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Leica Noctivid 8x42 design flaws and review - owners please check

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Old Saturday 27th June 2020, 15:12   #76
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The important thing IMHO is to have realistic expectations, enjoy the stunning performance which they invariably provide, and then not to look for, or at least not invent, faults. Just my two cents.....
Nicely summarised. I would only add that there are very enjoyable and educational experiences to be had from binoculars at all price levels. One expects a higher performance to accompany a higher price and in my experience this is expectation is fulfilled.

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Old Saturday 27th June 2020, 15:13   #77
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I think I need a moment of REFLECTION to consider all this .....
... and now that my moment of reflection is over, this is my - very personal! - conclusion.

Tobias, whom I hold in high esteem as one of the most critical optics reviewers with the advantages of not only a sharp mind but also the trained eye of the avid photographer, deserves thanks for pointing out what I (also) consider a design flaw in the Noctivid.

When Leica launched the Noctivid, it advertised it in a way which raised expectations very high:
„..... These high-end binoculars represent a revolution in the field of viewing optics and offer discerning bird-watchers and wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts previously unimagined quality.....“
etc.
This suggested you could expect - and demand - perfection.

The Noctivid is a superb binocular in my view - but, like any other premium binocular, it is not perfect. Your Mercedes isn‘t either.

How relevant is the mentioned design flaw in birding practice? My view: not much really.
Until somebody comes up with a credible account according to which a certain bird identification task could not be performed as well as with a same size SF, EL SV or EDG, so that the Noctivid user failed and the SF and EL SV users succeeded, I don‘t believe that the shiny focuser shaft is a big issue. A small nuisance, yes; a big problem, no.

I, as hopefully many Noctivid users here, will continue to enjoy my 8x42 as a very nice binocular that provides me lots of wonderful observations and happy moments. It is not my favorite binocular, but I fully understand all those who consider it their favorite binocular.

On the other hand, being technically a layman but a keen binocular enthusiast, I enjoy reading threads like this one in which the technicalities of a less than perfect design choice are discussed and opinions exchanged.

ymmv Canip

Last edited by Canip : Saturday 27th June 2020 at 16:14.
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Old Saturday 27th June 2020, 15:56   #78
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... and now that my moment of reflection is over, this is my - very personal! - conclusion.

Tobias, whom I hold in high esteem as one of the most critical optics reviewers with the advantages of not only a sharp mind but also the trained eye of the avid photographer, deserves thanks for pointing out what I (also) consider a design flaw in the Noctivid.

When Leica launched the Noctivid, it advertised it in a way which raised expectations very high:
„..... These high-end binoculars represent a revolution in the field of viewing optics and offer discerning bird-watchers and wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts previously unimagined quality.....“
etc.
This suggested you could expect - and demand - perfection.

The Noctivid is a superb binocular in my view - but, like any other premium binocular, it is not perfect. Your Mercedes isn‘t either.

How relevant is the mentioned design flaw in birding practice? My view: not much really.
Until somebody comes up with a credible account according to which a certain bird identification task could not be performed as well as with a same size SF, EL SV or EDG, so that the Noctivid user failed and the SF and EL SV users succeeded, I don‘t believe that the shiny focuser shaft is a big issue. A small nuisance, yes; a big problem, no.

I, as hopefully many Noctivid users here, will continue to enjoy my 8x42 as a very nice binocular that provides my lots of wonderful observations and happy moments. It is not my favorite binocular, but I fully understand all those who consider it their favorite binocular.

On the other hand, being technically a layman but a keen binocular enthusiast, I enjoy reading threads like this one in which the technicalities of a less than perfect design choice are discussed and opinions exchanged.

ymmv Canip
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Old Saturday 27th June 2020, 15:56   #79
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I'd be willing to bet that 90% of those who "visit" this site do not use alphas at all.
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Old Saturday 27th June 2020, 15:58   #80
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Originally Posted by Troubador View Post
Nicely summarised. I would only add that there are very enjoyable and educational experiences to be had from binoculars at all price levels. One expects a higher performance to accompany a higher price and in my experience this is expectation is fulfilled.

Lee

Lee, I think this is spot on!
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Old Saturday 27th June 2020, 19:05   #81
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I'd be willing to bet that 90% of those who "visit" this site do not use alphas at all.
And I bet you would be right!

Lee
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Old Saturday 27th June 2020, 23:09   #82
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Ed,

Thank you. Yes indeed, I will never be able to see my Leica's in the light of old. But note the rewards: I see birds in the flesh, accompanied by the complete soundtrack of Finian's Rainbow. Now, how about you, Swarovskian?

Renze
Renze,

My Swaro's are situation dependent. Most recently The Mountain King adds excitement to every view — even when I'm just looking at a wall.

So glad you pointed this out.
Ed
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Old Saturday 27th June 2020, 23:35   #83
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Renze,

My Swaro's are situation dependent. Most recently The Mountain King adds excitement to every view — even when I'm just looking at a wall.

So glad you pointed this out.
Ed
Exceptional line rider, a tour de force. Took him a month of his spare time to create, he says. Convincing.

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Old Sunday 28th June 2020, 02:42   #84
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Exceptional line rider, a tour de force. Took him a month of his spare time to create, he says. Convincing.

Renze
I'm sure you noticed his careful attention to prism shapes and image curvatures. Swarovski's are fabulous!

Ed
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Old Sunday 28th June 2020, 08:33   #85
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I'm sure you noticed his careful attention to prism shapes and image curvatures. Swarovski's are fabulous!

Ed
Ed, just wait for the Swarovski news coming Tuesday 17.00 hours GMT.
Then you will say they are fabulous and run to the store

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Old Monday 29th June 2020, 23:41   #86
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Sometimes I think it's better to buy a decent priced midrange object in order to be continually surprised by what it can do for you, rather than some alpha object that surprises you with its faults ...
That statement is a microphone drop; and, respectfully, particularly resonates in this (sometimes gassy) forum.
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Old Tuesday 30th June 2020, 06:55   #87
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Originally Posted by Tobias Mennle View Post
Thanks for all the input, majority is against the brass knob as a cause for veiling glare. So I grabbed my torch and Noctivid again.

Please fasten your seatbelts and we will do a dive into the stargate. Ok, it´s only Noctivid flare. Psychedelic enough.

Please could someone tell me what is going on in the Noctivid? Henry Link? Optical designer from Leica,

Zeiss, Swarovski

I marked all bins on the left objective at 12o´clock with a white dot. I used a dimmed and diffused LED torch because with strong light the direct, colorful lens ghosts will make it hard to see anything inside. It´s a bit tedious because the macro lens is bulky etc., but the LED is just a bit tilted from axis so this is light which easily enters the glass under normal conditions.

No. 1 is Nikon EDG, you see a reflection of the roof at 6 o clock. And nothing else, no matter where I put the torch. That's a pretty unique point of the EDG probably. Applause.

No. 2 is Leica UVHD+ 8x32, a favorite but definitely not as flare suppressed as the Nikon. This is most of the reflection I could provoke.

No.3 is the Nocti 8x42, the LED just hitting the roof.

No. 4 with the torch tilting a bit differently, this is the flare thing. Seems to be in a focus plane close to the field stop.

No. 5 another pic of the flare thing, different light angle.

A reflection this bright should scatter back into the image path and cause veiling glare. I´d be very surprised if it did not.

Although I did heavy contrast correction in the images, so flare brightness should not be quantified by the images, the Nocti flare is much brighter than the UV flare, and comes from a much bigger area.

Seen from the ocular it is veiling glare.

Again, it is always "directly compared to what" - I don't know about SF, Swarovision etc. as I don't have direct comparison at hand.

But compared to the 10 years older Nikon EDG the Nocti disappoints me.

Because the Ultravid has a similar, although much weaker reflection, I think a manufacturing defect in my Nocti sample is improbable. This looks like a design flaw.

Hello Tobias,

interesting pictures!

That shiny object inside the Noctivid is possibly a stray light baffle, located in between the two prism blocks. While baffles are usually of circular shape, this one appears asymmetric (it might be due to the viewing angle). I think I have seen such kind of asymmetric masks before, placed between the glass blocks of SP-prisms, when I disassambled some of my broken binoculars (none of them being a Nocti of course ...).

I have no clue why that thing has to be that much reflective, and whether or when its reflections might turn harmful during routine observations.

Thanks for your investigations,
Holger
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Old Tuesday 30th June 2020, 14:15   #88
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I just observed the internal reflections returning from a raw Schmidt-Pechen prism I removed from a cheap monocular. I found the pattern of reflections changed in a way that closely resembles the difference between the EDG and the Noctivid in Tobias' photos depending on which end of the S-P prism I looked into.

Looking at cutaways of the EDG and the Noctivid I see that the prisms are installed in the reverse order: the EDG has the Schmidt prism at the front (objective) end and Noctivid has the Schmidt prism at the back (eyepiece) end. The image below shows a Swarovski SV and a Zeiss SF, examples of the same reversed prism order. It appears to me that the reversed order of the prisms completely explains the reflection pattern difference between the EDG and the Noctivid in the photos.

I don't recall ever seeing a discussion anywhere about whether one of these arrangements is better than the other.

P.S. I agree with Holger that the shiny asymmetrical reflection in the Noctivid photo is a baffle between the two prisms. That baffle can be seen on edge in the Swaro/Zeiss cutaway. Its shape appears to follow the shape of the angled reflection of the objective lens light cone in order to maintain the required air spacing between the prisms within the light cone.
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Old Tuesday 30th June 2020, 15:08   #89
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Thank you , Henry and Holger, for your much valued input.

My amateur interpretation of recent posts is that it's easy to draw inaccurate conclusions from looking down the wrong end of a binocular - unless you really know what your looking at and the design principles of that binocular, and, that given the almost universal praise the Noctivid receives for it's handling of glare, the Leica designers and technicians knew what they were doing!
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Old Tuesday 30th June 2020, 17:07   #90
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Thank you , Henry and Holger, for your much valued input.

My amateur interpretation of recent posts is that it's easy to draw inaccurate conclusions from looking down the wrong end of a binocular - unless you really know what your looking at and the design principles of that binocular, and, that given the almost universal praise the Noctivid receives for it's handling of glare, the Leica designers and technicians knew what they were doing!
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Old Wednesday 1st July 2020, 03:36   #91
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Originally Posted by Mike F View Post
Thank you , Henry and Holger, for your much valued input.

My amateur interpretation of recent posts is that it's easy to draw inaccurate conclusions from looking down the wrong end of a binocular - unless you really know what your looking at and the design principles of that binocular, and, that given the almost universal praise the Noctivid receives for it's handling of glare, the Leica designers and technicians knew what they were doing!
My reading of recent posts agrees 50% with yours:
- Nothing much useful seems to be derivable from a user pointing a flashlight at a binocular.

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Old Monday 6th July 2020, 14:54   #92
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Thanks for all the input, especially to Holger (#87) and Henry (#88), who have really found the answer to my issue.

So I'm willing to forget about the brass focuser part (only, what about observing birds on backlit water...)

But why this baffle is so reflective only Leica knows - well maybe they don't. They might be better without this baffle. It is definitely smaller and less reflective in UV 8x32.

The Leica engineers surely started on a marathon but collapsed in sight of the finishing gate.

BTW about shining torches... a white, frontlit flower in full sunlight and close up is a strong enough torch to raise veiling glare level in the Noctivid. Not acceptable for my eyes and taste.

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Old Monday 6th July 2020, 15:29   #93
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I would think there is not a glass that will not show glare at some point or another. If the Noctivid is not OK with you, sell it and try something else.
I quite like the Noctivid, and the EDG, and enjoy the views through both of them - but like anything else in life it is subjective.
Perhaps the new NL 8X42 will be the right one for you.

Andy W.
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Old Monday 6th July 2020, 20:16   #94
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Before purchasing the Noctivid 8X42 I had the opportunity to leisurely compare it directly to the EL 8.5X42 and the SF 8x42 at the local Audubon Nature Shop (thank you National Audubon Society). My primary interest and deciding factor was the overall optical performance including image contrast and veiling glare. I would be happy with any of these fine 42mm binoculars as they all have excellent performance and each one has individual strengths.

I found the Noctivid to be slightly superior to suppressing veiling glare when the sun was just outside the FOV. There were noticeable differences in color rendition between these glasses and I found the Noctivid the most pleasing and having the best micro contrast in this test of 3 binoculars.

I have unfortunately never had the chance to evaluate the Nikon EDG models but they must have impressive stray light control based on reports by users.

I would suggest to Tobias that he may have a binocular with a coating defect and should compare it to a couple of other Noctivid examples to see if there is a variation.

Stephanie
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Old Monday 6th July 2020, 23:53   #95
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I would think there is not a glass that will not show glare at some point or another. If the Noctivid is not OK with you, sell it and try something else.
I quite like the Noctivid, and the EDG, and enjoy the views through both of them - but like anything else in life it is subjective.
Perhaps the new NL 8X42 will be the right one for you.

Andy W.
Agreed on all counts. My experience is the same. I own the 10x42 Noctivid and a 10x42 EDG, and they both exhibit veiling glare, as do all the rest of the binoculars I own, some far more than others. The Noctivid and the EDG both manage it pretty well. Neither of them are perfect.

The only thing Leica has clearly failed at is meeting Tobias' personal standards.

I have enjoyed perusing Tobias' website. Lovely photos, and exhibiting a passion for good optics and the beauty of nature. However, regarding his speculative analysis of the subtle optical perceptions he periodically delves into, I am reminded of the writers for Stereophile magazine back in the 80's, who had the unenviable task of reviewing the apparently audible differences in extremely expensive speaker cable. Granted, if Tobias sees a problem, there IS a problem... for Tobias, but perhaps not for others.

-Bill
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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 14:40   #96
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I have a pair of binoculars that look like they are stuck together with bubblegum, nowhere near as good as Noctovid of course, but still work quite well:

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...456e232d_o.jpgIMG_2728[1]

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...f36e3789_o.jpgIMG_2737[1]

Any guesses?
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Old Saturday 25th July 2020, 14:49   #97
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For some reason this comes across a little like a personal vendetta with Leica. Something just doesn't feel right here...
A good observation.
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Old Saturday 1st August 2020, 23:23   #98
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A good observation.
To be fair to Tobias, he has stated more than once in his comparative reviews that Leica comes top in his shootouts for a variety of reasons ranging from smart industrial design and cosmetic finish (even the rubber smells nice - sounds a bit odd but I agree) to a colour rendition that appeals with its browns and reds and rendition of such things as weathered woodwork. He is an enormous fan of both the 8x32 and 7x42 Ultravid HD Pluses.

Additionally I know from a few personal communications with him as well as from reading his reviews that he applies equally rigorous deliberation to Zeiss, Swarovski, and Nikon. One example has worked to my advantage: the Victory 7x42 T*FL he rates very highly for a number of features but he preferred the Leica -- partly in fact for QC reasons but also for its particular set of optical properties, and as a result I have been the proud owner of this very same Zeiss 7x42 for two years, functioning immaculately as Tobias had it adjusted to very tight tolerances at his own expense.

All the best,

Tom

Last edited by SeldomPerched : Saturday 1st August 2020 at 23:28.
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