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Site last updated:  Thu, 14 Jul 2016

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Dust in Leica MP and M7 eyepieces

The Problem

Both the modern Leica MP or Leica M7 attach their rear viewfinder eyepiece using a different (cheaper) method. Older Leica models use a more traditional method whereby the entire rear circular lens is threaded and screwed into the body. The newer M7 or MP don't do this. Rather they slide the rear lens assembly into the body cavity and secure it with three screws.

This method is simpler to manufacture and repair, but a disadvantage is that dust & moisture can now enter the rear VF eyepiece much more easily.

In Aug 2004, Sebastian V noted the following:

The dust will build up over a short time as it did in my M7. Unfortunately, the eyepieces in M7 and MP are not screw-in like on previous Ms. Because of modern CNC machining Leica thought they could achieve a snug enough fit by having the eyepiece push into place. Unfortunately dust does get in. I sent mine to Leica UK and they sealed the eyepiece with something, silica gel I think. No dust has reappeared.

A few days later Roger Michel added:

[It's] apparently quite easy to scar the camera by removing the eyepiece. By the way, moisture can get in as easy as dust. And the rapid rate at which moisture dissipates leads me to believe that the "sealing," if any, is very poor indeed. People who don't yet have this problem might, at the very least, want to put a tiny bead of silicone caulk around the eyepiece with a toothpick. Silicone caulk can easily be rubbed off without a trace and is just about invisible in this application.

The Cure

Under Warranty

There are claims Leica will clean and (properly) re-seal your eyepiece under warranty, for free. See the following June 2005 photo.net discussion at:

<Photo.net: #00CZJ2>

So if your camera is still under warranty, and the dust is starting to accumulate, then contact your local Leica distributor!

DIY

Before we dive into hacking your VF, make sure your M7 model is the newer one with the removable eyepiece & three screws!

As Ben Z noted in Aug 2004:

Up until the MP came out, the M7 used the threaded eye piece of M6 type. If the OD is approximately 7mm then it's the old type that screws off in one piece (using a Flexiclamp). If the OD is approximately 9.5mm then you have the new type. The rubber outer covering sort of peels off (there's a rim around the metal part that the rubber part stretches to slip over. You can use a little wooden stick whittled to a flat point like a screwdriver (an orange wood stick like women use for cuticles works perfectly). Just make sure you only pick up the edge of the rubber cover. If you feel any hard resistance you've got the lip of the metal piece, so back off a little until you just get the rubber.

Okay. Ready? Roger Michel provides the following tips:

Talked to leica tech about dust in eyepiece. Can be fixed at home. Procedure: (1) pry off rubber protective ring (held on with a small spot of glue); (2) three screws hold eyepiece in place - remove them; (3) remove eyepiece and clean out accumulated gunk; (4) replace eyepiece; (5) seal if you want - not recommended; (6) use duco cement or similar to replace rubber surround (so you can get it off next time). Supposedly a 'ten minute' repair.
 
Oh yeah - when putting rubber surround back on, make sure you line up groove and corresponding notch.
 
Further suggestion from Leica - do not use anything metal to pry off rubber ring. Technicians use their thumbnail only. Cost of a new rubber ring is $5.
 
The tech I spoke to was very familiar with the problem. He has seen "many" cameras come in for this repair. Some cameras are improperly sealed. Due to the tiny space, the dust accumulation quickly becomes a serious problem in affected cameras. you are lucky if you have well sealed camera. I can assure you that this is not a subtle thing.

You'd think you wouldn't have to do this for a three-thousand dollar, "top of the line" camera, right?…

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