The Panasonic CM1 comes out top of most peoples lists in terms of image quality in a smartphone, or as Panasonic call it, a 'communication camera.' However, many have pointed out, as have I, that it is a stylish but somewhat delicate device and the lens has no protection cover that covers the lens or any kind of lens cap. So the places that we normally stash our smartphones could in fact do some damage to the camera.
However, there is a solution. And a beautifully made, classy, but expensive solution at that. The Japanese case maker Cotta has two options. The best, in terms of protection, access and the fact it can be left on permanently is the hard jacket pictured above. Not having seen their products before I took a chance on this and ordered one. It wasn't cheap £99 + a whopping £31 customs duty and VAT charge but after a week a package arrived with a very upmarket presentation box and probably the best made and aesthetically pleasing leather camera case I've ever bought.
As you can see from the pictures above, this is a gorgeous case that fits the CM1 perfectly. It has two magnetic strips that hold it in place and the lens protector section is moved out of the way to allow pictures to be taken. The case allows access to the controls, apart from the sim card / micro SD card slot for which you have to remove the case to gain access. However since I don't remove these, that's not a problem.
So this case fulfills it's function very nicely. It protects the lens when it's being carried, actually improves the handling of the CM1 in use and looks great into the bargain. I took it out around Stratford upon Avon yesterday and got some admiring looks. (Not sure that's a good thing however!!) And once again I have to say just how 'luxury item' it looks. It's actually significantly better made than any Leica case I've ever owned. Another nice thing for me is that with the case fitted the whole thing fits very snugly into my Leica T leather holster, which means I don't even have to put it into a pocket. It's easier to access it with that and it's also a way of carrying it that eliminates the need for pulling it in and out of a pocket.
Now I have to point out that all of this is significantly more expensive than usual phone prices. With what I paid for the phone, the case and the leather holster I haven't got much change from £1100. Now that's an awful lot of money from a smartphone with a fixed lens camera. Particularly one that has a screen I can't see terribly well in bright sunlight and only takes around 100 shots per battery charge. However, two things should be borne in mind. Firstly, as far as I'm concerned all of this is tax deductable and secondly it allows me to shoot pictures without attracting attention and with high quality. Plus of course it does look great and there's never been anything wrong with getting pleasure from using something pleasing to the eye.
All images above Panasonic CM1