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Best way to carry a Leica M Outfit?

Passion is everywhere

I never cease to be amazed at the places, endeavors and people that ooze passion for something that for many others seems mundane or irrelevant.

Case in point: Neal Simons of Fast and Prime in rural Dorset England.

Neal worked in the clothing industry in the United States for many years and was always focused on making the highest quality products possible, but he eventually left the industry because he was fed up with what he calls the dearth of meaningless products. So he switched careers and became an expert in the restoration of classic car interiors.

Still not satisfied

Neal was still not satisfied with what he was doing, he describes how there was a lack of creativity in the restoration business, so he decided to move to England to a rural area where people have been making top notch saddlery since the middle ages in order to design and manufacture truly unique leather products.

This location allows him to procure and properly process the best leathers and to make incredibly high quality products. His products are completely hand made, no machines are used. Each stitch is an individual stitch and is not connected to any other stitch, so if the thread breaks or is cut the problem will not spread like it does in traditional products. Trust me, at this level of quality the chances of a thread failing are practically zero.

The bad bag syndrome

I was sick and tired of the usual badly designed, velcro and rough surface laden cheaply made ballistic nylon camera bags. To add insult to injury, just about all these bags are designed either for 35 mm DSLR’s or for point and shoot cameras. It is almost impossible to find something that is a reasonable fit and reasonably comfortable to carry a Leica M system. Then I discovered Neal and his Fast and Prime products.

If you want a cheap product, Neal is not the person to contact. If you have to have it today, a Fast and Prime product is not for you.

On the other hand, if you want something that is made to the highest quality and design standards and made to order just for you, his products are terrific. You will have to be patient and you will have to be willing to pay the price for this level of customization and craftsmanship.

Not your standard case

I personally opted for the Uhl-2 system which consists of a belt, an M body case and several lens cases made specifically for my lenses. Note that the M body case is not a generic case. At this level of quality and precision, each case is customized for the specific model of M camera you use, the specific grip (or no grip) you use, whether you use a thumbs up type device or not, whether your body has the framing lever, and so on. Neal will make the case any way you desire it to be. The body and the lens cases attach to the belt as shown in the image at the beginning of the article. The system is usually purchased with a leather strap for the camera (he calls it a lanyard) reinforced with Kevlar for incredible durability and safety. I had Neal make my kit in a combination of black and “conker tan” leathers.

Everything from the exterior leather to the closures (originally designed for Porsche cars) to the pigskin suede interior of the cases to the precise way in which each piece of equipment fits is beyond reproach.

In the field the system does exactly what I want. For starters, it is much more comfortable than any camera bag or backpack. It distributes the weight evenly around my waist (I put some of the cases on the left and some on the right side of my body) and it leaves the hands free to work and the shoulders and neck free of strain and fatigue. It makes reaching the camera for a shot and changing lenses when needed extremely fast. It keeps the equipment very safe and unlike the vast majority of camera bags and backpacks on the market, the interior will not rub scratch or damage the gear. The fit and finish is extraordinary and everything fits perfectly.

For me, this system is an absolute joy to use. There is nothing on the market even remotely like it.

This system definitely belongs in our Cool Stuff (and very useful) category!

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