ARTE DI MANO LEICA M10 LEATHER HALF CASE
Published August 20, 2017
THE INCREDIBLE VANISHING LEICA M10
One of the first things I noticed about the Leica M10 is how lighter it feels compared to my Leica M Monochrom Typ 246. Leica made a lot of noise about how thin the Leica M10 is, but they did not make as much noise about the 20 gram weight reduction. Twenty is grams is next to nothing, so not much reason to talk about it. Yet the Leica M10 feels far lighter than expected, so I compared the weight of the Leica M10 and Leica M Monochrom. A difference was 106 grams...!... How did 20 grams turn into 106 grams...?...
For their weigh-ins, both the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 and Leica M10 were outfitted with a Artisan & Artist 301N rope strap, Match Technical Thumbs-Up's, battery and Arte di Mano half-cases. The weight reduction is due to a lighter camera, a lighter Thumbs-Up, a lighter half-case... and the big one - no base plate with the Leica M10. That was the a-ha moment. The newly style Arte di Mano half case eliminates the Leica M10's base plate - a 50 gram savings.
So that is the weight reduction, but the Leica M10 also has a smaller footprint. If measuring just the camera body itself, the Leica M10 is almost 4mm thinner than the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246. Sounds like a simple thing to measure, but measure from where? The lens mount protrudes a bit more, the rear screen hangs out a bit less, button depths are different... so the overall reduction is ~1/10 of an inch. Again, not a big change, but reduction is noticeable (and appreciated), so it would be a pity to diminish the savings with a chunky half case. And it is probably a cardinal sin to put a cheaply made fugly half case on the Leica M10.
As the pictures illustrate, the JnK Handworks' Arte di Mano half-cases are expertly cut and hug all the controls and surfaces without overlapping or covering the display edges, button edges, etc. The fit and finish are simply superb. The leather lays flat - there are no bulges, waves, gaps. Also, the leather thickness is not too heavy either. I mention this because earlier this year I received an Angelo Pelle half-case bundled in with some used gear. The leather was at least 1/8" of an inch thick and looked ridiculous. It partially covered up buttons, the screen... the fit was a mess. I have also owned the Luigi half-cases. They are definitely a step up from the Pelle's, but the Luigi half cases also partially cover buttons, display edges, etc. The Arte di Mano half cases are best in class.
During the past five years I have owned 7 or 8 different Arte di Mano half cases for various Leica M's and the Leica SL Typ 601. Along the way I have tried some of the different leathers offered by JnK Handworks. The minerva leather has been my favorite. It is fairly soft to the touch, a bit grippy. The standard rally volpe feels similar to the minerva leather. I have not tried the more expensive ones like the cordovan. Those finishes seem to delicate to me. I did try a shrunken calf leather and it felt stiffer. I prefer the supple feel of the minerva leathers. JnK offers an of leathers, skins, colors and thread colors - if you can imagine it, they probably can make it.
The Arte di Mano Leica M10 half cases can be ordered with an optional battery door. With this type of half case the Leica M10's base plate is no longer needed. A small hidden magnet holds the door closed. When the door is opened, the battery and SDHC card are both easily accessed. The half case is held to the camera via a double thread tripod socket screw, so the case is securely locked in place. The battery door is not weather sealed (like the Leica's base plate), so that may be something to consider if headed into adverse weather conditions.
Since the Arte di Mano Leica M10 half case is secured to the camera via the tripod socket, there is no need for the little ears and snaps that ride over the strap lugs like the traditional half cases. The result in a more comfortable grip because the sides are smooth and free of bulge / stack found on the traditional half case designs. All in all this is a win-win-win -- looks better, feels better and weighs less.
I typically buy the Really Right Stuff (RRS) Quick Release L-Plate Sets for Leica M's, but will probably skip one for the Leica M10. I have this RRS set for the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 and Leica SL Typ 601. The finish of both plates is excellent, especially the Leica SL's. But with this new style half case from Arte di Mano, my plan is to leave the case on the camera at all times. The Really Right Stuff B6 Bi-Directional Plate works well for light duty works with smaller M lenses (under 1 pound).
The Arte di Mano cases fit snuggly which is great when using the camera. The downside is - pulling off the case can take alittle effort, pushing down on one side at time. Repeatedly putting on and taking off the half case can get tedious, so the new style with battery door solves that problem.
I like using half cases because they protect the Leica M body from scrapes and bumps, provide some cushioning when setting the camera down and the half cases improve the grip-py-ness. The Arte di Mano half cases have worn well over the years. The Arte di Mano half cases are pricey, but quality products often are.
Arte di Mano cases can be found on Ebay and the Leica Store Miami (and probably other Leica Stores as well). If ordering direct from JnK Handworks(via Ebay), generally it takes around 4 weeks. They ship their half case overnight via FEDEX. Since my color and leather preferences are pretty standard fare, I usually buy from the Leica Store Miami because they keep stock on hand of popular styles / colors.