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Zeiss 8x32 FL vs Leica UV HD+ 8x32

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Old Saturday 23rd May 2020, 08:40   #1
LucaPCP
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Zeiss 8x32 FL vs Leica UV HD+ 8x32

I am considering getting 8x32 binoculars. I currently have Zeiss Victory Pocket 8x25, and I am looking for compact binoculars that would give me a bit more brightness, and even easier viewing, than the Zeiss Pockets. I am looking mainly at the Zeiss 8x32 FL, and at the Leica UV HD+ 8x32.
I have been reading here comparisons between the Zeiss FL and the Leica UV on the forum, but I cannot quite understand how they differ.

Of the FL, I hear that they are marvelous, but also that the eye placement can be difficult. Of the Leica, I hear that they are equally marvelous, but many people mention the short eyecups, so I don't know how easy the view is in practice.


I think what I am mostly looking for is:
- Relaxed, easy view with easy eye placement is one of the most important attributes, or else I can use my 8x25 Victory Pockets.
- Eye relief not a big factor (I would use them w/o glasses)
- Flare / backlight resistance very important (lots of sun in California, and I use them also in Winter with snow).
- Smoothness of use important (focuser, general handling).

If you have had both of Zeiss 8x32 FL and Leica UV HD+ 8x32, how would you compare them?
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Old Saturday 23rd May 2020, 09:40   #2
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Hello LucaPCP,

the Zeiss is a bit larger, eye relief 15.5mm, the Leica is only 13.5mm, I can see the entire field of view with the Zeiss with eyeglasses, this is not possible with the Leica!
The zeiss has a larger field of view 140 / 1000m. compared to Leica 136 / 1000m.
In my opinion, the Zeiss is also a little bit brighter.
Personally I would prefer the Zeiss, I think the 8x32 from the Victory series is a very good pair of binoculars, but you should definitely test both glasses yourself, that is the safest way.

Andreas
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Old Saturday 23rd May 2020, 13:24   #3
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I was just testing a 8x25 Victory and a Meopta MeoStar 8x32B1.1 side-by-side.... you might want to give the Meostar a look as I was impressed enough to keep it as it is a mid priced bin that I feel can compete against the Zeiss 8x32FL. Or if you want to wait, look at the upcoming 8x32SF by Zeiss if you want to pay 'alpha $" as your choices seem to lean to.


I returned the 8x25, too small, dark...but wonderful focus. A great Traveling pair but I can see why you would move 'up to the 32's'

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Old Saturday 23rd May 2020, 14:07   #4
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I have had both the Zeiss FL 8x32 and the Leica Ultravid HD+ 8x32. They are both good at glare control but the Zeiss FL will be a little brighter and it control's CA better if you don't like CA. The Zeiss has a little bigger FOV and less distortion also but Leica's in general have nice warm saturated color's. From the factory the Leica will have a smoother focuser than the Zeiss but you can send the Zeiss in for service and get the focuser adjusted so it is smoother. I think you would like the Zeiss 8x32 FL between the two for those reason's. You mention smoothness of use and a smooth focuser and easy eye placement as being important. The Swarovski 8x32 EL has easy eye placement but it is poor at glare control. The Meopta Meostar 8x32 is a nice binocular but it is a notch down from the top alpha's IMO. The 8x32 binocular with the smoothest focuser and having the easiest eye placement and is excellent at glare control is the Nikon EDG 8x32 which you can still get from Japan. That is what I use. It is probably the best 8x32 you can buy.

https://www.allbinos.com/allbinos_ra...king-8x32.html

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Old Saturday 23rd May 2020, 14:21   #5
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Originally Posted by LucaPCP View Post

I think what I am mostly looking for is:
- Relaxed, easy view with easy eye placement.
- Eye relief not a big factor (I would use them w/o glasses)
- Flare / backlight resistance very important.
- Smoothness of use important (focuser, general handling).
I have the 8x32 FL, UVHD+, and MeoStar; in my opinion you can't go wrong with any of them, they are all superb binos. Very subjectively, to me the view through the FL feels precise but a bit "cold"; the UV's view feels "warm" and "lively", and the MeoStar is somewhere in between. Eye placement for me is equally easy with all of them, I've had no problems with glare or flare, and all three are very compact, with excellent ergonomics, again in my opinion.

Ideally, as they say, you should try them all and see which one "fits" you best; but if you can't do that, just choose one and enjoy a great bino.

Hope this helps,

John
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Old Saturday 23rd May 2020, 19:50   #6
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I have the UVHD (not plus) and Cabelas Euro HD (Meostar) in 8x32. Won’t comment much on the FL.

If you want the absolute smallest and lightest option while still being great optically, the Leica is the winner. It is noticeably smaller and lighter than the Meostar, which is not very big. The FL and the Meostar are a smidge longer and have fatter more curved barrels (I believe the FL is a bit fatter than the Meostar).

The UVHD are extremely bright and sharp, with superb contrast and very neutral and well saturated colors. In field use they appear to have a huge sweet spot, and a very transparent view. IMO they the very best execution of a binocular that is extremely small, but still *extremely* good (alpha level) optically. There are 8x32 that have wider FOV, or sharper edges, or less pincushion, or better eye relief... but anything better optically is larger and heavier. My wife has tiny hands and a very narrow IPD and hates heavy binoculars, and she loves the Leica 8x32 more than anything she’s ever tried.

The Euro HD / Meostar are objectively a bit behind the UVHD optically. The sweet is a bit smaller (but still very large), they have a bit more distortion, a hair less contrast, and most of all the color balance is not as superb, as they have a slight yellow/green color bias due to a drop-off in the transmission of the blue/violet end of the spectrum. On the plus side, the Meopta has a wider FOV for more of a “walk in” feel, and excellent CA control as good as the Leicas.

HOWEVER — I greatly prefer the Euros to the Leicas for ME! The fact that the UVHD is ~5% better optically pales in comparison to the fact that I find the Euros to be much better ergonomically. The slightly larger curved barrels, thumb indents, and slightly increased bulk actually makes them much more comfortable to hold. They slip into my hand like an old friend. I don’t have huge hands, but whereas my wife adores the UVHD for me they are just a bit too small. The Meoptas are a couple oz heavier, but the superior grip and extra weight gives them amazing balance such that it’s much more comfortable for me to glass with them, and I don’t feel the extra weight at all when they are up to my eyes. Plus, due to whatever combination of factors (eye relief, eyepiece design etc) the Meoptas are much less finicky for me to get a clean view. I just slap them up my face and get this easy, wide, clean view. The Leicas require my to fuss more trying to get the exact right balance of IPD, eyecup extension, balance point on my eye socket, etc. The big centrally placed focus knob and position of the thumb indents keeps your hands away from your face which further helps the balance. Even though the Leica eyecups and rubber armor texture are just a bit nicer than the Meoptas, I find the handling and comfort of the Meoptas to be far superior TO ME.

So, just to echo others — nothing is more important than finding a bin that FITS. All your choices are excellent optically, so it’s more about the little stuff.
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Old Saturday 23rd May 2020, 20:16   #7
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(On the flip side, if your main priority is the absolute best optical quality and you don’t mind a bit of extra physical size, or paying too dollar, then I would probably wait for the Zeiss 8x32 SF)

Also, since you mentioned glare/flare control, did want to note that both the UVHD and Meopta are excellent in this regard, the Leica probably a bit better. Not the best I’ve ever seen, but both are way above average. I don’t find glare to be a huge issue with either bin birding in SoCal.
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Old Saturday 23rd May 2020, 22:08   #8
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Originally Posted by LucaPCP View Post
...I am looking mainly at the Zeiss 8x32 FL, and at the Leica UV HD+ 8x32...
When it comes to these two, both of which I like for their pack size (in practice, identically small), for me the most significant differences are as follows:

Zeiss--longer eye-relief, superbly sharp and clean central view but with astigmatism off-axis, finicky eye placement to avoid even more astigmatism, very smooth and precise focus from 5 ft to infinity is great for butterflies, bright.

Leica--shorter eye relief not so great w/glasses, otherwise easy view compared to the Zeiss but suffers from a bit of chromatic aberration which detracts from views of very small details, focus can be a little sticky, pretty view and bin.

--AP
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Old Sunday 24th May 2020, 01:13   #9
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We used to own both (along with 8x30 CL, 8x32 EL, 8x32 Meostar), but when it came time to make room in the safe for a 7x35 Retrovid, the FL was the one we sold. Both are excellent as one could reasonably expect, but I preferred the slightly smoother focus wheel of the Leica, along with it’s small size and beautiful appearance. I also greatly preferred the warmer color presentation and slightly better contrast of the Leica too.

The only thing I don’t care for about the UVHD+ is the short ER. Fortunately, I also have an 8x32 EL SV for when I am viewing with sunglasses, so I’m not too bothered by this.
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Old Sunday 24th May 2020, 05:55   #10
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Thank you for all the comments, this is really very insightful. I generally use binoculars without sunglasses. The exception is when I am mountain biking, but for that I take my Zeiss Terra 8x25, which are really quite good, and which I mind a bit less endangering -- nothing ever happened to them, but there's always the risk of a fall, or mud. The Terras live in the side pocket of my mountain biking backpack.

Given that eye relief is not so critical, I am leaning a bit towards the Leica, due to the nicer way the diopter is implemented, and the lower weight. I really like diopters with clear indications of the settings.
Thank you for bringing the Meopta to my attention!

Today btw on the Sierra I saw many nice birds, including Mountain Chickadees, Steller Jays, Dark-eyed Juncos, and I heard a Soothy Grouse! I did not see the grouse; finding one after hearing it is a matter of luck and takes long time, their call is so low that it's difficult to figure out their location. Oh and a yellow warbler too, my first!
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Old Sunday 24th May 2020, 06:48   #11
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I cannot comment on the 8x32, but I did try the 7x42 variants of FL and UV when buying my binoculars and found the UV totally unsuited to my eyes - definitely try before you buy, don’t just go by specs and recommendations, as this took me by surprise at the time, and I thought I might have a hard time comparing.

You may find both are usable to you, but don’t take any blind buying risks.
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Old Sunday 24th May 2020, 08:43   #12
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Thank you for bringing the Meopta to my attention!
Have you considered the Kowa Genesis 8x33 ?

Its a real contender in the class.
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Old Friday 26th June 2020, 19:46   #13
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I had occasion to compare both, and my impressions are as follows:

Zeiss 8x32 FL: very clear view, essentially no chromatic aberrations, smooth focus wheel. It fits perfectly my face. A bit bulky, not long but thick barrels. Eyepiece and objective covers are very nice, robust but come off quickly if needed. The bag is unreasonably large, awkward for transportation; I would frankly be tempted to put them in my backpack with objective and eyepiece covers only.

Leica 8x32 UV+: The contrast is better than with the Zeiss, so I find them better for looking at e.g. birds in a canopy with nearby bright sky, or the canopy of a tree from below. The difference is not huge, but it's there. Likely for the same reason, I feel I can perceive more detail in the center. The chromatic aberration detracts a bit from the sharpness except in the central region, but it's not very objectionable. The eyecups are a bit narrower than the Zeiss, and fit me slightly less well; instead of solidly pressing the eyecups against the bones of my nasal bridge, so to say, I have do delicately place them under my eyebrow arches. The bag is very nice: super light, very thin, it is really a practical bag for carrying them in the backpack while reaching the start of the birding spot.

And in the end, I am still completely undecided: the more vivid colors and contrast of the Leica, with their slimmer shape and practical bag, versus the absence of chromatic aberrations, and especially the better fit of the eyecups, of the Zeiss! I am leaning towards the Leica, but just by a tiny bit.
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Old Friday 26th June 2020, 20:39   #14
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Hello LucaPCP,

I have used the Zeiss 8x32 FL for at least fourteen years. I never used the bag. If you like to cary a small memo pad or notebook, the bag should hold the glass and the notebook.

Stay safe,
Arthur
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Old Friday 26th June 2020, 21:59   #15
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Try the Leica Retrovids. I tried the 7x35 and it has an easy view IMHO and is a full step up from the Pocket in view (in weight as well).

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Old Friday 26th June 2020, 22:06   #16
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Another one to try is the Swarovski 8x30 CL. it has good glare control and a very relaxed easy view with easy eye placement because of the optical tube technology used. You can insert the eye cup's into your eye socket's with out getting black out's.
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Old Saturday 27th June 2020, 06:32   #17
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(On the flip side, if your main priority is the absolute best optical quality and you don’t mind a bit of extra physical size, or paying too dollar, then I would probably wait for the Zeiss 8x32 SF)
Hi,

or get a Nikon EDG in 8x32...

Joachim
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Old Sunday 28th June 2020, 14:50   #18
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LucaPCP.
Over the last weeks I've been exactly in the same position as you, comparing the UV and the FL (in my case, the UVHD was not HD) and my conclusions seem to concur with 99 % of yours.

I found the Leica to have better contrast, more saturated colors and a enhanced feeling of sharpness, more pop/wow (I tested them handhold without any resolution chart, hence "feeling of sharpness", maybe on a tripod, boosted and against a resolution chart the FL is sharper). Although I expected the FL to be noticeably brighter, to my eyes it was not THAT much brighter (if at all), the little Leica was plenty bright.
However, the Leica are just a little too small for my hands and the eyecups are a little too short. I like the eye position on the FL much better as well as the focus wheel, the UV is a little difficult, at least for me (at least for such pricy device). I don't like the case of either: the FL seems to me terribly large and the UV's is smaller but with little padding and lacks a belt loop (my all-time favourite is the case of the Nikon Monarch 7 8x30, which I use with anything from a Nikon E2 to a SV EL, the Leica and even a 7x42 UVHD).

At the end of the day, I prefer Leica, but not without some pretty big caveats. I prefer the view of the Leica but the handling of the FL: I sold the FL and I'm selling the Leica. I got a Swaro EL SV instead. Completely different, much bigger and bulkier; it has the sharpness I like on the Leica (and then some) and a great handling (even better than the FL), but I'm afraid it's just too big for what you are looking for. It seems obvious that optics is always about compromises, about what you are eager to sacrifice or what you can live without: ease of view (Leica), that last bit of contrast and pop (FL). To my eyes binoculars with that price tag should offer less compromises. Otherwise, as some other forum members have pointed out, there's an entire league of (almost) equally satisfying glasses (Meopta, CL, MHG, etc.) for way less money. Just my view :) I hope to see what's your last word.

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Old Monday 29th June 2020, 22:57   #19
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Very valuable info in this thread!

@LucaPCP (or others having tried both): how would you compare them, especially the Leica 8x32 specifically to the Zeiss 8x25, optically and regarding ease of use/view, now that you have had the chance to test them while owning the Zeiss 8x25?

Did any of you have the chance to compare them to a Kite Lynx HD(+) 8x30 (or the apparently relatively similar Nikon Monarch 7)?


I am in a similar position to LucaPCP: having a Zeiss 8x25 and considering a, preferably relatively compact 8x30-32, in my case as an upgrade for my Kite Lynx HD 8x30, but only íf I find a good deal and enough of an optical upgrade.
The Kite have almost perfect size/weight/ergonomics for daily use and are a bit easier to use than the Zeiss 8x25, I suppose because of the larger exit pupil. They are really good optically too, except for some glare/reflections sometimes bothering me and sometimes affecting contrast and, well, the very impressive optical quality of the Victory 8x25 (which I will keep almost for sure) has made me wonder what I could gain having such optical performance in a 8x30-32 package... But ergonomics and ease of view should be at least as good as the Kite, size and weight not very far off.
The Swarovski CL Companion look like the obvious choice, but the Leica Ultravid grabbed my attention too. (The Swarovski EL or new Zeiss SF x32 seem impressive, but I haven’t tested the latter, obviously, their weight and size put them in another category, and their price are too high for me now.)

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Old Tuesday 30th June 2020, 00:01   #20
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I would snag these Leica UVHD 8x32 for sale in the classifieds: https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=391134

Great price for great glass that is barely heavier and will be much closer optically to the Zeiss. The only thing it gives up to the Kite is some FOV. Brightness, contrast, color saturation, glare control all a marked improvement.

I had the Monarch 7 8x30 and upgraded to the UVHD 8x32 a few months ago for my wife’s main pair. The M7 is great glass for the money but the Leica is next level.
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Old Tuesday 30th June 2020, 04:57   #21
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Some more information. Between Zeiss 8x32 FL, and Leica UV+ 8x32, I have finally decided for the Leica. It was a difficult decision.

In addition to my previous comparison, the tipping reasons were these:

Eye relief: The Zeiss is a little better, but with my sunglasses (with which I hike), in the end, there was not a large difference between Zeiss and Leica.

Contrast and color: the contrast of the Leica is a bit better, but especially, the Leica had a much better color representation for the reds. The Zeiss was a bit yellowish -- meaning that the reds were less saturated and more towards orange. For instance, the contrast between pine needles (pale green) and bark (brown, dark orange, reddish) was better with the Leica.

So I feel, overall:

Zeiss 8x32 FL has no chromatic aberrations, very sharp, very sturdy, great fit for me.

Leica 8x32 UV+ has a tiny bit of chromatic aberrations, a little more contrast than the Zeiss, truer colors, a slightly less great fit to my face, not quite as sturdy but slimmer, with a more useful case for me. They are also a bit more resistant to flare and glare.

Both are great, but as I mentioned, in the end I prefer the truer colors of the Leica.

---

Regarding the Zeiss 8x25, the truth is that I own both the Terra 8x25, and the Victory Pocket.
Both of these have truer colors, to my eye, than the FL 8x32.

My copy of the Terra must be very good, or perhaps they are all very good, in any case I really like it. I can find no obvious defect with it. I can discern a bit less detail than with the Leica 8x32, and the view from the Leica is much more pleasant, but the Terra is my binocular of choice when rough use is expected -- for instance, it's the binocular that I carry in the side pocket of my backpack when I mountain bike. I would fear carrying other binoculars like that, in case I fell -- even though I have never damaged anything I ever carried, truth be told.

The Vicrory Pockets are outstanding, as reported in this forum -- indeed I bought them after reading about them here. Compared with the Terra, they have wider field of view, even higher sharpness, and especially, an easier view, less critical eye centering. They are all they are said to be, and compared to the Leica, to me:

- They have no chromatic aberrations I can see
- The colors are equally good, or perhaps the Leica is better by a small amount
- The view, as expected, is a tiny bit less great, due to the smaller exit pupil.

---

In summary, I think I prefer Zeiss Terra 8x25, then Victory Pocket 8x25, then Leica UV+ 8x32. Less so the Zeiss FL; they are great, but I like their color rendering a bit less. This is very personal. I like photography a lot, and I spend time calibrating monitors and camera profiles -- I am fairly sensitive to color representation. I am a beginner birder, and I find a clear perception of the bird's colors is extremely helpful in identification.

Also note, I am nowhere as experienced as others here in the forum. I have always liked to have binoculars with me while hiking, to identify animals, scout trails, enjoy the landscape, but I am a newcomer to birding, so don't necessarily give too much weight to my impressions.

Last edited by Troubador : Tuesday 30th June 2020 at 06:34. Reason: Corrected reference to SF to FL as per previous 2 posts
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Old Tuesday 30th June 2020, 05:03   #22
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Thank you for your impressions, Luca - nice and useful.

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Old Tuesday 30th June 2020, 06:25   #23
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QUOTE Contrast and color: the contrast of the Leica is a bit better, but especially, the Leica had a much better color representation for the reds. The Zeiss was a bit yellowish -- meaning that the reds were less saturated and more towards orange. For instance, the contrast between pine needles (pale green) and bark (brown, dark orange, reddish) was better with the Leica. QUOTE LucaPCP

Many people enjoy the colour presentation of Leica, but it has never been clear to me whether the richer reds were enjoyed because they were more true to life, or whether it was because the reds were simply richer.

So, Luca was the 'better' contrast between the pale green needles and the bark better because it was more accurate to life or was it better because it was more intense?

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Old Tuesday 30th June 2020, 08:44   #24
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Lee, you mention something very interesting and that puzzles me (in my limited knowledge): the "richer" (i. e. more saturated and with more contrast) view of the Leica would "seem" to give more detail. It appears (to my eyes anyway) more vivid, more "alive", bolder and more 3D (objects seem to pop more from the background, like in those old 3D stereoscopic images of yesteryear) than the FL, that appears (to my eyes, again) duller, more "washed". I wonder if this is something Leica engineers chose, by sacrificing other aspects of the performance (like resolution on a very fine level). I always use small binoculars handheld, and have never used a resolution chart (just played with some text at different distances). But it seems that some binoculars are able to deliver more contrast, which in turn would appear to yield more resolution and detail, but I don't know whether this is so. Currently I'm experiencing this between a 8x30 E2 and a 8x32 Vixen Foresta porro, the latter is simply one step ahead in contrast, and seems to offer more detail (although it lags behind in other optical aspects). So I'm never sure if what I'm seeing (redder reds, more contrast) is an optical trick of the designer.
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Old Tuesday 30th June 2020, 09:38   #25
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Originally Posted by yarrellii View Post
Lee, you mention something very interesting and that puzzles me (in my limited knowledge): the "richer" (i. e. more saturated and with more contrast) view of the Leica would "seem" to give more detail. It appears (to my eyes anyway) more vivid, more "alive", bolder and more 3D (objects seem to pop more from the background, like in those old 3D stereoscopic images of yesteryear) than the FL, that appears (to my eyes, again) duller, more "washed". I wonder if this is something Leica engineers chose, by sacrificing other aspects of the performance (like resolution on a very fine level). I always use small binoculars handheld, and have never used a resolution chart (just played with some text at different distances). But it seems that some binoculars are able to deliver more contrast, which in turn would appear to yield more resolution and detail, but I don't know whether this is so. Currently I'm experiencing this between a 8x30 E2 and a 8x32 Vixen Foresta porro, the latter is simply one step ahead in contrast, and seems to offer more detail (although it lags behind in other optical aspects). So I'm never sure if what I'm seeing (redder reds, more contrast) is an optical trick of the designer.
High resolution would be pretty useless without good contrast so decent levels of contrast are absolutely necessary. But that is a different question from the one I was asking which was whether Leica's richer reds are actually life-like or are they 'artficial' in their intensity, which might make them more attractive but less 'accurate'.

Lee
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