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Noctivid First Impressions

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Old Tuesday 29th November 2016, 18:32   #1
jwillson
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Noctivid First Impressions

I picked up a 10x42 pair of Noctivids on Friday at my local Leica boutique--something I had been waiting for since the initial announcement. My previous pair of full size bins was a pair of 10x42 Ultravid HD's that I purchased some years ago (not the "plus" version). My use is a mix of general scenery observing/wildlife observing and astronomy. I have a pair of 8x32 Ultravid HD's that I prefer for daytime use due to their smaller size and weight. Here are some of the differences I found in comparing the new Noctivids to my older Ultravids...

First the view:

The contrast in the Noctivids is a very obvious improvement over the Ultravids. You can see this in good light, bad light, overcast conditions, basically everything but night sky viewing where contrast levels on stars are already so ridiculously high that small changes don't really matter.

The field is flatter on the Noctivids, but not dramatically so. I'd say the Noctivids are "sharp" roughly 70% of the way to the edge, while the Ultravids were sharp 50% of the way to the edge. Both designs show field curvature and coma if you look for it. Personally, I have never cared that much about having a perfectly flat field in my bins as long as the sweet spot is large enough to cover my area of concentration (where my eye has high resolution). Others, I know, would disagree vehemently, so make sure you know your own preferences.

The difference in brightness is small but detectable. Not enough to really matter, though. You can tell when doing an A/B comparison, but there's no "wow" factor like there is with the contrast.

Color cast is a touch more neutral in the Noctivid vs. the Ultravid, but both have a very slight (and I find very pleasing) warm cast. Noctivid is pretty close to neutral, though. Colors appear very saturated.

I don't wear glasses except for reading, so I can't speak to whether there is a major change in eye relief from a practical standpoint.

Both bins show fairly good control of on-axis chromatic aberration, but you'll still see color fringes if you go looking for them. I don't think the level of correction has changed significantly from the Ultravid HD's. Maybe a touch better?

Lateral chromatic aberration is present in both bins. This is most noticeable when using the bins for astronomy. It's not at all obtrusive for terrestrial use--frankly, the lack of a flat field and the off-axis coma will do more to prevent you from seeing sharp details than the lateral chromatic aberration, but it's definitely still there in about the same amount, to my eye, as in the Ultravids.

Flare suppression, both of veiling flare and present reflections, is really, really good in the Noctivid--noticeably better than in the Ultravids. If you do much observing with challenging light situations that tend to create flare, the Noctivids make a real improvement.

Now for the ergonomics and handling:

On paper, the Noctivids are quite a bit heavier. In practice, I didn't notice it in the hand, but I haven't yet spent a full day with the bins. If I had them around my neck for hours on end I'm sure I would notice.

I like the open bridge design a lot, though the placement of the strap lugs on the Noctivids is a touch annoying--rubs against my ginger when I rest it on the focuser.

I tend to hold bins with one hand close to the face for focusing and one hand farther down the barrels for additional stability. I am able to wrap my left hand around the barrel without a problem, but I have pretty skinny fingers for a man. I can imagine others finding them cramped.

Eye placement I found to be very easy and a bit more forgiving than with the Ultravids. The eye lens is huge on the new bins. However, I find I can't move my eye around much left or right to see the edges of the view without getting black outs. I don't do this much anyway, so I don't see it as a problem, but I understand the Swarovisions in particular are better in this regard, so if you are the type of person who moves his eye around rather than moving the glass, take that into account.

The focuser is a HUGE step up on the Ultravids. On my sample there is no backlash/play at all--none. Also, the focuser is very smooth and even in both directions. There was never any question on when I had achieved best focus, and i found myself searching back and forth much less than with the Ultravids--basically not at all.

Marketing hype:

I don't know what a "plastic" view is with regard to a binocular, so I'm not certain what the Leica marketing people were trying to convey there. I don't see any change in depth of field or in "3D" perception vs. the Ultravids. My samples are 10x bins, so the field of view is pretty narrow at short to medium distances. Much of my viewing is at infinity, so I'm probably not the best person to ask about depth of field.

In summary, The contrast is a noticeable improvement. The ergonomics are very good, but that's a pretty personal decision so your mileage may vary. The eye placement is easy and reasonably forgiving, but you still need to move the bins not your eye to see the edge of the field (due to black outs and flatness of field issues). The additional light transmission vs. the Ultravid HD's is detectable but it's not going to jump out at you.

I think they are a pretty significant step up on the Ultravid HD's. Perhaps less of a step up on the HD +'s? Don't know since I don't own those. They aren't a revolution, but all the alphas are now close enough to perfection for their design that only refinements are possible. If you were expecting a huge improvement you will be disappointed. If your expectations are more in line, the new bins deliver.
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Old Tuesday 29th November 2016, 21:07   #2
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Hi JWillson,

Thanks for your review. I found it helpful. After you use it for 2-3 days or so for nature observation, would you mind responding with another update if any perceptions have changed (for better or worse)?

When I purchased my Ultravid+ it took me 2-3 days in the field to fully appreciate what I had. It didn't come to me right away, but after about a week I realized I made the best binocular purchase ever (for me).
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Old Tuesday 29th November 2016, 22:40   #3
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I'd be happy to add more as the "first impressions" become more of a "review". This report is based upon perhaps five hours of observing time with the binoculars, so it's just enough to give a rough idea but not enough to know what it's like to really live with them.
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Old Tuesday 29th November 2016, 23:06   #4
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The eye lens is huge on the new bins. However, I find I can't move my eye around much left or right to see the edges of the view without getting black outs. I don't do this much anyway, so I don't see it as a problem, but I understand the Swarovisions in particular are better in this regard, so if you are the type of person who moves his eye around rather than moving the glass, take that into account.

The focuser is a HUGE step up on the Ultravids. On my sample there is no backlash/play at all--none. Also, the focuser is very smooth and even in both directions.
I found the same with the new Geovid 8x56, comparing it to the EL 10x50
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 05:56   #5
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Thank you for that post #1, JWillson !!
This is a very well written review of yours. I couldn'agree more with most of what you say (I can only speak about the 8x, though).
On the subject of marketing hype: sadly, you confirm that, like me and others, you can't perceive that special 3D image and depth of field effect - are we doing something wrong here, or are our eyes simply not up to the job ? ....
Whatever ... the Noctivid's nevertheless remain very good instruments, and I think it is useful for everybody to have a new alpha available on the market - will be interesting to see which of the premium brands will do the next step.
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 07:23   #6
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Yep that is a meaningful preview. Good one.

It is amazing to read some of these issues with the Noctivid such as the CA, strap lugs and blackouts since I own a more lowly Hawke Sapphire 8x43 which has none of these issues and is lighter and has a wider fov to boot.

I guess that Noctovid contrast must be all worth it though I find no issue with the Sapphire in that regard either. With the Sapphire you could almost walk around without ever removing it from your eyes I have found.

I couldn't stand annoying strap lugs and I wouldn't like the other negatives either especially since I don't have to put up with them with my current 8x43 or even my other mid size bins. I'll settle for a little less contrast.

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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 09:09   #7
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Yep that is a meaningful preview. Good one.

It is amazing to read some of these issues with the Noctivid such as the CA, strap lugs and blackouts since I own a more lowly Hawke Sapphire 8x43 which has none of these issues and is lighter and has a wider fov to boot.

I guess that Noctovid contrast must be all worth it though I find no issue with the Sapphire in that regard either. With the Sapphire you could almost walk around without ever removing it from your eyes I have found.

I couldn't stand annoying strap lugs and I wouldn't like the other negatives either especially since I don't have to put up with them with my current 8x43 or even my other mid size bins. I'll settle for a little less contrast.
Clive,

Your love for the midrange is as legit as the love for state of the art bins that others have.
There is no perfect bin. It's always a compromise, but it's all about the view and the view of the Noctivid is from a complete different league than your admired Sapphire.
At least for my eyes it is.
Is the difference in value worth it? That's for each to decide.

Jan
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 12:48   #8
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Originally Posted by CliveP View Post
Yep that is a meaningful preview. Good one.

It is amazing to read some of these issues with the Noctivid such as the CA, strap lugs and blackouts since I own a more lowly Hawke Sapphire 8x43 which has none of these issues and is lighter and has a wider fov to boot.

I guess that Noctovid contrast must be all worth it though I find no issue with the Sapphire in that regard either. With the Sapphire you could almost walk around without ever removing it from your eyes I have found.

I couldn't stand annoying strap lugs and I wouldn't like the other negatives either especially since I don't have to put up with them with my current 8x43 or even my other mid size bins. I'll settle for a little less contrast.
You might have a point here!
I have been using alpha bins for the last 30 years
But to be honest , when comparing the latest Nikon monarch HG with other alphas , I was astonished : lighter , bigger FOV , less CA, lighter , same contrast as the Leica NV.I will buy myself a HG for my collection!
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 12:54   #9
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Clive,

Your love for the midrange is as legit as the love for state of the art bins that others have. There is no perfect bin. It's always a compromise, but it's all about the view and the view of the Noctivid is from a complete different league than your admired Sapphire. At least for my eyes it is. Is the difference in value worth it? That's for each to decide. Jan
A balanced response. I certainly see the difference and fully agree. People find value in different ways. I begged my wife for the ride and handling of a BMW sedan, she found the much less expensive Toyota Avalon fully equal to the BMW, we each wanted to have the other committed.

But regardless of who's perspective is most correct Clive, there is certainly no call for personal attacks.

Going to breakfast now. In my Toyota.
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 12:56   #10
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Nice one Arran. Thank you
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 13:11   #11
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Clive,

Your love for the midrange is as legit as the love for state of the art bins that others have.
There is no perfect bin. It's always a compromise, but it's all about the view and the view of the Noctivid is from a complete different league than your admired Sapphire.
At least for my eyes it is.
Is the difference in value worth it? That's for each to decide.

Jan
Actually I may have to apologise.

I read the first line as if I was coveting something that others had that I did not own, when he seems to be referring to others loving their state of the art bins? It could mean either I guess.

My bad. I grovel humbly to Jan for forgiveness. I will delete my mistaken reply and the last one also forthwith.

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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 13:22   #12
jan van daalen
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Actually I may have to apologise.

I read the first line as if I was coveting something that others had that I did not own, when he seems to be referring to others loving their state of the art bins.

My bad. I grovel humbly to Jan for forgiveness. I will delete my mistaken reply and the last one also forthwith.
Mmmm, and I just started to like your posts
I humble, tumble etc also if you feel obliged to restrict yourself.
Please keep up the good work

Jan
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 13:25   #13
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yep I think my head goes a bit Pete Tong (wrong), probably a bit to often.

It's only a mid range head though

Sadly non refundable or returns accepted

Livens the afternoon up a bit. Look forward to more from JWilson, that's if he comes back now. yikes

I promise to be good (I hope).

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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 14:24   #14
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You might have a point here!
I have been using alpha bins for the last 30 years
But to be honest , when comparing the latest Nikon monarch HG with other alphas , I was astonished : lighter , bigger FOV , less CA, lighter , same contrast as the Leica NV.I will buy myself a HG for my collection!
I'm with you. With the new Kamakura binoculars from Japan like the Maven B.2 and the Tract Toric 8x42 I see no reason at all to spend $2500.00 on binoculars anymore.
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 14:33   #15
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Yep that is a meaningful preview. Good one.

It is amazing to read some of these issues with the Noctivid such as the CA, strap lugs and blackouts since I own a more lowly Hawke Sapphire 8x43 which has none of these issues and is lighter and has a wider fov to boot.

I guess that Noctovid contrast must be all worth it though I find no issue with the Sapphire in that regard either. With the Sapphire you could almost walk around without ever removing it from your eyes I have found.

I couldn't stand annoying strap lugs and I wouldn't like the other negatives either especially since I don't have to put up with them with my current 8x43 or even my other mid size bins. I'll settle for a little less contrast.
Nothing wrong with your choice not to get an alpha bin. They're not the kings of value. I wouldn't want others to get the wrong impression, though... The blackouts are only if you move your eye around from side to side very far--not a problem in general use, just if you try to look at the extreme edge of the field without moving the glass. And the on-axis chromatic aberration is very mild, just not completely gone. It is probably typical of most ED bins these days and a huge step up from pre-ED bins. The balance is good enough that the weight is not an issue in the hand, but could certainly get tiring after a few hours of carrying them. They are, at least, easy to hold steady and that might be partially because of the weight. The strap lugs are definitely an annoyance based on my hand size and placement.
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 14:40   #16
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yep I think my head goes a bit Pete Tong (wrong), probably a bit to often.

It's only a mid range head though

Sadly non refundable or returns accepted

Livens the afternoon up a bit. Look forward to more from JWilson, that's if he comes back now. yikes

I promise to be good (I hope).
I didn't take offense at anything you said--if you prefer mid range bins or a different set of alphas, by all means go for it and feel free to express your opinion. There was no ad hominem attack so I'm just fine.
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 14:46   #17
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Anyone even know what the Leica marketing team even meant by a more "plastic" view? Is that just something that doesn't translate well from German? 3D I understand--or at least I think I do. I may not perceive a difference, but I get the point. Plastic?

In any event, they are the best full size bins I have owned so far. I like them a lot, but it's still early days.
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 15:16   #18
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Anyone even know what the Leica marketing team even meant by a more "plastic" view? Is that just something that doesn't translate well from German? 3D I understand--or at least I think I do. I may not perceive a difference, but I get the point. Plastic?

In any event, they are the best full size bins I have owned so far. I like them a lot, but it's still early days.
Words in foreign languages that sound familiar but mean something different are called 'false friends' in teaching circles. In this case, rather than 'plasticity' having anything to do with plastic or being malleable, I am guessing Leica is referring to the alternative meanings of 'plastizität', namely: 'vividness' or graphicness'.

If someone knows better I am sure we would all love to hear it.
Maybe MAK might comment here.

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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 15:41   #19
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Anyone even know what the Leica marketing team even meant by a more "plastic" view? Is that just something that doesn't translate well from German?
Yes, bad translation. As you guessed, they meant:

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3D
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'vividness'
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 15:57   #20
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With the Sapphire you could almost walk around without ever removing it from your eyes I have found.
This not recommended on health and safety grounds unless you wear a helmet, flak jacket, safety boots and a high-visibility vest.

You have been warned.

Lee
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 16:03   #21
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It's only a mid range head though

Sadly non refundable or returns accepted
That means your head is reliable and well made and can last a very long time if you take good care of it :)
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 17:03   #22
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This not recommended on health and safety grounds unless you wear a helmet, flak jacket, safety boots and a high-visibility vest.

You have been warned.

Lee
How did you know about my casual wear?
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 17:20   #23
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That means your head is reliable and well made and can last a very long time if you take good care of it :)
Nope, it's an intermittent goner I think but thanks for the optimism.

I'm glad the thread isn't badly interrupted and I think your idea of hearing from folks when they have had a bit more time to get used to their new bins is sensible so I look forward to more of that.

I don't often use my 8x43 but I remember concentrating on little things at the beginning but when I took it out the other day after not using it for a month or two I was wholly very impressed with it in comparison with my other bins in fact it performed pretty much flawlessly by comparison.

It would of course be interesting if I had a Noctovid to compare it to but sadly I don't but I'm not sad at all with how the Sapphire worked. Flawlessly is pretty good. I probably shouldn't even be looking at this thread but I do like to see when some-one can get to the bottom descriptively of how this binocular really is and I like those descriptions such as this contribution by JW (and others) that seem to tell the warts and all story.

It's really just idle curiosity on my part concerning this Noctivid but I am an optics fan and lucky to enjoy what I have, in fact my most often used bin outdoors currently is my little Viking Vistron 8x25 which for it's size does most of what I need pretty well. It's not the best optic available by any means but it's the best in terms of portability for my purpose at present.
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 17:48   #24
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I probably shouldn't even be looking at this thread but I do like to see when some-one can get to the bottom descriptively of how this binocular really is and I like those descriptions such as this contribution by JW (and others) that seem to tell the warts and all story.

It's really just idle curiosity on my part concerning this Noctivid but I am an optics fan and lucky to enjoy what I have, in fact my most often used bin outdoors currently is my little Viking Vistron 8x25 which for it's size does most of what I need pretty well. It's not the best optic available by any means but it's the best in terms of portability for my purpose at present.
I do the same; I read threads about binoculars I will never buy and sometimes ones I'm not even interested in just out of curiosity. It's fun to read the different user reviews. I've been reading a lot about the Nocti, but it's a long shot I would ever buy one. I'm satisfied with the binos I have esp my 7x42. I like my little Viper HD 6x32 quite a bit and also the couple of 6x porros I have.
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 18:55   #25
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"Image plasticity" could be used, and would be much better than "plastic,"but it is not so idiomatic. In any case, it sounds like an attempt to say something sufficiently positive but vague that has not been over-used before.

I still haven't had the time to take a better look at the Noctivid. Maybe next week…

Kimmo
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