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What is the Noctivid about?

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Old Tuesday 27th August 2019, 01:43   #1
tenex
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What is the Noctivid about?

Now that the dust has settled around its introduction, vague talk of "plasticity" has faded, and owners have had a chance to really use them for a while... can anyone explain to me what the Noctivid model is really meant to be, vs the Ultravid? I've only handled one once briefly myself, and couldn't tell what the extra weight is actually going into. Not improved FOV, or transmission, or (as far as I noticed) sharper edges. Not reduced CA from what I've read here, or anything else that seems obviously measurable. What's different? How would you describe your preference for it, or the purpose of the new model, to someone who's used a Leica regularly (BN, HD+) for years?
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Old Tuesday 27th August 2019, 04:47   #2
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Now that the dust has settled around its introduction, vague talk of "plasticity" has faded, and owners have had a chance to really use them for a while... can anyone explain to me what the Noctivid model is really meant to be, vs the Ultravid? I've only handled one once briefly myself, and couldn't tell what the extra weight is actually going into. Not improved FOV, or transmission, or (as far as I noticed) sharper edges. Not reduced CA from what I've read here, or anything else that seems obviously measurable. What's different? How would you describe your preference for it, or the purpose of the new model, to someone who's used a Leica regularly (BN, HD+) for years?

Eye relief.

Much of the otherwise well designed Ultravid HD plus product line has eye relief specs that effectively shut out many eye glass wearers. Folks like me. One design goal of the Noctivid may have been a half-hearted attempt to increase their market share of folks in that category, perhaps addressing an aging population of brand loyal users at the same time.

That's a measurable spec. The rest of it is likely subjective positives, such as focus feel, ease of view, color rendition, etc. Qualities that made Leica a desirable product in the first place.

Agreed that it doesn't push any envelopes with regard to weight, fov, ergonomics, CA...


As many have pointed out, we may be looking at the end of innovative technical advancement with binoculars, and Leica may very well be guilty of re-packaging/marketing existing optical design for a few generations of product, with just enough modest tweaks to attract new users, and justify an increased price...

So be it. Still, I took it into the wilderness last week and enjoyed it every time I used it. Its a damn good binocular.


-Bill

Last edited by wdc : Tuesday 27th August 2019 at 17:39. Reason: clarity
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Old Tuesday 27th August 2019, 10:20   #3
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+1 on Eye Relief. I always struggle to see the complete FOV in 10x bins but the view in the 10x42 Noctivid feels very immersive and relaxed.

After using it a bit more I even think the ergonomics is acceptable, and not much "worse" than Swaro SV, just a bit different. And the Nocitivd feels lighter than it is, due to the short barrels.

If I was after a 10x bin and long eye relief is important I would definitely consider it.
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Old Tuesday 27th August 2019, 16:27   #4
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Originally Posted by tenex View Post
Now that the dust has settled around its introduction, vague talk of "plasticity" has faded, and owners have had a chance to really use them for a while... can anyone explain to me what the Noctivid model is really meant to be, vs the Ultravid? I've only handled one once briefly myself, and couldn't tell what the extra weight is actually going into. Not improved FOV, or transmission, or (as far as I noticed) sharper edges. Not reduced CA from what I've read here, or anything else that seems obviously measurable. What's different? How would you describe your preference for it, or the purpose of the new model, to someone who's used a Leica regularly (BN, HD+) for years?
Eye relief as mentioned above. It's an extremely user-friendly binocular for someone that wears eyeglasses. The 8X Noctivid has more FOV AND more ER than it's UVHD+ counterpart. The 10X Noctivid has the same FOV and much more ER. I've never owned a 10X42 UVHD+ because it would be unusable for me. I honestly never notice the increased weight of the Noctivid.

Maybe a LITTLE more transmission. Not more than 2-3% based on data posted by Gijs. One wouldn't notice it but the improvement looks to be there.

I guess it's MAIN purpose is...it's Leica's best binocular to date. I like it. It comes across as very well made. It's MAIN problem IMO is the UVHD+ is such a good binocular. There's really NOT enough separation between the Noctivid and the UVHD+ to really justify the price difference....at least as long as you aren't an eyeglass wearer.

So in saying THAT....one has to ask themself what COULD Leica have done to have made the Nocitivid a more viable choice? Would you have wanted a flat field? More FOV? More transmission? Less weight? More ergonomic design?

To me the obvious omission was a flat field. It was the obvious necessity with both Zeiss and Swarovski offering flat field binoculars. Quite honestly I'd like to know why that WASN'T included. THAT really is the one box that wasn't checked that would have justified the higher price.
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Old Tuesday 27th August 2019, 17:32   #5
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The claim that caught my attention in early reviews of the Noctivid was (no, _not_ plasticity) that it was supposed to have really superb contrast, indeed better than anything of comparable configuration. What do long time users have to say about that? A similar claim was made about the first generation Leica Ultravids, but the competition has improved to the point that they aren't a standout in that regard anymore (if they ever were).

--AP
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Old Tuesday 27th August 2019, 18:15   #6
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I guess it's MAIN purpose is...it's Leica's best binocular to date. I like it. It comes across as very well made. It's MAIN problem IMO is the UVHD+ is such a good binocular. There's really NOT enough separation between the Noctivid and the UVHD+ to really justify the price difference....at least as long as you aren't an eyeglass wearer.

So in saying THAT....one has to ask themself what COULD Leica have done to have made the Nocitivid a more viable choice? Would you have wanted a flat field? More FOV? More transmission? Less weight? More ergonomic design?

To me the obvious omission was a flat field. It was the obvious necessity with both Zeiss and Swarovski offering flat field binoculars. Quite honestly I'd like to know why that WASN'T included. THAT really is the one box that wasn't checked that would have justified the higher price.
All good observations, Chuck.

Flat field, eh? But then the 'anti-flat fieldists' will start complaining about the lack of subjective 3d impressionism... Tobias will go into mourning, Dennis will rejoice, but then subsequently trash the Noctivid for its, size, weight, price, and having way too much eye relief, ;-)

The current Ultravid line is the Porsche Cayman compared to the 911. Except in Leica's situation, they attempted to create a new 'flagship' binocular, whereas Porsche intentionally kept the Boxster/Cayman line in check, performance-wise so as not to beat their own existing icon/flagship vehicle at a lower price point. The Trinovid HD line clearly limits the FOV so as not to compete with the Ultravid line.

A dilemma. Examining their own, as well as their competitor's specs more carefully would've/should've helped Leica fashion a stronger justification for a brand new platform. I wish they had pushed the envelope on FOV, in addition to flat field.... although I'm actually fine with the character of the field as is. (meaning I don't think about it when I'm out birding)

Zeiss went the distance with the design goals and engineering of the SF, whereas Leica seems to have reigned themselves in a bit and played it safe. Who knows what corporate decisions were made in the name of profit, and/or minimizing risk to their own existing product line. I wouldn't blame the engineers. Its probably the marketing/accounting side of the equation that limits innovation in such cases.

-Bill

Last edited by wdc : Tuesday 27th August 2019 at 21:33.
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Old Wednesday 28th August 2019, 01:23   #7
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Eye relief... of course. I missed that because I don't wear eyeglasses. And Chuck also pointed out a bit more FOV in the 8x model, which I missed since I was examining the 10x and its specs.

Regarding flat field... there are degrees. I find the view in my SLC 56s really ideal, not quite "flat" but a huge sweet spot and very usable edges. I read here that someone (possibly Chuck?) thought the NV actually had moved in that direction, as I might have missed in a quick trial? It's what I liked about the short-lived Trinovid 42 BR.

Beyond that, to me FOV remains the missing ingredient at this point, as Zeiss recognized with the SF. That's the main reason I don't accept the now often heard claim that binos have just about reached perfection. (Or that a reasonable improvement in FOV would require the size and cost of the WX. And anyway, the NV just added 4 oz and users don't seem to mind.)
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Old Wednesday 28th August 2019, 04:10   #8
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Beyond that, to me FOV remains the missing ingredient at this point, as Zeiss recognized with the SF. That's the main reason I don't accept the now often heard claim that binos have just about reached perfection. (Or that a reasonable improvement in FOV would require the size and cost of the WX. And anyway, the NV just added 4 oz and users don't seem to mind.)
Here's a theory: Maybe with the Noctivid, they've created a chassis with which they will periodically tweak FOV every few years, up to a certain pre-determined limit, following the basic incremental improvement strategy of the ultravid line. Not that I like that approach...

-Bill
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Old Wednesday 28th August 2019, 04:10   #9
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All,

"Lordy, Lordy, (you guys) are good".

Tenex, speaking subjectively, while other binoculars surpass in various objective measurements, for me currently no binocular delivers a more emotionally satisfying optical experience than the HD+ 10x50.

I agree it is admirable that Zeiss has forged ahead in terms of FOV both in the SF model and the Pocket. While there is no arguing with personal preference, ("razor sharp all the way to the edge") if it is true that a primary function of peripheral vision is to detect movement as opposed to focusing on the periphery with surgical precision then it seems to me that a wider FOV of at least reasonable quality at the edge is an objective asset unless the purpose of the optic is limited to focusing on fixed targets.

Another area of possible improvement -- increasing the AFOV in some models without excessive compromise in other areas if possible. Example, the now discontinued EDG 7x42 is IMO an outstanding binocular except it has a relatively narrow AFOV, while the HD+ 7x42, closely comparable in most respects, has a better AFOV (but less eye relief which may be the trade off).

I do not understand technical matters and may be way off base here.

Really enjoying this thread so please continue to let your hands go.

Mike
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Old Wednesday 28th August 2019, 15:31   #10
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Regarding longer ER, without any doubt that's a welcome change for those of us wearing glasses, but for the rest of us the long ER might lead to blackouts----for me the blackout issue, especially of the NV 8x42, was a deal breaker.

Concerning the flat field (or lack thereof), if I was asked to describe in a single short sentence the view thru the NV I'd say that it's quite similar to that thru the EDG but with more field curvature.

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Old Wednesday 28th August 2019, 18:27   #11
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Regarding longer ER, without any doubt that's a welcome change for those of us wearing glasses, but for the rest of us the long ER might lead to blackouts----for me the blackout issue, especially of the NV 8x42, was a deal breaker.
Makes complete sense, and you're fortunate to have at your disposal many other excellent options to choose from, including the HD plus line, if you stick with Leica. From my experience, a lot of the binoculars I've tried do not fit me, due to ER and IPD accommodation, so I'm always interested when I can find one that does. I was lucky with the Noctivid. The 10x 42's combination of eye relief and AFOV gives me one of the most immersive views I've had to date. I've used it regularly for the last 8 months.

-Bill
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Old Thursday 29th August 2019, 00:33   #12
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Sorry guys, the Leica Noctovid still does not have as much to offer as the Swarovski SV or the Zeiss SF.
Leica made an incremental upgrade over the Ultravid series, and they do not have the ability or budget to advance much further.
I have compared them all.

Leica will not compete at the higher level in sports optics, they are a camera company, a boutique, luxury company, usually quite good.

Jerry
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Old Thursday 29th August 2019, 00:57   #13
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Sorry guys, the Leica Noctovid still does not have as much to offer as the Swarovski SV or the Zeiss SF.
Leica made an incremental upgrade over the Ultravid series, and they do not have the ability or budget to advance much further.
I have compared them all.

Leica will not compete at the higher level in sports optics, they are a camera company, a boutique, luxury company, usually quite good.

Jerry
No need for the apology Jerry, Everything you wrote has been pretty much stated or implied already!

-Bill
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Old Thursday 29th August 2019, 01:30   #14
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No need for the apology Jerry, Everything you wrote has been pretty much stated or implied already!

-Bill
Bill:

I am not offering any apology, so why would you say that, I do not represent Leica.

I just like to present facts.

Jerry
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Old Thursday 29th August 2019, 01:52   #15
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Bill:

I am not offering any apology, so why would you say that, I do not represent Leica.

I just like to present facts.

Jerry
I'm quite certain you do not represent Leica!

I think when I read a word you wrote: 'sorry', I mistakenly assumed it implied some form of condolence. My point in replying is that I don't think anyone on this thread is in disagreement with you regarding Leica's position. They are competing with themselves more than they are with Zeiss or Swarovski.

-Bill
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Old Thursday 29th August 2019, 08:50   #16
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I had another opportunity very recently to look through a pair of Swarovski 8.5x42 EL SV binoculars. What a superb pair of binoculars they are! However, although the image was crystal clear and sharp to the edges it was also flat and lifeless to me. I know this is subjective, but the fact is that I (and many others) find the view through the Noctivid much more three-dimensional. The view through the SV is poster flat by comparison. Nevertheless, I acknowledge that this is probably subjective. What is not subjective however is rolling ball.

I had the same experience that I had the first time I tried the SV. As soon as I started to pan it was immediately obvious. I know that many are not bothered by rolling ball, but it is not a subjective phenomenon. Why is it that some people find it hard to accept that Leica have made the Noctivid the way it is on purpose, rather than through an inability or lack of funds to do anything else? Leica clearly have a design philosophy when it comes to optical performance and to their credit have not abandoned those ideals in order to appeal to a different or wider market

I would agree that the price of the Noctivid is hard to justify over the HD+ but nonetheless it still is an incremental improvement in every area (nobody has mentioned control of glare!), and for many people including myself it represents the best combination of price, size, weight, build quality and optical performance available.
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Old Thursday 29th August 2019, 10:59   #17
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.....
.....
.....

I would agree that the price of the Noctivid is hard to justify over the HD+ but nonetheless it still is an incremental improvement in every area....
.....
.... every area except ergonomics (I think many will agree on this).

I also think the focusing of the Noctivid is a step back from the HD+ (and I think most people will perhaps NOT agree on that).
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Old Thursday 29th August 2019, 15:47   #18
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The purpose of the new model? Swaro has an open bridge bino that sells well, Leica figured they needed one too. There's been a lot of good info here, I think they improved many things slightly and I enjoy mine. I enjoy it more than my SV due to not having flat fields. I enjoy my UVHD's too and I don't think it's a giant leap. But to be totally frank I think it's purpose is simply to compete with the SV in an open bridge design. I think they did a good job, could be better (ergos), but good.
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Old Thursday 29th August 2019, 16:43   #19
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...What is not subjective however is rolling ball...I know that many are not bothered by rolling ball, but it is not a subjective phenomenon...
The design specs that induce rolling ball in some viewers are known. Perhaps that is what you mean by "it is not a subjective phenomenon", but perhaps not. The experience of rolling ball _is_ subjective. Some people experience it and are bothered. Some people experience it yet are not bothered. But many users simply do not experience it. A good number of users experience it initially but then stop experiencing it (and do not experience it again, even on a different day) as their brain learns to adjust perception to the sensory input (Like when adjusting to a new eyeglasses prescription).

--AP
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Old Thursday 29th August 2019, 16:45   #20
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The claim that caught my attention in early reviews of the Noctivid was (no, _not_ plasticity) that it was supposed to have really superb contrast, indeed better than anything of comparable configuration. What do long time users have to say about that? A similar claim was made about the first generation Leica Ultravids, but the competition has improved to the point that they aren't a standout in that regard anymore (if they ever were).

--AP
bump. How about it folks? Anything magical about the contrast? That was _big news_ to me, if real. It is the thing that most bins do rather poorly relative to other aspects of their performance, and it is of great practical consequence.

--AP
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Old Thursday 29th August 2019, 18:24   #21
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Anything magical about the contrast? That was _big news_ to me, if real. It is the thing that most bins do rather poorly relative to other aspects of their performance, and it is of great practical consequence.

--AP
Magical about the contrast? Perhaps such verbiage, if it ever was uttered, was the post partum euphoria of a new owner. ;-)

If there was such a gross difference between binoculars at that level, don't you imagine it would be obvious to many? (including Leica, Zeiss, and Swarovski)

-Bill
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Old Thursday 29th August 2019, 18:27   #22
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If there was such a gross difference between binoculars at that level, don't you imagine it would be obvious to many? (including Leica, Zeiss, and Swarovski)

-Bill

This is an absolutely brilliant (and honest) analogy. Thanks Bill.
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Old Thursday 29th August 2019, 19:08   #23
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The design specs that induce rolling ball in some viewers are known. Perhaps that is what you mean by "it is not a subjective phenomenon", but perhaps not. The experience of rolling ball _is_ subjective. Some people experience it and are bothered. Some people experience it yet are not bothered. But many users simply do not experience it. A good number of users experience it initially but then stop experiencing it (and do not experience it again, even on a different day) as their brain learns to adjust perception to the sensory input (Like when adjusting to a new eyeglasses prescription).

--AP
Alexis, I did wonder whether I was being totally clear with what I said. I did indeed mean exactly what you wrote in your first sentence! I also understand that the way a user experiences rolling ball, as with anything else, is subjective. Personally I wish I could live with it because as it is I cannot tolerate it and therefore any binocular with a true flat field.
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Old Thursday 29th August 2019, 19:52   #24
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...I wish I could live with it because as it is I cannot tolerate it and therefore any binocular with a true flat field.
Ah, but how to prevent the rolling ball illusion and still have a flat field is also a known design criterion, and there are several examples, including Canon 10x42 L IS that do this successfully for most users.

--AP
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Old Thursday 29th August 2019, 19:57   #25
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Ah, but how to prevent the rolling ball illusion and still have a flat field is also a known design criterion, and there are several examples, including Canon 10x42 L IS that do this successfully for most users.

--AP
Thanks Alexis, thats good to know, but how does that Canon compare to the Leica Swarovski and Zeiss alpha bins?
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