Leica MP meter dead in the cold
Old 12-28-2019   #1
Rayt
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Leica MP meter dead in the cold

Over the holidays I took my new to me Leica MP to Seoul. I brought a bunch of Duracell CR1/3N lithium 3V batteries all tested prior to the trip. The first day after a few shots the meter failed. First there was a delay in the meter coming on and then the center dot would not come on and one of the arrows would disappear finally all dead. The low battery indicator never came on. I thought maybe the battery was dead. Back in the hotel I replaced the battery and the meter worked as normal. I was suspicious and put back the original battery and the meter worked flawlessly. The next day the scenario repeated itself with the meter dying in those same steps: 1) sluggish in activation; 2) no center dot; 3) missing arrow; 4) dead. And back at the hotel or someplace warm it comes alive.

I should say the temperature was 35 F not "cold" at all. I did a search and saw a post on Photo net 15 years ago with the exact symptoms. I live near the equator so have no other experience shooting in the cold (if 35 F is consider cold for cameras). I have e-mailed Leica and wonder if anyone has had such experience?
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Old 12-28-2019   #2
Rob-F
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I don't think of 35 degrees F as too cold for lithium batteries. They are supposed to be good down to subzero temperatures. I suppose it's possible you simply got two bad batteries. Or else something in the camera isn't working right at 35 degrees. I have not had my MP or other metered Leicas out in extreme cold, but I don't recall any problems in, say, a 35 or 40 degree temperature. I would prefer to think that maybe your batteries weren't right.
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Old 12-28-2019   #3
Rob-F
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The Duracell data sheet shows that Duracell lithium button cells will operate down to -20 centigrade, which is -4 F. Assuming the ones you got aren't defective, the battery shouldn't be the problem.
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Old 12-28-2019   #4
Pál_K
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Maybe intermittent connection at lower temperatures, hence no low battery indication and odd behaviour.

Suggest cleaning contacts with cotton swab and drop of isopropyl alcohol. Also check that contacts press firmly on installed battery.
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Old 12-28-2019   #5
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Been awhile since I lived in the North but I used to consider 35 deg F Spring. Even Silver Oxide batteries had no problems at that temperature. Lithium should perform for months with no problem. If not a battery problem it might be a camera problem.
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Old 12-28-2019   #6
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I've owned at least three MP's and several M6's and I've never had that happen - cold conditions or otherwise - but I've always had a Luigi case (the battery housing is covered) protecting my camera. Try one and see if that doesn't solve your problem.

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Old 12-28-2019   #7
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I have this battery problem with one of my MPs where it works only with 2 x SR44 batteries and not 1 x CR1/3N battery. This seems to be because two stacked SR44 batteries is slightly taller than 1 CR1/3N battery. It's also 3.1v in total for the two-battery combo compared to 3v for the single battery, but that probably makes no difference.
I tried prising the spring contact at the bottom of the battery chamber slightly higher but couldn't change it much before thinking I'd snap the spring off its mount. I also tried squishing a folded piece of aluminium foil between the CR1/3N battery and the cap but that didn't work reliably for me.
So my suggestion: try two SR44 batteries.
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Old 12-28-2019   #8
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I hope it is just the battery and not some expensive camera repair. I’ll try some new batteries, thanks.
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Old 12-29-2019   #9
David Hughes
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Were the batteries genuine? Meaning were they Lithium? Those button cells can be pretty anonymous...


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Old 12-29-2019   #10
retinax
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Were the batteries genuine? Meaning were they Lithium? Those button cells can be pretty anonymous...


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Yes I've read there are a lot of fake batteries sold. If they were all from one source, maybe you were sold alkalines in a lithium battery packaging?
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Old 12-29-2019   #11
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My M6 classic has the same problem. I ruled out the batteries being the cause (tried several different batteries (2xSR44, 2xLR44, 1xCR1/3N...)). What's odd is that the problem was actually worse a year ago when the meter sometimes wouldn't work even at room temperatures.
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Old 12-29-2019   #12
sepiareverb
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I had an M7 that did this. Never could sort it out. Shame as it was a nice a la carte one I got secondhand.
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Old 12-29-2019   #13
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never had this problem with my M6 or MP. Any battery issues were from meter being activated in the bag and draining the battery (hate leaving it on B)
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Old 12-29-2019   #14
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First try using two of the smaller batteries in case the problem is caused by minute dimensional differences, exacerbated by weather.

Otherwise, if it works in warm conditions, then fails after 30 minutes outside in cold, then works again after 30 minutes inside, then I'd strongly suspect a cold solder connection that breaks the meter circuit at lower temperatures.
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Old 12-29-2019   #15
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I switched batteries and the problem did not repeat. I always use Duracell 3v lithium and they are all fresh. I thought maybe it wasn’t as cold? Next time if I ever need to shoot in the cold I’ll bring a hand held meter back up.
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Old 12-30-2019   #16
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It's not a fix for faulty batteries or camera electronics but in a pinch you can download a light meter app to your phone for free or just a couple of bucks. Some work very well and can be adjusted to match an accurate meter with 1/3 stop, accurate enough for slide film. That's what I did instead of buying an external clip-on meter for my Barnack series Leica.
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