Leica M7 shutter reliability/serial #s
Old 05-03-2018   #1
muser53
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Leica M7 shutter reliability/serial #s

I've been toying with the idea of purchasing a used M7. There seems to be consensus that the shutters in the early production run have reliability issues.
My question is can anyone here offer guidance as to which serial numbers are considered "safe?"

Thanks,
Paul

PS` Likewise can anyone tell me when the optical DX reader came on line?
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Old 05-03-2018   #2
Huss
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Aim for serial #s in the 300xxx range. There was a seller on ebay with new in the box M7’s but when i checked w him they had 27xxx numbers
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Old 05-03-2018   #3
sepiareverb
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I have been shooting M7 bodies for 15 years or so, I still have my original one, and two others. All but one (I’ve had 5 over the years) were pre 3000XXX which was the least reliable of the bunch. That one was seen by Leica four times IIRC, for DX/ISO issues and erratic readouts in the VF. My original went in to have the DX swapped when the old one was jumping around, and developed a loose top plate about four years back. Had it checked over both times. I’ve had a .58x body for ten years or so (it replaced the dog), never had any trouble with it, and the third I’ve only had less than a year, but also no issues.

The thing I would watch for is the updated DX reader. That does make a difference. Also, there is an additional washer in the film end of the baseplate, when Dave Elwell was in CS they were sent out free, not sure if they still are or not. That also makes a difference.
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Old 05-03-2018   #4
Huss
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Bob u wouldnt be able to show a pic
of what that washer looks like in situ?
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Old 05-03-2018   #5
TEZillman
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Paul,

If it helps any, I purchased my M7 new in March of 2004. The serial number is 28848XX. The only issue I've had is that the DX reader needed to be replaced in 2012. It had the MP viewfinder in it when I purchased it. I've read that they started using the MP viewfinder at about SS #285XXXX. It was some time after I purchased mine that the optical DX reader became standard.
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Old 05-03-2018   #6
View Range
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My M7 is 2885xxx which I bought new. I've never had any trouble with it; it has never been opened. The M7 remains my favorite Leica. I have never use DX so I can't comment on its reliability or even desirability.
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Old 05-03-2018   #7
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I have a 2851XXX M7 0.85 which has been quite troublesome, but not the shutter. It came with the non-MP viewfinder.

I have a 3000XXX M7 0.58 which required the DX reader upgrade when the older one failed, but has otherwise been reliable.

The M7s are my favourite Leicas.

Marty
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Old 05-03-2018   #8
Robert Lai
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I have M7 0.72X #2778xxx, which is from the 2nd batch made in 2001. The DX reader was flaky, sometimes losing the ISO in the middle of the roll. Also, the rangefinder flared when shooting in backlighted situations. Both were corrected by Leica NJ in 2016, for a mere $898. I never had any problems with the shutter.

I had a similar early vintage 0.85x finder M7, which I had to give the same updates to. It had the same faults that I described above. This was back around 2010, and Leica charged me about $650 at the time for the service. I sold it when I had a period of financial distress, but I did love that camera. It also had no problems with the shutter.

One caveat: if you use the motor drive M, AND a cable release at the same time, you WILL JAM the shutter of the M7.
You need to cut the cable release so that only about 7mm projects out. Any more, and it will jam. The only cure is to take the bottom off the camera, and that seems to free up the jam. I have some Nikon cable releases that I modified in this way just for use with the M7.

BTW - cut the cable release too short, and it won't fire the shutter!
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Old 05-04-2018   #9
Michiel Fokkema
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I have a M7 for 10 years now. Has no MP finder and the original DX reader. Never had any problems. I might have been lucky though.
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Old 05-04-2018   #10
ian_watts
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lai View Post
One caveat: if you use the motor drive M, AND a cable release at the same time, you WILL JAM the shutter of the M7.
You need to cut the cable release so that only about 7mm projects out. Any more, and it will jam. The only cure is to take the bottom off the camera, and that seems to free up the jam..
That's interesting. I used to use the M7 with M motor drive and cable release quite a lot in the past for bracketing exposures and I don't remember ever getting a jam (it was more than a decade ago so my memory may have failed me). Maybe the rod in my cable release already happens to be the optimum length?
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Old 05-04-2018   #11
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Bought my M7 new in 2005, serial number 294xxx. I never heard that they a shutter reliability issue. My came with the non flare finder and the contact springs for the DX reading. I don't recall having issues with the DX reader but Leitz did a free upgrade under warranty.

So besides the finder that flared (like the M6 and shouldn't really be considered a failure) and the DX issue, has anyone actually had a shutter reliability issue with early models?
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Old 05-04-2018   #12
Robert Lai
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I seem to recall that early M5 cameras had problems with cracking of the shutter drum. Is this what the OP may be thinking of?

The electronic shutter of the M7 has fewer mechanical parts than the other Leica M film cameras. I have not heard of any issues with the shutter.
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Old 05-04-2018   #13
muser53
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I only asked about the shutter curtain reliability due to this post.
https://www.rangefinderforum.com/for...d.php?t=154593
It seems to have been the only time I read about this issue on an M7
but just wanted to check in here to see if it was an isolated issue.
I have several other M bodies (M3,4-P, 6)that have been very reliable
and just wanted to get a feeling what others have experienced with the
M7.
Thanks to all for the feedback.
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Old 05-04-2018   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muser53 View Post
I only asked about the shutter curtain reliability due to this post.
https://www.rangefinderforum.com/for...d.php?t=154593
It seems to have been the only time I read about this issue on an M7
but just wanted to check in here to see if it was an isolated issue.
I have several other M bodies (M3,4-P, 6)that have been very reliable
and just wanted to get a feeling what others have experienced with the
M7.
Thanks to all for the feedback.
What is interesting is that link shows shutter curtain failures on a bunch of different Ms, not just the M7!
So the take away is that there is a tiny chance that it can happen to any M.
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Old 05-04-2018   #15
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14 years the M7 0,58 with regular finder and original DX-reader: No problems.
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Old 05-19-2018   #16
sepiareverb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Bob u wouldnt be able to show a pic
of what that washer looks like in situ?
Sorry for the delay.

M7 baseplate without the extra washer:



M7 baseplate with the added washer:


I will soon find out if they still send out the washers for free...
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Old 05-20-2018   #17
halfaninchawater
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Thanks for the baseplate pictures. My M7 (294XXXX) does not have the washer and the pictures make for an easy diagnosis.
Even if the washers are no longer sent out from CS for free or at a cost, wouldn't having the washer size or measurements be enough to make this a simple DIY fix?
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Old 05-20-2018   #18
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I have a 0.85 M7 with a serial starting 288xxx, I've been shooting with it daily for about a year now and haven't had any issues.
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Old 05-20-2018   #19
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I've had several M7 and the earliest starting from serial number 27XXXXX. Never had any problems with the shutter/curtains on any of them.

On a separate note, one of them developed a jumpy ISO that occasionally mess with the exposure. I just move away from Auto DX and set the DX manually. No inconvenience really.

I find the M7 extremely quiet and enjoy the AE option very much.

Cheers,
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Old 05-20-2018   #20
Huss
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sepiareverb View Post
Sorry for the delay.

M7 baseplate without the extra washer:



M7 baseplate with the added washer:


I will soon find out if they still send out the washers for free...
Thanks for posting. Mine (332XXX) has the washer.
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Old 05-21-2018   #21
sepiareverb
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332xxxx is a new one! My first one is 294xxxx, the other two are 285xxxx and 288xxxx. The baseplate above without the washer is from the 288.

The 285 one came to me used with the washer, I added that one to the 294.
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Old 05-22-2018   #22
sepiareverb
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Washer and screw on the way from Dave Elwell, who is still there!
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Old 05-22-2018   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sepiareverb View Post
Washer and screw on the way from Dave Elwell, who is still there!
I would like to get the screw and washer for my M7 as well. Was this just a phone call to CS in NJ and ask for Dave Elwell? Any additional info would be appreciated. Thanks!

Dave
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Old 05-23-2018   #24
sepiareverb
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Originally Posted by halfaninchawater View Post
I would like to get the screw and washer for my M7 as well. Was this just a phone call to CS in NJ and ask for Dave Elwell? Any additional info would be appreciated. Thanks!

Dave
I simply emailed the address I found on the website for technical support and mentioned that Dave had gotten me the parts years back.
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Old 05-23-2018   #25
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My first M7 in 2002 was a nightmare of unreliability. It would be quicker to list the bits that kept working or did not go wrong that those which did. After the fourth visit to Leica UK, I exercised my rights under the sale of goods act and got a refund, with which I bought a Contax G2 Anniversary Kit with the flash and three lenses (28, 45 and 85) and later added the 16, 21 and 35. I sold all that when I went Leica digital with the M8 in 2006.

I bought a 2003 M7 two years ago but one that had been back to Wetzlar for a factory service and update (rangefinder anti flare, optical DX reader and circuit card) plus a new base latch on the bottom plate courtesy of Alan Starkie. I have the Motor-M with it, as my arthritic right thumb doesn't like lever winds. I have put 20 rolls of film through it to date with no problems at all. The TTL metering is first class, especially with my 50/1.4 Summilux III Special Edition. With lenses of 28mm and wider especially my 18mm Super Elmar, the metering tends to pick up a bit too much sky and you have to dial in up to +1EV but this is super easy on the M7.

I would use the M7 over twice as much as I do my next two film Leicas, a IIIg and M4 (owned from new in 1967 but soon to be retired for an M4-P and winder to rest my poor thumb). I now take the M7 on every trip along with a Leica CL digital and on every photo shoot along with my Leica SL digital. I am a confirmed convert to the M7, having sworn blind, I would never have anything to do with one again. My personal epiphany.

Wilson
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Old 05-25-2018   #26
halfaninchawater
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sepiareverb View Post
I simply emailed the address I found on the website for technical support and mentioned that Dave had gotten me the parts years back.
I received a reply email from Dave Elwell regarding the screw and washer for the M7 baseplate. These parts are only for cameras equipped with the optical reader.

Dave
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