Arte di Mano review, My favorite half case for the Leica M!

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Arte di Mano review, My favorite half case for the Leica M!

By Steve Huff

You can buy  these lovely cases over at LeicaStoreMiami HERE.

Hey guys! It’s Steve here, your favorite Leica, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Nikon and overall “any good” camera fanboy with yet another cool accessory review. This time I am reviewing something very special, very beautiful, very functional and very expensive. For the Leica M 240 there are many kinds of half cases available. They run the gamut from $50 to $500 and the one I am reviewing today is up there with the most expensive of the lot, of not THE most expensive of the lot. No, it is not a Luigi case but  speaking of Luigi, his cases have now been copied up and down and left and right. Luigi used to be the one and only original..the only case for the Leica M that you would buy if you wanted the real deal premium. Hand crafted, hand stitched, big beefy leather and quality. Not anymore. In fact, many tell me that Luigi has been slipping in quality lately, and if that is the case I feel it is because he is so busy and also trying to stay competitive with the new competition.

My video review of the Arte di Mano case is below, check it out 🙂

The only Luigi case I have ever owned was a let down for me. The cutouts were way off and borderline crooked on the back. It did not fit my M9 well at all. I mean, it fit, but it was not a “fit like a glove” style of fit. It was a more of a loose goose style of fit. I never used it due to the bad fit and awkward feel. Luigi has many fans and I can say he has huge passion for his craft. In fact, I have seen others who own his cases and they look gorgeous and over time they develop a rich patina. I have seen many with superb fit and finish so I may have just gotten a bad apple with mine. Then again, lately many have told me they had issues, so I ruled out Luigi for my M 240 case quest.

With me, since I run a review site I am always exposed to the newest products for cameras. I get companies constantly wanting me to review their products from cases, straps, iPhone cases, iPad cases, bags, and all kinds of accessories. 75% of the time I decline the offer (if it doesn’t really make me say “wow”, that is cool I will not review it) and other times I get the product and am let down by it, so no review.

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Cases for the M 240 that I have reviewed so far:

Gariz – (My review here)

I have had my share of M cases and have reviewed a couple of them on these pages. The very 1st was the Gariz M 240 case which I really think looks amazingly sharp on the camera. It is basic, does not wrap around the top and fits like it should. A glove. It is attractive, it feels nice (but not luxurious) and comes in at around $220. You can see my review for it HERE. .

Classic Cases – (My review here)

The classic cases M 240 case is pure old school and quality craftsmanship. In fact, when it arrived I replaced my Gariz with it so I could review it. After a while I appreciated it for its thick and sturdy quality. The classic cases M case is one you would like if you want thick sturdy leather that will age over time into a softer richer look and feel. When it is new though it is stiff. Also, my copy was not cut perfect. Since my review I was told they are now cut perfectly to avoid any issues.

FYI: I have also tried cases from Leica and Artisan and Artist that were not very good at all. The fit was loose and sloppy and the feel of the cases were not up there with the better cases. I found them to be not worth the money.

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and now…The Creme of the Crop

When the M came out I remember seeing a line of cases appear that everyone was raving about. Arte di Mano. These cases were handcrafted masterpieces with a snug fit that made it appear that the M was made for case instead of the other way around.

This is a case I immediately wanted but when I saw the price I refused to pay that much for a case. I mean, $390 for a half case? Nonsense. Well, that was my 1st thought. But as time went on, I really wanted one. I saw a couple of others who had them and wow, they felt so nice and had zero fit issues. I started to think..the camera is $7000. What is $390 for a case to protect it and give it a better grip? Nahhh, I ended up not being able to go to $390 so I ordered the Gariz for $200. But then I received the classic cases model. After a while, and seeing a friends Arte di Mano case I reminded myself of a rule I made to myself recently. BUY ONCE and be done with it. Meaning, do not buy the things you really do not want..save up for the ones you want. This will keep you from losing money in the long run.

Here is a video showing the process of making a case for the Leica X1. All by hand with attention to detail. Each case is also unique as each one is made by hand. No mass production.

So I decided to save up a little stash of cash every month until I could buy the Arte di Mano (I do not use or own even one credit card, by choice. I am all cash or nothing) case and possibly a new strap to match and soon the time came. I logged on to Lecia Store Miami where they sell the entire line and saw something new from Arte di Mano for the M 240. A few new cases actually. Uh oh, I had not planned on this..new cases and new (more expensive) prices.

They now have the standard case with grip built into the case or the cases that can be used on the M OVER the Leica M grip ($300 accessory) or even the M grip with GPS. The new cases looked amazingly cool. So I said “screw it” and placed an order for the M case that is for use with the M grip (which I also ordered). I ordered the extra long classic strap and then the leather pouch to hold my Leica EVF when I am not using it (snaps on to the strap). I told myself I was nuts but spent the cash anyway. The very next day my boxes arrived. Once I took them from the boxes and put the camera in the case I knew I made the right choice. “Ahhhhh..perfect” is what i said as the camera slid down into the supple soft leather case. After a couple of days shooting the camera with the case and using the strap I do not think I will ever buy any other brand of case for the M ever again. Really. I may review other brands but it will be very tough for anything to approach this level of fit and quality IMO.

From the fit, that could not be any better to the soft and supple luxurious leather it already feels like a nicely worn in leather case. The quality of the case is beautiful and is really for those of us who appreciate beautiful things such as this. If you own and love your Leica M then you would adore this case. That is IF you like half cases. Many of us M shooters prefer to shoot the camera naked 😉 If you enjoy using a half case and enjoy a nice strap, this set is about as good as it gets but as Chris Kringle says in Santa Clause is Coming to Town “Be prepared to pay!”

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I have seen hundreds of M half cases in use from meeting so many of you out there over the years. I am telling you now..if you are not 100% thrilled with your half case fit, or are in the market for a half case then take a serious look at the Arte Di Mano line. I know of what I speak.

Leica Store Miami (Dale Photo) sells the entire line from cases to straps to EVF pouches. As for the EVF pouch it is so soft and well made. Again, luxury. Previous brand have always used the very hard stuff leather. This is like a fine leather glove. The way I like it.

So the Arte Di Mano line gets my 100% highest recommendation if it is quality you want. For pricing, they are in the stratosphere but I am afraid you do have to pay if you want this level of quality for your M. There are many choices in a case for your M but not many up to this level. Damn, am I now a Arte Di Mano fanboy? 100%!

A few of the styles of M case that are available from the Arte di Mano line starting with the version I have:

blackwgrip brownstandardbuiltin blackfortu blkopen

 

artdimano

Direct links to what I bought:

The case I bought for my M

All of the Arte di Mano cases

The strap I bought

ALL straps

The EVF Pouch I bought

and the Leica grip I purchased.

Arte di Mano also makes cases for the Leica M9, M-E, Monochrom, X-Vario and X1 and X2. I expect there to be a T case as well coming soon so if you own a different Leica you can still own a taste of case perfection.

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52 Comments

  1. Hello,
    What about the M240 Dr Zhou cases ?

    Thanks for your precious work and kind regards,

    François

  2. I have been a long time customer of Luigi cases and I have visited with Luigi and his charming and glamorous wife at their apartment in Rome. I appreciate his work. I recently bought an Arte di Mano case for my monochrom and there are some differences worth noting. The Arte case is more precisely measured and cut. The metal tripod socket is included rather than being an option. The Arte case is more expensive. I would say thy are both top notch products, somewhat like BMW and Mercedes. Each has devotees but for the most part they are worthy products.

  3. i agree this case is really good, before to buy a case for my Monochrom i have tried (in a couple of shops) Arte di mano , Angelo Pelle from Florence and Luigi.
    Arte di mano and Angelo Pelle are on the same level, they both fit incredibly well!
    Arte di mano leather is thinner than angelo pelle, both are top notch (pelle’s leather is ticker and to me it look much more natural, to be true i had never thought that leather would impress me in such way)
    At the end i chose Angelo Pelle Florence considering price, half case with wood grip+backdoor +neck strap cost almost at half price than all this kit from arte di mano.
    Anyway this is what i bought:
    http://www.angelo-pelle.com/half-case-leica-m8-m9-black.html

  4. Thanks Steve. As it’s for my sony a7r I’m ordering it through eBay in the Uk as no one stocks the case for the sony. Thanks for you response and your reviews, it was one on the reasons I stepped up from the nex7 to the a7. Have a great day and continue the good work.

  5. Hi Steve, did you purchase the all black case or the black with white stitching? Your link goes to the all black case but the review ( great btw) was for the black with white stitching . Looking to order a case for my A7r in black barenia leather, but can’t decide on what colour stitching to go for. Cheers

    • I purchased and own the one you see in this review on my M 🙂 The black with White Stitch. It has been sold out since the day of the review so I linked to the black one but there is a link to all of them as well.

  6. Will the evf pouch fit the evf3? Notice on your link it says evf2 pouch. Btw thanks for the great
    T review

  7. I agree about this review wholly! People that just know about Luigi’s and use them only or with other brands say the Luigi’s case is good leather and quality.(I agree leather is good, also.) But some of that have doubt about rough finish, cut and fits. In fact, that is not good. that is just a rough italian job. Of course someone can feel some artistic value from that. but it is not about quality of leather goods.

    I recommend that use arte di mano one first. I guess you can’t agree steve’s review before use the guy’s work – arte di mano one. But if you use it, you can realize about honesty of this review. If I have skill about write review like steve, my review maybe praise more for arte di mano. They have enough value about fantastic leather, great finish, unique and classical design and perfect fit.

    It is not just compare with Luigi’s. I wholly agree that any case brands(Include japan brand and others) do not approach quality level of arte di mano. If you don’t agree about this but you did not use this one yet, I think you don’t have right to write reply against this. Ohhhh~ Please use it first! You can feel like steve. 😉

  8. I have an Arte di Mano on my M9, and have to agree with you Steve…it’s one of the most well crafted items I’ve ever purchased. Excellent choice!

  9. It’s cool if you think one product is the One Product to Rule Them All. You should say so. 🙂 No issues there at all. The mark of a good reviewer. Still, however, think products should stand on their own merits; if it is better than the Luigi, it’s ok to say that if you believe it. But bashing is another thing altogether, especially when Luigi has been dealing with health issues, and has been a fixture in the Leica world for many, many years. Perfect, he’s not, of course. Just like the rest of us! Including me. I did mistake your other Miami dealer ad for Leica Store, my bad. 🙂

    • Again, I do not bash..I just tell of my experiences. If that comes across as bashing to you or anyone then so be it. Just being 100% honest and that is all. I do not believe in holding back when it comes to spending $700+ on a handcrafted product. It is what it is..facts..not bashing in any way, shape or form.

    • “especially when Luigi has been dealing with health issues”.

      I have the deepest sympathy for anybody facing those kind of health issues. But to be clear, are you really saying that before writing about a product the reviewer should check on the personal circumstances of the manufacturer and change the conclusions accordingly? What planet are you living on? Anybody charging $700 for a camera case had better be prepared for some criticism if it’s not pretty much perfect.

      • What I am saying is what I said: a product should stand on its own merits. There is no reason to trash brand B when promoting brand A. Just promote brand A and be done with it. The comments about Luigi’s health are there because anyone who claims to know about Luigi and his business would know what he’s been going through, and because of his long-time status in the marketplace, he deserves the benefit of any doubt…

        Interestingly, in another location on this site, Luigi is described thusly:

        “Luigi is possibly one of the three most famous Leica-centric artisans…”

        “Luigi cases generally fit Leica M cameras like a glove. They are exceptionally well crafted, and will add to the charm of your camera.”

        “imperfections…are part of the charm of Luigi cases”

        “Luigi cases are that great. So Luigi, if you read this, I apologize for trashing your website, but your products make up for the site!”

        “I personally own 2 of Luigi’s cases… and love both of them dearly. My camera will never be without one….”

        Interesting how divergent these statements are from the di Mano review…they are written by Ashwin Rao, a photographer well-known online who makes his living in the medical field and has no financial interest promoting products on this site…

        Compare to:

        “The only Luigi case I have ever owned was a let down for me. The cutouts were way off and borderline crooked on the back. It did not fit my M9 well at all. I mean, it fit, but it was not a ‘fit like a glove’ style of fit.”

        They either fit like a glove, or they don’t…so which of these comments should readers choose?

        • Lol, exactly my point! It can be hit or miss with a Luigi case. So one will take a chance it seems. BTW, Ashwin is a friend of mine, we speak often. He now owns an Arte di Mano for his M 240 😉

        • So how exactly do you reconcile the following 2 statements?

          “What I am saying is what I said: a product should stand on its own merits.”

          and

          “anyone who claims to know about Luigi and his business would know what he’s been going through, and because of his long-time status in the marketplace, he deserves the benefit of any doubt…”

          • Why would I need to reconcile statements that YOU made? A product should stand on its own merits? Sure, but on a review site where it is my job to review and compare similar products that is what is done. The Arte and Luigi are both high end cases and should be compared. I do not agree that other competing products should not be mentioned in a review, that would be silly to NOT mention them.

            As for what he is going through, that has nothing at all to do with Quality Control nor is it any kind of excuse if someone gets a bad case. If health issues are bad and quality can not be kept, stop making the cases for a while. I am sure 90% of his cases are good, all I can state is my experience with one I had, and I did. I also spoke of others who have beautiful Luigi cases. Enough said.

          • Ummm…actually Steve my comments were addressed to ‘split image’ not to you. I’m agreeing with you (!)

          • Oh yea. Lol. When I get comments I do not see who they are replies to, they just show up in my comment moderation section that you guys do not see. Sorry about that!

          • Hey – no problem. In my time zone it’s early evening and having dispatched the first gin & tonic of the day I’m in a very mellow mood. On a semi-serious note, the lesson here I think is that if somebody is selling a really premium product (and I think a $700 camera case definitely falls into that category) there is no room for excuses.

          • There is nothing contradictory about those statements.

            One says: products should stand on their own merits.

            The other says: some measure of restraint should be used before trashing “one of the three best-known Leica artisans”

            Clearly the preference here is to promote the “new hotness,” and part of this process includes denigrating established brands.

            So be it…it’s your site…

            🙂

  10. Really? You have people monitoring Luigi’s quality control by purchasing regularly and keeping you informed about it? I find that rather hard to believe.

    Why is it that when you review something like this you have to trash another brand?

    Showcase a brand on its own merits please.

    BTW, if you knew anything about Luigi, you’d know he has been going through chemotherapy. His daughter has been managing the store and the same team of craftsman have been making his products for many years. Luigi is a long-time devotee of traditional Leica photography and doesn’t deserve this needless side-swipe. He is expensive and slow…kinda like Leica, right? Not only is this unfair, it’s not even accurate. Sure, if you order something custom, it will take longer than the standard items…which ship from stock.

    I’ll grant you his website is…interesting, but that’s part of the charm. 🙂

    • Who said I had anyone “monitoring” Luigi’s QC? Not me, I did not say that. What I said was the full case I owned from Luigi was sloppy and did not fit correctly. Was so bad it was basically unusable yet the case and strap was around $700 US. Unusable. Was also bulky, stiff and odd. So what i said was from my own experience in owning one, yet never using it after the review due to the fit.

      I receive hundreds of e-mails a day and yes, many share their experiences with cameras, lenses, straps, bags, and cases. I have had many e-mails from Luigi owners. Some thrilled to death, and some who had the same issue as me with fit and cut. I also stated here that I have seen some beautifully made Luigi cases that fit like a glove. They also wear in well. I never bashed Luigi or his cases, I just stated factual evidence from my experience with a case for my old M9. So it is 100% fair and 100% accurate what was said in this article. If you read it again I tell about my experience but also go on to say how I have seen some gorgeous Luigi cases that were perfect. But it is indeed a hit or miss.

      • “In fact, many tell me that Luigi has been slipping in quality lately.” Exactly how many emails have you received lately about Luigi quality? Say, in the last 3 months?

        🙂

        Still doesn’t make sense to even MENTION another brand, let alone bash; it’s not even fair to the brand you are reviewing.

        Why should their review be sullied by unrelated negativity?

        As I said, the products should stand on their own merits; bashing someone else’s product won’t make the di Mano case any better.

        Of course the real reason to bash Luigi – Leica Store Miami advertises on your site, Luigi doesn’t.

        • It makes perfect sense. This is a review blog/site. It is my JOB to compare products to the competition. It is necessary and important. By ignoring that fact it would be doing a dis-service to readers. No different when I compare cameras. The Luigi case is a very similar product to this one. Many are trying to decide on which one would be best for them. I only write about my real true life experiences, not made up nonsense. So again, my Luigi case was not right. Unusable for me. I have seen others with the same issues. I have seen others with zero issues. This tells me it is the roll of the dice. Sounds to me that you are a Luigi fan who is now upset that I posted this. I also stated the Leica branded case as well as the A&S were awful fits. You did not seem to care about me stating those facts. Why is that?

          Bottom line..this is a case review. In my experience with using a Luigi, Gariz, A&A, Leica, Classic Cases and now Arte Di Mano, nothing has approached the Arte Di Mano for quality, feel, or fit. Nothing. As for how many have emailed me in the last three months with comments on Luigi, it has been about 6. Two were asking me if I had issues with delivery speed, three were telling me they had fit issues and wondered if I knew anything about the Luigi quality and two asked me why I did not review them as they loved their Luigi case.

          So going by my experience and reader responses (have had MANY over the past 3 years) I tell it like it is. I do not worry who will like or not like what I say, I just say what I have to say. I will not “hide” things such as bad fit when comparing case fit. These are $500 and up cases.

          AND TO CLARIFY, Leica Store Miami DOES NOT advertise on my site. I also paid for my Arte Di Mano in full, 100%, no discount. The only advertisers here are Ken Hansen, PopFlash, Pro Shop, LensRentals and Tenba. I also mentioned the A&A case was awful in fit, and one of my advertisers sell the A&A line so your silly accusation just fell apart.

          Some people do not like to hear the truth, happens in every review I write, every comment I type. That will never stop me from speaking the truth. Have a great day.

  11. It’s a pity that they don’t make half cases for film M’s. I have several Luigi’s cases, but it’s nice to have alternatives.
    My most recent case from Luigi was September 2013 for a Fuji X100s. The strap was too short and snapped in half. The case itself was overpriced for such a small thing. The older Leica cases were pristine quality, so no complaints there.
    I guess if people are having quality issues, they need to contact Ginevra (Luigi’s daughter) directly…

  12. I have an Artisan and Artist black lambs leather case. It protects the side of camera to the top edge, over the straps. The lug that wraps over the strap acts as a stop for the right index finger. It makes holding the camera a little more secure. It cost slightly more than the original Leica half case which doesn’t go to the top, is made from a lower quality leather and the black version has white stitching which i think cheapens the look. I love the Artisan and Artist case and highly recommend it!

  13. Hi Steve,
    thank you for the review of such excellent craftmens’ work.
    I agree, all well built and the “missing” piece around the upper area above the info button doesn’t make sense, would flap around anyway, thus good choice to go all the way up straight.

    Still, it makeds the already big M bigger, that’s why I keep it case-less, only using the neoprene to cover it for less optimal weather or non-use.

  14. Unless the case is milled out of a single cow and hand buffed for 45 minutes by a highly trained German craftsman I’m just not interested…

  15. Sorry Luigi’s case did not work for you. I have one for my X100S and one for my X-E1. Both fit perfectly and look gorgeous. And the grip suits my hand extremely well. I am very happy with my Luigi. I prefer the full back coverage that I get with the Luigi cases over this case that you praise so highly. But to each their own I say. (you can see my X100S in its case at https://www.flickr.com/photos/richard-owen/8638157130/ )

    • clearly stated that I have seen some gorgeous Luigi cases in fit and design. I have also seen some shoddy ones. Its a hit or miss, or it was a few years ago. Maybe not today, have no idea. BUt yes, all personal preference. Arte Di Mano also has full back coverage cases, you pick the one you prefer when you buy. The thing with Luigi is the cost is high, the wait is long, the ordering process is horrible (website) …

      • Thanks Steve by this review. I’m looking Arte di Mano camera straps. Are these straps superior in quality to the well-known Luigi?

        Can you recommend me one Arte di Mano or Luigi strap for Plaubel Makina 67 camera?

        A greeting.

        • The Luigi straps are superb, I did love the strap from him. The Arte strap has the same feel to me with the soft leather and is similar. I like both.

  16. I own the Monochrom version for my M9. Black case black stitching. I used to have an early Luigi case for my M8 that was very nicely made, but the stitching marred the soft coating my early M8. I have learned now that the early M8s had a softer coating than later production models. Either way, it kind of worried me.

    I can honestly say that the Arte Di Mano blows the Luigi case out of the water. If there is any criticism at all, it would be that the fit around the LCD screen of the M9/MM is so snug that you have to fiddle with it a little bit when you take it off to get to the battery or SD card. Once you practice a little though, this really isn’t a problem anymore.

  17. Arte di mano is not italian language. It’s a ridiculous name for us (i’m italian sorry) 🙂

    • If I am not wrong, the guys making these are from Korea – I have bought their leather pouch for my Iphone 4 couple of years ago from thier eBay shop, it is also perfect, after lot of time and lot of use as well 🙂

  18. Hi Steve. Is there anything that would prevent one from using this strap with any camera while I wait for my Leica? Such as a Sony A7 or Fuji XT-1? Good review

  19. I have this case for my M9 and like you Steve, I have tried other cases. Without a shadow of doubt, this case is ridiculously expensive and ridiculously perfect!!!

  20. That is a whole heck of a lot of money for something with such crooked uneven stitching. Just look at the stitching around the M from your video, then down around the lens. Not straight – they actually looked angled they are so off, and not evenly spaced.

    I would have sent this one back thinking it was defective.
    Kinda disappointed in this review.

    • Hey Huss, you are incorrect and are not looking carefully.

      No clue at all what you are looking at but the stitching is not crooked or off at all. Where do you see this? I inspected the case top to bottom, it is perfect. Did you not watch the video, which is where the review is? If you did you will see it is perfect all the way up and down and around. If you are talking about the title image at the top of this review what you are looking at is the strap (shoulder pad part) in front of the camera blocking the camera stitching of the case. Look closer 😉 The case is perfect, and for me, VERY expensive but an end game when it comes to cases. Not for everyone, but for those who want the best, this is it. I have it in my hand and if it was defective it would have been sent back in a nanosecond. Nothing wrong with the case or stitching.

      • No disrespect, but the stitching looks defective and uneven. Look at the front lower center at 6 o’clock where the lens sits. Clearly, there is uneven stitching and three if the stitches at the 6 o’clock are off. What matters though is that you are happy with the defect.

        • Lol, no you are wrong as well. This is how each and every case is made. For example, the image of the case by itself here is NOT of my case. It is a different “stock” photo. ALL of the cases have the double stitch there as this is what helps to hold it together. Not a defect at all but a feature of how it is made. I suggest taking a look at each and every one of these that are made, you will see the same thing. So yes, I am 100% happy with my defect free perfect case 😉

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