Every so often something rather wonderful appears out of the blue. I’ve reviewed half cases, grips and other accessories for a range of cameras. But the Tekiac Stealth Case for the Leica CL is special.
This is more than a case, more than a grip. It combines the two in a way that I find quite irresistible. Weighing a mere 60g, this well-engineered accessory fits the CL with the sort of precision that we don’t expect from even the most expensive leather cases. It offers effective protection for the camera — with a red-dot-suppressed stealthiness — and a grip that is better than the Leica official grip. The Leica grip has a narrower finger column, needs to be removed to get at the battery or SD card and weighs 50% more than the Tekiac case and grip combined. And later we will get on to prices.
Lukasz Rode and Olaf Ysker are two German engineers and designers with over thirty years’ experience between them in sales, project planning and construction and design of specialised machinery and automation. They have worked in industries from automotive manufacturing to food processing. It helps that they are both Leica enthusiasts and we are fortunate that they have turned their experience and talent into creating something unique for both the CL and Leica Q.
Olaf approached me to ask if I would like to try the CL case, which is their latest product, and I agreed without hesitation. I really didn’t know what to expect, other than what I already knew — that the Stealth case is a combination of half cover and grip with rapid access to the battery/card cover. I didn’t know what sort of material was used but I suspected some type of man-made stuff.
The Tekiac turns out to be made from a very high-quality ABS with a plush lining to protect the camera, and with a very discreet surface pattern to mimic the CL’s cover material. It is, however, much shinier and has a lustrous sheen that I find pleasing.
The case is 3D printed and, according to Olaf, they are using heavy duty industrial equipment with a high degree of accuracy. The construction is very substantial, with the minimum thickness of the plastic being 3.5mm. The really surprising aspect is the precision of the fit. You couldn’t ask for a more tailored and solid combination; the case immediately becomes part of the camera. I suppose if you can now 3D-print a whole house, a camera case is easy peasy.
Unlike normal half covers, the case totally encircles the lens mount (again, with absolute precision — nothing worse than an off-centre surround) so it is necessary to remove the lens before offering up the camera to the case. The back of the camera remains unprotected, but there is substantial cover for the left side of the camera as well as total cover for the front. The right side, the grip side, leaves the upper part of the camera end unprotected.
On the top of the case is a step which fits over the top plate, exactly the same depth as the hot-shoe on the camera. It has cutouts for the microphones but the step is probably there to ensure that the camera fits securely inside the case with no possibility of movement. It is there, also, I suspect, to ensure that the shallow strip between the lens mount and the top plate protected from breakage.
The base of the Tekiac features a slightly striated surface to avoid slippage and to protect surfaces.
The base has a cutout to allow easy access to the battery compartment and this is one of my favourite features. The Leica Handgrip, by contrast, must be removed every time you need to change the battery or retrieve the card. This is frustrating and, after a time, annoying. You can’t put a value on the convenience of being able to change a battery without dismantling half the camera. I have loved this facility on my Arte di Mano M10 case — where the case actually replaces the camera’s bottom plate — and I love it on the Tekiac.
There are one or two problems with the Tekiac in its current form.
First, the base is thicker than ought to be. It is 8.2mm deep compared with the Leica grip’s 6.5mm, thus adding slightly more to the overall height of the camera. The clear reason for this is that the designers have used the depth to insert two tripod threads. They sit either side of the fixing screw (which goes into the camera’s tripod thread) and offer some alternative for the tripod user. It’s possible to mount the camera on a tripod while allowing unfettered access to the battery compartment.
Tripod users will appreciate this facility and see it as a good feature, despite the added depth. However, since I use a tripod so seldom I would be happier with a thinner base (perhaps 4mm instead of 8.2mm) without the additional tripod threads. It might still be possible to use a securing screw with integral threat so that the camera could be attached to a tripod in exactly the same way as the naked camera. The solution, I suspect, is to offer the case in two versions which would not be difficult given the manufacturing method.
Second, the case cannot be installed or removed without first uncoupling the strap split ring from the left-hand lug. This is certainly an inconvenience and would be a deal breaker for anyone who sometimes wishes to use the camera without a case.
Get a grip
The grip moulding is larger than that of the Leica Handgrip — a depth of 17.5mm compared with 14.1mm. It is perfectly shaped for my hand and gives the camera/case combo a very firm and stable feel. I use it in combination with the hot-shoe-mounted Leica thumb rest which adds even more to the stability of the rig, particularly when the 55-135mm TL zoom, the 35mm Summilux-TL or the heavy Noctilux-M are mounted. This grip on the Tekiac case is more effective than Leica’s offering and, with a total weight of case and grip of only 60g, compared with the Leica Grip’s 90g, it is a far better solution, particularly bearing in mind the added convenience of access to the battery compartment.
Potential buyers should also bear in mind that the case does add bulk to what is otherwise a very compact camera — almost a modern recreation of the original Barnack Leica. If you enjoy this small size, perhaps with the very thin 18mm pancake lens attached, then you could well find the Tekiac detracting from the experience.
However, within minutes of opening the box, I had the case firmly attached to my CL and I have been using it happily for over a month now. Despite the material being plastic rather than aluminium, leather, carbon fibre or any other premium product, I really like the look of the Tekiac. I think it complements the CL superbly.
Red dot suppression
The only visual aspect that may cause potential buyers pause for thought is that the case covers the Leica logo. I have nothing against this — it is certainly better than sticking on black tape as so many owners do — and I am very happy with the designers’ decision. It would have been very easy to leave a porthole for the logo but I’m glad they were not tempted to such pretension. With the case attached, the CL is indeed a stealthy camera and street photographers will appreciate this aspect.
The Tekiac Stealth Case represents a radical solution to a common problem and is a unique accessory for the CL. It is so well made, so precise in its fit, that it is a bargain at the retail price of 70 euros (including 19% German VAT). My review Tekiac is in black, as you see from the photographs, but the case is also available in a wide variety of colours.
You can order from the website but, curiously, you need to send an email with your requirements. Bear in mind that there are also a Tekiac Stealth Cases for the Leica Q and Fuji X-E3, which I haven’t examined but, based on current experience, I would also recommend. The Q case also costs €70.
- Subscribe to Macfilos for free updates on articles as they are published
- Want to comment on this article but having problems?