Home Accessories Review: Artisan & Artist Leica half case

Review: Artisan & Artist Leica half case

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 Leica Monochrom with Artisan & Artist red-leather half case, Braidy strap, Match Technical shutter release bug and 35mm Summilux FLE lens. I suppose the red rather takes away the stealth aspect of the MM, but it does look good.
Leica Monochrom with Artisan & Artist red-leather half case, Braidy strap, Match Technical shutter release bug and 35mm Summilux FLE lens. I suppose the red rather takes away the stealth aspect of the MM, but it does look good.

Last week I reviewed Paul Glendell’s range of Classic Cases for Leicas.  Today it’s the turn of Japanese designers, Artisan & Artist, well known for their straps, full cases and half cases. A&A cases come is a variety of leathers and colours but I had the opportunity to examine this red half case which is of a classic design.

Red wouldn’t be my number one choice: I always feel compelled to go for the safe option, black. But there is no disputing the effect of this lovely Bordeaux red half case for M9s and Monochroms. It looks and feels absolutely superb and fits the camera closely.

This is an open-back style, unlike Classic Cases models which have leather bridging to help with rigidity. Keeping the case in shape and close to the camera is indeed a challenge with the open back design. But A&A tackle this by adding a metal insert to the back edges of the leather and the fix works effectively. An open back does have one major advantage in that it makes it easier to remove and replace the case (which you have to do every time you want to access the battery or SD card). I think on balance I prefer the open back design.

Quality of this case is absolutely superb. The leather is slightly thicker and stiffer than that seen on most camera cases and it is of saddlery standard as opposed to thinner, more glove-like leather used by some manufacturers. The quality is very similar to that of Classic Cases but the leather is a fraction thicker and heavier. Construction and stitching is of a very high standard and the tan suede interior perfectly complements the outside colour.  

The bottom of the case is formed from a separate piece of leather which is sewn to the main structure. The edges are subtly rounded and the overall effect is beautiful. On the base there is a gold-tooled stamp with the manufactuer’s name and Made in Japan.  

 The open-back design can be less stable than cases equipped with leather cross-members but  A&A solve the problem with metal inserts along the edges of the leather in order to preserve shape and ensure a snug fit.  
The open-back design can be less stable than cases equipped with leather cross-members but  A&A solve the problem with metal inserts along the edges of the leather in order to preserve shape and ensure a snug fit.  

As with all other half case designs, the case is secured by twin flaps (or ears) of leather which press-stud to the rear section. The Classic Cases designs have slightly higher flaps which help protect the top corners of the camera. The A&A case, on the other hand, follows normal convention and finishes level with the top of the camera. I am not sure which I prefer from an aesthetic point of view. Both are attractive and it is a matter of choice.

This A&A case does not include a padded grip and relies on the stiffness of the leather to provide a bit of added purchase. Other manufactures, such as Luigi, Arte di Mano and Pelle do incorporate a padded grip which some owners will prefer. However, none of the designs is capably of doing the job of a proper camera grip and, from a personal point of view, I find both the A&A and Classic Case designs offer just the right amount of extra grip to make the camera feel better in the hand.

I saw this case secondhand for £50 at Aperture in London’s Rathbone Place. A new version costs £169 at Ace Cameras in Bath.