What kind of calf you mean?. Softer?. Please read post of @DavidLane
. Its a 2º grade of calf leather, that is all about..
So is this considered a defect? Should I contact carmina?
Its not a defect that Carmina has caused, and it happens on 100% of hides from every tannery.
Basically wherever the animal had movement or excess fat there will be some crocking. I would not worry about it. Leather is a natural product and will have variation from hide to hide.
Places like Lobb charge more because they cut around those parts of the hide causing more waste which the consumer covers in the cost of the shoes.
While Carmina is not a discount brand, they will most likely use the full hide (with some exceptions). Alden is in the same category and quality. I have some boots in Chromexcel via Horween from Alden that have crocking.
In my view Carmina does very little with the shell (if anything) as it left Horween which in some cases will lead to it looking slightly more subdued. Lets for now leave out that Carmina seems to dye shell to some extent into their various colors. Alden on the other hand typically threat the shell heavily to really get a consistent look IMO and hence it's perhaps looking way differently both from the general depth and also from shine point of view. Comparing #8 today between Carmina and Alden to me is like two completely different colors where Alden's development recently has taken them into extremely dark shell with burgundy tones while Carmina is way lighter and more in my view to the original #8.
End of the day it comes to your personal preferences. In my view Carmina's "inconsistency" given their usage of shells as they left Horween is part of the charm of it. Personally i find especially Alden's #8 to have a to treated appearance. Alden's shell obviously comes with some advantages in my view also. I find the resistance to water spots being superior to Carmina's and then i find Carmina's inability to offer anything but cognac and burgundy (with occational batches of ruby, green and navy) a bit annoying. Even if, as earlier stated, the inconsistency of cognac gives some variation it´s a bit of a gamble and i'd really like Carmina to step up their game a bit and offer other colors.
I don't think there is a singular iconic model, but when I think Carmina their jumper boot is what springs to mind first, FWIW.