For the past few weeks l-camera-forum members have been reporting strange white spots/corrosion issues on Leica M9 cameras - see this and this thread for more details. Similar problems have also been reported for the M9-P, M-E and M Monochrome models. The white spots are probably due to corrosion on the top cover glass (Schott S8612) of the Kodak CCD sensor. Leica camera has unofficially confirmed this problem here:
Based on this thread, we feel the need to clarifying a couple of things about the sensor marks issue you have been experiencing. The issue is linked with corrosion effects on the cover glass of the CCD sensor in Leica M9, M9-P, M Monochrom and M-E cameras. They manifest themselves as marks on images captured at smaller apertures (f/5.6-22). The new Leica M (Type 240) with the CMOS sensor is not affected by this problem. We are truly sorry for the inconvenience encountered and we have set up the following scheme for servicing the sensors of the products affected. Please be aware that a contact-free cleaning of the sensor is essential in preventing the issue.
• Customer care will perform sensor cleaning free of charge by prior arrangement.
• In the case of damage as a result of corrosion, the sensor will be replaced free of charge up to three years following the date of purchase. Leica Camera AG will cover the full costs of replacement, amounting to 1,800 euros plus applicable VAT. This does not apply to sensors damaged by scratching or breakage of the sensor glass.
• In the fourth and fifth year following the date of purchase, sensors damaged by the corrosion effects described will be replaced for a fixed charge of 600 euros plus applicable VAT. Leica Camera AG will cover the remaining costs of 1,200 euros.
• In the sixth and seventh year following the date of purchase, sensor replacement will be offered at a fixed charge of 1,200 euros plus applicable VAT. Leica Camera AG will cover the remaining costs of 600 euros.
• For the eighth and more years following the date of purchase, sensor replacement will be offered at a fixed charge of 1,500 euros plus applicable VAT. Leica Camera AG will cover the remaining costs of 300 euros.
• The prices stated apply for direct shipment of the camera to Leica Customer Care in Wetzlar or the Customer Care department of a national distributor. Additional costs may arise when the camera is sent to Leica through a dealer.
• Mandatory warranty conditions will apply after customers have taken advantage of the extended goodwill arrangement.
• As longer waiting times may otherwise occur, the camera should only be sent to Customer Care after prior arrangement.
We will continue watching this thread so you are welcome to react here.
Here is another email from Leica support on the same issue:
As promised, we´d like to address a number of questions you have regarding the issue with our CCD sensor and be as clear as possible.
First let us state that we regret any inconveniences you may face and do investigate measures to durably fix the problem while still offering the best possible optical performance.
By a repair, we replace the CCD sensor with a sensor of the same type we use for serial production. We can thus not exclude totally a new case of corrosion after repair. Therefore, the goodwill arrangement also applies for a replaced sensor, which shows signs of corrosion. In these cases we will consider the sensor replacement date the same as the purchasing date.
We think that any potential damages of the sensor surface can occur due to cleaning the sensor and can lead to corrosion. We, therefore, advice to clean the sensor without touching it or in a dust-free environment such as in Leica Customer Care. We don’t want to convey the impression that you are not able to clean the sensor yourselves. If you are confident performing a sensor cleaning yourself, you may do so. But please be aware that the risk, when using wet cleaning solutions in the field, is higher.
At Leica, we use “Isopropanol” (isopropyl alcohol) and the following tools to clean the sensor, in the production as well as by the Customer Care:
Pentax Image Sensor Cleaning Kit, O-ICK1:
Sensor Cleaning Kit
Cleaning swabs made by ‘Visible Dust’:
Camera sensor cleaning — Arctic Butterfly sensor brush, loupe, swabs, liquids
With great care and attention, you may also use these for cleaning the sensor yourselves. Essential for not damaging the sensor is to painstakingly observe the manufacturers’ instructions and only work with new and unsoiled cleaning aids.
We kindly ask you for your understanding that sensors showing visible mechanical scratch marks occurring from improper cleaning attempts cannot be covered by the warranty and goodwill arrangement.
This is also the reason why we offer to perform cleaning at the Leica Customer Care, free of charge and as often as needs to be.
Should you be considering an upgrade to a Leica M or M-P (Type 240), Customer Care will make you an attractive offer as a part of our goodwill arrangement.
Leica already has replaced many cracked Leica M9 sensors over the years.