Luigi’s FujiFilm X100 Half Case
If you’re like me, a camera is not just a tool for creating images. Whilst it’s ability to do just that has to be the primary reason we choose that particular tool over another, aesthetics and tangible beauty can still play at least a small part, though few of us are willing to admit it. I can still remember the day I received my first Leica camera. It was an M6 TTL in all black and I’d purchased three Leica lenses to accompany it. I remember slowly unwrapping the box, carefully slicing the tape, opening the lid and finally lifting and beholding this stunning, leather clad slim block of metal that weighed the same as one of the blocks that helped support the roof above me. I remember sitting there, my jaw a quiver, just fiddling with the dials and repeatedly lifting it to my eye so I could gaze through the incredibly bright and clear viewfinder. When my competence allowed that Leica M6 would produce images that would leave you equally speechless, though in my case that wasn’t terribly often. Not long after the camera arrived a good friend of mine informed me, in no uncertain terms, that I was going to need a half case and a good strap as we were planning to shoot live up and coming bands in seedy, low-lit halls and clubs around Sweden so the camera was going to need a bit of protection. “OK, where do I find one?”, I asked, innocently. With a look of incredulity combined with a slight narrowing of his eyes he paused, as if to see if I was being serious of just taking the mick, and then, with more than a whiff of exasperation he exclaimed: “Luigi!”
The “Luigi” he was referring to I soon found out was Luigi Crescenzi of Leica-time repute, an Italian gentleman with a big personality who’s home ground was the noble city of Roma. After exchanging a few emails in pigeon English and wiring him what felt like an extortionate amount of hard earned readies (read: dollars for any US readers) a half case and strap were on their way to me and the next day Mr. Fedex kindly dropped them off at my door. From that day on (it was around 2001, as I recall) I’ve been a diehard convert and if anyone ever asked me which half case they should buy I would give them the same narrow-eyed, incredulous frown my friend had once given me.
Naturally, then, when my FujiFilm X100 arrived a few days ago my thoughts immediately began to wonder towards Lazio. Email contact with Leica-Time is now handled by Luigi’s charming daughter, Ginevra and whilst Luigi’s jokes will be sorely missed his English won’t (just kidding, Luigi if you read this..). Ginevra, on the the other hand, is as fluent as you’ll meet and just as likeable as her Dad (by the fourth email I had a picture of her cat arrive in my inbox..:-)) and it wasn’t long before my order had been placed and another bum squeakingly large wad of notes had again been extracted from my bank account. On Sunday morning I ordered a half case in chocolate brown with matching strap and battery/SD card case. On Monday I received notification from Fedex that a parcel was on it’s way from Italy and on Tuesday at 10.20am Mr. Fedex completed the de ja vous.
With great anticipation I carefully unpacked the contents of the Fedex envelope and this is what greeted me: (click any of the images below for a larger version)
Receiving one of Luigi’s cases is almost as pleasurable as receiving the camera itself so, as usual, I made the most of the experience. Firstly you need to carefully attach the strap, making VERY sure you don’t mount it twisted as getting the little key rings through the camera lugs is a painful thing and nothing you’ll rush to repeat. Once in place you prance around in front of the bedroom mirror for a few minutes, mimicking your wife with a new Prada with worrying accuracy. Eventually you accidentally gain eye to eye contact with your reflection and with glowing cheeks you put the camera back on the bed and mutter to yourself a few sentences about the rugby game at the weekend. With composure regained it’s time to give the camera a good polish, removing all dust particles and smudges before finally sliding the half-case into place and snapping the strap retainers firmly closed. Finally, your eyes alight on that little battery/SD card case that you’d forgot you’d ordered. With glee you rip open the velcro fastener and in two seconds it’s mounted on the strap, firmer than you ever thought possible. Yes, it all just works.. really, really well!
Pressed into the bottom of the case is “Leicatime – Luigi Crescenzi – Hand Made In Italy”. You can tell Luigi takes a lot of pride in his cases and it’s nice to see he endorses each and every one with his name and personal stamp of approval.
On the left side there’s a cut out for the AF select button and on the right a little door that opens to reveal the X100’s two connection ports.
These may be hand-made but the precision and attention to detail is second to none. The stitching is beautifully spaced, the edges of the leather rounded, smoothed and then polished and the fit around the camera is millimetre perfect.
On the right side Luigi has built in a well thought out grip. A perfectly sculptured piece of wood forms the shape around which the leather case is moulded. With the thumb grip in place the two form a symbiotic partnership and the camera can easily be operated using just one hand.
Whilst walking (or running) the X100 screen and controls are protected by an ingenious leather door that’s held closed and released by two press studs top right and left.
The hinge of the door is sewn permanently into the base of the case, though it is possible to order one that’s completely removable if that’s your preference. Like the rest of the half case, the inside is backed with red suede that provides a soft yet protective surface and looks the part, too.
The two fasteners that hold the rear protective door in place sit absolutely perfectly so that door is held taught against the camera with zero movement or space for dust to pass down and in.
The base is made from thick leather and feels very solid and robust. This is a case that could be passed on down through the generations if only the camera manufacturers would stop making new cameras..
I have to say, I was on the fence about ordering the little case that holds two spare batteries and two SD cards but realising I was going to have to sell the wife’s horse to pay for the case anyway there didn’t seem much point in skimping on the last $60 and I’m really glad I didn’t.
The case opens via the same matching press studs as the case. Inside there are three “compartments”. The uppermost one provides exactly the right space to hold two spare batteries firmly in place. Underneath that compartment there are two more “slots” that each hold an SD card. From each of these slots protrudes a leather “flap” which, when pulled, ejects the SD card to save you having to reach for the tweezers in your Swiss Army knife. It’s a nice touch and makes an exquisite little accessory into a very practical tool.
To attach it to the strap you simply pull open the velcro backed leather flaps at the back, lay the strap in place and close the flaps again. It’s a five second operation, literally, but the amazing thing is the case will not budge on the strap once in place. If you want to slide the case up or down the strap it’s perfectly possible to do so but you need to hang on to the strap and use some force to get it to move. This is spot on as it also means once you’ve decided exactly where on the strap you want the case to sit it will remain exactly there until you decide to move it.
One thing Luigi has always been known for is his intelligent designs and his intricate attention to detail. Not wishing for the strap buckle to be seen in public he’s added a little leather shroud that hides it beautifully. This is the kind of detail you’d expect on the best of the best and no-where does this case disappoint.
The shoulder pad is backed with the same red suede as the interior of the case. To be honest, a shoulder pad for a camera that’s this light really is over-kill but so is almost everything in a Bentley or Ferrari..
Photographers tend to see art in everything. Aesthetics, quality, attention to detail are all going to gain Brownie points with a photographer and if you can add practicality to the equation then you’ve just given us the excuse we were searching for to dig deep and buy that product. This is a case that you can sit back and admire just as much as the X100 itself. It’s a case that will make you smile when you pick it up and that’s never a bad thing. It’s so well made you’ll probably be constantly reminded of how parsimony is maybe not your strong suit but as you slide your two spare batteries into place and throw your camera over your shoulder.. well.. you won’t care. It’s that good!
3 comments on “Luigi’s FujiFilm X100 Half Case”
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.