• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Spent A Week With The 7x35 Retrovid... (1 Viewer)

Mac308

Well-known member
United States
When the rumors of the possible manufacture of the 7x35 Trinovid surfaced at least 5 years ago, I was pretty excited. They were shown with rubber armoring, and I naturally assumed they'd be waterproof. Several years came and went, until Leica finally announced their production! I was excited until I saw "how" they were being offered - a metal housing with faux leather, no waterproofing, non-screw eyecups, and no objective covers. Really?

I am NOT interested in "retro" anything (the only things that have sentimental value to me are the things I've used for years). So, the way these were offered was really disappointing. I was purely interested in the 7x35 size built around a robust and useful package for where and how I use binoculars.

So, I waited, and watched as some here on BF acquired, used, and reviewed the 7x35's. Over time my objections softened. And since I've always believed a quality 7x35 would be the perfect binocular for me (despite really wanting a 7x32/35 Ultravid), I put my misgivings aside and ordered the 7x35 Trinovid.

I spent a solid week with the Retrovid's, comparing them with my 8x3UV's in all kinds of lighting conditions. I have to say, optically, they really stand up to my Leica HD's.

What I liked:

7x35 - The "perfect compromise of magnification and objective size, allowing a fairly compact build for use in most lighting conditions.
Eye Relief - Plenty!
Size - Handy!
Optics - Fine resolution, and that beautiful warm Leica view.

What I disliked:

Focus - The focus knob is too small (not really comfortable) and the focus is too slow.
Diopter - Fussy. It took me quite a bit of time to get it dialed in. Could be I'm just used to the wonderful Ultravid diopter, but I suspect that slow focus is the main culprit.
Exterior Finish - nice, but impractical for me. They ARE cold in the hands. We have a LOT of cold weather here.
Objective Covers - there are none. I need and use them. I ordered the appropriate size for the Retrovid from Opticron. They just didn't fit well, and I'm not going to go on a google holy grail search to outfit a binocular with something it should already have from the factory.

I sent them back with some regret, since optically they are VERY nice. I could have lived with their non-waterproof build. I could have lived with the pull-up ocualrs (they are nicely positive). But the sum of the negatives outweighed the positives for me, so back they went. Too bad. For others, given where and how they use binoculars, I can see how they'll fill a niche. But I'm not a niche binocular owner. I'm a less-is-more sort of guy, and want my binoculars to span a wide variety of applications. Sigh...
 

Attachments

  • IMG_1716.jpeg
    IMG_1716.jpeg
    1.6 MB · Views: 118
Diopter - Fussy. It took me quite a bit of time to get it dialed in. Could be I'm just used to the wonderful Ultravid diopter, but I suspect that slow focus is the main culprit.
I think there might be an additional factor at play -- the low magnification which leads to a perceived larger depth of focus which in turn makes it harder to adjust the diopter as it's a bit more finicky to "dial in" -- you have more leeway and the correct position is not as well defined. In general I found the diopter easier to adjust on higher magnification binos as you will more quickly reach the correct position because the focus depth is more shallow.
 
I think there might be an additional factor at play -- the low magnification which leads to a perceived larger depth of focus which in turn makes it harder to adjust the diopter as it's a bit more finicky to "dial in" -- you have more leeway and the correct position is not as well defined. In general I found the diopter easier to adjust on higher magnification binos as you will more quickly reach the correct position because the focus depth ist more shallow.
I think you're right! Likely a combination of 7X and a slow focus conspire to compound the problem...
 
I saw those in a store and thinked they looked lovely. But I can understand why the negatives outweighed the positives.
I have a similar problem with my Fujinon HC -- the objective covers suck! They can't be tethered to the bino and the objectives themselves are not round so I cannot use some Opticron covers (which worked great on another bino).
For an "allrounder" I think 8x42 is perfect for me.
But I do like my old 7x35 EWA porros. They are anything but small however. That huge FoV has to be "bought" with huge prisms.
 
I have to chime in here as I really love these 7x35 retro's and these have become my everyday binocular, with the exception of when it is raining (I will use a Meostar 8x32) or when I am doing hawk watch or coastal birds (I will use my Noctvid 10x42).

Let me respond to your pro and cons....(your comments regular type, my comments in bold)

---Your PROS

*7x35 - The "perfect compromise of magnification and objective size, allowing a fairly compact build for use in most lighting conditions. Agreed on this. This is the perfect compromise as my original intent was to look for the perfect 8x32/30 and these retro's fit into that compact category nicely not only in overall size but style, feel, ergonomics, and weight. The 7x is great for birding and the FOV is awesome.

*Eye Relief - Plenty! I have no issues with, I don't wear glasses so can't speak for those that do.

*Size - Handy! As mentioned earlier, the light weight of this binocular at 20 ounces provides lightness but not overly light and unmanageable as I find the MHG to be or I might assume the upcoming SFL. I wanted a binocular that I could carry for hours and it was either this one or get another Meostar of equal weight etc which also fit my tastes. I was a 10x42 man all of my life and decided to go for less weight, which this Retro does perfectly. Nicely balanced in my hands.

*Optics - Fine resolution, and that beautiful warm Leica view. Exactly ....Leica colors. Also, the focus is fine tuned and really sharp. This is about as sharp in focus as one can get and close to if not on a par with the Ultravid line. Resolution is simply superb.

---Your CONS


Focus - The focus knob is too small (not really comfortable) and the focus is too slow. I understand where you are coming. Focus can be slower. I wish the knob was a bit bigger or padded? I think Leica stayed within the original specs of the older model with this and thus kept the old focus wheel. But, to be fair, the Swaro CL is slow....I found the MHG to be equally as slow. I wish the focus would be more akin to other Leica models or the equally good Meostar line. I do believe the focus of this retro is just a bit faster than original binocular as well as comparing to the old Zeiss Dialyt series. I feel the actual turning of the focus wheel knob is smooth. Kind of a fun factor, although yes, slower than what I prefer. Depth of field/focus is nice. Sweet spot is large in my thinking. No real glare into sun, easy to follow birds in flight...just Leica quality.

*Diopter - Fussy. It took me quite a bit of time to get it dialed in. Could be I'm just used to the wonderful Ultravid diopter, but I suspect that slow focus is the main culprit. I have no issues with this. I set the diopter and it works well. It isn't as strong of a design as the Ultravid / Meostar but isn't as weak of a design as the CL.

*Exterior Finish - nice, but impractical for me. They ARE cold in the hands. We have a LOT of cold weather here. We have little cold weather here in Arizona desert, so I have no issue with exterior finish. IN fact it is retro' so would have expected the retro feel on the outside. If leather covering would have been in place, the overall sleekness, size etc would have increased, taking away the benefit of this finish.

*Objective Covers - there are none. I need and use them. I don't care on this, as I simply keep them in a the leather case when not in use. By the way, the leather case is perfect. Quality, leather...zipped up...fits the binocular etc... This is a cool benefit as the case resembles the old case.

One NEGATIVE that you did not include and does weigh heavily for me would be the close focus 'inability' with the retro. I believe close focus is near 12' which is not something I enjoy. This would be the main detriment to me with this pair of binoculars although admitted, I can just take a step or so back and focus in on any bird I want. It would be a reason for me to bird with the Meostar 8x32 or possibly a 10x32 binocular.

---OVERALL.... I feel Leica did an excellent job of updating the 7x35 retro and yet still keeping the aspects that make it 'a retro'.... this is one of my favorite binoculars as this current retro fits the criteria I set out for the perfect 8x32/30. Sure it is not an '8' but it comes real close. It is not 32 or 30 but has the feel of one in terms of product dimensions and weight. The focus wheel is one issue I might have changed by having it be padded or just a bit larger but then again, doing so would have taken that retro feel away. So I live with it.

Quality wise....everything about this binocular (except strap) exudes quality, detail (embossed leather case), craftsmanship (entire binocular).

I would highly recommend others to try this binocular and test it out for yourself. Given the new SFL coming out, coupled with the MHG, Leica UV and the Meostar 8x32 Plus, I feel that these four binoculars are the top of the line potentially for those wanting a compact quality binocular. Sure there are others below this same quality in the Maven, Verano, Traveler, Hawk, Monarch etc...but these four are just a cut above those I feel. Other binoculars are more of equal quality / price such as the Conquest, the CL, Genesis, but these suffer in other ways that I personally am not a fan of.

jim
 
Last edited:
I’ve been using the 7x35 for almost a year now. I also have an 8x42 Ultravid, 8x32 Nikon SE, 10x42 SE and since a few days ago a nice little Swarovski 7x21 Curio. Over the last few weeks I was able to compare the Retrovid side by side with friends 8x30 Swarovski CL, Zeiss Dialyct 7x42 and a Swarovski NL Pure 8x32.

I just love the Retrovid even with the few issues you mention in your great review. I’ve yet to find a bino that has zero issues. To me ease of view, nice big picture, compact size and reasonable weight are the most important issues. I actually like the focus and diopter knobs, but agree the focus is a little slow. I think that’s mostly due to the deeper depth of field, you can go past perfect focus a fair distance and still be close to perfect focus.

As for cold in cold weather, that pretty much goes with the territory of any uninsulated, leather clad bino. I live in Montana and hunt cold weather on a regular basis. If it’s colder than 20 degrees, I wear gloves, and I carry them inside my jacket. So far it hasn’t been a problem.

The small issues that kind of bug me are:

1) The light leather pouch is kind of awkward. I had a similar case with my old 8x32 Trinovid BNs, it seemed to work ok then, but I don’t like it now.

2) As noted elsewhere, the eyecups are small and fit inside my eyes. I’ve learned to compensate by resting them under my eyebrows.

3) I don’t mind the push-pull eye cups but twist up would be better.

That’s about it.
 
Lack of cold weather friendliness is the main reason I have my 8x20 Ultravid in both BL and BR versions.

Lots of great posts with most of them being additional mini reviews.

Curiosity got the best of me and I’m now in the living room looking at things in the display case through my mismatched 7x35 Originalvid and 7x42 Ultravid.
Hearing that the focusing is a little faster with the newer version sounds like a definite upgrade, as this one is more than slow, even though still enjoyable. The Ultravid is predictably night and day, and the difference in focusing distance is also much more usable for living room usage.

I have no idea as to whether or not I’ll ever end up with a Retrovid but I do enjoy reading about all of the various plus/minus points from what seems to be some of the most positive sounding support group Leica has at present.
 
I’ve recently, this past week or so, have been using the lightweight leather zip case as it was designed to be used. With my Ultravids I simply pull them out of the nice cordura case, leave the case in my truck and carry these ultra weatherproof binos around my neck. With these bins I’ve learned to carry them in the field with the case on. The case is so lightweight and flexible, I simply unzip, pull them out and use them with the case hanging from the straps, it’s no big deal.

That said, I take Leica’s word that they are rain and splash proof. That’s more weatherproofing than I’ll ever need. God help me if I drop them 15’ underwater.
 
This sounds like a description of a 7x35 Ultravid or Noctivid
I would be overjoyed if Leica produced a 7x35 Ultravid but that’s a different binocular. I’m literally just asking for the exact same binocular with different armor. Although optically they were a bit behind my (beloved but absconded) 7x42 UVHD, the view of the retrovid is more than good enough. I’m fine with the optics, size and weight. Just wrap it in a different skin! Not asking much (especially since Leica produces leather and rubber armored versions of most of their other models!!).
 
Never tried carrying the case with me like that. Not sure I need that case dangling on my torso:)
Obviously you don’t need it, it’s just kind of useless trying to use it like my Ultravid case. I was trying, but the strap hangs out and prevents the one way zipper from completely closing around the binoculars. I saw the snap flap where you put the strap through, but like you, I didn’t like the idea of them hanging from the strap while I looked through them. Finally, after close to a year of using them awkwardly, I tried the strap through the flap idea and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it works pretty dang well, among other things, obviating the need for objective covers.

I’ve been using them that way for a week now and it doesn’t bother me a bit, just thought I’d report that.
 
I would be overjoyed if Leica produced a 7x35 Ultravid but that’s a different binocular. I’m literally just asking for the exact same binocular with different armor. Although optically they were a bit behind my (beloved but absconded) 7x42 UVHD, the view of the retrovid is more than good enough. I’m fine with the optics, size and weight. Just wrap it in a different skin! Not asking much (especially since Leica produces leather and rubber armored versions of most of their other models!!).
Did they ever make a 7x42 BL? I sure wish they would come out with a scaled down 7x35 Ultravid BL. That would answer all the complaints about slow focus and lack of waterproofing of the Retrovid. As for armoring, I personally prefer the lighter leatherette, but if armor is important, there’s already an Ultravid.
 
I've been clamoring for a 7x32 or 7x35 Ultravid for years. If such a binocular existed I'd never have given the Retrovid a second thought.
I think this was my point. These products are sold in various design and marketing niches. If they made 7x UV's, they'd intrude on the Retro space. If they made those changes to Retrovid, it would intrude on the UV niche. Cannabilization and all.
 
I think a good if not major part of the Retrovid appeal is its style. Leica, from their cameras to binoculars, seem to put a high priority or emphasis on really cool industrial design. Their stuff just looks cooler, always has, including the old Leitz Trinovid binoculars. There was nothing to compare looks wise back in the day and they look ultramodern even today. I believe Leica was dead set on keeping that look and feel when upgrading these classics, if that meant compromising in other areas, so be it.
 
My main gig with waterproofness is actually ease of cleaning - running under a lukewarm tap takes off any grit, with the hydrophobic coating takes oils off - a tiny bit of soap and you're good. Can't do that with the Retrovid and that is the end of it for me. At the end of the day, waterproof = cleaner bins, fewer optics scratches.
 
My main gig with waterproofness is actually ease of cleaning - running under a lukewarm tap takes off any grit, with the hydrophobic coating takes oils off - a tiny bit of soap and you're good. Can't do that with the Retrovid and that is the end of it for me. At the end of the day, waterproof = cleaner bins, fewer optics scratches.
Absolutely agree, that’s a huge plus. It was mentally hard for me to do when I first got my Ultravids years ago, now it’s the only way to fly. I just clean these Retrovids the old fashioned way, it works fine, but the dip under the sink sure would be easier and safer on the glass.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Back
Top