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Leica Ultravid 8x32 HD+ vs Swarovski CL 8x30 (1 Viewer)

I had a Leica 8x32 UVHD+ and a Swarovski 8x30 CL B to test. In several fora I have found comparisons between the Swaro CL and the Leica Trinovid, obviously due to their similar price range. However, for me the main criteria for preselection where size and weight, so the Ultravid seemed to be the better competitor to the CL. Caveat: I have limited experience with optics, so the following has to be taken with a ton of salt, but for what its worth, I will share my impressions.

Optics:
The UVHD appeared slightly brighter than the CL. This difference was small and occurred mostly when looking into tree tops and into open landscape. However, it might well be that the wider FOV of the UVHD only made it appear brighter because there was more sky (and therefore overall more light) in the picture.
CA was present in both bins, to a similar degree, but not bothersome.
The UHVD has more contrast. Unluckily, due to the permanently overcast sky during the two days of comparison I could not properly check colour rendition and glare/flare.

Handling:
The UVHD has a smooth focuser. It is very easy to use due to its big size. I could use the index, the middle finger, or both. The focuser is fast. The CL focuser is equally smooth, can only be used with one finger, and is significantly slower (which I prefer).
Personally I found the CL easier to hold, because of the smaller diameter of the barrels (I have glove size M/8). I would fully trust to carry this bin around holding it by one of the relatively long barrels. With the Leica this is not an option. Talking about gloves, both bins can easily be handled with gloves.
While the CL is 10% lighter than the UVHD, it has the weight more to the front/objective side. The UVHD is short and has the center of the weight closer to the eye. This could compensate the weight difference during longer observations.

Ease of view:
This is one of the reasons why I took the CL into this test. I generally have trouble with ease of view and need very precise positioning of the eyes, even though I do not wear glasses. If ever I found it impossible to find a good view with the UVHD, I thought I take a safe bet with the CL and its eye box. Surprisingly, I found very little difference between the two bins in practice. The CL is only slightly more forgiving when it comes to eye placement.

Accessories:
Objective covers and rain guards work very well on both models. The bags are very different (see pictures), especially with the Urban Jungle bag of the CL. It has a loop for belt attachment, which the UVHD bag doesn't have. That is a pity, because the Leica is extremely short and could be worn in a hip bag comfortably. Of course, everybody can fix this by buying a suitable hip bag separately. The Urban Jungle bag only has padding on the back side i.e. the side towards the wearer's body. That leaves it less protected to external impact than the Leica bag which has some padding on all sides.

Result:
I did this comparison because I wanted to keep one of the glasses. The winner is ... drumroll ... the Leica UVHD+. Despite immediate sympathy for the ergonomics of the CL, the UVHD did deliver the better picture, especially contrast. As I said, I could not really check glare/flare or colours, but from many reviews I gathered that the Leica is doing very well in these areas too.

Kudos to this forum. I have read a lot and took plenty of information and advice that helped me to identify the most suitable candidates for my final comparison. If you are reading this, and you are a more or less active member, chances are that you contributed to my search. Many thanks!

Pling
 

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PhilR.

Well-known member
We have both binos, both in 8x. My wife prefers the CL due to how it handles. I prefer the UVHD+, because of it's view. Works out pretty well.....
 

Loddar

Active member
leica uv and swarI cl are two really good bins. although I prefer the view of the uv i use cl. i find eyeplacement better. To avoid black beans I should be able to turn the eye cups out by a further step.
also is the list price of the Leica is twice as high.
 

eitanaltman

Well-known member
The CL has odd ergonomics that some seem to love but I hated. The barrels are very slender, and there’s a lot of open space, and my hands felt like they didn’t have anywhere to go. Plus the thumb grooves and weight distribution encourage a more forward hold, but the focus knob is practically touching your forehead, so I either had to oddly stretch my finger towards my face to focus, or grip it closer to the oculars which negated the light weight somewhat (being behind the balance point means they don’t feel any lighter than the little Ultravids). Plus the eyecups are unnecessarily slim, they are even smaller in diameter than the already slim tubes; and I disliked the feel of the hard, tacky rubber. So while I thought the “eye box” was indeed very easy and forgiving, hating the eyecups ruined it for me.

If it works for you ergonomically then you’re in luck because it’s really fantastic optically. I was bummed because I really wanted to like them; other than the somewhat pedestrian FOV the optics are alpha quality all the way. Awesome brightness and near perfect color neutrality, and despite no “field flatterers” they have minimal pincushion and just a bit of field curvature, and are dead sharp out to 90%+ of the FOV. Just a slight ring of blurry at the verrry edge and a bit of color fringing out there too.

The little 8x32 Ultravids are also not my favorite ergonomically (a bit too short, and eyecups need one more click out) but I much prefer their handling to that of the CL. Short and chunky with a huge, centrally placed focus wheel works a lot better for my tastes.


I also felt the Ultravid had superior contrast and saturation, and also felt sharper, but this is really hair splitting a both are top notch optically. The % of the FOV that is sharp is a bit smaller in the UV (more like 75-80% vs 90%+) but the wider FOV makes up for it. The UV also has more curvature and pincushion, so the view feels “deeper” and wider.

Other than the small eyecups, I prefer the handling of the little Meostar 32 to either. A wee bit longer than the UV, and the tapered contour of the body and well placed thumb indents really helps it fit snug into the hand with the large focus knob being right above the thumb. Feels so well balanced in the hand.
 

tenex

reality-based
Huh. Two in a row who say they need a further click out on UV 32 eyecups, a problem I've had with the 42s but not 32s (and am on the verge of with SLC 10x56, though not 15x.) You'd think high-end manufacturers at least would test this more carefully, as it's a stupid reason to lose a customer.
 
Same for me, half a click more would be better. On the other hand, one of the main reasons why I bought the UV32 was its super compact size. Leica clearly are pushing this advantage to the max, and in the end it works in my favour by providing me a binocular that despite its compact size and easy holding and transport provides a top class image.
 
Thank you for this comparison. One item not addressed is eye relief. My wife and I both wear glassess, and I occasionally see reports that the 8x32 UVs are a bit on the short side. We have a 10x30 CL-B Swaro, and it has excellent eye relief. Very easy to get the complete view with no kidney beans or blackouts. I'd love to add a Leica to our growing collection, but have no way to try one out locally. Anyone using glasses with these and can comment on the difference with the Swaro 30s?
 

eitanaltman

Well-known member
The 8x32 UV doesn't have a ton of eye relief, although the good news is that it's nearly all usable as the eyecup design is one of the least wasteful out there. Compare the UV 8x32 to the Zeiss VP 8x25 in front, notice how much closer to the rim of the eyecup the Leica UV ocular lens is:

1619554830807.png

I do not wear glasses, but my wife does, and those 8x32 UV are her binoculars and she loves them. The consensus seems to be that the eye relief is borderline for eyeglass wearers and it will depend on individual variables like how thick the lenses are.

There is no doubt that the Swaro CL has longer eye relief. It's a much larger ocular lens, and I found eye placement with the 8x30 CL to be more forgiving than the Leica.

The only "criticisms" you'll ever find about the 8x32 Ultravid are (1) short eye relief, (2) finicky eye position, (3) good-but-not-great FOV, and all three of those are a result of Leica optimizing for the lightest and most compact optic possible. You'd need a bigger, heavier ocular to solve those problems.
 

Loddar

Active member
Its really spring now: the binos are getting offspring.
The UV32 is incredibly small - and pretty.
Lets see how ist beats against the CL Companions.
I have only been able to play around with the UV until now.
The bridge could be a little tighter for me. Easy of view is ok but the eyecups would need one more clickstop.
Focus is still a bit rough at the moment. That and easy view is someting better in the CL.
But the UV is very sharp and has very high contrast.
And lovely saturated colours.
It almost looks like the UV should stay with me.
 

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Ankac

Member
Its really spring now: the binos are getting offspring.
The UV32 is incredibly small - and pretty.
Lets see how ist beats against the CL Companions.
I have only been able to play around with the UV until now.
The bridge could be a little tighter for me. Easy of view is ok but the eyecups would need one more clickstop.
Focus is still a bit rough at the moment. That and easy view is someting better in the CL.
But the UV is very sharp and has very high contrast.
And lovely saturated colours.
It almost looks like the UV should stay with me.
I just got in from a walk with my uv 8x32hd non plus. I really like these binos, they are small enough to fit in any of my jacket pockets and have travelled with me for the last 10 years at an airline. After all those miles they look the same and have the same razor sharp image they have always had. For years I carried the trinovid then ultravid 8x20 which I still have and enjoy. The 8x32HD is a great compromise imo. The eye relief for me works fine for glasses and sunglasses, I think it does depend on the shape of your face. I find the sv 12x50 has less useable eye relief for me than the 8x32hd, obviously there are a lot of variables in determining useable eye relief. I think you’ll be pleased with the UV 32.
 

AlphaFan

Member
United States
Thanks for the review, very informative.

I also just completed a fairly exhaustive head-to-head comparison in a search for a new 8x32. Was looking for a complete package of the best optics available for minimal size/weight without having to go to a true compact. Quickly scratched off many over size/weight and other preferences and it came down to the Ultravid HD+ and Zeiss FLs. I really loved the sharp view and vivid colors of the Ultravid and was amazed that Leica could pack that much optic into such a small package, and the build quality was superb. In the end though, I preferred the brightness and more immersive view of the Zeiss FL, and they are fairly close in size. But if I hadn’t found the Zeiss I would have been very happy with the HD+.
 

Aotus

Active member
United States
I think you're right that the more common comparison with the Swaro CL-B is the trinovid, in light of the similar price. If you're looking for size and ergonomics without consideration of price, you might also consider the Nikon M7 and Mavens, two I've been reading a lot about around here. I expect the UVHD+ will blow them away, I mean, hopefully, considering they’re also in a markedly lower price class, but more to consider for size and ergronomics. I have a pair of the Swaro CL B and EL32s, the latter of which is in the class with the UVHD+, and I can confirm that the EL32s are also better in most ways than the CL B, though bigger as well.
 
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