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Leica Monovid 8 X 20 vs. Swarovski NL Pure 8 X 32 For Bird Watching? (1 Viewer)

Hello,

My name is David and I live in NYC. I've been a novice birder for a few years. I mostly feed birds off of my 3rd floor apartment fire escape. My apartment faces Fort Tryon Park directly across the street. It's a natural park, most of it the way it was when George Washington built a fort there in 1776. I'm often in the park and I enjoy watching birds there. Sometimes I go to Central Park too. Most of all I enjoy standing on my balcony and looking at the various birds in the tree canopy. I've enclosed a couple of photos of what the park looks like from my balcony. I used an iPhone to take the photos and it appears further away then it is. It's really only about 50 yards across the street from my balcony.

Since Covid I've wanted to get a monocular or binoculars to bird watch. The problem is that I don't know which to buy, even after reading reviews and watching YouTube videos. I'm hoping all of you experts would give me suggestions, even if your ideas are not about the two options I've listed here. So why did I choose the Leica Monovid and Swarovski NL Pure? To be blunt, I'm a design snob. Yes, I'm sorry, I'm shallow but beautiful design is important to me. Also, the price point between these two options is exhorbitant. Price isn't an issue for me, however. I just want to find the best option for my needs. The other reason is that, despite the differences, both the Leica and the Swarovski are said to have brilliant optics.

I know the NL-Pure is the new kid on the block and everyone seems to be drooling for them. Since I've never used high-end binoculars in my life, I have no idea. The NL-Pure is said to be the best-of-the-best and so I want to consider them. They are small and they are stunning to behold, an engineering and design masterpiece. My reservation is, are they overkill for standing on my balcony just to see a cardinal across the street? I could see why people would want the best binoculars in the wilderness but I'm not sure how necessary they are for looking at birds in a park, but what do I know...

Then there's the Leica Monovid. After all of this time this monocular still gets superlative reviews. It seems like a perfect little monocular. Besides looking at birds in the park I could use the Monovid while laying in bed to look at the finches, blue jays, and mockingbirds through my open window on my fire escape. Even though the birds are literally 5 feet away I could use the Monovid to look at fine details on these little creatures. Also, I've read about how much easier it is to make monoculars than binoculars. I don't care that I have to close one eye. Optics and details trumps all. The problem is, would I get tired of the Monovid after a while and wish I had the NL-Pure?

A couple of more considerations. I wear glasses. I am far-sighted and I wear glasses for reading. I have a feeling the Monovid's eye opening will be too small to be used optimally while wearing glasses. Is it the same with the NL-Pure? The other thing about me is that I get motion sickness very easily. I can't use binoculars without getting sick really quickly and that's why I haven't bought any so far. Maybe I need to stick with it and build my binocular legs, so to speak. Which of these two are least likely to make me sick? I think the Monovid would be better. I don't get sick when I use a camera, for instance. What are your thoughts?

These are two of the best options I've found. I've researched Zeiss and some other manufacturers but none seem to be as well designed as Leica and Swarovski. I could be wrong. Your help is appreciated. Thank you.
 

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Maljunulo

Well-known member
You are going to get lots of opinions to mull over from here.

I would never recommend a monocular to someone with two working eyes and normal binocular vision.

You may not need your glasses, depending on what other errors you have, such as astigmatism, and so on.

High-end glass is simply better, so if it doesn't pinch your budget get the best. NO, I do not think it would be "overkill".

It would take much too much space to respond to all of your questions, so I'll let others hack away at it.

I am NOT an "expert."
 

tenex

reality-based
Welcome, David. Nothing is "overkill" for your purpose, because if you really like it (and you will) you'll end up doing more with it. Two eyes are much better than one, but "motion sickness" is the key point here. You may need to avoid Swaro/Zeiss models like NL/SF in favor of one with classic pincushion distortion, which makes panning feel more natural. That makes Leica Ultravids the best high-end choice. Start with 8x for an easier and steadier view, and compare 32 and 42mm to see which size you like best. (A larger bin can be easier to hold steady.) Or pick the size you know you'd prefer and compare the 8 and 10x. It's all about finding which format works best for you.
 
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fazalmajid

Well-known member
Supporter
United States
I have the Monovid and the NL Pure 8x42, among others. A monocular is something you get when space is at a absolute premium, binoculars are always more stable and give a better view. If you are still set on monoculars, the Nikon HG 5x15 and 7x15 monoculars are a better option IMO. Much smaller and lighter, no need to fumble for the screw-on accessory lens for close-up (although the Monovids with close-up lens will focus closer, which is only a benefit if you are into butterfly watching or an art curator who wants to look at painting brush strokes up close and personal).

The NL Pure x32 are much less compelling than the x42. They don’t have the ultra-wide immersive field of view of the 42, and quite frankly I’d pick the Zeiss Victory SF 8x32 over them for that reason (with the caveat that the NL Pure x32 is a just-announced model and there are no reviews yet).

If you want beautiful design, leather-wrapped Leica “Retrovid” (Trinovid 7x35 or 8x40) or Ultravid BL are the way to go.

If you are getting motion-sickness, you should consider stabilized binoculars like the Canon 10x42L IS, although they are heavy. It might be the shaking that is triggering you.

Since you live in NYC, you have the option to go to B&H Photo or Adorama and get to try their extensive range of binoculars hands-on, including hard-to-get ones like the Canon, Nikon and Fujinon stabilized ones. Their staff are usually very knowledgeable as well.
 
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Maljunulo

Well-known member
You will always be at a disadvantage with a monocular because you will not be using the signal combining and processing center in your brain.

The result of using both eyes is always better than the sum of the two eyes used individually. (unless something isn't working correctly)

That is why I said what I did in the second sentence of my post above. (#2 in the thread)
 
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Foss

Well-known member
About motion sickness using binoculars: Have you tried multiple binoculars and found all produce the same affect? (A single sample might be misaligned).
If all binoculars produce motion sickness, then a monocular for walks in the park and a nice spotting scope for the porch might be the way to go.
FWIW I know a fellow who can't use binoculars for the same reason.
~ Jack
 
Thank you, everyone, for responding. I'm learning so much and I'm researching everything you say. Perhaps the one thread you all have in common is you believe I should eschew monoculars and, instead, choose binoculars. Well, there's a reason you see birders everywhere using binoculars. I'm glad you suggested other alternative binoculars too. I will research them. As far as using a spotting scope on my fire escape, that would be hilarious. I wonder what the police officers driving by would think of me. I would be standing on grates too so I wouldn't be able to keep a spotting scope steady, even with a tripod or monopod. I think I would rather stick to binoculars, at least for now.

I naively thought that here in NYC there would be a "binocular" store I could go to and I was dismayed that there weren't any. Talk about first world problems. I too discovered that Adorama sells binoculars and since I get all my camera and printing equipment from them I will give them a try. I would hate to go to the binocular department only to test them indoors, however. I wish there were a way to test them outside, even if it's just outside the front door. I think I will wait until Adorama gets the Swarovski 8 X 32's in before I visit. I will call them first ahead of time and ask if I could test these binoculars outside.

As a side note, I don't like the bird logos on Swarovski's at all. Don't hate me for saying this but I find it cheesy. The Leica red dot is iconic. The Swarovski swan and now this bird? Not so much. The simple Swarovski name on the side is enough. Other than this one critique I think the NL-Pure is gorgeous. Now that I'm at it.. Hey Swarovski, call me, I would love to design your logo for the 21st century. At this very second if I had to choose just one binocular it would be the NL Pure 8 X 32, again, that's totally blind based upon my searches and what you've all said.

I will take your suggestions and research them more. In terms of pure design, like their cameras, Leica is second to none. So I will research Leica more. I'm not discounted Zeiss either. When I test out binoculars I'm still going to try the Leica Monovid, just in case. I love clean, simple, minimalist design. I hope you continue to chime in with your thoughts. I can never learn too much. Thank you, all!
 
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LucaPCP

Registered User
Supporter
Hello,

My name is David and I live in NYC. I've been a novice birder for a few years. I mostly feed birds off of my 3rd floor apartment fire escape. My apartment faces Fort Tryon Park directly across the street. It's a natural park, most of it the way it was when George Washington built a fort there in 1776. I'm often in the park and I enjoy watching birds there. Sometimes I go to Central Park too. Most of all I enjoy standing on my balcony and looking at the various birds in the tree canopy. I've enclosed a couple of photos of what the park looks like from my balcony. I used an iPhone to take the photos and it appears further away then it is. It's really only about 50 yards across the street from my balcony.

Since Covid I've wanted to get a monocular or binoculars to bird watch. The problem is that I don't know which to buy, even after reading reviews and watching YouTube videos. I'm hoping all of you experts would give me suggestions, even if your ideas are not about the two options I've listed here. So why did I choose the Leica Monovid and Swarovski NL Pure? To be blunt, I'm a design snob. Yes, I'm sorry, I'm shallow but beautiful design is important to me. Also, the price point between these two options is exhorbitant. Price isn't an issue for me, however. I just want to find the best option for my needs. The other reason is that, despite the differences, both the Leica and the Swarovski are said to have brilliant optics.

I know the NL-Pure is the new kid on the block and everyone seems to be drooling for them. Since I've never used high-end binoculars in my life, I have no idea. The NL-Pure is said to be the best-of-the-best and so I want to consider them. They are small and they are stunning to behold, an engineering and design masterpiece. My reservation is, are they overkill for standing on my balcony just to see a cardinal across the street? I could see why people would want the best binoculars in the wilderness but I'm not sure how necessary they are for looking at birds in a park, but what do I know...

Then there's the Leica Monovid. After all of this time this monocular still gets superlative reviews. It seems like a perfect little monocular. Besides looking at birds in the park I could use the Monovid while laying in bed to look at the finches, blue jays, and mockingbirds through my open window on my fire escape. Even though the birds are literally 5 feet away I could use the Monovid to look at fine details on these little creatures. Also, I've read about how much easier it is to make monoculars than binoculars. I don't care that I have to close one eye. Optics and details trumps all. The problem is, would I get tired of the Monovid after a while and wish I had the NL-Pure?

A couple of more considerations. I wear glasses. I am far-sighted and I wear glasses for reading. I have a feeling the Monovid's eye opening will be too small to be used optimally while wearing glasses. Is it the same with the NL-Pure? The other thing about me is that I get motion sickness very easily. I can't use binoculars without getting sick really quickly and that's why I haven't bought any so far. Maybe I need to stick with it and build my binocular legs, so to speak. Which of these two are least likely to make me sick? I think the Monovid would be better. I don't get sick when I use a camera, for instance. What are your thoughts?

These are two of the best options I've found. I've researched Zeiss and some other manufacturers but none seem to be as well designed as Leica and Swarovski. I could be wrong. Your help is appreciated. Thank you.
As budget is not a concern, I have some advice.
For when you walk out, style-wise, I would get a pair of Leica Ultravid HD+ 8x32, customized if you can find them. These are the 10x32, I would prefer 8x32, maybe you can find them: Leica Ultravid HD-Plus Customized Edition

For your apartment, with that wonderful view, you have a few choices. I think ordinary binoculars are too underpowered to watch the birds in the park. You could go for Canon stabilized 15x binoculars, but those are functional, not stylish. Perhaps a Zeiss Victory Harpia scope would be what I would get if budget were no limit. I would then get a Gitzo carbon-fiber tripod (Gitzo mountaineer?), and ... depending on taste, either a Really Right Stuff ball head, or a swivel head like the Wimberley WH-200. The swivel head is more convenient if you want to explore with the scope.
Or else, instead of the scope, you could take a Fujinon 15x80 MT Binoculars with Mount or Fujinon 15x80 MT Binoculars with Mount and just mount them, but that would look more like what you find in a mountain refuge...
This could be more refined: ZEISS 20x60 Classic S Image Stabilization Binoculars or, this: ZEISS 15x56 Conquest HD Binoculars, both of these binoculars mounted on tripod with ball or swivel head and binocular adapter.
 

Maljunulo

Well-known member
Fujinon 15X70 are great if your eyes are far apart and/or you have a very small or narrow nose.

They have very large ocular assemblies and there is not a lot of room between them, so try before buying.

They are also individual focus, but you will probably be using them at infinity most of the time, so that won't matter.

Yes, I do have one.
 

Gijs van Ginkel

Well-known member
davidhunternic, post 8,
The Hawk as company determining image is from the very beginning of Swarovski binocular production on its binoculars. I like it, you do not, but that is simply a matter of taste. I don't tink your proposal to Swarovski to skip it is in my opinion highly unlikely, since it is part of the company history. Personally I like it , it has the advantage that you immedialtely know what binocular brand your are looking at.
Gijs van Ginkel
 

wllmspd

Well-known member
Id steer clear of the larger and heavier higher power binoculars. For daytime birding you don’t need huge objectives and higher powers are harder to hold steady, the headrest may help somewhat. The 32mm NL Pure loses some of the field width….that’s no good! I see the field edges are “barely discernible” rather than invisible as I believe they were previous advertised. For discrete cit use I’d probably go for an 8x30 size… not so good in dark conditions, but draws less attention and easier to stuff in a pocket.

Peter
 

Maljunulo

Well-known member
I presume that OP is aware that people freak out if they see you looking, or think you re looking at them through binoculars.

"Freak out" like call the cops.
 

edwincjones

Well-known member
I have the monovid and the 8x32FL
While the monovid is an excellent optic, it is still only 20mm and a monovid.
The 8x32s are much better for birding-more light (220% more), easier to use

I now use the monovid primary with its closeup attachment for viewing flowers and bugs,
the little things where it excels
If I went on long hikes the small size and weight would also be an advantage

edj
 
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gcole

Well-known member
Hi David .... I am going to address your Monocular side of your question. I have tried Monoculars with objective sizes on the small side, a 20 mm lens objective is fine if you do not wear glasses and not concerned with eye relief. If portability is a concern being small is a plus but since you mentioned your viewing is from a stationary high perch, I would recommend either the 8x or 10x power Opticron DBA VHD+ Professional Grade Line of 42mm Monoculars. They are in my opinion the best 8x or 10x Monoculars you can buy when it comes to being user friendly with or without glasses that use ED glass. Having ED glass, optically they also are right up there with Leica or Zeiss providing a very sharp/clear bright view. Their 42m objective lens provides better viewing in low light conditions and both have a very smooth easy focusing system which would make a perfect handheld High End Monocular for your type of viewing from your apartment. Here is the 8x version I use.
 

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Hermann

Well-known member
I'll go in a different direction:

1. Zeiss Conquest 8x32 - Good optics, bombproof, good field of view, not too large for carrying around in Central Park and so on.
2. Leica Monovid - because it's a very nice toy that can be used for all sorts of things.
3. You may want to get a decent scope as well for use from your apartment. That's what I'd do if I were in your place. A good scope isn't cheap but makes a heck of a difference at longer distances. Something like the Swarovski ATS 65mm HD or a Nikon Monarch ED60A.

Hermann
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
Hi David,
You're in a special situation because you have the direct view into Ft Tryon Park. That gives you the option of using tripods and higher power scope optics.
That is very different gear from the binoculars and monoculars specifically considered and should be a separate thread.

The Monovid is small, super portable, weatherproof and with the included screw on lens even a great magnifying glass.
I use my Monovid when trying to travel light or when birding is a potential, but not the aim of the excursion. It works great to ID distant birds and to pick up individuals of interest, but it is too finicky. The optics should be second nature, clap them to your eyes and see. Monoculars fail that test imho.
For routine birding, I rely on a Canon 10x42ISL, by a distance the most capable stabilized glass that I know of. The stabilization does miracles for cutting the little tremors that make it hard to follow small warblers flitting high in the trees, or swallows and raptors a long ways off. It is waterproof and robust, but heavy and ugly, nothing like the svelte beauty of the Swaro NL, which however is not stabilized and costs at least double.
 

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