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Leica Noctivid 8x42 design flaws and review - owners please check (1 Viewer)

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
Ed,

Thank you. Yes indeed, I will never be able to see my Leica's in the light of old. But note the rewards: I see birds in the flesh, accompanied by the complete soundtrack of Finian's Rainbow. Now, how about you, Swarovskian?

Renze

Renze,

My Swaro's are situation dependent. Most recently The Mountain King adds excitement to every view — even when I'm just looking at a wall.

So glad you pointed this out.
Ed
 

dwever

Registered User
Supporter
Sometimes I think it's better to buy a decent priced midrange object in order to be continually surprised by what it can do for you, rather than some alpha object that surprises you with its faults ...

That statement is a microphone drop; and, respectfully, particularly resonates in this (sometimes gassy) forum.
 

Holger Merlitz

Well-known member
Thanks for all the input, majority is against the brass knob as a cause for veiling glare. So I grabbed my torch and Noctivid again.

Please fasten your seatbelts and we will do a dive into the stargate. Ok, it´s only Noctivid flare. Psychedelic enough.

Please could someone tell me what is going on in the Noctivid? Henry Link? Optical designer from Leica, :eek!:

Zeiss, Swarovski :smoke:

I marked all bins on the left objective at 12o´clock with a white dot. I used a dimmed and diffused LED torch because with strong light the direct, colorful lens ghosts will make it hard to see anything inside. It´s a bit tedious because the macro lens is bulky etc., but the LED is just a bit tilted from axis so this is light which easily enters the glass under normal conditions.

No. 1 is Nikon EDG, you see a reflection of the roof at 6 o clock. And nothing else, no matter where I put the torch. That's a pretty unique point of the EDG probably. Applause.

No. 2 is Leica UVHD+ 8x32, a favorite but definitely not as flare suppressed as the Nikon. This is most of the reflection I could provoke.

No.3 is the Nocti 8x42, the LED just hitting the roof.

No. 4 with the torch tilting a bit differently, this is the flare thing. Seems to be in a focus plane close to the field stop.

No. 5 another pic of the flare thing, different light angle.

A reflection this bright should scatter back into the image path and cause veiling glare. I´d be very surprised if it did not.

Although I did heavy contrast correction in the images, so flare brightness should not be quantified by the images, the Nocti flare is much brighter than the UV flare, and comes from a much bigger area.

Seen from the ocular it is veiling glare.

Again, it is always "directly compared to what" - I don't know about SF, Swarovision etc. as I don't have direct comparison at hand.

But compared to the 10 years older Nikon EDG the Nocti disappoints me.

Because the Ultravid has a similar, although much weaker reflection, I think a manufacturing defect in my Nocti sample is improbable. This looks like a design flaw.


Hello Tobias,

interesting pictures!

That shiny object inside the Noctivid is possibly a stray light baffle, located in between the two prism blocks. While baffles are usually of circular shape, this one appears asymmetric (it might be due to the viewing angle). I think I have seen such kind of asymmetric masks before, placed between the glass blocks of SP-prisms, when I disassambled some of my broken binoculars (none of them being a Nocti of course ...).

I have no clue why that thing has to be that much reflective, and whether or when its reflections might turn harmful during routine observations.

Thanks for your investigations,
Holger
 

henry link

Well-known member
I just observed the internal reflections returning from a raw Schmidt-Pechen prism I removed from a cheap monocular. I found the pattern of reflections changed in a way that closely resembles the difference between the EDG and the Noctivid in Tobias' photos depending on which end of the S-P prism I looked into.

Looking at cutaways of the EDG and the Noctivid I see that the prisms are installed in the reverse order: the EDG has the Schmidt prism at the front (objective) end and Noctivid has the Schmidt prism at the back (eyepiece) end. The image below shows a Swarovski SV and a Zeiss SF, examples of the same reversed prism order. It appears to me that the reversed order of the prisms completely explains the reflection pattern difference between the EDG and the Noctivid in the photos.

I don't recall ever seeing a discussion anywhere about whether one of these arrangements is better than the other.

P.S. I agree with Holger that the shiny asymmetrical reflection in the Noctivid photo is a baffle between the two prisms. That baffle can be seen on edge in the Swaro/Zeiss cutaway. Its shape appears to follow the shape of the angled reflection of the objective lens light cone in order to maintain the required air spacing between the prisms within the light cone.
 

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Mike F

Well-known member
Thank you , Henry and Holger, for your much valued input.

My amateur interpretation of recent posts is that it's easy to draw inaccurate conclusions from looking down the wrong end of a binocular - unless you really know what your looking at and the design principles of that binocular, and, that given the almost universal praise the Noctivid receives for it's handling of glare, the Leica designers and technicians knew what they were doing!
 

Canip

Well-known member
Thank you , Henry and Holger, for your much valued input.

My amateur interpretation of recent posts is that it's easy to draw inaccurate conclusions from looking down the wrong end of a binocular - unless you really know what your looking at and the design principles of that binocular, and, that given the almost universal praise the Noctivid receives for it's handling of glare, the Leica designers and technicians knew what they were doing!

:t:
 

eronald

Well-known member
Thank you , Henry and Holger, for your much valued input.

My amateur interpretation of recent posts is that it's easy to draw inaccurate conclusions from looking down the wrong end of a binocular - unless you really know what your looking at and the design principles of that binocular, and, that given the almost universal praise the Noctivid receives for it's handling of glare, the Leica designers and technicians knew what they were doing!

My reading of recent posts agrees 50% with yours:
- Nothing much useful seems to be derivable from a user pointing a flashlight at a binocular.

Edmund
 

Tobias Mennle

Well-known member
Thanks for all the input, especially to Holger (#87) and Henry (#88), who have really found the answer to my issue.

So I'm willing to forget about the brass focuser part (only, what about observing birds on backlit water...)

But why this baffle is so reflective only Leica knows - well maybe they don't. They might be better without this baffle. It is definitely smaller and less reflective in UV 8x32.

The Leica engineers surely started on a marathon but collapsed in sight of the finishing gate.

BTW about shining torches... a white, frontlit flower in full sunlight and close up is a strong enough torch to raise veiling glare level in the Noctivid. Not acceptable for my eyes and taste.
 
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dries1

Member
I would think there is not a glass that will not show glare at some point or another. If the Noctivid is not OK with you, sell it and try something else.
I quite like the Noctivid, and the EDG, and enjoy the views through both of them - but like anything else in life it is subjective.
Perhaps the new NL 8X42 will be the right one for you.

Andy W.
 

AltaVista

Well-known member
Before purchasing the Noctivid 8X42 I had the opportunity to leisurely compare it directly to the EL 8.5X42 and the SF 8x42 at the local Audubon Nature Shop (thank you National Audubon Society). My primary interest and deciding factor was the overall optical performance including image contrast and veiling glare. I would be happy with any of these fine 42mm binoculars as they all have excellent performance and each one has individual strengths.

I found the Noctivid to be slightly superior to suppressing veiling glare when the sun was just outside the FOV. There were noticeable differences in color rendition between these glasses and I found the Noctivid the most pleasing and having the best micro contrast in this test of 3 binoculars.

I have unfortunately never had the chance to evaluate the Nikon EDG models but they must have impressive stray light control based on reports by users.

I would suggest to Tobias that he may have a binocular with a coating defect and should compare it to a couple of other Noctivid examples to see if there is a variation.

Stephanie
 

wdc

Well-known member
I would think there is not a glass that will not show glare at some point or another. If the Noctivid is not OK with you, sell it and try something else.
I quite like the Noctivid, and the EDG, and enjoy the views through both of them - but like anything else in life it is subjective.
Perhaps the new NL 8X42 will be the right one for you.

Andy W.

Agreed on all counts. My experience is the same. I own the 10x42 Noctivid and a 10x42 EDG, and they both exhibit veiling glare, as do all the rest of the binoculars I own, some far more than others. The Noctivid and the EDG both manage it pretty well. Neither of them are perfect.

The only thing Leica has clearly failed at is meeting Tobias' personal standards.

I have enjoyed perusing Tobias' website. Lovely photos, and exhibiting a passion for good optics and the beauty of nature. However, regarding his speculative analysis of the subtle optical perceptions he periodically delves into, I am reminded of the writers for Stereophile magazine back in the 80's, who had the unenviable task of reviewing the apparently audible differences in extremely expensive speaker cable. Granted, if Tobias sees a problem, there IS a problem... for Tobias, but perhaps not for others.

-Bill
 

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
A good observation.

To be fair to Tobias, he has stated more than once in his comparative reviews that Leica comes top in his shootouts for a variety of reasons ranging from smart industrial design and cosmetic finish (even the rubber smells nice - sounds a bit odd but I agree) to a colour rendition that appeals with its browns and reds and rendition of such things as weathered woodwork. He is an enormous fan of both the 8x32 and 7x42 Ultravid HD Pluses.

Additionally I know from a few personal communications with him as well as from reading his reviews that he applies equally rigorous deliberation to Zeiss, Swarovski, and Nikon. One example has worked to my advantage: the Victory 7x42 T*FL he rates very highly for a number of features but he preferred the Leica -- partly in fact for QC reasons but also for its particular set of optical properties, and as a result I have been the proud owner of this very same Zeiss 7x42 for two years, functioning immaculately as Tobias had it adjusted to very tight tolerances at his own expense.

All the best,

Tom
 
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Tobias Mennle

Well-known member
To bring my "vendetta" with the Noctivid to an end... I have compared the Noctivid to my new SLC 8x42 for a week now, plus to EDG 8x42 and UVHD+8x32.

1. Flare. The SLC is probably not most famous for flare control but against a strong sun the Noctivid was generally worse with milky veiling glare although the SLC has some orange peripheral flare when the Nocti has few to none.

Moreover, the SLC really helped to shed more light on why the Noctivid images are not to my taste. As it is always: Compared to what? Comparing the almost 100% more expensive Nocti to the SLC could only be a humiliation - for Leica. Just in case they might wonder why Swarovski sells so many more bins.

Putting the Nocti on a tripod, making it flare and then trying to look into the objectives without blocking out the sun I found that the field stop baffle reflected intensely - a shining white light. This looks like the major source of flare. Moreover, the field stop is flat at its base, than becoming concave, then a sharp, angled edge. So, light will be scattered at a lot of different angles unlike with a flat, perpendicular to the axis field stop.

I tried to photograph it by using an LED torch, difficult, but see attachment one - field stop is o the right side of the black hole. For comparison, the SLC, image 2, not perfect by far, but when tested in the sun much less reflective than the Leica and definitely less veiling glare in the image. Photos for illustrative purposes only, I'm not saying they prove much as I found it impossible to photograph into the bins with the sun at the back.

2. Field flattening. IMO Leica made a very bad decision with the field flattening in the Nocti. It is not as flat as Swarovision or EDG, but much flatter than SLC or Ultravid. Flat field fans will be disappointed as the field is not Swarovski flat and "3D pop" curved field Leica fans like me will be annoyed by the flat images. Because the flattening was enough to seriously compromise the 3D rendering in the Nocti. In the deep rendering of space, the SLC blows the Nocti out of the water, and so does the UV. Not a subtle issue but very easy to see.

3. Boosted contrast by skewed transmission curve. I now have the feeling that Leica rightfully claims the colour reproduction of the Nocti is more neutral than in the Ultravids. To my surprise I could not detect a colour cast by photographing through the Nocti. That suggests less boosted contrast. Nocti images glow a bit less than in UVHD+8x32, but MUCH less than in SLC. Nocti images look darker and duller than SLC images - SLC has a very sophisticated, state-of-the-art contrast boost without compromising colours by much. Better than Zeiss. Nocti designers probably tried to make up for this with extreme sharpness which makes images oversharp in bright light and for users with good eyesight. By no means the Nocti is especially bright. No way.

4. Ergonomy, uh, hum, the Nocti just sucks, always feels heavy, unbalanced and hard to hold steady - and the SLC is great.

Granted, the build quality and finish of the Nocti are superb.

Against my prejudices and former experiences, imagewise the SLC (at least this sample) both for my taste (but probably also when one would evaluate for technical image high fidelity) is a much better glass than the Noctivid - and the EDG. Glad I listened to Seldom Perched, Canip, Kimmo Absetz among others... Images have a very distinct, almost AK prism like look, bright, immersive, friendly, glowing, transparent, and extremely deep. True pleasure using this glass although it could easily be improved in some respects (flare resistance, focus throw is way to long - double as in Leica NV and UV - 3.2m close up sucks - so basically it should be something like the previous model, but with better internal blackening and latest coatings). But that's another story.

Happy end as my curiosity regarding the Noctivid is finally satisfied and the SLC and Ultravid are so much fun.
 

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