Aug 012012

Luigi Case

After 10 months


Luigi Case Reversed Front after 10 months of use. The leather is just starting to wear in at the grip. Adam Marelli via Instagram.

The Break In

Last October, I went to Rome to special order a Reversed Leather case from Luigi Crescenzi.  A few of you have asked how the case is breaking in.  I wanted to share two pictures to give you a sense of the leather after 10 months of continuous use.  The leather is incredibly robust and even the reversed side, which will eventually wear smooth in certain areas is only showing minimal wear.

Luigi Case, reversed leather, rear view. Its going to be another five years before the case starts to show any serious wear. Adam Marelli via Instagram.

Why a Half Case

There are a lot of people who think that half cases are decoration for a camera which is already famous for being a piece of jewelry.  Leica owners are guilty of liking their cameras, there is no question about that.  But the decision to buy a half case was functional for me.  I was setting up to shoot a winter construction project.  The months of October to December we spent at the top of a twenty story building as lathers, iron workers, and carpenters were fitting out a building here in NYC.  If at all possible, I prefer not to wear gloves.  Inside of my jacket I keep hand warmers to keep my fingertips from going numb.  If it gets really windy I will slip on a pair of “Red Dipped Gloves.”  When I use to work as a Site Super, in construction, I would order these gloves by the box load.  They are slightly elastic cotton gloves that last a week or so depending on the work load.  They have a good natural dexterity and are dirty cheap.  They “Blue Dipped Gloves” are slightly heavier, but for photography I prefer the lighter ones so I can feel the shutter dial and shutter.


Anyway, the Leica Time half cases give me an added grip.  The M9 feels like an ice cube in the winter months, so the leather is a suitable insulator.  It also lets me rest the camera on construction surfaces with a bit of protection.  If there was ever an arena of dust, debris, and potential disaster it would be a construction site.  Luigi’s case is a touch of added insurance against the elements.

Knock Off’s

There is a growing trend of Luigi Knock Off cases reaching the market.  While I dont see any problem with healthy competition, I have not been impressed by the quality, creativity, or potential of the other cases.  The posts I have read on l-Camera forum that people bought chinese cases for $50 on ebay which were just as good or superior is complete nonsense.  Its completely normal for someone to take a product, refine it, enhance it and then release it on the market.  BUT…the other half cases I see are usually competing on price alone.  Even when the leather is of similar quality, all of the details are Luigi solutions.   A little nod to the man who sorted out the designs would be appreciated.

Also, I put a tremendous value on hand made goods.  Whether its watches from Swizerland, denim from Japan, or sweaters from France…its nice to know that manufacturing traditions still exist in some parts of the world.  An enormous influence on the production of anything comes from the buying market.  An uneducated market, who is just looking for a bargain, drives down quality and attention to detail.  It is the consumer version of “planned obsolescence.”

A good example of healthy competition is Fuji’s stab at the rangefinder market.  Personally I dont use a Fuji, but the added competition for Leica from Fuji and even Sony will have positive effects on the market.   Economy versions of a Leica half case, do nothing of the sort.  So before picking up the cheaper solution consider the value of investing in a piece that will last you a lifetime.  Based on the wear and tear so far, my half case should be good for at least the balance of my lifetime.


Adam Marelli

  8 Responses to “Luigi Case Aged”

  1. Case looks great. I really like the idea of supporting great hand made products.

    • Hey Stephen,
      I agree with you. As life progresses I find myself more concerned with the products I buy. If at all possible I prefer a smaller quantity of higher quality goods which are hand made or hand assembled or at least made by someone who enjoys their work. Unfortunately its not quite possible to apply across the board, as I type on my mac or put on my nike frees.
      But there are some good companies out there who are really striving to put quality back into the market. My recent interests are Hartford Denim Company, Makr bags, Tanner Goods, Merz B Schwanen, and Momotaro.
      If you are interested in hand made items, you will dig the project I am shooting in Japan this October called “Master Craftsmen: An Endangered Species” for Origin Magazine.

  2. Photos do not do Luigi’s cases justice, they are so gorgeous you want to get a case to protect it lol

    • Hey Jason,
      Yeah the pictures are ok. Just snapped the shots with my iphone. But hopefully it gives people a sense of how it is breaking in.
      The cases are nice, but I think they all look better the more they are used.

  3. When you first posted the case I didn’t appreciate the reversal, but have to now admit it was a brilliant decision. We MUST support creative genius in all areas of life. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hey John,
      Even Luigi thought it was a bad idea at first. But after he put the case together, it changed his mind. It turns out people now email him and ask for the Adam Marelli case. haha. I got a kick out of that.
      Thinking about getting one for my M6.

  4. Luigi’s work is much appreciated. However I prefer my M9 as it is. I just use it, it’s a plain tool to achieve the results I want – so why use a case? I totally like my Leica to show its age and usage. Improved grip and handling is not really important to me as I find the M9 too well designed to hide it in a case – as you say, it is jewelry in a way.

    • Hey Tobi,

      The M9, for all its advances, lacks in a few areas. Leica even thinks so, which is why they are upgrading the M9′s from the original vulcanite to the newer wrap on the Monochrom. Dont get me wrong the M9 is the best digital solution for the rangefinder dilemma, but its freezing cold in the winter and without the film rewind it needs the thumbs up.

      The M ergonomics are perfectly designed to match a canister of film. Essentially the camera was designed around the fixed component of a roll of film. The second the film is removed, many of the design features become problematic. The removable bottom plate, the lack of a film rewind lever, and the lack of a grip for the hand all leave room for aftermarket products.

      Granted Luigi’s pieces are not the cheapest solution, but it illustrates the some of the areas worth improving in future M’s.

      All of that being said, there is a particular beauty to simple solutions. If the M9 in hand works for you, i bet it is something you enjoy every time you pick up the camera. would not want to wrap up that excitement in any way. I understand why you prefer to keep it raw.



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