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Curio 7x21 v Uvid 8x20 personal review (1 Viewer)

b-lilja

Well-known member
I've had a Uvid 8x20 for a while, and Roger Vine's review finally got me to follow through on a Curio purchase. I'm glad I did - it's a keeper. Here are my comments (note I am not sure of the Uvid's age; somewhat unfair to compare an older bin to a brand new one - I do wonder if new and new would show up differently. Also, I've been curious why the 8x20 has never been released in UVHD+ form - coatings? Perhaps with an update there would be differences):

General

A hard comparison between the two made me appreciate all over again just how good the Uvid is. And yet, for my own purposes, overall I like the Curio slightly better and am going to keep it.

To be clear, my own use will be: travelling, on the move birding, jazz and classical music performance, museum, misc. places where I wouldn't always take a bin.

The two bins are nearly the exact same size, open and folded. It's actually rather remarkable.

View

This is the best Swaro view I've seen - I kid you not. I have real issues with glare on the Pure and prior 8x32, but pretty much always thought Swaro was the tops otherwise in terms of everything else (but do not own any because of the glare). The 7x21 is nearly glare free, and just has one of those beautiful crisp views you do not question. Total resolution, immersive(!) for its size, perfect color rendition, no CA, wiped clean look. Really really nice.

I have always found the Uvid 8x somewhat jittery, and the 7x just tones this down by the right amount without giving up much. I did a lot of tests trying to make out numbers on boats about a mile off, and while the 8x brings them in better, the jitter factor offsets by a similar amount.

There is a noticeable difference in glare - looking toward the sun on a mixed cloudy day, very typical viewing in Seattle, the Uvid has some glare where the Curio has none. This is super ironic as I find with my other Leicas (8x32 BN and 7x42 UVHD+), they handle glare better than full size Swaros, but here, it is reversed.

Color rendition is very similar. I find it interesting the colors of both the front and back coatings of each are quite similar.

The Curio has more pop/contrast than the Uvid - but it is possible that is due in part to my Uvid being older/used. The Curio has a "washed clean" view that is really appealing. The Uvid is very slightly washed out, but not significantly so.

Sharpness on both is very very good, but I think the Curio is slightly better. I would look through the Uvid and not feel like anything was missing, and then through the Curio, which seems to have a little extra special something.

Depth of field is better on the Curio but not dramatically so.

Field of view is about 10% bigger on the Curio.

The Swaro is slightly brighter - the 20 vs 21 objective accounts for a 10% difference in surface area, amplified by lower mag. This is a meaningful, positive difference in an inherently small, dark bin.

In spite of all my pro-Curio comments, the differences are not huge - in fact pretty subtle. The test made me appreciate how good the Uvid is, and if I had steadier hands, I might prefer the Uvid view, as I do think ultimate reach/identifiability for distant sightings would be better (not that different between my 7x UVHD+s and my various 8xs...when in the field with more distant viewing like hawks etc.). These are similar bins at the end of the day, with a similar view, but the Swaro is slightly better in several regards.

Functional design

Form is remarkably similar between the two, but different is several aspects. As noted above, the are almost exactly the same size closed and open. Both have a dual hinge design with hinges is similar places.

The Swaro is about an ounce+ heavier. I actually think this functions to stabilize the bins slightly; however for the Uvid, better for backpacking/mountaineering ounce counters.

Gription good on both.

I've mentioned the exposed metal on the Swaros and concerns for me with Reynaud's Syndrome, but I'm going to forge ahead. I tested the bin focus with my chunky electric heated gloves and they are fine (Uvid better however). Despite the Uvid's tiny size, I could completely use them with my heavy heavy insulated gloves - not as much with the Swaros.

Swaro focus is very fine, among the best. Smooth, good speed. Uvid is functional, a bit crunchy in one direction (a service might help).

I love the diopter adjustment on the Swaro. I have an astigmatism and I find myself messing with diopters a lot - it's hardly a set and forget kind of thing. I love the Curio diopter - essentially a one eye focus, no detents, no pop in and out, no fuss. As it should be in my mind. While I think the Uvid diopter/button thing is cool and interesting, you have to catch an internal gear just right to engage the diopter adjustment - meaning it's not totally precise and somewhat fussy.

A consequential difference is the location of the objective relative to the barrel end. I have found the Uvid objective to be too close to the barrel end - less than a couple mm - and it's easy to touch the lens with a pinky. I do have concerns at some point I could nick the objective - it's rather unprotected - and I'm hard on gear. This is a real issue with tiny bins, as I think they often get shoved in pockets without a lot of protection and get beaten around a bit more than bigger bins. I think this also impacts glare (which you can address by shading with your hand). Overall, I like the Swaro objective recess - a couple mm better than the Uvid.

A small thing - but I really appreciate the stainless steel (vs plastic on the Uvid) eyelets on the Swaros - however I don't use these tiny bins with a strap, so it doesn't matter.

The Swaro screw up/down eye cups are just phenomenal - how is it that Swaro has this so nailed down and noone else does? The Uvids are decent. but require supplemental o-rings to stop them at the right location. I mean, come on, can't everyone figure this out? I can't believe Swaro still has a valid patent on this design.

A major item, subjective here, that goes to the Uvid, is apparent durability. I really have no grounds for saying this, but I just sense that the Uvids are tougher. They feel more like a military or field device, whereas the Swaro feels more like a fine deluxe good. The Swaro doesn't seem fragile, but if I had to bet on one over a long term trip in the field (hiking the Pacific Crest trail, motorcycling around the world), hands down I'd take the Uvid. And that by itself might be the decider for a lot of people.

Aesthetic design

I really, really like both. This is up to the individual obviously. Both designers knew what they were doing.

I think the silver/orange Curios are faintly ridiculous and would never buy them due to theft fears. I was a bit worried the anthracite would be too two-tone - but really they are just two versions of black (the powdercoated exposed sections blacker). As Roger Vine mentioned, the Curios look better in person than in photos. Overall, they exude a sense of luxury, at home at the theatre, museum, travelling, birding, etc. The Swaro falcon is lovely and feels special. This is a funny item, but I find the sound the plastic underfascia on the Swaro makes to be unappealingly plasticy - the only (literally) false note. Also, I really wish Swaro would quit doing the cheap looking model/size on the front of the focus with cheap white silkscreening- I'm sure Marc Newsom argued hard against it, and lost. Easily located on the underbelly like everyone else? Very odd.

The Leicas just feel/look like the superb field instruments they are. I could totally see a field biologist having a set of these as backup in their kit. The Leica red dot similarly is cool and feels special. It's telling my note here is really about function - as it's fundamentally the vibe they exude. Love the center chassis.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, for me it's about the view. I do think overall the Swaro is better in this dept. However, it's by an increment, and the Uvid's maintain their own special place. Everyone will need to draw their own conclusions. We are lucky to live in a time with such an abundance of choices.
 
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Trinovid

mountain and glacier watcher
United States
Excellent comparative review and it helps someone like me so much that you approach seems to be without any favor going in either direction. I suspect that I'll end up with one of each, and when that day comes I'm curious as to which one might then be getting sold off.

You also caught me out when you mentioned people carrying these in their pocket, as lately I've had the Monovid in one pocket and the UV 8x20 in another. I'll try to be careful and suppose I should at least put the binoculars in a drawstring bag too.
 

Thotmosis

Well-known member
Netherlands
Very interesting comparative review indeed, thanks a lot. Of course i have to compare them myself if i get the chance to do so but for me ruggedness is just more important than a wider, brighter and more comfortable view when i'm hiking. Especially when the differences are not that big. But i'm sure the 7x21 gives a very relaxed beautiful and immerse view! And as you say we really are lucky to live in a time with such an abundance of choices.

I have the UV 10x25 and i always carry it with me. Im lucky that i have very steady hands because a lot of people that look through it find this small binocular finicky with uncomfortable eye placement. This can be a big issue when hiking and you are short of breath, the 7 times magnification can really help then to control the shakes. As i said, have to try it myself and might chance my mind.
 

Swedpat

Well-known member
B-lilja,

Interesting! I have had Ultravid 8x20 and it was excellent and supersharp. Curio 7x21 is a better configuration in my opinion. More stable image and theoretically 44% brighter image which is an important improvement in dusk and dawn.
 
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mwhogue

Well Known Member
b-lilja,

Outstanding work, thanks. Owning both I agree with all of your observations and preferences.

For anyone considering saving a few grams by choosing the UV as you discussed for e.g. long distance hiking, IME although the UV are not fragile mine once proved to be brittle. Carrying them in a 5.6mm thick slightly loose fitting leather belt case I dropped them from waist height onto a thinly carpeted concrete floor and broke some part of the focusing mechanism which had to be repaired. That said I don't know that the Curio is any less brittle having not dropped them (yet).

Mike
 

mwhogue

Well Known Member
Excellent comparative review and it helps someone like me so much that you approach seems to be without any favor going in either direction. I suspect that I'll end up with one of each, and when that day comes I'm curious as to which one might then be getting sold off.

You also caught me out when you mentioned people carrying these in their pocket, as lately I've had the Monovid in one pocket and the UV 8x20 in another. I'll try to be careful and suppose I should at least put the binoculars in a drawstring bag too.

Trinovid 8x32b,

Wow, that's interesting. I've never heard of carrying this combination before. If / when you are inclined can you expand on why you are carrying both in tandem? Is it just for A-B comparison in field use or do you actually use them for different purposes or conditions?

Mike
 

Trinovid

mountain and glacier watcher
United States
I've never heard of carrying this combination before. If / when you are inclined can you expand on why you are carrying both in tandem?
Laziness? I've had the Monovid in my pocket for weeks now and like having at least something on me at all times, then recently dropped the Ultravid in another pocket since binocular view is always better. Seems like a ridiculous pairing, having all 8x20 but it just happened that way!
 

b-lilja

Well-known member
I took the Swaros out for the day. My oh my these are GREAT. I haven't always related to people talking about "addictive views", but this was. I just kept looking.

It's strange - these read as big bins in terms of their view. I actually could see using them pretty regularly. Often when on a trip or on the road, I drag along something that will fit in my Pelican 1150 (7x42 Uvid, 8x32 BN, 8x32 Conquest HD)...I think that will happen much less.

For what they are, a very good deal.
 

Trinovid

mountain and glacier watcher
United States
I've been using my Ultravid 8x20 all day long today while my friend was using the 8x32 BN and all I can say is how much I like them both.

Can't wait to try the Curio and see if they can make me sell off the Ultravid.
 

Mac308

Well-known member
@b-lilja A very nice write-up. I'm a 7x fan, and I've always wished my 8x20 Ultravids were a 7x20, and that my 8x32 Ultravids were a 7x32!

At first blush, after its "just right 7x21 size, the Curio's best improvement over the Ultravid are the screw-up eyecups - this is a feature that improves on the one little gripe I have with the 8x20 Ultravid and its push-down/pull-up eyecups.

An observation and question for you - the ocular cover (rainguard) for the Curio looks useless in the field for actual use. It appears to only really work when the binoculars are folded for storage, which seems rather pointless. This is in contrast with the Leica's single-fit eye cups which actually work well when the binoculars are in use, or in storage. I really require an ocular cover in the field, and am wondering, since you have both the Ultravid and Curio, if you'd see if the Ultravid ocular covers fit the Curio?

Also, do you happen to have a digital scale you could weigh the Curio's with its neck strap and ocular cover?

Kind Regards - Brad
 

Gijs van Ginkel

Well-known member
Mac 308, post 11,
I use the raincover from the CL 8x25 for the Curio. Fits wel and is comfortable. These raincovers are availabe in good binocular shops, but you can also order one from Swarovski.
Gijs van Ginkel
 

Mac308

Well-known member
Mac 308, post 11,
I use the raincover from the CL 8x25 for the Curio. Fits wel and is comfortable. These raincovers are availabe in good binocular shops, but you can also order one from Swarovski.
Gijs van Ginkel
Good to know, and thank you.

But I'd also say, it's pretty ridiculous one has to buy a functional rainguard for a binocular at this level!
 

Thotmosis

Well-known member
Netherlands
b-lilja,

Outstanding work, thanks. Owning both I agree with all of your observations and preferences.

For anyone considering saving a few grams by choosing the UV as you discussed for e.g. long distance hiking, IME although the UV are not fragile mine once proved to be brittle. Carrying them in a 5.6mm thick slightly loose fitting leather belt case I dropped them from waist height onto a thinly carpeted concrete floor and broke some part of the focusing mechanism which had to be repaired. That said I don't know that the Curio is any less brittle having not dropped them (yet).

Mike
Mike, I just gave my UV 10x25 an thorough inspection after reading your post and discovered that one of the barrels took a hit :oops:, there is a small dent at the end of one of the barrels near the objective and it is slightly oval now... also i hear some noise from the inside if i move the binocular fast. Optically everything is ok and the focuser works flawless but i will try to be more careful with this little fellow. It's the black leatherette version, it looks beautiful but i think the rubber version is more rugged. Does anybody else hear this rattle in his UV?
 

mwhogue

Well Known Member
Thotmosis,

Ouch on your 10x25! I just came back from a walk with my 10x25 UV. Just tested in response to your post and neither of my UV make any sound when shaken vigorously. That said mine are both BR versions. My vote, send them in for service and good luck with such a beautiful bin.

Mike
 

Thotmosis

Well-known member
Netherlands
Thanks Mike! Now I remember that i first bought a Trinovid 10x25 and it also made a sound when i shaked it, even more loud than the UV. I was able to change it for an UV (and payed some extra of course) because it was brighter and waterproof. The UV is two years old so i have 8 years guarantee left, i might send it in for service. The sound is not that bad but if it's gets louder then for sure i will send it in. In the meantime i will just enjoy it to the max. Was using it today in the mountains and spotted vultures and hawks with it. Every time i use this small binocular im really surprised with the excellent view it gives me.

Enjoy yours in good health!

Cheers,
T.
 

adhoc

Well-known member
B-lilja,

Thanks for a fine review. I wish all comparative reviews include a simple test similar to the following:

I did a lot of tests trying to make out numbers on boats about a mile off, and while the 8x brings them in better, the jitter factor offsets by a similar amount.

Personally, most important to me are also your comparisons of glare and color rendition.

The Curio is very attractive to me on the strength of this review!

Could someone please say when the amazing Ultravid 8x20 was introduced (I looked thru. one first in 2003), and whether its optics have been improved (by coatings, etc.)
 

Gijs van Ginkel

Well-known member
adhoc, post 18,
In our test of the Curio, published on the WEB-site of House of Outdoor I found no glare, perfect color reproduction, see also our measured transmission spectrum and very bright sparkling images.
Gijs van Ginkel
 

adhoc

Well-known member
Gijs,

Thank you. I have read with much interest all/pretty much all your comparison test reports including that, which I take to mean the one linked here.

The wording above, it seems to me, implies that you comment on the lack of glare and the "sparkle" in that review, but such is not the case.

Perhaps you could in future add a column for glare control, and also for sharpness? The information therein could be non-quantitative and verbal or by your '+' signs method for example.

Pinac/Canip in his Binoculars Today scores for the following with '+'s and other alphanumerics: 'Central image sharpness, contrast'; 'Off-axis sharpness'; and, 'Stray-light control'.
 

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