a 37% loss in total value. Or a $2600 rental for 20 months. (but i got the camera through the student purchase program so my net loss was much less, though still quite a loss for me.)

I never thought of that though. I don't buy gear to resell it and I never think about resale value of the gear. I think about the images that the gear makes. The M9 made the nicest digital images I've ever seen from a compact camera (not medium or large format) and that's all there is to it. Once you use it, it will depreciate in value by quite a bit but just take a lot of photos and enjoy the tool for what it is. The images will help you get your mind off of the "loss." If resale value is something that a photographer is really concerned about, you should be buying strictly collector edition cameras with extraordinarily rare lenses and trying to flip them. These days, flipping photo gear is a losing game in the long run so just enjoy making images.

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Old 12-23-2012   #19
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Yeah, it's not the biggest problem really with the resale value, but still something I like to keep in mind. I still imagine that it won't depreciate like a canon camera for example, at least looking at current used market prices.. The again, the prices for a new leica is usually somewhat higher than a canon camera perhaps, even full frame models.
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Old 12-24-2012   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSU View Post
The "chrome" M9 is painted gray, not nearly as popular as the black M9. If you want a true brushed chrome M9 it will have to be a M9-P chrome, still the black variant of the M9-P seems to be more popular considering what is seen in circulation.

Anything will sell if the price is right (that is, low enough).

I just bought a M9-P given they are now out of production. I wish I could have done this two years ago, but better now than never.
Do we know how much the color affects price? The gray one I found is a few thousand Swedish kronor cheaper than the blacks I've seen. That could of course be for other reasons as well. That would be about €350/$450. I don't know of that is a standard difference in price. I kind of like the gray ones, but if they normally are slightly lower priced just because I'd the paint it would be nice to know when I look around.
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