Soft case 'Benser'
benser soft case

An answer to the 'never-ready' case

Walter Benser was an enthusiastic Leica user who came up with all sorts of accessories for his favourite cameras, and the soft case was arguably one of the cleverest. As far as we know, it dates from the late 1950s or early 1960s, and you still find them occasionally at camera fairs, in old-fashioned camera stores, and the like.

The braided plastic strap runs freely through two eyelets in the back of the case, which is therefore able to slide on the strap. Unzip the case; raise the camera to the eye; and the case simply slides down the strap to chest level. You don't have the big, heavy front-piece of a conventional ever-ready case flopping around, and there in't a 'half case' to make the camera uncomfortably fat and to slow down loading.

It works surprisingly well, but inevitably, it's slower than no case at all and it doesn't offer a vast amount of protection, being made of very soft leather: it's more use for keeping out rain and (above all) dust. Also, the strap is of fixed length, and the ingenious little fingernail-lift plastic locks on the quick-release fasteners can break, especially as they get older and harden. They're still pretty secure, even when they're broken, because the fastener itself is a solid lump of stainless steel and the lock slides up and down on the steel shaft.

All in all, we prefer OpTech cases, for the reasons given in the review, but we still find a use occasionally for the Benser cases, and of course they can be used just as well with an M9 as with any other Leica: here, it's wrapped around an M2 fitted with a 50/1.2 Canon lens (which of course requires a screw-to-bayonet adapter). In fact, if you like cases, and don't like neoprene, the Benser is much quicker and easier than any other case we know. It's also a very nice period accessory for an old M-Leica (or any other camera that will fit in the case).


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© 2011 Roger W. Hicks