The Benser Case

The Benser Case

I sometimes scoff at the prices of premium-quality equipment in the camera shop because I am not selling the goods nor profiting from the sale. I decry the price lists that look like national debts and compare it with the cheap prices of the same brand’s cameras and accessories back in the 60’s and 70’s. And in doing so I am deluding myself – the prices for this type of equipment were always high in comparison to other brands.

I’m not just talking the rangefinder and reflex 35mm cameras – I am including the snazzy system cases and bags that the house photographic journal used to advertise. The Benser case system was always the centre of attention – and of considerable longing. It was a family of modular leather cases that had inserts specifically sized for the bodies and lenses of the famous German maker. You bought an outer shell and then customised it with boxes that slid in and out on vertical slots – like the turbine engines on the USS INGERSOLL or HMS ILLUSTRIOUS.

They were very nice cases but they were not light. The stitching was first-class and with a little care would have outlasted the original owners. There was a entire culture built upon getting the right Benser box for your lenses and bodies.

Reel forward to now and a wonderful case I found in the Murray St. shop a little while ago. I don’t know exactly which of the Leica bodies it fitted, though I suspect it was one of the T series – it would have been one with a slightly protruding interchangeable lens and a slim body. Perhaps a Q?

Whichever, the bag designer realised that people travelling with that quality gear also travel with iPads, mini laptops, and mobile phones as part of the basic equipage. So there is deliberate provision for these in stiffened slots padded with velour. It is almost the old Benser idea. but in a modern slim form. The details of the thing have superb workmanship with complete finish on even the small catches and posts.

I don’t dare scoff – people will realise that I’m just being terrifically jealous.

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