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Leica view comparison idea... (2 Viewers)

sope0018

Member
United States
I'm in the market for a Leica bino. For the most part, based on paper stats and overwhelmingly positive reviews, I think I'll end up with the Ultravid HD+ in 7x42, but really I'm considering the 8x42 and the 8x32 and the Retrovid 7x35 and... you get the idea. However, I don't live within a day's journey to a store that stocks all the various Leica models so that I can actually get them in my hands and try them out and compare them. How do their images compare to each other? What does a 420ft/1000yds FOV at 7x look like compared to a 389ft/1000yds FOV at 8x - how much more or less of your subject fits into the field? How do the AFOV of these models compare to each other?

One thought I had was to wrangle my fellow bird forum members to see if anyone who owns several Leicas (I know many of you do) would be up for a digiscoping experiment! My thought is that if you mounted a bino on a tripod or similarly sturdy mount, and snapped a picture through it, centering the bino on the same subject from the same distance for a number of different formats/models, would it be possible to discern some of the differences in magnification, field of view, and apparent field of view between these models? I'm not even sure that one could tell much of a difference based on a picture, but I don't own many binoculars to try this out myself. Maybe someone has already tried this (not necessarily with leica binos only) somewhere on the forum and had some success with it. Maybe it's worth flying somewhere that stocks all these models so I can see the differences myself, ha!
 
The difference in FOV is not going to be noticeable and the difference between a 7x and 8x is also going to be negligible. Sometimes it comes down too ergonomics and how they fit in your hands. I can tell you that I have had the 8x32 Ultravid and the Retrovid and I enjoy the Retro, although that is just because of the price point and I like the looks of the retro etc... But, I would like to get a 10x Ultravid to balance out my Retro 7x.... (that is where you will see the difference ...7x to 10x). The Ultravid is awesome though at 8 or 10x. I might suggest that to you as the winner since it is also a bit more robust and is more waterproof. First choice; 8x32....second choice; 7x35..... third is 7x42
 
I haven't tried an HD+ version, but I own a 7x42 Ultravid HD, and an 8x42 Ultravid BL. The BL is a later production, with the same coatings on the lenses and prisms as the HD according to the owner's manuals. The BL is fairly new to me, so I haven't spent enough time to become fully familiar with it, but here are my thoughts based on a few brief side-by-side comparisons.

For me, after using 7x for an extended period of time, I notice a big difference going to an 8x. The first impression is that the view is not as stable. Its not that the 8x appears un-stable, or shaky, just that the 7x is superb in this regard. The AFOV is technically a little wider in the 8x, but I have to really look for it to notice a difference. What I do notice however is the wider true FOV of the 7x. The 7x is easier for finding and following fast-moving birds, shows you more of a landscape, etc. The 7x of course shows better depth of field, but this is only really noticable at very close distances. So just as one would expect, the birds appear a little "bigger" in the 8x, and the 7x shows you a little more of what's around the bird.

I will say that the view through the 8x seems to be a just a touch more "Leica like". The colors seem to be a tiny bit warmer and maybe more saturated, while the 7x is a little more neutral. The difference is almost imperceptible, but it is there. I only noticed it when I put one of them down an immediately lift the other one to my eyes.

When I get a chance, I will set them both up on a tripod and take a few pictures through them using my novagrade adapter, just to give a visual.
 
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My advice to those considering 7x is...if you think you might like it, go for it. You won't be sorry. Every time I bring the 7x42 or 7x35 up to my eyes there's an "ahhhhhh!" moment of enjoying the comfort and fun of using it. Especially the 7x42. So easy on the eyes.

A few times in the last month I meant to bring my 10x35 binos and put the 7x35 in the car by mistake - going to look at distant birds on the ocean. Every time I end up happy I'm using the 7x, even though the birds are far away. It still works well. I'd rather be stuck with a 7x on the ocean than trying to use a 10x in the woods.
 
Where are you located Sam?
I'm in Wisconsin. Lots of Cabela's retail stores around, Vortex Optics is headquartered here, so I can get my hands on Swarovski and Vortex stuff pretty easily but options from Zeiss and Leica are pretty limited, Cabela's does sell some models from these makers but they are typically limited and not in stock from my experience. Know of any dedicated optics shops in the area?
 
My advice to those considering 7x is...if you think you might like it, go for it. You won't be sorry. Every time I bring the 7x42 or 7x35 up to my eyes there's an "ahhhhhh!" moment of enjoying the comfort and fun of using it. Especially the 7x42. So easy on the eyes.

A few times in the last month I meant to bring my 10x35 binos and put the 7x35 in the car by mistake - going to look at distant birds on the ocean. Every time I end up happy I'm using the 7x, even though the birds are far away. It still works well. I'd rather be stuck with a 7x on the ocean than trying to use a 10x in the woods.
Well said! I've had very similar experiences in wooded areas where I had a 10x42 bino. I was observing Ruby-crowned Kinglets in a densely wooded estuary and couldn't easily glass them (they were pretty close, flitting among branches rather quickly). I've used that same bino in mixed terrain where I might have a stand of oak savannah on my right, and then hundreds of yards of open farmland and tree line on my left. I still wish for a 7 or an 8 in those situations because I'd rather be able to glass the close-in birds or follow them as they fly from tree to tree nearby, and still see faraway stuff, if a little smaller than they would be in the 10. I will say you can get pretty good at glassing close stuff with a 10 power but when you transition down to a 7 or an 8 there is an immediate sense of relief, like you've hit the easy button - at least in my experience.
 
I'd rather be stuck with a 7x on the ocean than trying to use a 10x in the woods.
Nicely put; it just comes down to how much time you spend in the woods, so to speak. As it happens, I had a great visit with a male Ruby-crowned Kinglet last week just up the hill, and happened to be carrying my EII 8x30 which made following it easier than my usual 10x, thanks to both DOF and FOV. But for me, this is a rare occasion. Now that I've brought it up though, I have to say that I would strongly recommend an EII to anyone anticipating this sort of use, except in a wet environment. The overall view is very special, and rather similar to a Leica. It isn't too expensive, serves me well now for occasional use, and might help the OP decide what you really want (if its 462 ft FOV hasn't already spoiled you).

Know of any dedicated optics shops in the area?
Check Leica's dealer locator or Google "Leica Wisconsin". Scheels Appleton, Camera Company Madison...

How do the AFOV of these models compare to each other?
Not documented by Leica, but you can
(1) estimate with the formulas: AFOV will fall between mag*FOV° and 2*arctan(mag*tan(FOV°/2)), probably about halfway for a Leica.
(2) take any round photo and mask it off in appropriate proportions to compare models of the same magnification.
(3) enlarge/reduce by the appropriate amount to compare different magnifications.
 
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I had a 10x42 Ht and Noctivid as my main birding binocular and I birded the east coast trees… South American Jungles, Australian Outback…. So it really depends on what you are used to. For me a 10x was perfect, coastal and trees. Only recently , since COVID have I gone down snd purchased my current 7x35 retro or 8x32 Meostar . I am hanging onto my 10x42 Noctivid for hawk watches
 
I am very pleased with my 7x42 UVHD+. The combination of 7x and a 6mm exit pupil makes for a very easy viewing experience. I haven’t tried the other binoculars you mentioned, but find the small exit pupil of an 8x32 uncomfortable to look through for more than a few minutes, and I find the 5.25 mm exit pupils of an 8x42 comfortable enough, but I prefer the steadier view provided by 7x.

Obviously others like 8x42 and 8x32 just as much. It’s mostly a matter of personal preference, so suggest trying any binocular that intErnest’s you before buying it.
 
When you compare binos side by side, which is a good thing.... their differences are apparent.
When you just use one particular bino, you get fully used to it.
For example... when I predominantly used my 10x42 Meostars, it was a lesser FOV, and depth of field, than I was used to as I'm generally an 8x guy.
I'm using the 8x32 BN all the time at the moment, and I am fully happy with 4mm exit pupil, and whilst the FOV is bigger, I'm not sure I appreciate it any more than the Meostars. Side by side for sure, but not now after some time using it. The Meostars FOV was just fine really.
I could get used to 7x, 8x, or 10x. You just adapt.
Interstingly, when I was at a dealer a while back, there didn't seem too much difference between 7x, and 8x..... or that much difference between 8x and 10x, but the difference between 7x and 10x seemed quite a lot!!
I think the nicest all round binocular I have ever looked through was the Leica Ultravid 8x42.... but It wasn't any noticeable improvement optically over the Meostar. I preferred it for the general overall package, and probably because it was a Leica... brand snobbery for sure. But anyway I couldn't justify it!!
It's more ergonomics for me, because if you don't like to handle them, you won't pick them up.
 
I could get used to 7x, 8x, or 10x. You just adapt.
Agreed....you get used to what you are looking thru....regardless of size, FOV etc...
Interstingly, when I was at a dealer a while back, there didn't seem too much difference between 7x, and 8x..... or that much difference between 8x and 10x, but the difference between 7x and 10x seemed quite a lot!!
I never looked at it from this point of view and will have to view thru my combinations to see but it does make sense. When I go back and forth between my 7x and my wife's 8x, I see little difference but have never really compared the 7x to the 10.... I will now:) jim
 
When you compare binos side by side, which is a good thing.... their differences are apparent.
When you just use one particular bino, you get fully used to it.
Absolutely.

After having used my NLs for a few months, I picked up a Noctivid again at RSPB Lochwinnoch earlier this week. The differences were glaring this time.

The Leica had a noticeably more 3D image, and the colours were also slightly more pronounced. However, the NL was still the more appealing for me due to the wide AFOV and overall panoramic flat view. I remain happy with my choice, thankfully!
 
I have the 8x42 Ultravid BL and the 10x40 Retrovid (and the 10x50 Ultravid, and the 8x20 Trinovid and Ultravid). The Retrovids' slim package is very nice, but keep these things in mind:
  • The Retrovids are not waterproof
  • The Retrovids' minimum focus distance of at least 4m can be an issue
  • The small focus knob on the Retrovid, while pretty, is nowhere as ergonomic or fast to focus as the bigger knob on the Ultravid
 
I have the 8x42 Ultravid BL and the 10x40 Retrovid (and the 10x50 Ultravid, and the 8x20 Trinovid and Ultravid). The Retrovids' slim package is very nice, but keep these things in mind:
  • The Retrovids are not waterproof
  • The Retrovids' minimum focus distance of at least 4m can be an issue
  • The small focus knob on the Retrovid, while pretty, is nowhere as ergonomic or fast to focus as the bigger knob on the Ultravid
The Retrovid is all the binocular you want
The Ultravid is all the binocular you need
 
i went from a pair of 1991 bausch and lomb elite 8x42 and used them for 31 years to meostar 8x42 a great difference but the elites had a better fov, i hardly needed to focus but the meostars is constant turning the focus wheel such is the narrow fov
 
I have the 8x42 Ultravid BL and the 10x40 Retrovid (and the 10x50 Ultravid, and the 8x20 Trinovid and Ultravid). The Retrovids' slim package is very nice, but keep these things in mind:
  • The Retrovids are not waterproof
  • The Retrovids' minimum focus distance of at least 4m can be an issue
  • The small focus knob on the Retrovid, while pretty, is nowhere as ergonomic or fast to focus as the bigger knob on the Ultravid
That 4m (I think it is closer to 5m+ on that bin) close focus on the retro's is a bugger....I have the 7x35 with 4m close focus and that is barely manageable at times... but I do enjoy it... jim
 
Nicely put; it just comes down to how much time you spend in the woods, so to speak. As it happens, I had a great visit with a male Ruby-crowned Kinglet last week just up the hill, and happened to be carrying my EII 8x30 which made following it easier than my usual 10x, thanks to both DOF and FOV. But for me, this is a rare occasion. Now that I've brought it up though, I have to say that I would strongly recommend an EII to anyone anticipating this sort of use, except in a wet environment. The overall view is very special, and rather similar to a Leica. It isn't too expensive, serves me well now for occasional use, and might help the OP decide what you really want (if its 462 ft FOV hasn't already spoiled you).


Check Leica's dealer locator or Google "Leica Wisconsin". Scheels Appleton, Camera Company Madison...


Not documented by Leica, but you can
(1) estimate with the formulas: AFOV will fall between mag*FOV° and 2*arctan(mag*tan(FOV°/2)), probably about halfway for a Leica.
(2) take any round photo and mask it off in appropriate proportions to compare models of the same magnification.
(3) enlarge/reduce by the appropriate amount to compare different magnifications.
Tenex, a little detour, but have you ever compared an 8x32 SE to the 8x30 E II you just mentioned. I have both the 8x32 and 10x42 SEs. The ten power is great, but the 8x32 was my all time favorite till I got my 7x35 Retrovids. I was wondering if the E IIs are superior to the SEs in some areas?
 
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I had a 10x42 Ht and Noctivid as my main birding binocular and I birded the east coast trees… South American Jungles, Australian Outback…. So it really depends on what you are used to. For me a 10x was perfect, coastal and trees. Only recently , since COVID have I gone down snd purchased my current 7x35 retro or 8x32 Meostar . I am hanging onto my 10x42 Noctivid for hawk watches
Sounds like you’ve covered all your bases. Do you have a favorite, grab everyday bin?
 
I have the 7x42 and 8x42 UVHD+.

The 7x42 has wider field of view and better depth perception. Also slightly longer eye relief; it works best with eyecups pulled out to the first click when I wear glasses; the 8x42 works best with eyecups all the way in.

The 8x42 has a bit more magnification. Sometimes for a far away bird (say, a small Western Bluebird perched on top of a far away tree) that makes a tiny bit of a difference. Most of the time, it does not.

In the end they are both very similar. I tend to take the 8x when I go in more open landscapes. I find myself using the 8x a bit more of late. But the 7x are better for being quick on the bird -- the combination of bigger DOF, and bigger field of view, enable you to acquire skittish birds a little bit faster.

I would say that they are essentially equivalent. On balance, perhaps the 7x is the better one, since its advantages (longer eye relief, wider exit pupil, more depth perception) are useful more often than the advantage of the 8x, which is more magnification.

If I needed the money, I would sell the 8x.
 

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