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Nikon MHG 8x30 vs Leica Ultravid HD+ 8x32 (1 Viewer)

A2GG

Beth
Supporter
United States
Recently, I acquired a 'refurbished' HG 8x30 direct from Nikon for a great price.
I also ordered a 'used' Ultravid HD+ 8x32 to compare with the Nikon.
I wanted to select one of these as my primary birding binocular and keep my 1st gen Swarovski CL 8x30 as my backup bino.

I returned the Ultravid this morning, sadly. The only reason had to do with ease of view and comfort with my eyeglasses. The view was tunnel-like compared to the HG and I found this frustrating. The HG has more eye relief and huge ocular lenses. Also, I think the eyecup shape may have helped. Even trying the ultravid without glasses and eyecups extended at each stop I found the view a bit frustrating; blackouts and sort of a tunnel-like view with eyecup extended all the way.

Putting aside the eyeglasses issue, I'll list my impressions of both from looking through them this morning for a couple of hours. It's a very gray, cloudy day here. I first sat in a chair outside and looked through both back and forth for a while. Later, I took a walk with just the Uvid around the block and then took only the HG on the same route looking at the same things.
A couple of birds were still perched in the same spots on my second walk.

The Ultravid HD+ 8x32 may be the best and most satisfying view I've ever seen.
Ultravids (at least the Plus version) just have a very satisfying color presentation that I prefer. What a beautiful view! Blacks look deep black; looking into shadows within a group of pine trees just looked more impressive through the Uvid. Browns, greens, blues looked better...really almost every color looked more satisfying to me.

Ultravid controls glare and CA better than the HG.

Ultravid is very slightly sharper than the HG (which is already quite sharp); There is very little difference here, but it came to me as I kept using them.

Ultravid resolution is overall a little better. The image appears subtly smoother and cleaner.

Ultravid focus on this unit was super smooth … real nice.

HG image is a little warmer (yellow).
HG ergonomics are a little better to me.
HG is about 3 ounces lighter and was noticeable.
HG ease of view and comfort with eyeglasses is definitely better for me.
HG focus is faster and it takes adjusting to get the image sharp due to the quicker focus action. I'll need to get used to it over time.

Looking forward to finally going out birding with the HG. I feel such a sense of satisfaction knowing I got it for such a super reduced price !

Leica Ultravids … can't say enough about the view through these … simply beautiful.
 
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Mark9473

Well-known member
Belgium
Thank you for the interesting report.
Am I correct that you had a Zeiss FL 8x32 in the past?
I wonder how they would fare in this comparison.
 

A2GG

Beth
Supporter
United States
Thank you for the interesting report.
Am I correct that you had a Zeiss FL 8x32 in the past?
I wonder how they would fare in this comparison.

Yes, I did. FL 8x32 would fare very well. I recall perceived resolution was pretty awesome (!). I prefer the colors in the Ultravid Plus and also my old Swaro CL. This is just personal preference. The FL has a top tier level image IMO.

I think the Monarch HG 8x30 is high quality, but not quite reaching the level of these classic alphas (FL, Ultravid HD+). For the price I paid for a 'refurbished' bino, I feel I'm getting a lot. It has great contrast and it's a very easy view with glasses for such a small binocular. The view is noticeably warm (to me at least). It's more apparent right after looking through the CL. I don't mind a warm view. Warmish colors can be relaxing on the eyes during prolonged viewing. Also, it's nice and bright for 30mm.
 

Xlr8n

Well-known member
Good rundown and thanks for posting your results! The HG's are indeed very nice and just a slight notch down from the top alpha's, but for the actual money you paid there is no better glass.

...And I agree with your mindset that knowing you got such a great deal makes them all that more enjoyable to use!
 

eitanaltman

Well-known member
Yes, if only the Ultravid 7x42 HD view and ease of eye placement could be transported magically into a more compact package without losing the eye relief!

One little note -- I feel the word "warm" is one of those terms that (like "flat field") is thrown around a lot without consistent meaning. While I don't have the 8x30, I do have the 8x42 MHG currently as well as several binoculars with really outstanding transmission deep into the red zone (two Leica UVHD and a Nikon EDG) as well as a Cabelas EuroHD (Meostar) which is more yellow/orange biased with fall-off at both the blue and extra red end.

Sometimes "warm" means deep reds, and other times people use it to describe a "yellowish" cast. But the "warm" of an old Meostar or Trinovid BA/BN with its distinctly yellowish cast is NOT the same "warm" as a Leica Ultravid HD/HD+ which has better transmission on not just the red end, but the blue end as well (flatter).

To my eyes, the view through the 8x42 MHG is slightly GREENISH vs these other binoculars, whereas the Meostar/EuroHD is YELLOWISH. The two UVHD and the EDG both appear mostly neutral with a touch of "real warmth" from the extended, deep reds.

Swapping back and forth between the Leica 7x42 UVHD and the MHG 8x42 and the slight greenish cast in the MHG is pretty obvious. Not something you'd notice without direct comparison probably, but it's there. I was a bit surprised by this, so I checked Allbinos which I find to be very accurate in its descriptions of color cast / whiteness, and saw they noted a "very slight greenish hue" for the 10x42 and "very delicate, almost imperceptible green colouring" for the 8x30. Both binoculars do not have the extension into the deep reds (650+ nm) that the EDG or Ultravids do.

Anyway, enough of that sidetrack, I am interested to try the 8x30 since I really do like the 8x42 MHG. And also agree that the only thing "wrong" with the 8x32 UV is the short eye relief / finicky eye placement.

And I do agree that the Leica UVHD view is about as lovely as it gets, and a clear step up from the MHG in contrast / saturation and just sheer "beauty" of the view. When I look through the MHG 8x42 it looks really nice, almost surprisingly nice considering how light they are. But then I swap to the 7x42 UVHD and it's like WOW, ok, that's just better. I can't SEE anything with one that I can't see with the other, but the MHG view just feels a bit flatter / duller whereas the 7x42 UVHD view is just rich and lustrous. Almost like the difference between a photo taken with a nice plastic consumer zoom lens vs. a high end prime telephoto, there's just another level of contrast / richness / depth that is achieved, even if there's no obvious difference in detail.
 

eitanaltman

Well-known member
Also, since this is a Nikon thread, I have been pleasantly surprised / shocked at how good the 8x42 MHG is at controlling glare. My expectations were tempered after the poor performance of the older Monarch ATB 10x42 and the Monarch 7 8x30, and I know the MHG is a different design but I did not expect it to be THIS good at glare control. I find it really, really hard to induce any meaningful glare/flare that intrudes on the view with the 8x42 MHG. In difficult situations where the 7x42 UVHD shows some peripheral crescent flares, the 8x42 MHG barely shows any.

The only "problem" I've found with the 8x42 in this respect is that sometimes the view feels a bit washed out or desaturated in really poor lighting (harsh gray overcast) whereas the EDG or UVHD stays beautiful and clean, but I'm not sure if it's slight veiling glare or just the lesser glass/coatings reaching their limits in really extreme conditions.

I had written off the 8x30 MHG because of its (apparent) similarity to the 8x30 M7, which is terrible with glare. I figured the 8x30 MHG shared more DNA with the 8x30 M7 than it does with the 8x42 MHG.... but it sounds like that may not be the case.
 

A2GG

Beth
Supporter
United States
Good rundown and thanks for posting your results! The HG's are indeed very nice and just a slight notch down from the top alpha's, but for the actual money you paid there is no better glass.

...And I agree with your mindset that knowing you got such a great deal makes them all that more enjoyable to use!

Yes, the HG is definitely high quality. My posted impressions may have sounded like the Ultravid HD+ is WAY better, but really these are not huge differences. The Ultravid is a bit better in some ways, but the HG is really very nice and really it's just opinion and very subjective from one person to the next.
 

A2GG

Beth
Supporter
United States
Hi Eitan (posts 8 and 9),

I read that allbinos review before I purchased the 8x30 and I rememeber them mentioning a slight green tint. Holger's review of new CL-b and MHG 8x30 notes a slight 'yellow' bias. I lean towards yellow when I compare the MHG to my older CL model. The FL 8x32 which I owned for a while at one time seemed to have a subtle hint of greenish at times depending on lighting.

Yes, I agree the Ultravid HD+ is a different warm. I don't have any experience with the previous Ultravid versions (BR or HD), only the Plus version. Comparing the UVHD+ with my old CL it seemed a little warmer, but there seems to be a bigger difference between CL and MHG.
Tobias in his UVHD+ 8x32 review mentions the bluish quality in dark shadows and I noticed that this morning. It was a dull, gray day and looking into the shadows of Pines I could see what he meant.

This sums it up well !:

And I do agree that the Leica UVHD view is about as lovely as it gets, and a clear step up from the MHG in contrast / saturation and just sheer "beauty" of the view. When I look through the MHG 8x42 it looks really nice, almost surprisingly nice considering how light they are. But then I swap to the 7x42 UVHD and it's like WOW, ok, that's just better. I can't SEE anything with one that I can't see with the other, but the MHG view just feels a bit flatter / duller whereas the 7x42 UVHD view is just rich and lustrous. Almost like the difference between a photo taken with a nice plastic consumer zoom lens vs. a high end prime telephoto, there's just another level of contrast / richness / depth that is achieved, even if there's no obvious difference in detail.
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
Nice posting.....I came to much the same conclusion as you a few months ago. I in fact decided on getting a used Ultravid at first over the MHG and then returning it. (Used Ultravid was $1500 US while the Nikon was new for $806). I loved the contrast, the color....the quality etc of the Ultravid. It felt very 'Leica"..... What I didn't like about it was the focus wheel as no matter how I tried, or attempted to work 'it in' ...the focus wheel on the Ultravid never became 'smooth'...always a bit clunky or choppy or ? I contacted a dealer in UK who looked thru his stock and found the same and I worked with a dealer here in the states who did the same and arrived at all of his were clunky too. If you got a 'rare' copy....the ultravid is just about perfect, otherwise the Ultravid suffers from a very clunky focus. This is surprising since the lesser priced Trinovid has a nice butter focus although all-told, more robust of a binocular, not nearly as compact.

I sent back my Ultravid to B&H photo in NYC and kept the Nikon MHG 8x30 instead as I had both of them at the same time. The MHG is lighter....the view easier to see, easier to focus, the diopter is easy to use (not as good as the ultravid). The contrast is great and for my eyes it has pop.

While I am happy with the Nikon MHG, I was disappointed in reading so much bad news on the Ultravid focus wheel and then seeing it in action, and then looking for a store that carried one that wasn't clunky. For that price, Leica has a problem.

Now, as an alternative to those who still are not sold on the MHG, try the Meostar 8x32...a true gem in the bush, that one is.....
 

mpeace

Well-known member
I had written off the 8x30 MHG because of its (apparent) similarity to the 8x30 M7, which is terrible with glare. I figured the 8x30 MHG shared more DNA with the 8x30 M7 than it does with the 8x42 MHG.... but it sounds like that may not be the case.

Dennis always pitches in to say how similar they are. I just don't get it though. I have the 8x30 MHG and tried the 8x30 M7 and the glare on the M7 was horrendous in comparison and everything about the MHG was superior. I still think at normal price it's a bit expensive and the M7 is good value, but the MHG is definitely a step up and worth considering. On any kind of discount the MHG makes a lot of sense if you want small bins.
 

A2GG

Beth
Supporter
United States
Hi Imans66 (post 12),

Did you have the regular HD Ultravid or the HD+ ? Supposedly, Leica improved the focus action on the Plus models. My previous 7x42 HD+ had a really nice smooth focus. The 8x32 I tried today was very much the same. I liked it better than the MHG focus which is smooth as well, but a little tight.

Agree, the MHG does have 'pop' to the image.
 
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eitanaltman

Well-known member
Yes, I agree the Ultravid HD+ is a different warm. I don't have any experience with the previous Ultravid versions (BR or HD), only the Plus version.

I should actually be careful about my conclusions because I only have UVHD, not "plus" versions. The HD+ has improved transmission, especially in the blue end (better Schott HT glass) which will make it more neutral (whiter whites) than the HD versions I have.

I also have the Trinovid pre-HD which is more similar to the Ultravid BR, and it's definitely a bit blue-deficient vs the HD which makes it a touch warmer in a "yellow" kind of way.
 

A2GG

Beth
Supporter
United States
I should actually be careful about my conclusions because I only have UVHD, not "plus" versions. The HD+ has improved transmission, especially in the blue end (better Schott HT glass) which will make it more neutral (whiter whites) than the HD versions I have.

I also have the Trinovid pre-HD which is more similar to the Ultravid BR, and it's definitely a bit blue-deficient vs the HD which makes it a touch warmer in a "yellow" kind of way.

I had that same short-lived Trinovid 8x42 - the one in existence right before the new Trinovid HD - and it seemed a little warmer than the 7x42 HD+ as I recall. However, I never had them at the same time together and I'm just going by memory.

It would be fun to have the BR, HD and HD+ at once to compare the different color qualities of each.
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
Hi Imans66 (post 12),

Did you have the regular HD Ultravid or the HD+ ? Supposedly, Leica improved the focus action on the Plus models. My previous 7x42 HD+ had a really nice smooth focus. The 8x32 I tried today was very much the same. I liked it better than the MHG focus which is smooth as well, but a little tight.

Agree, the MHG does have 'pop' to the image.

I had the PLUS Ultravid and no, it really was not updated. I had a retailer in UK look at all 5 of the Ultravids they had in stock and one here in the states looked at 4. So out of 9, plus the one I had....all were the PLUS and all had issues with the focus wheel. Leica has a problem that somehow, they cannot fix it.

Now, ...as some brought up ....the glare on the M7 is akin to the glare on any other bin in that range. The glare on the MHG is not that apparent. The build quality on the MHG is not akin to the M7.

Price wise is the MHG worth $939 US? I doubt it.....but surely the CL is not worth $1200 either. Nor is the Kowa Genesis worth over a $1000, .... But at a price point of $800 for the MHG (you can find that pretty often here in the states) , it is worth it. You can also pick up the Meostar 8x32 for $800, if you can find any around.
 

A2GG

Beth
Supporter
United States
I had the PLUS Ultravid and no, it really was not updated. I had a retailer in UK look at all 5 of the Ultravids they had in stock and one here in the states looked at 4. So out of 9, plus the one I had....all were the PLUS and all had issues with the focus wheel. Leica has a problem that somehow, they cannot fix it.

Now, ...as some brought up ....the glare on the M7 is akin to the glare on any other bin in that range. The glare on the MHG is not that apparent. The build quality on the MHG is not akin to the M7.

Price wise is the MHG worth $939 US? I doubt it.....but surely the CL is not worth $1200 either. Nor is the Kowa Genesis worth over a $1000, .... But at a price point of $800 for the MHG (you can find that pretty often here in the states) , it is worth it. You can also pick up the Meostar 8x32 for $800, if you can find any around.

wow, that's terrible.
I have heard complaints about Ultravid focusers in general over the years, but I'm lucky I never had one of those bad ones.

I've owned 2 Leicas: Trinovid pre-HD 8x42 and Ultravid HD+ 7x42 and both had very smooth no-issues focusers. The one I tried today was no different.
However, I do recall trying an Ultravid years ago in store and it wasn't as good. It had a bit of friction in spots when you turned it.
 

Xlr8n

Well-known member
....
Now, as an alternative to those who still are not sold on the MHG, try the Meostar 8x32...a true gem in the bush, that one is.....

Agree. I picked up a Meopta/Cabela's Euro HD in 8x32 earlier this month at a great sale price and it has fantastic optics. None of the yellow tint I remember seeing in the early non-HD models.
I was comparing it to my new 10x42 MHG last night and while it doesn't carry the clarity as close to the edges as the Nikon, it is still fantastic glass with a large sweet spot, huge FOV, good depth, and competes well with the best in the 8x32 class, imho. Very hard to beat for the money.
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
wow, that's terrible.
I have heard complaints about Ultravid focusers in general over the years, but I'm lucky I never had one of those bad ones.

I've owned 2 Leicas: Trinovid pre-HD 8x42 and Ultravid HD+ 7x42 and both had very smooth no-issues focusers. The one I tried today was no different.
However, I do recall trying an Ultravid years ago in store and it wasn't as good. It had a bit of friction in spots when you turned it.

For some reason the Trinovid's are made differently and have an excellent focus wheel...something all Leica's should have. Of course I have only seen the 8x32 models and can't respond to any those you mention. But why did and does Leica still put up with that focus wheel is beyond me. The Ultravid, other than coatings from what I understand, is still the same binocular it has been for 20 years? ...or close. Perhaps it is time Leica re-designs it and yet still keeps the compactness.

Again...the Meostar B1.1 still beats all 8x30 / 32's in my book. It is hard to find any of the old B1.1's but I see now where the B1.1 Plus is out. Sports Optics has it listed at $1,079 although a promo of %16 off is currently available. But from what I have learned on the forum, the B1.1 PLUS is essentially the same as the just recently older B1.1 They say an extra coating but doubt if it makes a difference. The size is same, ...the outside looks about the same w/o the knobs on the armor. They have B1.1's but not sure if they really have any in stock. My wife uses the Meostar and I use the MHG.
 
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