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Leica 8x42 model history- when did the tech start to plateau?

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Old Friday 21st February 2020, 21:50   #1
billy_boy_2010
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Leica 8x42 model history- when did the tech start to plateau?

Hi guys

Oh dear- another noob post! Well- hopefully not too noob!

Im after an upgrade to my binoculars. Using cheap ones at the moment and they really suffer in low light. I love the feel of leicas- so will probably go for them. (maybe swaro though......If I can find some cheap enough!

However- my question relates to the model history of the leica range- mainly the trinovid and ultravid.

I wish to buy a used pair. Save some money and hopefully I can use and enjoy what were a "rolls royce" pair of binos 10-20 years ago for the price of a mid range pair now (perhaps 500).

What I'm trying to find out is some model history and tech info on their main two models.

Every one is probably looking for that "bang for buck" pair- and I'm no different I suppose.

But as I'm looking at a used pair- it would really help me if I knew a year period where the tech jumps ups into a pair.

I have managed to find similar info on Swaros by lurking and searching actually :) but no such luck with Leica- hence the post

Perhaps the Trinovids >200X have a similar spec to the Uktravids from 199X? Perhaps Generation Y of the trinovid very nearly matched the Ultravid from the same time period ?

Priorities for me are low light transmission. Weight is perhaps the least important- with clarity, DOF etc all being mid priority.

Thanks for the advice- hopefully this is a reasonably well researched noob post It should allow me to really narrow down my eBay searching.
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Old Friday 21st February 2020, 22:11   #2
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Honestly, there are no tech jumps in the binocular world. Stuff gets gradually better, but a 1950 glass will give you almost as much as a 2020 model.
The gains have been in price, a $200 glass today will have an optical performance that rivals a $1000 glass from 1980. The differences today are in mechanical quality and customer support.
Sadly the optical quality of the various suppliers remains erratic, Nikon is probably the best, but the industry remains rife with tales of 'cherry' specimens as well as of 'lemons', at all price points.
Also note that product names such as 'Trinovid' are just that, they are content free labels that do not relate to any optical or mechanical design aspect of the product. It is like IBM's System 360, none of the various elements were really similar technically or even operationally, but they shared the name.
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Old Friday 21st February 2020, 22:13   #3
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Hi and welcome to the forum.
Could you clarify "low light transmission"?
You may want high light transmission, which is a property of the glass used and the coatings applied to it, or you may want low light performance e.g. for nighttime viewing, which is more affected by the size of the exit pupil.
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Old Friday 21st February 2020, 22:25   #4
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For 500 you should be able to obtain a good pair of Leica Trinovid 8 x 42 BN, the follow up to the successful BA - the main difference being the BN has been set up for closer focusing. I had 3 pairs, from new, all built solidly and used heavily ( without problems )for 15 years. Then came the Ultravid, an underated bino in my opinion, but lost out to the Swarovski EL.

Check the coatings on the exposed surfaces amongst other examinations.

Good luck.
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Old Friday 21st February 2020, 22:58   #5
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Originally Posted by Mark9473 View Post
Hi and welcome to the forum.
Could you clarify "low light transmission"?
You may want high light transmission, which is a property of the glass used and the coatings applied to it, or you may want low light performance e.g. for nighttime viewing, which is more affected by the size of the exit pupil.
Interesting point- to keep it simple

I want to see a brighter image in poor light levels. To gain a few extra minutes of viewing before it becomes too dark

To put it another way- I'm looking for good dawn and dusk performance- when lesser quality kit would struggle.
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Old Friday 21st February 2020, 23:01   #6
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For 500 you should be able to obtain a good pair of Leica Trinovid 8 x 42 BN, the follow up to the successful BA - the main difference being the BN has been set up for closer focusing. I had 3 pairs, from new, all built solidly and used heavily ( without problems )for 15 years. Then came the Ultravid, an underated bino in my opinion, but lost out to the Swarovski EL.

Check the coatings on the exposed surfaces amongst other examinations.

Good luck.
Thanks. That does seem to be a popular model so should be a few on the second hand market.

Presumably the trinovid was gradually upgraded over time (or perhaps even down graded as a cost cutting measure ?!)

So is there a certain build year from/to which is worth looking out for ? A more robust design, or a new improved coating etc ?
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Old Friday 21st February 2020, 23:04   #7
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Honestly, there are no tech jumps in the binocular world. Stuff gets gradually better, but a 1950 glass will give you almost as much as a 2020 model.
The gains have been in price, a $200 glass today will have an optical performance that rivals a $1000 glass from 1980. The differences today are in mechanical quality and customer support.
Sadly the optical quality of the various suppliers remains erratic, Nikon is probably the best, but the industry remains rife with tales of 'cherry' specimens as well as of 'lemons', at all price points.
Also note that product names such as 'Trinovid' are just that, they are content free labels that do not relate to any optical or mechanical design aspect of the product. It is like IBM's System 360, none of the various elements were really similar technically or even operationally, but they shared the name.
Really ? Interesting. Hasnt lens tech and coatings improved over the years ?

I realise that the expensive tech and high quality glass has become more affordable- with formerly state of the art tech trickling down to cheaper kit.

But I thought manufacturing methods and coatings have improved - and thus there may be a few generations worth looking at which perhaps stay ahead of the budget competition ?
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Old Friday 21st February 2020, 23:11   #8
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Originally Posted by billy_boy_2010 View Post
I want to see a brighter image in poor light levels. To gain a few extra minutes of viewing before it becomes too dark

To put it another way- I'm looking for good dawn and dusk performance- when lesser quality kit would struggle.
Then maximize the exit pupil - instead of 8x42, look for 8x56, 7x50, 7x42 or something like that.
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Old Saturday 22nd February 2020, 02:19   #9
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Really ? Interesting. Hasnt lens tech and coatings improved over the years ?

I realise that the expensive tech and high quality glass has become more affordable- with formerly state of the art tech trickling down to cheaper kit.

But I thought manufacturing methods and coatings have improved - and thus there may be a few generations worth looking at which perhaps stay ahead of the budget competition ?
Technology sure has improved, mostly thanks to coatings that have allowed 90+% light transmission, up from perhaps 50-60% in the 1950s. Better lens shaping and glass compositions has also improved image color fidelity.
Smaller improvements have been achieved in most other aspects, while FoV is still in the 5-8 degree range, eye relief is improved to at least 14-15mm from as little as 11-12mm and most binocs are at least somewhat water resistant.
That all considered, the biggest improvement imho is the addition of image stabilization, spearheaded by Canon. Sadly the industry is too small and too risk averse, so none of the major brands such as Zeiss, Leica or Swarovsky offer that technology.
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Old Saturday 22nd February 2020, 04:09   #10
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Originally Posted by billy_boy_2010 View Post
I wish to buy a used pair. Save some money and hopefully I can use and enjoy what were a "rolls royce" pair of binos 10-20 years ago for the price of a mid range pair now (perhaps 500).

What I'm trying to find out is some model history and tech info on their main two models.

Every one is probably looking for that "bang for buck" pair- and I'm no different I suppose.

But as I'm looking at a used pair- it would really help me if I knew a year period where the tech jumps ups into a pair.

I have managed to find similar info on Swaros by lurking and searching actually :) but no such luck with Leica- hence the post

Perhaps the Trinovids >200X have a similar spec to the Uktravids from 199X? Perhaps Generation Y of the trinovid very nearly matched the Ultravid from the same time period ?

Priorities for me are low light transmission. Weight is perhaps the least important- with clarity, DOF etc all being mid priority.

Thanks for the advice- hopefully this is a reasonably well researched noob post It should allow me to really narrow down my eBay searching.
Hi Billy_Boy and welcome to the forum.

Who doesn't want a bargain, as they enter into this den of price/perfomance inquiry?

It may help to examine your age, and whether you wear glasses or not, and even what your IPD is. My 65 year old, spectacle wearing, experience, is that the bins of yore were not designed with me as a customer. So, if you are younger than me, and don't need glasses, there are probably a lot of used binoculars that will work for you, and deliver what you're looking for, whether they are built by Leica, or not.

Just perusing older Leicas, no longer in production, on EBay, it looks like the Trinovid BN model is still a few hundred above your price point.

A binocular that is good in low light is more of an objective size and exit pupil issue than it should be brand specific. 7x42, 8x42, 10x42, 7x50, 10x50...

My simple advice is to broaden your horizons beyond a single marque. Look at Nikon, Zeiss, Swaro, and be willing to go back 10 years. Leicas have always been priced higher than their performance relative to other brands.

Make sure they fit, no matter what you get.

-Bill
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Old Saturday 22nd February 2020, 07:19   #11
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Priorities for me are low light transmission. Weight is perhaps the least important- with clarity, DOF etc all being mid priority.
Then skip 8x42s and go for 8x50s. Even 8x56s.
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Old Saturday 22nd February 2020, 07:59   #12
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Then skip 8x42s and go for 8x50s. Even 8x56s.
Agree with Kevin, perhaps stepping up to 10x rather than 8x would increase the detail level. If that was something you'd be open to, then I suspect these represent an excellent choice - and well inside your budget.
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Old Saturday 22nd February 2020, 09:03   #13
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Then maximize the exit pupil - instead of 8x42, look for 8x56, 7x50, 7x42 or something like that.
Good point- I could do that. I wouldn't want to go too low in mag- but a 7x would be ok I guess.

I think 8x56 would be too bulky for me- but perhaps a 7x50 would give me some really good light gathering performance. Hmmmm
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Old Saturday 22nd February 2020, 09:08   #14
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Hi Billy_Boy and welcome to the forum.

Who doesn't want a bargain, as they enter into this den of price/perfomance inquiry?

It may help to examine your age, and whether you wear glasses or not, and even what your IPD is. My 65 year old, spectacle wearing, experience, is that the bins of yore were not designed with me as a customer. So, if you are younger than me, and don't need glasses, there are probably a lot of used binoculars that will work for you, and deliver what you're looking for, whether they are built by Leica, or not.

Just perusing older Leicas, no longer in production, on EBay, it looks like the Trinovid BN model is still a few hundred above your price point.

A binocular that is good in low light is more of an objective size and exit pupil issue than it should be brand specific. 7x42, 8x42, 10x42, 7x50, 10x50...

My simple advice is to broaden your horizons beyond a single marque. Look at Nikon, Zeiss, Swaro, and be willing to go back 10 years. Leicas have always been priced higher than their performance relative to other brands.

Make sure they fit, no matter what you get.

-Bill
Haha fair point 're everyone wanting the best bang for ones buck etc.

36 and perfect vision (as a result of contact lenses)

I was attempting to keep things simple by narrowing my search to one or two brands and models. But perhaps I should keep my options open ?

Dropping the may down to 7 and upping the objective to 50 would still keep the weight down a little and give me great performance.

I didn't realise Leica commanded such a price premium. I thought Swaro were most firmly in this category? But I'm very happy to be educated by someone wiser
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Old Saturday 22nd February 2020, 09:30   #15
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Originally Posted by billy_boy_2010 View Post
Hi guys

Oh dear- another noob post! Well- hopefully not too noob!

Im after an upgrade to my binoculars. Using cheap ones at the moment and they really suffer in low light. I love the feel of leicas- so will probably go for them. (maybe swaro though......If I can find some cheap enough!

However- my question relates to the model history of the leica range- mainly the trinovid and ultravid.

I wish to buy a used pair. Save some money and hopefully I can use and enjoy what were a "rolls royce" pair of binos 10-20 years ago for the price of a mid range pair now (perhaps 500).

What I'm trying to find out is some model history and tech info on their main two models.

Every one is probably looking for that "bang for buck" pair- and I'm no different I suppose.

But as I'm looking at a used pair- it would really help me if I knew a year period where the tech jumps ups into a pair.

I have managed to find similar info on Swaros by lurking and searching actually :) but no such luck with Leica- hence the post

Perhaps the Trinovids >200X have a similar spec to the Uktravids from 199X? Perhaps Generation Y of the trinovid very nearly matched the Ultravid from the same time period ?

Priorities for me are low light transmission. Weight is perhaps the least important- with clarity, DOF etc all being mid priority.

Thanks for the advice- hopefully this is a reasonably well researched noob post It should allow me to really narrow down my eBay searching.

I think the last considerable tech jump took place about 1990 when the P-coating was introduced. If you compare a Leica Trinovid of the 1980s with the Trinovid BA/BN of the 1990s, you detect a significant improvement in terms of contrast and center resolution. After 1990, a gradual evolution took place along with an improvement of coating technology. The Trinovid BA may have had a transmission about 85% while the later Ultravid HD+ just exceeded 90% - not that much different. If you are looking for an excellent low-light glass for a reasonable price, the Trinovid BA/BN 8x50 would certainly be a good choice.

Cheers,
Holger
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Old Saturday 22nd February 2020, 10:25   #16
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I searched a well known auction site and was surprised how well the Trinovid BA and BN s are holding their price but quite a few options at 32 / 42 and 50 mm objectives. It is probably worthwhile testing out some different combinations first if you can, at your nearest optics outlet to see which spec. suits you're requirements, preferably on a cloudy day - I'd suggest 8 x 42 / 8 x 50 / 10 x 42 and 10 x 50 if possible.

Or just go for what you originally thought, an 8 x 42 Trinovid BN, but you'll need to splash the cash.
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Old Sunday 23rd February 2020, 14:37   #17
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You might consider posting a want ad in the classified section here at Birdforum, stating your aims. There are some very reputable individuals here, one of whom might have just what you desire.
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Old Sunday 23rd February 2020, 15:28   #18
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Billy, the best advice is always to try binos first, though that could be hard with older models. Do you have a local birding group to contact? That way you can check out eye relief, general comfort etc. Note that Leicas don't work well for some eyeglass wearers, though they're fine without.

Regarding tech, just avoid pre-1990 roof prisms without phase coatings (which would also have inferior transmission). With something like a Leica BN or later you'll be fine, all the later improvements are really quite modest. We still have a BN (10x32, not your thing) and love it.

As to price, don't reject what you really like if it's just a bit more than the figure you chose, especially if you happen upon a particularly nice one. It's a potential lifetime purchase.

Finally, your own age: as you may have seen mentioned here before, if you're not a youngster, your own pupil will no longer dilate to the 6-7mm range to take advantage of something like an 8x56 in low light, so choose 5-6mm exit pupils: 8x42 or possibly 8x50, or if you're willing to consider 10x, 10x50 or 10x56.
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Old Sunday 23rd February 2020, 16:03   #19
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Billy, much good advice has been given above, but to answer you question directly, and specifically this part:-

'Perhaps the Trinovids >200X have a similar spec to the Uktravids from 199X? Perhaps Generation Y of the trinovid very nearly matched the Ultravid from the same time period?'

I would suggest looking out for a 2012-15 Trinovid. This particular Trinovid was only made for a short time before it was 'superseded' by the cheaper (made in Japan) Trinovid HD, but it's widely been reported that it had the same optical quality as the Ultravid or even Ultravid HD. See this review from birdwatching.com:-

https://www.birdwatching.com/optics/...ns/review.html

There are some differences that separate it from the Ultravid (as noted in the review) - slightly smaller FOV, longer minimum focus distance and slightly heavier, but in my opinion the 2012-15 Trinovid is a bit of an overlooked Leica gem. I have the 8x42 and it stands up very well indeed against my 7x42 UVHD+ and Noctivid 10x42. They may be hard to come across, but if you see one I highly recommend giving it a try!
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Old Sunday 23rd February 2020, 16:27   #20
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I would suggest looking out for a 2012-15 Trinovid. This particular Trinovid was only made for a short time before it was 'superseded' by the cheaper (made in Japan) Trinovid HD, but it's widely been reported that it had the same optical quality as the Ultravid or even Ultravid HD.
I'll second that, this is a good model to be aware of if you want an 8x42 (we have the 10x). It's hard to know how to search for or what to call it, "Trinovid 42 BR" officially I think. It looked nearly identical to the Ultravid with the same integrated focuser/diopter. Sold for around $1500 new, under $1000 at discount when discontinued, probably still an excellent buy used.
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Old Sunday 23rd February 2020, 16:38   #21
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I would look at the local stores for the used versions of the Leica BA/BNs and even the 2012-2015 Trinovids, you could get lucky. The hunt is actually fun also.
There is a 8X42 2012-2015 for sale on the auction site in the UK for a bit over $900, however a bit more than you are willing to spend.

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Old Sunday 23rd February 2020, 21:34   #22
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Billy, much good advice has been given above, but to answer you question directly, and specifically this part:-

'Perhaps the Trinovids >200X have a similar spec to the Uktravids from 199X? Perhaps Generation Y of the trinovid very nearly matched the Ultravid from the same time period?'

I would suggest looking out for a 2012-15 Trinovid. This particular Trinovid was only made for a short time before it was 'superseded' by the cheaper (made in Japan) Trinovid HD, but it's widely been reported that it had the same optical quality as the Ultravid or even Ultravid HD. See this review from birdwatching.com:-

https://www.birdwatching.com/optics/...ns/review.html

There are some differences that separate it from the Ultravid (as noted in the review) - slightly smaller FOV, longer minimum focus distance and slightly heavier, but in my opinion the 2012-15 Trinovid is a bit of an overlooked Leica gem. I have the 8x42 and it stands up very well indeed against my 7x42 UVHD+ and Noctivid 10x42. They may be hard to come across, but if you see one I highly recommend giving it a try!
The discussion here is well done, and I have owned several examples mentioned. First off the 2012-15 Trinovid 8x42 is similar to the original
Ultravid. The Ultravid HD is better, both with HD glass and it has better coatings, so it is brighter with some snap to the view.
I have also had the new Trinovid HD, and found it to be well built, maybe
Japan, and was better optically than the 2012-15 Trinovid, as in brigher with
better sharpness. The UV 8x42 is easily the best of these 3 mentioned.

The OP should go back several years and review some earlier threads on all of these binoculars and comparisons.
Time well spent.
I have also spent some time with a 10x50 Trinovid 10x50 BA, I found it just
very nice with its optics, just a great combination, the 50mm objective does
offer that extra brightness that is desirable, and the construction of the
Trinovid BA and BN are legendary in soundness.

Good luck with your search, condition is the big thing with older Leica's as well as any used optic. Some have been around the world a time or 2.

Jerry
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Old Monday 24th February 2020, 16:10   #23
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The discussion here is well done, and I have owned several examples mentioned. First off the 2012-15 Trinovid 8x42 is similar to the original
Ultravid. The Ultravid HD is better, both with HD glass and it has better coatings, so it is brighter with some snap to the view.
I have also had the new Trinovid HD, and found it to be well built, maybe
Japan, and was better optically than the 2012-15 Trinovid, as in brigher with
better sharpness. The UV 8x42 is easily the best of these 3 mentioned.

The OP should go back several years and review some earlier threads on all of these binoculars and comparisons.

Time well spent.

Jerry
Hi Jerry,

I can agree with your assessment of the 2012-15 Trinovid vs the Ultravid and Ultravid HD (although I only have an UVHD+ to compare it to). The Ultravid HD(+) is also to my eyes brighter with more 'snap' to the view (although, again, mine is the 7X42 UVHD+, so one would expect it to be brighter). However, when I purchased my Trinovid 2012-15 I compared it directly with the Trinovid HD (albeit only in and just outside a store) and found (personally) the Trinovid HD to have the inferior view.

As you say, this subject has been discussed at length here, and I agree that the OP would benefit from reading those discussions. There were two main threads IIRC. Here are the links:-

https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=315993

https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=331376

I will just say that although I haven't re-read those threads in their entirety, I think that it would be fair and accurate to say that the consensus was that (for reasons that varied from person to person) the 2012-15 Trinovid was the better binocular. Indeed, my memory impression of the second thread, particularly, was that you were one of the very few people who expressed a clear preference for the Trinovid HD.

I have no desire to open up that particular discussion agin, but I thought that I would express my opinion and provide the links for the potential benefit of the OP. FWIW I am still thoroughly enjoying my 2012-15 Trinovid 8X42 which I find to be a great compliment to my 7X42 UVHD+ and 10X42 Noctivid.
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Old Monday 24th February 2020, 19:11   #24
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One can skip to the middle of page 5 on that first thread, because the rest is just the usual kibitzing before anyone has actually seen the new Trinovid HD. The second thread is also on balance more confusing than enlightening with varying opinions on which Trinovid is "better" optically and how. In any case there can be no dispute that the 2011-15 model is the better built bino.

I think Jerry just mentioned this in passing, not meaning to reopen that debate here. And Billy has other models to choose from as well, going back to BA/BNs, depending on what he may find at a good price.

Edit: I just remembered to mention about the BNs, which were produced for some time, that those with serial numbers above 145xxxx are said to have improved coatings.

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Old Monday 24th February 2020, 20:09   #25
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I think Jerry just mentioned this in passing, not meaning to reopen that debate here. And Billy has other models to choose from as well, going back to BA/BNs, depending on what he may find at a good price.
Absolutely, and it's not my intention that it should be opened either, I just thought that the 2012-15 Trinovid might be of interest to the OP because it seems to fit his requirements and question, specifically; 'Perhaps the Trinovids >200X have a similar spec to the Ultravids from 199X? Perhaps Generation Y of the trinovid very nearly matched the Ultravid from the same time period?'

Jerry isn't alone in thinking that the Trinovid HD is optically better than the 2012-15 model, and the OP should try them both if he is considering the earlier model. There is of course lots of other choice as you point out.
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Swarovski SLC 7x42 roofs: model history? Dorian Gray Swarovski 17 Monday 14th October 2013 21:45
Nikon HGL 8x42 new model ghostrider Nikon 2 Saturday 24th February 2007 01:09

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