Dust & the typ 109

I haven’t had dust problems for years, but the two-month-old Leica D-Lux has been back to the technicians already.
“The first clean is complimentary,” the young lady who spoke to me on the phone said when I called.
“Dust is an environmental factor which the manufacturer has no control over, therefore it’s not covered by warranty,” she also told me.


The problem, of course, is that I can’t clean the sensor myself… the lens is not interchangeable. Indeed, the only way to clean the sensor and not potentially lose my warranty is to have to cleaned by the Leica agent – there’s one in Australia and the camera was away for a week to get it cleaned.

I bought the Leica because I wanted The Red Dot, but it was easier to justify over the Panasonic LX100 because it had a 3-year warranty, it was made in Japan and came with a copy of Adobe Lightroom. But I wonder about the value of a warranty which doesn’t cover cleaning the sensor of a camera which doesn’t have interchangeable lenses.

I’d already spoke to the Leica importer. “All compact cameras with extending lenses have this problem. The lens acts like a pump every time the lens extends, sucking dust.” An admission that it’s not user error – like using the camera in a dust storm – but still, no warranty, just a complimentary clean.

Under Australian consumer law they could be obliged to do more, but I’ll see how it goes – maybe the dust got in somewhere unusual and it won’t happen often. Maybe I’ll buy an ND filter so I can record video at f/8 instead of f/16, for that was where I noticed the dust – typically, you only see dust on a sensor when the aperture is very small.

My primary cameras these days – Canon 5DIII, Olympus E-M1 & 5 – have built-in sensor cleaning. The Leica does not. The Leica isn’t weather sealed, either. I didn’t think these factors would be an issue using the type 109 as a lightweight video camera, but maybe they will.

GH4 or EM-5markII?

I’VE been using micro four-thirds camera since the E-P1 – yep, the first digital PEN from Olympus, a 12mp rangefinder-style interchangeable lens camera.

I liked the E-P1, but it has its drawbacks and I sold it a while back.

It was effectively replaced by the OM-D EM-5, the first SLR-style Olympus m4/3 body, and that came was (and still is) great. I liked it so much I bought the E-M1 as soon as it came out and I still really like using that camera.

Apart from the awful menu structure and its poor tracking performance, there is little to dislike about the E-M1, and a lot to like. It handles well, it almost too customisable, it offers capabilities and features you won’t find in many other cameras.

However, times change and when my TV show became a reality, video performance became a huge issue and the Olympus cameras were being used less and less (no 25p, a requirement for PAL production here in Australia).

I shot series 1 of Cycle Torque TV on a Canon XA-20, Canon 5D Mark III, action cams from GoPro and Contour. For series 2 I bought a Panasonic HC-X1000 and a Leica D-Lux (type 109), because I wanted the luxury of being able to crop and stabilise footage – when shoot motorbikes guys, and that’s hard!

I’ve long wanted a Panasonic GH4 to replace the Canon 5D3, because the pano is lighter and shoots 4K (although it’s not the weight of the body so much as the weight of the kit – a m4/3 kit of camera, 3-4 lenses, flash etc is way, way lighter than the equivalent in DSLR.

But now there’s new wrinkle in the plan – the Olympus OM-D EM5markII. No 4K, but at least it shoots 25p. And has a fully articulated screen. And (with a grip) has headphone and microphone support. And 77mb/s data capture to SD cards. And 40mp stills.

But the biggest attraction is the 5-axis stabiliser. The GH4 relies on stabilised lenses, but my lenses are all from Olympus, so they don’t have stabilisation, Olympus went with in-body stabilisation.

So if I had a crew, and a gimbal, I’d go with the Panasonic – but on the contrary, I’m really thinking of getting this new body for a week-long ride through the USA, shooting with it to make a special edition of Cycle Torque’s TV show about the ride – one man, one bike, one week. I can’t even take the HC-X1000, it’s too bulky.

The kit will likely be the Leica D-Lux, EM-1 and either the GH4 or EM5II. Lenses will be 9-18mm (unless I can afford/get the new 7-14mm), 12-40 f/2.8 and 75mm f1.8. I’ve got the slow 40-150 too, but I’ve never liked it and might leave it at home. I’d love the 40-150 f/2.8, but the budget won’t allow everything. And I’m not sure I could fit it all onto the bike anyway.

I’d like people’s thoughts on what to buy. My research has so far uncovered:

Robin Wong

John Brawley