M8 Banding / Sensor Problem
Old 12-09-2015   #1
winzenbourg
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M8 Banding / Sensor Problem

Hi all,

I recently picked up a used M8 and I'm experiencing some serious issues with it. It was said to be in perfect working condition. Most (but not all) of the images suffer from varying degrees of horizontal banding. This occurs from ISO 160 to ISO 640 in images that are underexposed, properly exposed, and overexposed. It shows up under different kinds of lighting.

I have tried the following remedies:
-New memory card (8, 16, 32 GB)
-New genuine Leica battery
-Various lenses (Leica 50, Zeiss 35, Konica 50, Voigtlander 28)
-Updating the firmware
-Shooting on auto exposure, auto ISO

I'm shooting DNG + B&W JPEG.

And the issue persists. Each time I've changed one or more of these variables I thought the problem had gone away, but it inevitably shows up again. I've read every thread on banding that I could find and haven't found something that works.

I bought this camera as a black and white only camera, but I've also noticed that it seems to be extremely sensitive to IR light. I'm shooting it without an IR filter. I previously owned an M8, but always shot it with a UV/IR filter, so can't say if they are all this sensitive, though the images I have noticed in searching around seem to have a slight purple tint, not everything turning purple. Is this normal?

As one last aside, the camera also suffers from the LCD coffee stain issue, though I don't think that is related to the banding.

Forgive the mundane test shots, but I don't feel comfortable taking the camera out of the house for any real shooting until the issue is solved.


Four shots showing varying degrees of banding:








One blurry shot showing the IR sensitivity. That's a black sweater, gold placemat, and black/brown beans:


Does anyone have any suggestions for other alternatives to fix the issue? Is my only option to send it in to Leica, and can they even fix it at this point in time?

Thanks,

Lucas

Last edited by winzenbourg : 12-09-2015 at 09:43. Reason: Repairing image links
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Old 12-09-2015   #2
photomoof
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Lucas none of your dropbox photos are visible to us, since we are not signed into your account.
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Old 12-09-2015   #3
winzenbourg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by photomoof View Post
Lucas none of your dropbox photos are visible to us, since we are not signed into your account.
Thanks for the heads up. You should be able to see them now.
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Old 12-09-2015   #4
photomoof
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Yes images good, now we wait for our Leica guys...

That is some severe banding.
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Old 12-10-2015   #5
willie_901
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Sorry to see this level of banding with your new purchase.
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Old 12-10-2015   #6
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Yeah, I think you need to return that for a refund. It needs a new sensor.
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Old 12-11-2015   #7
mrmeadows
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Lucas:

I see what you mean about the banding which you earlier mentioned to me by email. I find it curious that in each banded photo, the bottom 1/6 seems not to be banded. That must mean something about the cause. I've not seen such banding on either of my M8s, both of which required new sensors but both of which had other, equally noxious, symptoms. Looks like the body needs a new sensor for sure. Sometimes Leica NJ replaces the sensor (and board) but charges only for the labor. Probably depends on prior history of the body. Regarding the IR sensitivity: your sample shows the same color cast as I found with my M8s. It occurs for some dyes and/or synthetic fabrics, and it was eliminated when I used UV/IR filters, and the colors all became "normal".

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Old 01-03-2016   #8
winzenbourg
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Thanks for your replies, everyone.

I've tried every possible combination of "quick fixes" and have determined that sending the camera in to Leica NJ is the only solution. I'll update this thread when I get confirmation from the repair technicians at Leica.
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Old 06-06-2016   #9
winzenbourg
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I finally have an update on this. I sent my camera to Leica NJ in the first few days of January and it was forwarded to Germany on January 13th because the parts ("sensor set") were not available in NJ. The estimate said 4-5 weeks.

In mid-April I was told that the techs in Germany were unable to recreate the problem. They asked me to send along some sample images so I sent them the images in this thread and some other details.

Fast forward to mid-May and I'm told the camera is on its way back from Germany. It's unclear to me whether it was an option for me to get the sensor replaced or what the cost would have been.

This was the response:

Quote:
"While taking shots in a series regular horizontal stripes appear in the image. Mostly with high ISO images.
Images without stripes can only be guaranteed up to the highest ISO Speed without additional brightening in post processing.
Especially when shadows are brightened in post processing, we recommend to look carefully for occurring stripe effects

In some cases stripes can occur with high ISO settings in combination with elderly batteries. We cannot guarantee homogeneous images to a 100% degree at highest ISO settings, soft stripes can be slightly visible in occasional instances.

When taking critical images, e.g. with dark homogeneous areas at highest ISO Speed, we recommend to use the bracketing function to ensure a stripe free exposure."
And the follow-up from the American tech was:

Quote:
So, check the battery, it might need to be replaced or needs a re-set.

I'm really not sure what to do with this information. Maybe it will be as simple as trying (yet another) new battery, but I'm not hopeful. I've owned four different digital Leicas and I'm confident that I know how to shoot a properly exposed image. Additionally, the banding does occur in correctly exposed images at base ISO. It seems that they're suggesting I bracket every image and avoid shooting in a series in the hopes of not having bands across my image.

How do others interpret this response?
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Old 06-06-2016   #10
maitani
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i had several M8's over the years (still have one for daily use) none of my cameras had this at the lower iso (even with some older 3rd party batteries)
one body had such behaviour but only at max iso 2500 and only when underexposing, base iso of 160/320 etc. has M9 quality with no banding and basically no noise or stripes whatsoever.
a trip to leica will fix this, but it won't bet cheap / i think i had payed around 500 eur back then for a sensor switch, check, new leatherette and all.
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Old 06-07-2016   #11
willie_901
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  • Many digital cameras display banding at very low exposures. Whenever ISO is very high, the exposure at the sensor is low. This common with many brands sold during the M8's era.
  • Your camera displayed banding at low ISOs as well...where the sensor exposure is not extremely low

If your camera shows banding in bright (high signal-to-noise ratio) regions of the image:
  • at base ISO (200?)
  • when the exposure is optimized
  • with a fresh battery
I would be concerned.

Note:

Increasing ISO globally brightens the image after the shutter closes in order to make the light meter estimate make sense. All the signals (what you want), the noise and artifact signals (what you don't want) are amplified equally before they are digitized.

Low exposure (high ISO) means the image signal-to-noise ratio is low and this means the banding artifact DC voltage levels become high enough to become digitized. That is, the banding artifacts become similar in amplitude to the noise levels.
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