My long history with Leica and the transition to digital with the M9 was briefly accounted in https://smortegav.blogspot.com/2013/06/. A visit to the Leica factory was a nerd-sort-of bucket list item going way back. The development of Leitz Park with a nice hotel on the corporate campus, a museum/gallery and store greatly increased it's lure and certainly was a contributing component for my wanting to visit Deutschland. Pitching it in its newly renovated form allowed presenting a 2 day side trip to Leitz Park as tolerable, even attractive, to a normal person-ie DW. She is much aware of my Leicaphilia and has been a co-dependent of sorts to it (my film Leica MP was a gift from her 14 years ago). She went along with it - a nice hotel and restaurant on campus along with a photo gallery and only an hour and change from Frankfurt. I focused on that without dwelling on Wetzlar being 4-5 hrs by train to Berlin.
Thus the bicycle tour, plane and hotel were booked. One month prior to departure, the visit to Wetzlar took on an additional purpose. Leica internet sites had reported that the M10 model had become an optional replacement for M9's with corroded sensors. Leica's less than smooth transition to digital had been tolerated by us old-timers due to the draw of keeping our rangefinder ways while incorporating digital technology. My M9 had worked just fine since the memory card slot malfunction repair that had reduced price to affordable levels (see the 2013 post). I had not assessed it for the corrosion issue partly due to denial and because in its early stages, the defect can only be seen at 100% magnification and was easily fixed in post processing. Unfortunately, if one could not provide proof of sensor replacement, it greatly decreased the value of the camera. Sensor replacement would be time consuming and expensive as the no-charge replacement policy had passed by the time I had been aware of the issue. There was a exchange program subsequently, but the options were not worth it. Subsequent M's had increased in size, had features I didn't need or want, and I just liked the M9's rendering. When the M10 was introduced, the smaller size, improved weather-proofing, live view capability (lenses wider than 28mm are hard to frame accurately on a M9) and much better low light performance outweighed the charms of a CCD sensor. Nine years is analogous to dog years, even worse, in digital camera technology. Given that the M10 now was a trade-in option, I tested my camera and sure enough there was evidence of corrosion. I was hoping to present the case for a trade in at the factory so I could use the new camera for the remainder of the trip.
The flight to Frankfurt was comfortable and without a hitch. Landing and customs were much faster than anticipated so we were looking at a 3 hour wait for the train to Wetzlar. Fortunately, we were able to exchange the tickets without any hassle for a train that was arriving shortly and were able to arrive in Wetzlar late afternoon on a Sunday. I was hoping that would be the case as the museum/bookstore was closed on Mondays.
It was indeed our good fortune to see that portion of the campus.
I was able to see some photos I had not previously seen either in reproduced or original form.
Here is a series showing HC Bresson.
On most short lists of GOAT photographers, it's
noteworthy because he hated being photographed.,
The exhibit was an eloquent illustration of the company's role in photography in the past 100 years both as witness to the past century and in the evolution of photography as an art form. As above noted DW is not as much of a photo nerd as I am, yet she found it remarkable how many photos she recognized.
The photos exhibited in the museum and throughout the campus would be revelatory to those perceiving the brand's products as overpriced and obsolete bauble for old rich guys.
We had a very nice and civilized dinner at the hotel restaurant and went for a walk of the campus afterwards. We agreed that the ambiance of the grounds was more than a little clinical- not "warm-fuzzy" at all.
Jet lagged boomers that we were, we were lights out by 21:00.
We were ready and essentially packed up before the hotel restaurant was open for breakfast in order to see the main portion of the park as soon as it was open.
I've been a long time Bruce Davidson fan and seeing his work on exhibit was another great treat, especially his photos of Los Angeles in the 50's-60's.
DW was not as psyched about the equipment exhibit; the Y chromosome seems to have the gearhead sequencing. It was great fun to recall all the M models and lenses I've owned through the years.
Then came time to present my case to the service rep. As it turns out it was a very customer friendly experience. He took my word that the M9 sensor was corroded based on my description of the defect. I would be able to make the purchase there and continue the trip with a new camera. It was so straightforward that I asked for some time to think it over. After taking a walk and conferring with DW who basically said "go for it", I took a deep breath and returned ready to make the trade. Upon meeting the rep he smiled and said "we have an interesting development". I gulped. There was a model with a small cosmetic defect that they could offer at a discount. When I saw the defect and heard the amount of the discount, the expense was much more palatable.
With strap and lens minus M9 and waiting for M10.
I left Wetzlar a very happy customer.
We bailed on the factory tour as the trip by train to Berlin was going to involve four transfers and departures were not frequent from Wetzlar. So we figured we better get cracking.
The trip to Berlin was not as smooth. The Wetzlar station attendants were not fluent in English but were able to get us going to Geissen. There was a 2 hour stopover at Kassel which allowed us to have dinner and people watch.
Then we boarded the wrong train. The train attendant was very nice and reassuring. He changed our tickets and told us the time difference in the revised route would be minimal. We boarded the next train which is where things went worse. Apparently there were repairs needed along the way- we never quite found out why there was a delay as the updates were only in German and it seemed none of our fellow passengers were motivated or able to translate. A 21:30 scheduled arrival to Berlin Hbf turned into a 02:00 one. There was a huge line outside the station waiting for taxis. That went impressively fast given the time of night. We arrived at our hotel at 02:30.I have to give DW credit for not voicing regrets over our Wetzlar excursion as I would have had it coming. We're old enough to realize that a late but safe arrival is cause to be thankful. Jet lag compounded by a late and stressful next day did not take away the feeling that the visit to Leitz Park had been worth it.