• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

A growing addiction.... (1 Viewer)

Mayomike

Member
I’m not a birdwatcher. I have tried, but so far at least I have not exactly been bitten by the bug. This post is about optics only…

In 1995 I was leading a hillwalking party with scouts when one of our scout leaders collapsed with what turnout out to be a heart attack. My involvement in the evacuation of this casualty led me to join my local mountain rescue team. Shortly after that, my Dad returned from a trip to Germany with a pair of Leica Trinovid 8x20 binoculars for me.

To say I was blow away by these tiny binoculars is an understatement. They were the first binoculars that I ever used where you could actually see things better through them than without them. 25 years later I am still amazed by the performance of these tiny binoculars.

After about 12 years I gave those binoculars back to my Dad. He actually was interested in birdwatching and was struggling with some terrible monocular thing…

I was always in awe of the larger Leica Trinovid range but they were well and truly beyond my reach financially speaking. However, in 2008 I saved enough to buy a new Trinovid 8x20 BCA. They were and still are simple fantastic. However, they did tend to fog up in rainy conditions. This always cleared up after a few days, but it made the binoculars unusable when I needed them. I wanted to upgrade to a waterproof and nitrogen purged binocular, but paying the extra for a Ultravid 8x20 when I already has a 8x20 Trinovid did not make sense to me, so I just put up with the fogging issue and tried to avoid it as much as I could.

Then Leica release a new Trinovid range in 2012 (this was before the newer Trinovid HD range in 2016). This seemed a better deal. It is waterproof and nitrogen purged and offered considerably better performance than a Ultravid 8x20, but did not cost a lot more. I saved up my money and bought one.

To be honest, at first I did not see much difference in quality between the Trinovid 8x20 and 8x42. The view through the larger binocular was wider and slightly brighter, but not really enough to justify the extra size, weight and cost. I had used the 8x20 binoculars for thousands of hours so I had absolutely no problem in getting the interpupillary distance set up correctly etc… (despite the double hinge design, it’s really not that difficult!).

However, I did find myself using the new 8x42 binoculars more and more, and not just when hiking in the mountain. I started taking them when walking my dog every day. Initially this was just to test new ways of carrying them as they are much bigger than the 8x20’s (I found the bino harness from Kuiu to be the best). Eight years later this “testing” is still ongoing. I still use them almost every day. Why? Because I really enjoy using them!

Even something as simple as stone wall when the sun is low in the sky looks fantastic through these binoculars. The high contrast of the optics brings out the texture of the stone. The vivid and saturated colours make an ordinary field of grass appear lush. The compressed perspective and limited depth of field allow you to isolate individual details both near and far, for closer examination/enjoyment. I realise this is a bit like wearing rose tinted glasses, but when I’m out walking my dog I’m ok with that. I enjoy it.

A few years ago our Mountain Rescue team coordinated a protracted search for a man lost in the mountain. The search lasted several days and expended literally hundreds of voluntary manhours. In hindsight I felt that the role of optics was underutilized in that search so I began to look into this in more detail. This lead me to buying a spotting scope and tripod (Leica APO Televid 82 with FLM tripod and ball head). My intention was to systematically scan an area with binoculars and then use the spotting scope to take a closer look at anything of interest.

This worked really well, which of course only fed my growing addiction to optics. As I planned on using a tripod for both binoculars and spotting scope I figured that higher powered, higher quality binocular would make sense. I was right! I recently bought a Leica Ultravid 10x50 HD+ and it is simply phenomenal when used with a tripod. A wonderful experience – significantly brighter and better than my Trinovid 8x42 despite having a slightly smaller exit pupil.

This is all good, except having seen what an Ultravid HD+ can offer I’m no longer satisfied with the Trinovid 8x42, but I don’t want to carry a tripod with me when out walking my dog!

So…. my addiction to optics is approaching critical mass and I’m in the market for another new binocular 😊

1. It has to be an Leica Ultravid. Even though I have never tried a “flat field” binocular I like to play around with what is in focus so and I don’t think a “flat field” option would work for me. Also I like the look, feel and size of the Leica Ultravid range.
2. It has to be a HD+. My 2012 Trinovid 8x42’s are supposed to be equal to the older Ultravid 8x42 BR. I thought the difference would be negligible, but I really notice the extra sparkle of the HD+ glass. The whites are whiter. I can see more detail in the shadow. There is greater contrast.
3. I want something that I can handhold very steadily because the greatest’s optics in the world are of little use if the image is jumping around too much.

So I have narrowed it down to…

1. Leica Ultravid 7x42 HD+
2. Leica Ultravid 8x32 HD+

My maximum pupil size in low light is around 5mm (by my crude measurement). I don’t wear glasses (except for reading) and eye relief has never been an issue for me.

Leica Ultravid 7x42 HD+
Wider field of view
Lower magnification will allow for a steadier hold, but will cost me some… well … magnification
Larger (6mm) exit pupil - a little extravagant for me given that my pupil size is rarely larger than 4mm, but perhaps nice.
Will fit my KUIU bino harness so carrying it around won’t be an issue
Many reports that there is something special about the Ultravid 7x42 – something that transcends the specifications (oooohh getting onto thin ice here…)

Leica Ultravid 8x32 HD+
Wider field of view than my Trinovid 8x42 – almost as wide as the Ultravid 7x42
4mm exit pupil matches my eyes better and given my experience with an 8x20 I don’t expect I’ll have any problem with an 8x32
Almost as small as my 8x20 Trinovid, but too small for my KUIU bino harness so I’m not sure how I would carry it
I should be able to hold them quite steady because they are shorter and lighter, right?
Reported to be incredibly sharp, with amazing contrast, but slightly darker than the Ultravid 7x42 or 8x42 HD+ options

Any thought or advice?

BTW, it will be several months before I can afford either, but it’s still fun to consider the options 😊
 

delia todd

If I said the wrong thing it was a Senior Moment
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
Scotland
Hi Mayomike and a warm welcome to you from all the Staff and Moderators.

I've moved your post to the Leica forum and subscribed you to the thread so that you can find it easily. You will receive an email with a link to click on which will bring you straight here.

I'm sure you will enjoy it here and I look forward to hearing your news.
 

Gilmore Girl

Beth
Supporter
United States


So I have narrowed it down to…

1. Leica Ultravid 7x42 HD+
2. Leica Ultravid 8x32 HD+

My maximum pupil size in low light is around 5mm (by my crude measurement). I don’t wear glasses (except for reading) and eye relief has never been an issue for me.

Leica Ultravid 7x42 HD+
Wider field of view
Lower magnification will allow for a steadier hold, but will cost me some… well … magnification
Larger (6mm) exit pupil - a little extravagant for me given that my pupil size is rarely larger than 4mm, but perhaps nice.
Will fit my KUIU bino harness so carrying it around won’t be an issue
Many reports that there is something special about the Ultravid 7x42 – something that transcends the specifications (oooohh getting onto thin ice here…)

Leica Ultravid 8x32 HD+
Wider field of view than my Trinovid 8x42 – almost as wide as the Ultravid 7x42
4mm exit pupil matches my eyes better and given my experience with an 8x20 I don’t expect I’ll have any problem with an 8x32
Almost as small as my 8x20 Trinovid, but too small for my KUIU bino harness so I’m not sure how I would carry it
I should be able to hold them quite steady because they are shorter and lighter, right?
Reported to be incredibly sharp, with amazing contrast, but slightly darker than the Ultravid 7x42 or 8x42 HD+ options

Any thought or advice?

BTW, it will be several months before I can afford either, but it’s still fun to consider the options ��

Hi Mike,
Lecia is great. I love the rich colors in their Ultravids. I had the 7x42 HD+ for approx. 4 years until it became too heavy for me. I tried the 8x32 this past weekend. A fellow birder let me try hers and the eye relief is still too short with my eyeglasses sadly. However, one thing I noticed going from my Swarovski CL 8x30 (1st generation, not the new version) to the Ultravid was the very noticeable dimmer image in the Ultravid. I think the Ultravid 8x32 will appear very noticeably dimmer compared to 7 or 8x42 Ultravid. My 7x42 HD+ was nice and bright. Just throwing that out there based on my personal experience.
 

John Frink

Well-known member
I think the Ultravid 8x32 will appear very noticeably dimmer compared to 7 or 8x42 Ultravid.

That doesn't match my experience; I have 7x42, 8x42, and 8x32 UVHD+, and in normal daylight I find them all to be equally bright. I think they're all superb binos, but given your long and happy relationship with the 8x20 Trinovids I would recommend the 8x32 for you.

Just my opinion.
 

Mike F

Well-known member
Hi Mike, and welcome!

My history and experience with Leica binoculars is not entirely dissimilar to yours:- Had some 10x25 BCA’s for many many years before being able to afford a full size binocular. I likewise also have the 2012-15 Trinovid 8x42, and within the last year I purchased an UVHD+ 12x50. I also have the UVHD+ 7x42!

Given my somewhat similar experience (and not being a birder myself either) I would suggest if you want to compliment your 10x50 UVHD+ (which many think is one of Leica’s best) that you would get the 7x42 UVHD+. Many people attest to the fact that binocular really has something special. It’s really down to your personal decision and intended use of course but I would think that’s going down to a 32mm from the 50mm and 42mm bins is going to seem a bit underwhelming. You’ll be anything it underwhelmed by the 7x42 and additionally it will give you a magnification which you don’t already have.

All the best with your decision! Michael.
 

Gilmore Girl

Beth
Supporter
United States
That doesn't match my experience; I have 7x42, 8x42, and 8x32 UVHD+, and in normal daylight I find them all to be equally bright. I think they're all superb binos, but given your long and happy relationship with the 8x20 Trinovids I would recommend the 8x32 for you.

Just my opinion.

The 8x32 I looked through the other day was Ultravid HD (not plus).
Maybe that could have something to do with it. It was dim compared to my CL 8x30. My 7x42 never appeared dim when I owned it.
 

eitanaltman

Well-known member
My 2 cents: I have owned both an Ultravid 8x32 HD (my wife’s primary binocular) and a Trinovid 10x42 (pre HD) for a while, and recently acquired a 7x42 UVHD. So plenty of relevant experience and I am on the same page with how beautiful the UVHD view is (even if not “plus”).

My take:

- I definitely see a difference in “sparkle” between the Trinovid and the UVHD, it’s slight but it’s there. So I believe the HD+ is even moreso. The 7x42 HD ranks first here, then the 8x32 HD, then the TV.

- That said... the optical differences between the 8x32 and 7x42 are SO SMALL that I think you will make a better decision for yourself by holding that variable constant and making the decision on everything else!

Yes, the 7x42 is a bit brighter and has that enormous exit pupil. But in daylight use I find the difference so small that it’s not worth worrying about, as it’s only visible in direct comparison. I have NEVER used the 8x32 and thought “this isn’t bright enough” (other than murky dawn/dusk situations). I’ve bought and sold like a dozen high end binoculars the past few months, with my wife’s 8x32 UVHD serving as the constant reference standard, and the view from that little marvel holds its own with anything. You will drive yourself nuts dwelling on this tiny difference when the differences in size, weight, eye relief etc are much more significant.

Field of view is a wash - the 7x42 is a bit wider in true FOV but the 8x32 has a wider apparent FOV. Chromatic aberration is a wash - both are very good, with barely any in the center and a bit off axis. Both have world class saturation and contrast. Both are so crazy sharp that you barely miss the higher magnification. Both have deep, immersive views. The only (small) differences I can see (leaving aside exit pupil and eye relief):

1. The 7x42 is a bit brighter and more “transparent”. Just a beautiful view.
2. The 7x42 has more pincushion, combined with the wider AFOV it makes panning more natural in the 8x32 to my eyes. The 7x42 often gives me a reverse rolling ball (rolling bowl!) with the extra pincushion.
3. The 7x42 however has a slightly larger sweet spot and feels a bit sharper at the edges (less field curvature).
4. The 8x32 has slightly better glare control. It really is amazing how they packed such a wide field, with such good correction of aberrations and so little glare into such a tiny package without massive oculars. The 7x42 has good glare control in the center, but it is more prone to crescent flares on the periphery in harsh conditions.

That’s basically it. Both have otherwise outstanding correction of optical aberrations yielding a clean, transparent, vivid view. Both have the same build quality, the same awesome eyecup mechanism, the same focus knob and diopter adjustment. Both will be a lovely complement to the 10x50.

So I would recommend you put all that aside, and make it a much simpler decision where the differences are significant:

1. The 7x42 has quite good eye relief (in fact slightly too much for the eyecup extension for me), the 8x32 is has fairly short eye relief. Combined with the larger exit pupil, the 7x42 has easier eye placement whereas the 8x32 is more touchy. But if you had no issues with an 8x20, I doubt this will be a problem. I will note that I find the 7x42 more prone to shadows / blackouts if my eye position moves from the ideal point.

2. The 7x42 is very compact and feels notably lighter and slightly slimmer in the hand than the 10x42 Trinovid. The 8x42 is actually slightly heavier so the difference will be even more apparent. The 7x42 UVHD is 750g naked, whereas there 10x42 TV is around 800g. The 7x42 is also about 1cm shorter. It’s not a lot, but it adds up and I find the 7x42 more pleasant to hold. HOWEVER, the 8x32 is TINY, weighing only ~530g and very slim and short. If you have large hands it may even feel a bit too small.

So to me, it all comes down to simple priorities: do you want something tiny and super light at the expense of some exit pupil and eye relief? Or are you ok with something a bit bigger and heavier (but still quite compact) for the extra eye relief and low light performance?

Then the decision becomes much easier :)
 

Mayomike

Member
Isn't this fun!

Thank you all for taking the time to reply. You have not helped to me make a decision, but you have given me a lot to think about and thats part of the fun. I'm enjoying the process of exploring the pros and cons of each.

I guess the obvious thing to do is to get my hands on both (preferably at the same time) and try them out. This is probably what I will do (if I can find an accommodating online retailer). I really just asked the question to kick off a discussion.

I don't need new binoculars. For my actual needs the Leica Ultravid 10x50 HD+ is perfect. If I get a new binocular it will simply be for the pleasure of using it.

The 7x42 would probably be more enjoyable to use, but only if I have it with me. Am I more likely to have an 8x32 with me? I don't know :)

Perhaps the only solution is to get both :)
 

Sancho

Registered User
Supporter
Hi Mike. I've read your post with interest. I'm a birder AND optics addict, in equal measure. I'm also indebted to the mountain rescue teams here...I've never needed them, but it's nice to know that, like Mad Max, they're 'out there'. Anyway. I know you want Leicas. But I was thinking, even before you mentioned it, that handshake could be a problem if scanning a boggy or rocky mountainside for a casualty. Have you ever thought about Canon IS (image stabilised) binoculars? The top model is 10x42, flat field, superb glass, waterproof. Not pretty, and not petite in the hand, but stunning views. There are 'lesser' models in the range, including new 10x32. If you ever want to try my 10x42 out, I'm based in Bray. (I may be making a trip to Belmullet over the next few weeks). I think if I were lost on Lugnaquilla one day, I'd be hoping the rescue guys had a pair of IS binos!;)
 

tenex

reality-based
Any thought or advice?
BTW, it will be several months before I can afford either, but it’s still fun to consider the options
Hi and welcome to BF. Leica binos are lovely as long as the eye relief works for you. You have a clear preference for UVHD+ over the Trinovid BR but don't say why you aren't considering the 8x42 as a direct replacement. Or even the Noctivid 8x42, which people into subtle aesthetics of view rave about. One thing you may find underwhelming about the otherwise lovely 7x42 is its smaller apparent field of view (~56 vs 59°)... the 7x "magic" doesn't work for everyone. You should definitely try first. Again you don't say what reasons you may have for preferring 42mm vs 32: convenience, exit pupil, etc (and you still have the 8x20, how does that influence the choice...) So 42 vs 32 is apple vs orange, and we have no way of answering that for you.
 

eitanaltman

Well-known member
I guess the obvious thing to do is to get my hands on both (preferably at the same time) and try them out. This is probably what I will do (if I can find an accommodating online retailer). I really just asked the question to kick off a discussion.

One small point here -- if possible, you would want to take home both and try them both SEPARATELY in the field.

Doing the "swap back and forth" comparison doesn't tell you everything you need to know, and exaggerates the significance of differences compared to what you actually see in the field.

For example, if you are comparing a binocular with a slightly warm color cast to one that's a little greener, the difference in color can be very obvious in direct A/B comparison. But if you don't have them side by side, and are just out using them in the field, they both might appear to be neutral and accurate.

Just like trying something salty after eating something sweet, it will be more obvious in direct comparison. The same will be true for physical and ergonomic differences, one or the other may feel awkward after handling the other, but if you don't have them both at the same time you adjust and adapt.

I find that I only REALLY know if I like a binocular after using it in the field for a few hours, ideally a few days, in various habitats and lighting conditions. Spend some time comparing back and forth, but also make sure you leave one behind and take the other one with you for some time. You will discover for sure whether there are problems that will bug you, whether it's eye relief / eye position, ergonomics, weight, etc.

Just as an example, I have been experimenting with 10x32 a lot lately, a format I ignored forever. I find that with a good 10x32 (like my current Nikon EDG) used in the field for some time, I adapt quickly and do not really notice the small exit pupil as being a problem. Yeah, I can tell that I have to be a little extra careful with eye alignment, but you get used to it and stop thinking about it (I'm sure you understand this coming from an 8x20). BUT... if I've been using an 8x42 or 7x42 for a while, and then I swap to the 10x32, at first it's like WHOAH what is going on! Then I get used to it again and forget and just use them.

My point being, if you just compare them back to back, the 10x32 will feel unusable. But it's a distorted perception which may not be as problematic in the field, and that perception may cause you to ignore some of the other benefits you would get.

I hedged my recommendation earlier, but my honest opinion based on what you described is that, unless you are really concerned about eye relief, the 8x32 is where it's at. It's such a little marvel, the optics are SO good and SO sharp and (other than the slightly finicky eye position) there is nothing that really bothers me about the view, any "flaws" it has optically are so minor that they are only of importance to the most nit picky perfectionists. It has nearly the same FOV and a wider AFOV than the 7x42, but is MUCH smaller and lighter, so I think it would be a better complement as a casual walk-around binocular to the "workhorse" 10x50 given how easy it is to tote along anywhere.
 

eitanaltman

Well-known member
Snapped a couple of quick photos of the three Leicas so you can see relative size.
 

Attachments

  • CADE3103-A329-462C-9820-6EB516B938F0.jpeg
    CADE3103-A329-462C-9820-6EB516B938F0.jpeg
    367.5 KB · Views: 123
  • 43B20F29-5297-4D49-B97B-E2DB0A88A15F.jpeg
    43B20F29-5297-4D49-B97B-E2DB0A88A15F.jpeg
    384.9 KB · Views: 153

chill6x6

Well-known member
PERSONALLY.... I see no real good reason for you NOT to get the 8X32. The ONLY reason I don't have the 8X32 is eye relief. I've used a friend of mine some...I like it. The 8X32 will be lighter and handier. I sure can't recommend the Leica 42mms highly enough but if I could I certainly would have the 8X32. I don't know of a single 8X32 user that isn't crazy about it.
 

wdc

Well-known member
PERSONALLY.... I see no real good reason for you NOT to get the 8X32. The ONLY reason I don't have the 8X32 is eye relief. I've used a friend of mine some...I like it. The 8X32 will be lighter and handier. I sure can't recommend the Leica 42mms highly enough but if I could I certainly would have the 8X32. I don't know of a single 8X32 user that isn't crazy about it.

Same way I feel. What a lovely small bin, that does NOT work for me because of eye relief. My wife has one. AND she can use it with her glasses. I'm jealous.

When it comes to 8x32, the SV EL will work for me. (as well as a few others). So, there is consolation....

Hope it works for you.

-Bill
 
Last edited:

Mayomike

Member
Hi Sancho,

I was just kidding in my previous response. I'm sure the Canon IS binocular is technically better and if I were lost in the mountains I'd probably want the search party to be using them too, but I won't be getting one.

Mountain Rescue is just my excuse for buying and using these beautiful, timeless marvels of engineering. I still have my "new" Trinovid 8x20 sitting beside me on my desk. They are now 12 years old but are still as good as the day I bought them. Once you add electronics, it becomes a gadget. I don't want another gadget!

I'm sure if I actually tried a pair I would change my mind, so I will be careful not to try a pair any time soon. I have avoided trying anything from Swarovski for the same reason. I'm fighting a growing addiction after all!

Everyone thinks I'm great for volunteering with Mountain Rescue but the truth is, it is really just a brilliant excuse to escape from work (and life's other responsibilities), to hang off cliffs, explore the mountains during storms and at night and to play with loads of cool stuff (including binoculars). The fact that I get some exercise and save the odd life is an added bonus :)

Eitanaltman made a very valid point about comparing two options side by side and how this could distort your impression. I had not thought of that so thank you! If I had a chance to compare my Trinovid 8x42 with my Trinovid 8x20 prior to buying them I probably would not have bought the 8x42 at all. My first impression was that the tiny increase in brightness and field of view did not justify the price, weight and size penalty. It took time and effort to fully appreciate these differences. Thank you for the photos too!
 
Last edited:

Mayomike

Member
Hi Tenex,

I have not ruled out anything, but the Leica Ultravid 8x42 HD+ would be very similar to the Trinovid 8x42 that I already have (except with that magic HD+ sparkle.... which admittedly is what I am looking for... so perhaps....)

I tried a Noctivid 8x42 very very briefly in a Leica store a few years ago. It was not love at first sight, but this test lasted less than a minute and it was dark outside (it was already past closing time when I found the shop). Not exactly a comprehensive test. I would need to try one again.
 

Gilmore Girl

Beth
Supporter
United States
Hi Tenex,

I have not ruled out anything, but the Leica Ultravid 8x42 HD+ would be very similar to the Trinovid 8x42 that I already have (except with that magic HD+ sparkle.... which admittedly is what I am looking for... so perhaps....)

I tried a Noctivid 8x42 very very briefly in a Leica store a few years ago. It was not love at first sight, but this test lasted less than a minute and it was dark outside (it was already past closing time when I found the shop). Not exactly a comprehensive test. I would need to try one again.

Could you wait until 8x32 Noctivid hits the shelves?
Maybe it will come out in 2021 ... it seems due.
 

pm42

Well-known member
I'm sure the Canon IS binocular is technically better
I have the 12x36 III, just bought them and I will send them back. I prefer my more than 20 years old 8x32 Trinovid and even my Zeiss Victory 8x25.

They are big, CA is clearly visible and hide the fine details when slightly out of focus, focuser is too fast...
The IS is great, no doubt. I just wish the rest would be as good.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top