A couple of weeks ago I got a new Leica M9. All excited, I put in the best SD card on the market, the SanDisk Extreme Pro 8GB. It took only a few hours of taking pictures before the card crashed and the camera become unresponsive until I removed the card. I wasn’t worried at the beginning. I was in love.
A few days after, I had a high profile portrait photo shoot for an important client. Of course I took the M9 and my beloved Leica 90mm with me, together with a new SanDisk SD card, not before installing the newest firmware update. It was a very long photo shoot with heavy production, a tight schedule and sweaty assistants. It was just before that end of the photo shoot that the other new SanDisk SD card Extreme crashed inside the M9, making the camera dead and the card unreadable in any device. With all the embarrassment, I had to reshoot everything all over again with my backup equipment.
SanDisk were kind enough to replace the card immediately. “Bad batch” is was I was told. I got new SanDisk extreme pro cards from another batch. The same problem came back after one day. Both cards died again, erasing all of the images I created for my clients while shooting, causing me an enormous loss.
This time, I decided to replace not only the kind of cards but the camera itself and to get another M9.
I opened the new M9 Box, took the camera out, charged the battery, put a SanDisk Ultra card this time and went out to check the new one. The first issue I noticed was how slow the camera was writing to the card, but I was ready to live with that for the reliability. And by slow, I mean ridiculously slow. Much slower then the M8.
Today, 5 days later, the camera started to behave very strangely with. I could see the pictures that I had just shot on the screen but then after few moments it disappeared from the card. Occasionally the camera got stuck stating “writing” indefinitely. I waited up to 20-30 minutes after shooting just one frame before removing the battery to fix it. Other times it said “no sd card”. The card was formatted in the camera minutes before used.
When I got back and downloaded the files, most of them were “written” but as 0 KByte files. Tried both DNG and Jpeg.
I Googled to see what other people have to say about the M9 and SanDisk SD memory cards. I found many users with the exact same problems, all suffering from it with the newer versions of SanDisk cards.
I just decided to get rid of all my SanDisk cards at the moment. 95% of the complaints are from people with SanDisk Ultra/Extreme, but some reporting similar issues with Lexar as well. I don’t know if there are more SanDisk users and they are driving the higher number of reports about SanDisk or this is uniquely a SanDisk problem.
Following is an image of the print screen of the Leica M9 saving 0 KBytes files:
I highly recommend avoiding the Leica M9 until this problem is acknowledged and solved by SanDisk, Lexar and Leica.
Update: Leica reaponds to the problem on Augost 2nd 2011
“Dear Mr. Lavi,As you might have noticed, we have recognized your concerns that you have been posting.
[cid:C82D1B3C-6740-4A01-BFA0-B0C796F63CB4]While I totally understand your frustration and pain to lose valuable and non replaceable pictures, I hope that with our action we can regain your trust.Initial problems were due to the use of low end cards which in your case is not the case! Low end cards often do not conform with the standards of hight end SD cards, which can lead to problems.
Therefore the problem that you are describing was initially an isolated issue that was resolved by formatting any new card to the FAT standard after San Disk issued cards with a new card format.
In the meantime we have learned of your problem and others with the same issue, which made us look into into it.
I am sorry that our efforts come to late for you. I regret that this problem has lead to all the inconveniences and anger on your end.
Personally I would like to ensure you that we will work on finding a solution and invite you to test drive the Leica S2, which has not shown the problem due to a different architecture. You may contact me directly to arrange a free test drive in the US.
In the meantime I wish we could have shared our point of view with your readers of your comments on your Facebook site and other places as it is our believe as Leica Camera to take everyone’s concerns serious.
Please feel free to contact me in the meantime while Leica’s team in Germany is working on a solution.
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