Review: Arte di Mano half case for Leica M with M Grip
Last year I reported on my experiences with two half cases from the Korean company Arte di Mano. I have one for the Leica M and another for the Monochrom. Both are wearing in nicely, as you would expect from first-rate leather products, and I am convinced that the quality, fit and finish of these cases is the best. I have tried cases from other manufacturers and none can compare with Sejun Kim's hand-crafted designs. As I have discovered, Sejun is quite the Leica fan and he is fastidious in ensuring a glove-like fit. This is not always the case with other cases.
There is only one problem with most leather cases: The grip is not good enough when using heavier lenses. The standard case, which incorporates a useful mini grip pad, is ideal for smaller lenses such as the 35mm and 50mm Summicrons. However, I found myself removing the case and preferring to mount the Leica hand grip when choosing heavier lenses.
The answer is Sejun's new design which accommodates the Leica handgrip M. It solves all the problems and can be used all the time, small lens or heavy lens.
Mine arrived from Korea this morning and I can immediately feel the benefit in improved grip and handleability. The camera feels so much more better balanced, even with the 35mm and 50mm Summiluxes which are considerably heavier than their Summicron brethren. The combination is almost essential for heavier lenses such as the Noctilux but I will probably end up leaving the new case on the camera all the time. It just looks and feels right. It also stops the camera flopping forward onto heavier lenses when it is placed on a hard surface.
The new case is perfectly crafted as I have come to expect from Arte di Mano. I chose the monochrome style with black stitching, a design originally made for the M Monochrom. By default you get white stitching although you can choose alternatives. Red also looks good with the M and I had an interesting discussion about this with Sejun before ordering. I was tempted but decided to play safe and go for the black stitching. I am certainly not disappointed because the appearance, fit and finish is absolutely beyond criticism. If you've spent a small fortune on a Leica M it deserves the best case. You just found it.
Sejun also makes a larger variant to accommodate the multi-function hand grip.
All Arte di Mano cases are made to order and usually take three weeks from order to despatch. Delivery, usually by FedEx, normally takes no more than a few days and I have found Sejun Kim to be extremely responsible and reliable. You can have confidence ordering direct.
The standard case for the hand grip M costs about $450 while the larger multifunction grip version is $490 (around £268 and £292). There are some variations, for instance, an extra few pounds for the monochrome version I chose, and mailing is extra. The Arte di Mano website is in Korean, which is fine for looking at the pictures but something of a trial when ordering. However, they do have a very clearly laid out eBay store which you can find here.