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7x42 Ultravid

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Old Tuesday 12th February 2019, 16:10   #1
jremmons
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7x42 Ultravid

To those interested,
I recently bought a New In Box pair of Ultravid HD 7x42. I have, in the past, tested the 8x42 versions of the UV BR/HD/HD+ and also the new Noctivid. I have always found Control of Chromatic Aberration a bit worse than in some of the other top end models, particular the Victory T*FL and Kowa Genesis; I had also tested the BR/HD/HD+ side by side for about an hour in the field, and found very few differences especially between the HD and HD+ (the HD+ may have been very slightly brighter but I would struggle to say that was the case).
I was a bit leery, but ultimately decided to make the purchase as it had the full warranty (3 YR Passport/Lifetime limited) and 7x42s are in short supply, in addition to the significant cost savings relative to the HD+ which I didn't find much better than the HD, as mentioned above.I've had these for about a month now and wanted to make some initial impressions. Overall, I am very pleased with the binoculars. The below information is a summation of my thoughts after about 1.3 months, as the view exists through my eyes.

I'm happy to say that I do not find Chromatic Aberrations particularly problematic with this model; I am not sure if this is a result of my eyes perception of CA changing over time, or due to reduced magnification resulting in less prominent aberration (I have noticed CA seems worse to my eyes as you move up in magnification from 8x to 10x+). I would like to get a pair of 8 or 10x UV HD/HD+ in hand to side by side with the 7x and see if it is truly magnification related or something with my eyes, because as I mentioned above, a couple years back I definitely found the 8x disagreeable in terms of CA.

In terms of color, they are what I would call typical Leica: highly saturated and mostly neutral but with a tendency to exaggerate reds/browns. They do not appear "warm" to my eyes like the Meopta or Zeiss Victory, which seemed to exaggerate or show a cast of yellows/greens. Overall I find the color exceptionally pleasing, but maybe not perfectly neutral.

Considering difficult lighting conditions, I will sometimes notice a narrow band of light on the rim of the lower portion of the field. This doesn't seem to degrade overall image quality outside of this very narrow portion of the field, but may be slightly distracting to some. I do not notice any haze over the image.

In terms of sweet spot size and performance outside of this, I'd say this is really close to what I want/expect to see from a binocular without field flattening elements. Very mild pincushion distortion, visible to my eyes starting around 50-60% from field center. Astigmatism in this portion of the field is likely very mild, as I can for the most part refocus the edges. The best comparison I have owned is probably the SLC-HD, which was exceptional in it's own right. In comparison to the 7x42 T*FL I owned and, I find that the fall off from the sweet spot to be fantastic, as the FL seemed to display a more noticeable drop (likely due to astigmatism in the view).

Overall sharpness is fantastic and on par with any other alpha you will view through. I find sharpness to be such a variable trait depending upon the user, but I can easily make out fine feather details at the ranges you'd expect from an alpha 7x. I was somewhat worried the high saturation may limit contrast, as I've seen from some cameras that appear to oversaturate an image, but I've yet to notice this.

Build quality is very good and again on par with any alpha you'd find. Eyecups are perfectly responsive and stay in place, the focus knob is mostly smooth and operated perfectly in the recent "cold snap" of -15F, hinge tension is great. The binoculars are certainly compact and light compared to other full sized alphas.

Compared to the only other full-sized alpha 7x I've owned, the Victory T*FL, it is hard to say which I'd prefer; colors and ease of use appear better with the T*FL which was a bit more tricky with eye placement, but the FL was somewhat brighter and had even less CA as well as a wider field of view (I could barely detect it in even the worst situations). I think I prefer the Ultravid overall, but I'd certainly not argue with someone who preferred the FL (and I don't have them side by side, so I am going from notes and recollections with the FL, anyways).

I know this report seems odd given that the UV HD is not even readily available, but I thought some may be interested in my thoughts - particularly those interested in the HD+ which I consider for all practical purposes to be identical. With the weather we've had lately, birding conditions have been very poor, but I will try and update this as time goes on, particularly in the spring/summer when I think 7x really come into their own.

Justin

Last edited by jremmons : Tuesday 12th February 2019 at 18:06.
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Old Tuesday 12th February 2019, 16:25   #2
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Nice write-up Justin.

Lee
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Old Wednesday 13th February 2019, 03:10   #3
Robert Moore
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Thanks for your thoughts on the 7x42HD. I really like the 7x42 configuration and have had a few of them over the years. I recently just got the 7x42 BN and am really enjoying it.

Rob
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Old Wednesday 13th February 2019, 13:55   #4
jremmons
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Lee: Thanks for your comment.

Rob: I actually would have been, for the most part, happy with a 7x42 BN; unfortunately, I saw it for sale (I believe the same one you purchased, in fact) after I bought the UVHD. They are both great binoculars, the UVHD maybe a little brighter and more color neutral with better control of CA, but the BN likely has better control of harsh lighting as well as a better focus knob system.

Justin
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Old Wednesday 13th February 2019, 15:23   #5
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Most of my binocular purchases are sight unseen due to lack of presence in local retail and the lack of fairs/shows that showcase them.

I usually know from first impressions if I'm content with having made the purchase.

It was no different with the 7x UV HD+ and I knew I wouldn't be sending them back for refund.

Enjoy,

CG
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Old Wednesday 13th February 2019, 18:19   #6
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Awesome write up. Love my 7x42 UVHD+. I cant tell the difference between the hd and hd+ either. Its amazing how lovely this little glass is. Enjoy it.
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Old Thursday 14th February 2019, 13:40   #7
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Hey Justin,
Enjoyed reading that. I'm glad you like those binoculars! I find that most of my favorite binoculars aren't current models. The Ultravid features so many nice characteristics that make it an excellent birding binocular! Spring migration is just around the corner and I bet your appreciation for the Ultravid HD will continue to grow.
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Old Thursday 14th February 2019, 17:13   #8
jremmons
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CG: I was lucky to see the 8x (BR/HD/HD+) so I had an idea of what I would be getting, but I find 7x always brings with it something slightly different than the 8x of the same model.
TX: I'm sure there is some difference, as some users have mentioned a more neutral color cast, but I did not see it in my initial comparisons of the 8x, though I must not that these were in the field comparisons, so I didn't get to do some of my more analytical comparisons.
Chuck: Yes, thanks for taking your time to share some of your experiences with different binoculars (both on the forum and in private). I think these will make a perfect spring companion, and given that they were NIB with full warranty, they should last until I decide I want something different. I may have bought the EDG 7x42 that was for sale recently (I think you snagged that one actually), but I decided I need to stop comparing for a bit and just enjoy. I'll be picking up a Canon 10x30 some time as a good winter counterpart, when foliage is lost from the plants and migratory waterfowl are a primary target, as opposed to wood warblers.

Justin

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Old Thursday 14th February 2019, 18:02   #9
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Leica 7x42 Ultravid: CHEAP GERMAN JUNK ! un-sharp rubbish. Get yourself the original Swaro CL 8x30 ... much better! jk


I still love mine to bits and think it's the best bino I ever bought.

I think to get a good comparison between HD and HD+ they need to be used in the field for a couple days; use one for a day, then the other next day and then maybe do side by side the third day. It really takes time to see differences when the optics are so close. When I first got the HD+ and peeped through it before work one morning I thought, gee this doesn't seem like the Leica view I remember from when I had the old Trinovid. I thought perhaps the new Schott HT glass changed the character a bit. But, after time out with it on the first weekend I saw it was definitely Leica-esque in the view and I knew it was 'The One'. I never looked through the regular HD version, so I don't know if there's improvement, but I suspect some quality had to change a little here or there. I've read some older reviews that state the HD+ image is more towards neutral, tiny bit brighter, may control CA a tiny bit better and has a quality hard to describe. Tobias described it as 'sparkle'...all very subjective, but sometimes it's hard to describe what you're seeing. I like 'washed clean' or 'smooth' and sometimes I do see 'sparkle' in certain lighting situations. Some users think the focus has improved (smoother), but I don't know about that. Mine is nice and smooth. Eyecups are supposed to be softer.
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Old Thursday 14th February 2019, 20:36   #10
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Beth,
Yeah, I've never known what was meant by "sparkle" or any of that (I also can't say I've ever seen the "wow factor"), I certainly didn't see such a difference (we had the BR/HD/HD+ side by side for about 6hrs during a Christmas Bird Count I was leading). I noticed that the BR looked possibly less bright and more prone to CA, and the focus did seem a bit more coarse - but this issue was resolved between the BR and HD, not between the HD and HD+.
Transmission difference between the 3 models is very low, possibly below the 3% I've seen mentioned as being necessary for the human eye to notice, so I'm not sure how much brighter one would be than the other. It is possible that the HD+ is the most color neutral, based on transmission graphs I've seen, but I didn't get that impression when in the field.

Overall, I'm not sure anyone would be truly displeased with the BR/HD/HD+ unless they found the strong color saturation to be disagreeable to their tastes. In general, even the old Trinovid BN is likely to please fans of the Ultraivd, as it has much the same optical engineering, as far as I can discern...

Justin
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Old Thursday 14th February 2019, 20:49   #11
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Originally Posted by jremmons View Post
Beth,
Yeah, I've never known what was meant by "sparkle" or any of that (I also can't say I've ever seen the "wow factor"), I certainly didn't see such a difference (we had the BR/HD/HD+ side by side for about 6hrs during a Christmas Bird Count I was leading). I noticed that the BR looked possibly less bright and more prone to CA, and the focus did seem a bit more coarse - but this issue was resolved between the BR and HD, not between the HD and HD+.
Transmission difference between the 3 models is very low, possibly below the 3% I've seen mentioned as being necessary for the human eye to notice, so I'm not sure how much brighter one would be than the other. It is possible that the HD+ is the most color neutral, based on transmission graphs I've seen, but I didn't get that impression when in the field.

Overall, I'm not sure anyone would be truly displeased with the BR/HD/HD+ unless they found the strong color saturation to be disagreeable to their tastes. In general, even the old Trinovid BN is likely to please fans of the Ultraivd, as it has much the same optical engineering, as far as I can discern...

Justin
I'm sure any Ultravid version is a good one. I never looked through the old Trinovid. I owned the 2011 Trinovid for about a year and that was pretty nice too. I feel the Uvid HD+ is an upgrade from that Trinovid IMO.

The 'sparkle' is supposedly from the Schott HT glass, but that's all opinion of course and everyone has different eyes. I still love the view and did have a few wow moments
in the beginning. But, I never owned any other Top/Alpha level binoculars before, so I was very impressed with it when I started using it. I've looked through other alpha binos, but
never owned any of them.

edit: I did own the Nikon Premiere SE Porro for a while years back which I consider a Top tier bino (very nice!)

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Old Thursday 14th February 2019, 23:05   #12
jremmons
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I'm sure any Ultravid version is a good one. I never looked through the old Trinovid. I owned the 2011 Trinovid for about a year and that was pretty nice too. I feel the Uvid HD+ is an upgrade from that Trinovid IMO.

The 'sparkle' is supposedly from the Schott HT glass, but that's all opinion of course and everyone has different eyes. I still love the view and did have a few wow moments
in the beginning. But, I never owned any other Top/Alpha level binoculars before, so I was very impressed with it when I started using it. I've looked through other alpha binos, but
never owned any of them.

edit: I did own the Nikon Premiere SE Porro for a while years back which I consider a Top tier bino (very nice!)
Sorry, just to clarify my statement of never seeing the wow factor/sparkle, I didn't just mean in the Ultravid, but in any top end binocular (I've owned a lot!); I find those to be far too subjective terms compared to how my mind works... The closest I ever got to "wow" was the Kowa Genesis, but that was more due to the quality relative to the price point.

Justin
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Old Friday 15th February 2019, 09:04   #13
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FWIW I bought my 7x42 HD+ after having owned a NV 10x42 for a while. I remember clearly my first impressions. It was a nice sunny morning in early summer and I brought them up to my eyes to look around at some nearby trees and across the lake where we live. I remember actually saying 'wow' out loud!

I totally agree with Beth's description of the view - 'washed clean' is about as good a subjective description as I've read. I suspect that some people are just more emotionally connected to their senses than others who tend to be more analytical. Left brain right brain? I enjoy the 'Leica view' I think because it appeals to a subjective sense of beauty. Not that there's anything technically 'wrong' with the view, but others prefer what I consider to be a less involving image which might be better technically in some aspects (eg flat field, less CA etc). It takes all sorts!
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Old Friday 15th February 2019, 19:53   #14
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FWIW I bought my 7x42 HD+ after having owned a NV 10x42 for a while. I remember clearly my first impressions. It was a nice sunny morning in early summer and I brought them up to my eyes to look around at some nearby trees and across the lake where we live. I remember actually saying 'wow' out loud!

I totally agree with Beth's description of the view - 'washed clean' is about as good a subjective description as I've read. I suspect that some people are just more emotionally connected to their senses than others who tend to be more analytical. Left brain right brain? I enjoy the 'Leica view' I think because it appeals to a subjective sense of beauty. Not that there's anything technically 'wrong' with the view, but others prefer what I consider to be a less involving image which might be better technically in some aspects (eg flat field, less CA etc). It takes all sorts!
It takes all sorts? Of course it does, and so does Birdforum.

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Old Friday 15th February 2019, 20:13   #15
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It takes all sorts? Of course it does, and so does Birdforum.

Lee
Absolutely! That was a positive statement (just in case it wasn't clear ).
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Old Saturday 16th February 2019, 03:16   #16
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Left my 7x42 HD+ (and 8X32 EDG) on the shelf for a recent trip and went with my trusty 8x42 Trinovid and 8x25 Victory.
Saw some great birds through both and certainly could have seen a slight benefit from the 7x42 when in dense forest. I can certainly see some increased usage of the 7's this year however.
Nothing notable to add here myself except enjoy those 7's Justin and may they provide you with special views which I know they will.

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Old Saturday 16th February 2019, 16:16   #17
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Absolutely! That was a positive statement (just in case it wasn't clear ).
And just in case it wasn't clear, I was endorsing your statement

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Old Sunday 10th March 2019, 18:05   #18
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Hi,

I'm a watercolorist, and decided I needed a pair of binocs to see or rather "feel" detail, mainly in an urban environment. Use of the bino a few seconds at a time.

To cut to the chase, I have some pocket Swaros somewhere, they're fussy to use and a pain. I read the web -and a lot of this forum- went to look at a bunch of high-end binos at a dealer, and in the end got a new-old stock 7x42 Ultravid at a Leica dealer.

My requirements were pleasant feeling and color. Dealers for viewing only had 8x. Of the 8x Zeiss and Leitz binos I tested, Zeiss Terra was not worth the bother, Zeiss Conquest 32, 42 were both most reasonably priced and by far the sharpest, Trinovid 8x42 were least fussy to look through but hard to adjust differential focus, Ultravid HD+had best color, stability and 3D.

The 7x42 HD set I got from a different dealer who had 7x42 HD non plus cheap is not the sharpest but it is pleasant and has good color. Eye relief is nothing short of incredible, there is no problem whatsoever holding them up in front of my glasses and seeing an image instantly. Contrary to the advice in the manual, I have left the eyecups extended. Minimum Pupillary Distance, by some luck is precisely my eye spacing when set at minimum on this sample, some of the glasses I tested didn't make it.

The dealer also had a really cheap set of identical used 7x42 binos but with terrible fringing and a badly turning focus knob - so I know I shouldn't drop mine :)

If it helps anyone else here, based on a couple of hours testing, I recommend the Zeiss Conquest 8x32 to anyone who wants a good pair of daytime large pocket binos and who isn't exceptionally color sensitive. They were quite spectacular but "cold" and weren't what I was looking for, because I need a comfortable match between the sensation with and without the glass

After testing and buying the binos, I noticed viewing quality improved very noticeably after I cleaned 5 years of display case dust from the oculars.

As always Leica are totally hopeless at providing a decent case, and the clumsy lens protectors and fussy to adjust straps are a joke, a couple of extra cleaning cloths thrown into the box also wouldn't hurt. But the instrument itself is a clean design with impeccable functionality.

The clearly marked central focus is joy to use, and the eye relief is remarkable for a casual newcomer like me. The 42mm objectives provide plenty of light for evening urban use. Due to the reduced magnification, I can pick up the binos, look at something, put them down and easily reconcile my naked eye view with the magnified moment. I mostly don't even want a second look through the bino. I have no issues with my purchase. And no wish to compare it with anything better :)

I know Leica will bring out some new 7x product or products in the autumn, but good enough right now is quite good enough for me - I don't think I'll need an upgrade for what I do.

Thank you for providing the information in this forum which is of great help to casual binocular users, even when they are not birders. My advice to other users here would be to validate the excellent information supplied by forum members with the help of a testing session at dealers, however averse the dealers may be to multiple on-site bino testing.

Edmund

PS. My watercolors - http://instagram.com/edmundronald

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Old Monday 11th March 2019, 21:45   #19
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Very interesting to read all the posts on this thread. I have been lucky enough to obtain a new pair of Ultravid HD Plus 7 x 42 since the summer as well as a second hand Victory FL 7 x 42 at a very reasonable price and in absolutely showroom condition from Tobias himself (I didn't realize that at the time of placing the order; they are the pair he reviewed on his website in a head-to-head with UVHD Plus). I wouldn't dare compare them in a review of my own but would just say I love both, don't need them both of course, but enjoy each equally for their respective strengths and qualities. For me personally the slight differences in colour are something I appreciate when choosing which to use. As far as handling goes I prefer the feel of the Ultravid but am very comfortable using either. The great thing is that both appear to be perfectly adjusted and give me a highly satisfying image and great joy of use. However I never got on quite so well with the UV HD 8x42 -- perhaps my sample was slightly off, who knows? -- and seeing the difference the 7x42 makes is a revelation. It's great to see so many appreciating the strong points of the 7x magnification. I am coming to appreciate those strong points more and more.

Tom

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Old Tuesday 12th March 2019, 03:09   #20
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I taped my new old UV HD, over the serials, red dot and under thumbrests, with gaffer. Holdability improved substantially - for me, and there are no distracting logos for people to focus on.

I might send the pair in for a cleaning before the end of warranty, as I don't find them really brilliant - maybe standing in a case for a decade did that to them. But they're nice binos, I can read lettering which I can't even see with the naked eye.

Edmund
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Old Wednesday 13th March 2019, 15:43   #21
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I taped my new old UV HD, over the serials, red dot and under thumbrests, with gaffer. Holdability improved substantially - for me, and there are no distracting logos for people to focus on.

I might send the pair in for a cleaning before the end of warranty, as I don't find them really brilliant - maybe standing in a case for a decade did that to them. But they're nice binos, I can read lettering which I can't even see with the naked eye.

Edmund
After using the 7x32 UV HD binos for a few days, I kept having this impression of dullness - so in the end I took them to the local mall which has a shop in shop Leica stand, and the salesman took one look through them and said looking through them was like looking through a veil My own comparison there with an 8x current Trinovid showed a marked difference in brightness, and a 7x should beat an 8x any day, plus or not.

I took the binos to the "official" Leica store in Paris to send back to Leica for testing, I said all I want you to do is send them back to the factory for them to check against the spec, and every time I opened my mouth they told me I was wrong. They couldn't accept them, I'd have to take them back to the place I bought them. They couldn't see a problem, yes they were not bright but "previous generation binos were less bright". The guy at the mall wasn't Leica trained so he didn't know what he was talking about. etc etc. In the end I forced them to send them in for a check, but they wouldn't even accept that a product bought three days earlier from a licensed dealer with a freshly filled in warranty card and customer receipt was under warranty, and said the factory would see "that they were less than ten years old". On the other hand they obviously phoned the dealer because they said "I had tested the binos when I bought them".

I don't know why these binos are a bit veiled - the problem is I can't ebay them without a letter from Leica saying they've been checked because the brightness issue is such that as a private individual I would be open to a charge of defrauding the buyer.

The only thing I and the Leica salesperson agreed on was that the binos were their manufacture, not in the same brightness class as current stock, and that I had not dropped or damaged them in any way.

I thought Leica had their act together a bit more. All they needed to say yes Sir, we will send the product back for a check, thank you, bye.

Edmund

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Old Wednesday 13th March 2019, 16:35   #22
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After using the 7x32 UV HD binos for a few days, I kept having this impression of dullness - so in the end I took them to the local mall which has a shop in shop Leica stand, and the salesman took one look through them and said looking through them was like looking through a veil My own comparison there with an 8x current Trinovid showed a marked difference in brightness, and a 7x should beat an 8x any day, plus or not.

Edmund
Do you mean 8x32 or 7x42?

In comparison to what bins do they look "dull"?
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Old Wednesday 13th March 2019, 16:54   #23
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Do you mean 8x32 or 7x42?

In comparison to what bins do they look "dull"?

My 7x42 look markedly dull compared with current stock Trinovid 8x42, by my comparison.

By my calculation, a 7x42 would be expected to be *brighter* than an 8x42 eg by (1/8) or (1/7) . I don't think new "plus" coatings augmented transmission by 12% or else Leica would be considered to have made an industry breakthrough. And of course a current 7x42 UV HD Plus would be expected to be even brighter than a current 8x42 Trinovid,

so
- by calculation, conservatively speaking I think there is a 25% transmission problem on my glasses, at least.
- by experiment that is just about my feeling of what is missing. It should be better by a 1/3 of stop at least.

Leica salesperson doesn't disagree with the fact that the subjective impression is markedly dull, she didn't compare, she just claims this is normal for a 7x42 Ultravid HD non-plus.

Frankly, I don't care about the details, if I as a customer request they just put the binos through a quality check, my feeling is they should do so as a matter of course, they're a tier one firm. It should take a tech about 5 minutes to mount the binos on a rig, shine the collimator through them, measure the attenuation, and compare it with the standard values for this product.

Edmund

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Old Wednesday 13th March 2019, 17:08   #24
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Mmm. Bought a new old stock 7x42 HD (non +) last weekend, and don’t recognize any of your problems. I do had some ‘problems’ in adjusting the diopter. Individually the view was really sharp but with both eyes open my eyes had to adjust a few seconds. But after setting everyrhing back, the problem went away.
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Old Wednesday 13th March 2019, 17:16   #25
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Compared with current stock Trinovid 8x42, by my comparison.

Leica salesperson doesn't disagree with the fact that the subjective impression is markedly dull, she didn't compare, she just claims this is normal for a 7x42 Ultravid non-plus HD.


Edmund
The special "sparkle" of the HD-Plus models seems to be apparent to some viewers. I got that impression as well when trying them. They just looked a bit more transparent.

But I also recall that Gijs measured the Plus-models and think he said the difference in transmission would be "negligible" or very small/hardly visible compared to the previous version?

One theory is that it might be differences in coatings between older and newer Ultravid HD (non-plus) models as well. Sometimes there are silent updates on coatings. And who knows when HT-glass was actually first introduced in the Ultravids...?
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