Review: Leica Neoprene Case M, Leica’s best kept secret.

Neoprene Case M

The Leica Neoprene Case M may be the best investment you make for your camera. Really, what other Leica accessory can be this useful for only $54? None that I know of. The Leica Neoprene M case with short front* (14867) is as simple and as it is versatile. As Steve Jobs often said, “It just works”.

*Leica would heap loads of shame on me for crudely naming this gem the Leica Camera Condom, so thankfully they don’t read this blog.

L1162273

Reading the specs we know it fits an M camera with up to a 60mm length or 65mm diameter lens, and for me has been used without issue on the M3, M6, M8, M9, and MP, with up to the 50mm Summilux. But its useful range doesn’t stop there as it has also worked with my X1 and X2 (though a tad large), and now fits the Leica X Vario perfectly.

Neoprene Case M

Made of the ubiquitous neoprene (same stuff commonly used for wetsuits and laptop sleeves), the case provides basic protection for your camera and lens by adding a layer of synthetic rubber held together by the equally common Velcro. Minor bumps, light rains, and most drunken mishaps are covered under protection of the Leica Neoprene Case M. As an example, my wife once had the diaper bag which my M3 and this case were in. When getting out of the car I heard a thud followed by a stream of expletives about my cameras being in the wrong place and I dreadfully knew what happened. Besides the M3 being built like tank, the blow was severely softened by the case with only a small dent on the top plate to show damage. None of the main functionality or internal workings were damaged, and thankfully neither was the lens, which I wholly attribute to the Leica Camera Condom (oops!). I wouldn’t ever intentionally drop any camera or expose one to the elements, but I have done so out of necessity or error and have thus far come out unscathed. State Fairs, Disneyworld, kids birthday parties, and the good old pub crawl can all attest to this!

Case with M6

The protection this case affords allows me an even greater benefit; you can forego a bag and just bring this case and your camera. It can be thrown in your work satchel, field bag, the center console of your vehicle, a diaper bag, or around your neck or shoulder and the camera will be protected until its time to shoot! When not in use it can be crammed into a pocket and resurrected when needed. Its an easy-going accessory that adds another option when running out the door. Adding to its functionality, Leica states that the case can hold two SD cards which sounds nice but not too exciting. I can happily add that you can cram other essentials such as E39 filters, batteries, film, lens clothes and vials of ninja smoke for bad dates or dramatic exits.

Neoprene Case M

So the moral of this story is that the Leica Neoprene M case is worth a serious look if you shoot with the Leica or other similarly sized camera as it is another tool for those of us on the move. There Leica Neoprene Case M  has served me well for many years, and will so for you if given the opportunity.

Leica Neoprene M case

Pick it up here at B&H or here at the Leica Store Miami. You can go elsewhere, but I know these guys are good.

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Yesterday’s news: The Leica X1 review

Leica X1

{Originally this article was written for stevehuffphoto.com since I enjoy the site and wanted to contribute. Figured it should be on here as well in case readers of this blog wanted to have more information on this great camera. If you want to see photos taken with the X1, click on the Leica X1 tag on the right and they should pop up for your viewing pleasure.}

Released 09/09/09, the Leica X1 is certainly not today’s hot topic (the T is the current title holder now) and has likely been forgotten about as yesterday’s news by most of the photographic community. Heralding in a new era of the digital camera world with its fixed focal length, APS-C sensor in a small body, retro look and manual controls, it was considered to be the first of its kind that started a trend continuing through today. As the Leica T system ushers in a new kind of interface to the photographic world, I thought it would be relevant to share my experiences with with this quirky but still very capable camera that was the talk of the town in 2009.

My experience with the X1 started in late 2010, well after it’s initial release. Not being able to financially justify the hefty price tag of a new X1, I patiently waited until the price in the used market came down to what I considered to be reasonable enough to make the jump. At that time, the camera brought me mixed feelings. The image quality was outstanding when everything came together, but most other times it was maddeningly frustrating. Maybe because I expected it to be as quick and versatile as my trusty old DLUX 4, or as reliable as my M8, but my initial experience left me wanting.  After a few months of dedicated use, I decided to sell the X1 and chase photographic glory elsewhere.

So began my search for the ultimate APS-C fixed focal length camera. This journey took me through almost every form of the genre released on the market; from the retro-rific Fuji X100, to the uber-compact powerhouse Ricoh GR. Even the X1’s replacement model the Leica X2 passed through my hands at one point. All of the cameras had their strengths and weaknesses, but none of them really grabbed me, not even the X2 (a whole other story). The closest camera that came close to staying in my stable was the Ricoh GR; what an amazing camera! It bests the X1 in many ways but it still did not have that feeling; the tactility in my hands, the manual controls, the desire to go out and take pictures with it. Something was always missing with the other cameras. You know, that elusive feeling that comes every so often when you really connect with a camera. So what brought me back to the X1? It took an epiphany while shooting with the venerable Contax T2 (a fixed lens compact film camera) to see what I have been missing all along; stop trying to use the camera like a modern digital and shoot it like a film camera. Use a slower, more deliberate style of shooting. After coming to this realization, I had only one camera in mind to test my theory out. The X1.

Fast forward to February 2014. Found a great deal on a black X1 and went into the experience with a new mindset; don’t treat the camera like an automatic small-sensor point and shoot, treat it as a film camera like the Contax T2. Guess what? Yep, things went much better. Where blood pressure raising frustration used to kick in, now the zen calm of measured photography took place. Is the camera perfect? No. Will it hit the 100% “keeper” zone, especially with my ever-moving two-year-old? Certainly not. That being said, I find my keeper ratio close to that of my film cameras, even with the toddler in questionable light. I only use a 2 or 4GB card to ensure that I do not get in the digital “shoot, chimp, dump and repeat” mindset.

For those that may want to look at the X1, here are a few tips to get you on your way. First, keep your shutter speed above 1/60. Although you may think that 1/30 would work (as it does for me with Leica rangefinders), it tends to let the image get blurry quick, especially if the light is less than optimal. Second, shot in DNG, all the time. No, really, all the time. Unfortunately the camera only takes DNG+JPG, and not just DNG (something about the camera’s software that cannot preview DNG files, so it grabs a stinky JPG). Delete the JPG and keep the DNG, even for black and white conversions. The latitude that the X1 DNG files give is pretty amazing. I have taken some photos in the unforgiving Florida sun and have been able to recover most of the blown highlights or deep shadows from most areas. The X1 can be frustrating, and a lot of shots can be missed if the camera is not understood. Used properly the X1 will reward you with some amazing photographs. My first time with the X1 stands testament to that, which is a good part of the reason why I came back.

The hype and fervor surrounding the Leica T is reminisciant of what the X1 went through in 2009. As a photographer, I look for cameras that create a connection with me. While the Leica T will one day end up in my hands, the X1 will still be in my bag bringing me exceptional photos that will last a lifetime for me and my family.