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Zeiss 8x32 FL vs Leica UV HD+ 8x32 (2 Viewers)

LucaPCP

Well-known member
Some more information. Between Zeiss 8x32 FL, and Leica UV+ 8x32, I have finally decided for the Leica. It was a difficult decision.

In addition to my previous comparison, the tipping reasons were these:

Eye relief: The Zeiss is a little better, but with my sunglasses (with which I hike), in the end, there was not a large difference between Zeiss and Leica.

Contrast and color: the contrast of the Leica is a bit better, but especially, the Leica had a much better color representation for the reds. The Zeiss was a bit yellowish -- meaning that the reds were less saturated and more towards orange. For instance, the contrast between pine needles (pale green) and bark (brown, dark orange, reddish) was better with the Leica.

So I feel, overall:

Zeiss 8x32 FL has no chromatic aberrations, very sharp, very sturdy, great fit for me.

Leica 8x32 UV+ has a tiny bit of chromatic aberrations, a little more contrast than the Zeiss, truer colors, a slightly less great fit to my face, not quite as sturdy but slimmer, with a more useful case for me. They are also a bit more resistant to flare and glare.

Both are great, but as I mentioned, in the end I prefer the truer colors of the Leica.

---

Regarding the Zeiss 8x25, the truth is that I own both the Terra 8x25, and the Victory Pocket.
Both of these have truer colors, to my eye, than the FL 8x32.

My copy of the Terra must be very good, or perhaps they are all very good, in any case I really like it. I can find no obvious defect with it. I can discern a bit less detail than with the Leica 8x32, and the view from the Leica is much more pleasant, but the Terra is my binocular of choice when rough use is expected -- for instance, it's the binocular that I carry in the side pocket of my backpack when I mountain bike. I would fear carrying other binoculars like that, in case I fell -- even though I have never damaged anything I ever carried, truth be told.

The Vicrory Pockets are outstanding, as reported in this forum -- indeed I bought them after reading about them here. Compared with the Terra, they have wider field of view, even higher sharpness, and especially, an easier view, less critical eye centering. They are all they are said to be, and compared to the Leica, to me:

- They have no chromatic aberrations I can see
- The colors are equally good, or perhaps the Leica is better by a small amount
- The view, as expected, is a tiny bit less great, due to the smaller exit pupil.

---

In summary, I think I prefer Zeiss Terra 8x25, then Victory Pocket 8x25, then Leica UV+ 8x32. Less so the Zeiss FL; they are great, but I like their color rendering a bit less. This is very personal. I like photography a lot, and I spend time calibrating monitors and camera profiles -- I am fairly sensitive to color representation. I am a beginner birder, and I find a clear perception of the bird's colors is extremely helpful in identification.

Also note, I am nowhere as experienced as others here in the forum. I have always liked to have binoculars with me while hiking, to identify animals, scout trails, enjoy the landscape, but I am a newcomer to birding, so don't necessarily give too much weight to my impressions.
 
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Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
QUOTE Contrast and color: the contrast of the Leica is a bit better, but especially, the Leica had a much better color representation for the reds. The Zeiss was a bit yellowish -- meaning that the reds were less saturated and more towards orange. For instance, the contrast between pine needles (pale green) and bark (brown, dark orange, reddish) was better with the Leica. QUOTE LucaPCP

Many people enjoy the colour presentation of Leica, but it has never been clear to me whether the richer reds were enjoyed because they were more true to life, or whether it was because the reds were simply richer.

So, Luca was the 'better' contrast between the pale green needles and the bark better because it was more accurate to life or was it better because it was more intense?

Lee
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
Lee, you mention something very interesting and that puzzles me (in my limited knowledge): the "richer" (i. e. more saturated and with more contrast) view of the Leica would "seem" to give more detail. It appears (to my eyes anyway) more vivid, more "alive", bolder and more 3D (objects seem to pop more from the background, like in those old 3D stereoscopic images of yesteryear) than the FL, that appears (to my eyes, again) duller, more "washed". I wonder if this is something Leica engineers chose, by sacrificing other aspects of the performance (like resolution on a very fine level). I always use small binoculars handheld, and have never used a resolution chart (just played with some text at different distances). But it seems that some binoculars are able to deliver more contrast, which in turn would appear to yield more resolution and detail, but I don't know whether this is so. Currently I'm experiencing this between a 8x30 E2 and a 8x32 Vixen Foresta porro, the latter is simply one step ahead in contrast, and seems to offer more detail (although it lags behind in other optical aspects). So I'm never sure if what I'm seeing (redder reds, more contrast) is an optical trick of the designer.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Lee, you mention something very interesting and that puzzles me (in my limited knowledge): the "richer" (i. e. more saturated and with more contrast) view of the Leica would "seem" to give more detail. It appears (to my eyes anyway) more vivid, more "alive", bolder and more 3D (objects seem to pop more from the background, like in those old 3D stereoscopic images of yesteryear) than the FL, that appears (to my eyes, again) duller, more "washed". I wonder if this is something Leica engineers chose, by sacrificing other aspects of the performance (like resolution on a very fine level). I always use small binoculars handheld, and have never used a resolution chart (just played with some text at different distances). But it seems that some binoculars are able to deliver more contrast, which in turn would appear to yield more resolution and detail, but I don't know whether this is so. Currently I'm experiencing this between a 8x30 E2 and a 8x32 Vixen Foresta porro, the latter is simply one step ahead in contrast, and seems to offer more detail (although it lags behind in other optical aspects). So I'm never sure if what I'm seeing (redder reds, more contrast) is an optical trick of the designer.

High resolution would be pretty useless without good contrast so decent levels of contrast are absolutely necessary. But that is a different question from the one I was asking which was whether Leica's richer reds are actually life-like or are they 'artficial' in their intensity, which might make them more attractive but less 'accurate'.

Lee
 

Patudo

Well-known member
Thank you for your impressions, Luca - nice and useful.

Canip

Thanks also from this 8x32 FL owner, Luca! I haven't tried the Ultravid, but have had a good look at the Victory Pocket and a quick look through the Terra. My impressions of the three are very similar to yours, but even if they were different, I would be grateful for your thoughtful and considered impressions!

I find it really interesting that quite a few guys with a photography or art background (yourself, eronald, Tobias) really like the image that Leica binoculars give you. I am impressed that your preference for the Ultravid's colour rendition trumps even things like sharpness, sturdiness, better fit to your face and so on. I did have a similar impression when looking through the Noctivid 8x42 (at Birdfair) and 10x42 (using a friend's for 30-40min). The colours are deep and vivid, and the reds, yellows etc do especially show well. I thought the overall image was most beautiful in bright sunny conditions and I can also see the advantage in having reds and yellows stand out in the kind of dull grey conditions (often experienced here in the UK!) that seem to leach out all colour.

I remember reading the human eye has evolved a particular sensitivity to reds, and maybe this helps explain the liking that some of us have for binoculars that show reds well.
 

14Goudvink

Well-known member
Very valuable info in this thread!

@LucaPCP (or others having tried both): how would you compare them, especially the Leica 8x32 specifically to the Zeiss 8x25, optically and regarding ease of use/view, now that you have had the chance to test them while owning the Zeiss 8x25?

Did any of you have the chance to compare them to a Kite Lynx HD(+) 8x30 (or the apparently relatively similar Nikon Monarch 7)?

I used to own both a Zeiss 8x25 and a Leica Ultravid 8x32 HD at the same time and I tried a Kite Lynx 8x30 HD for a few days.

Leica compared to Zeiss:
Although small and light the Leica handles like a 'real' binocular, while the Zeiss handles like a compact
Eye placement is easier for the Leica
Both are very sharp, no real difference here
Colour reproduction is better in de Leica. Looking at an overcast sky the Zeiss gives a noticable greenish 'tint'. No problem when the weather is bright
The Zeiss fits in a jacket pocket. The Leica is a bit too heavy and bulky to get out of a jacket pocket quickly
I have used the Leica as my fulltime bin for years. The Zeiss gets the job done, but I wouldn't want them as my main bin because of their handling and lesser ease of eye placement

Leica compared to Kite Lynx:
Sharper
More contrast
Easier eye placement
Better handling

In the end I returned the Kite and sold the Zeiss. For me the Zeiss and the Leica didn't really complement each other in real use. When birding, going for a walk and hiking in the mountains I am willing to take the greater weight and bulk of the Leica in return for better handling and ease of use. And when I want to take bins with me just in case, I prefer something smaller and lighter than the Zeiss.

If you want even better ease of use and more wow than the Leica in a 8x30 package and you don't need waterproofing you could try the Nikon 8x30 E2...

George
 

mbb

Well-known member
The Vicrory Pockets are outstanding, as reported in this forum -- indeed I bought them after reading about them here. Compared with the Terra, they have wider field of view, even higher sharpness, and especially, an easier view, less critical eye centering. They are all they are said to be, and compared to the Leica, to me:

- They have no chromatic aberrations I can see
- The colors are equally good, or perhaps the Leica is better by a small amount
- The view, as expected, is a tiny bit less great, due to the smaller exit pupil.

---

In summary, I think I prefer Zeiss Terra 8x25, then Victory Pocket 8x25, then Leica UV+ 8x32.

Thank you for the info!
Reading this, it makes me more curious about the reason why you will keep/buy the Leica’s while having the Pockets. Is it because of the ‘tiny bit less great view’ of the Pockets due to the smaller exit pupil, or am I missing some other aspects? I can imagine the ergonomics are a bit better due its larger size, but I would also hope for an significantly easier view to make the switch.
 

mbb

Well-known member
I used to own both a Zeiss 8x25 and a Leica Ultravid 8x32 HD at the same time and I tried a Kite Lynx 8x30 HD for a few days.

Leica compared to Zeiss:
...

Leica compared to Kite Lynx:
...

If you want even better ease of use and more wow than the Leica in a 8x30 package and you don't need waterproofing you could try the Nikon 8x30 E2...

George

Thanks a lot for the great info!
Also to everyone else!

I’m wondering if I would notice the greater colour reproduction and better reds from the Ultravids reported here, as I have daltonism |^|

Compared to the Kite, I expected a bit better sharpness and contrast from the Leica, but I am surprised about the reported better handling and easier eye placement. Could you explain what makes the difference?
I am curious because I already find the handling of the Kite really great (one of the reasons I like them) and have no real complaint about the eye placement (at least it is more comfortable to that regard than the Victory 8x25). I also like the fact that the Kite’s hinge is short, having the barrels extending quite a bit further. Another reason is that I’ve read elsewhere that the Ultravids are not as comfortable regarding eye placement as e.g. the latest Swarovski Companion 30mm or EL 32mm (the latter I’ve briefly tried once and were impressive indeed, but way too expensive for me and their larger size and weight might put them too much in the use case of 42mm for me, not sure about that).

I think I should look for a possibility to try those Leica and inform about their warranty/service, also when bought second hand directly from the previous owner/not via an official dealer (Swarovski/Kite-level service even for second ones not bought through a shop is reassuring for such a budget).

The Nikon E II, good point. I’ve read a lot of good things about them too, but the lack of waterproofing and the limited warranty is holding me back. The other ‘obvious’ porro’s, the Habicht 8x30 however are on my shortlist too if I can find a good second hand offer, but I’d want to try them first, considering what some say about stiff focussing wheel and short eye relief.
 
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LucaPCP

Well-known member
Thanks also from this 8x32 FL owner, Luca! I haven't tried the Ultravid, but have had a good look at the Victory Pocket and a quick look through the Terra. My impressions of the three are very similar to yours, but even if they were different, I would be grateful for your thoughtful and considered impressions!

I find it really interesting that quite a few guys with a photography or art background (yourself, eronald, Tobias) really like the image that Leica binoculars give you. I am impressed that your preference for the Ultravid's colour rendition trumps even things like sharpness, sturdiness, better fit to your face and so on. I did have a similar impression when looking through the Noctivid 8x42 (at Birdfair) and 10x42 (using a friend's for 30-40min). The colours are deep and vivid, and the reds, yellows etc do especially show well. I thought the overall image was most beautiful in bright sunny conditions and I can also see the advantage in having reds and yellows stand out in the kind of dull grey conditions (often experienced here in the UK!) that seem to leach out all colour.

I remember reading the human eye has evolved a particular sensitivity to reds, and maybe this helps explain the liking that some of us have for binoculars that show reds well.

I hike and mountain bike with orange-tinted, self-darkening glasses. I call them my "reality-improving glasses"! They make it much easier to distinguish the various gradations of green -- many greens that looks the same to the naked eye have distinct gradations under orange filters. The landscape looks so much nicer through them! If you have never tried them -- do give them a try! So I suspect that some of my liking for the Leica rendition has the same root.
 

LucaPCP

Well-known member
Thank you for the info!
Reading this, it makes me more curious about the reason why you will keep/buy the Leica’s while having the Pockets. Is it because of the ‘tiny bit less great view’ of the Pockets due to the smaller exit pupil, or am I missing some other aspects? I can imagine the ergonomics are a bit better due its larger size, but I would also hope for an significantly easier view to make the switch.

Ehhmmmm.... I am not claiming it's fully justified... :)

Yes, the view is nicer and easier, and it's also a little bit easier/faster to point them towards a bird and acquire it in good view. Also, the weight is not an issue, except when mountain biking (where I use my Terras). But the difference is fairly small, and I readily admit that I bought them because I enjoy using them.

One unexpected and very fun advantage I noticed: It is actually GOOD that the binoculars are not too small. When people see a middle-aged male traipsing around in a park, I always got the sort of impression that some thought "what is he doing?". But with bigger binoculars, it's obvious to people what I am doing, and I got a lot more understanding looks, smiles, and even fun (at a distance) conversations. This is really a testament to how great the birder community is in terms of friendliness -- you really have collectively a fantastic reputation!
 

14Goudvink

Well-known member
Thanks a lot for the great info!
Also to everyone else!

Compared to the Kite, I expected a bit better sharpness and contrast from the Leica, but I am surprised about the reported better handling and easier eye placement. Could you explain what makes the difference?

The Nikon E II, good point. I’ve read a lot of good things about them too, but the lack of waterproofing and the limited warranty is holding me back.

Handling and ease of eye placement are very personal of course. When I tried the Kite I kept fiddling with eye placement and even though eye relief was enough I had trouble seeing the whole field of view. I briefly compared the CL to the Leica and ease of eye placement was about the same as the Leica. I used the Swarovision 8x32 for 3 years and eye placement and handling were easier than the Leica. Replaced them with an E2... :)

I don't worry about the E2's warranty. I bought them for 300 euro and when they need repair or servicing I can just send them to an independent repair shop. They have a simple design and are inexpensive to service.

But of course my hands and eyes are different from your's so best to try for yourself.

George
 

LucaPCP

Well-known member
Epilogue...

I thought some of you may be interested in the epilogue...

As some of you realized, I had bought both the Leica UV HD+ 8x32 and the Zeiss FL 8x32.

I confirm my initial impressions. The Zeiss have no CA (chromatic aberrations), have very comfortable eyecups for me.
The Leica have a tiny bit more contrast, and a tiny bit more pleasant color, but a touch of CA.
Both work well with glasses. That's the summary of my optical comparison.

The fact is that, unless things are defective, I am not very keen on returning purchases, as it seems to me to be a bit unfair to the seller. And while playing with both, one of my daughters, who often comes with me in nature hikes, started using one of the binos. So for the moment, I am keeping them both.

Also, even though I like the Leicas slightly more optically, I have started to appreciate the Zeiss more and more. They are very comfortable, and they are rugged, more so than the Leica. I often go birdwatching with my bike, and on flat/easy terrain, I often carry the binoculars with eyepiece and objective covers on, but simply strapped in bandolier fashion across a shoulder; they are quite safe in this way (they don't dangle) and are readily accessible. I prefer the Zeiss for this, due to their being (so is my impression) more rugged.

I also have the impression that the Aquadura coating of the Leicas is a bit more effective than the Lotutec of my Zeiss. Sometimes, if the binoculars are dusty (California in Summer is dusty!), I rinse them delicately under room-temperature water, to avoid any scratches, and the Leica clean off a bit easier. That I can clean them this way seems magic!

But so in the end I cannot really say which ones I prefer. I do probably use the Zeiss a bit more often simply due to their ruggedness; I find myself grabbing them in more situations. If I went less with bike and more with feet, I would probably reach for the Leica more.

I also have Victory Pockets 8x25, and I use them in a very different way. I use the Pockets when I go hiking or biking and birding is not my primary concern; the Victory Pockets are carried in a LowePro minibag in the side pocket of my backpack, and I can access them easily without taking off the backpack. But for birding, I much prefer the 8x32, even for the simple fact that I can carry them with me bandolier style with eyecups and objective covers, and they are much easier to use when needed (for short stretches or when there's no dust I just carry them with covers open of course).

Thank you all for your very useful advice; I hope my next posts will be all on birds!
 

eronald

Well-known member
Thanks also from this 8x32 FL owner, Luca! I haven't tried the Ultravid, but have had a good look at the Victory Pocket and a quick look through the Terra. My impressions of the three are very similar to yours, but even if they were different, I would be grateful for your thoughtful and considered impressions!

I find it really interesting that quite a few guys with a photography or art background (yourself, eronald, Tobias) really like the image that Leica binoculars give you. I am impressed that your preference for the Ultravid's colour rendition trumps even things like sharpness, sturdiness, better fit to your face and so on. I did have a similar impression when looking through the Noctivid 8x42 (at Birdfair) and 10x42 (using a friend's for 30-40min). The colours are deep and vivid, and the reds, yellows etc do especially show well. I thought the overall image was most beautiful in bright sunny conditions and I can also see the advantage in having reds and yellows stand out in the kind of dull grey conditions (often experienced here in the UK!) that seem to leach out all colour.

I remember reading the human eye has evolved a particular sensitivity to reds, and maybe this helps explain the liking that some of us have for binoculars that show reds well.

I do agree that Leica seems to be playing the color card to my taste, although the 8x32 UVHD didn't strike me as extremely characteristic as the Noct and the Retrovid.

Edmund
 
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Kevin Conville

yardbirder
I think, and it has been supported somewhat in this thread, that color rendition, contrast, and saturation are quite important attributes that don't get a lot of air play, so to speak.
I think it is at least partly responsible for why I find Leicas so easy to focus on a subject. They seem to quickly "pop" into focus. The result making them very quick and easy to use for birding.
No other binoculars I currently have perform quite like my old 8x32BNs in this respect.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
I have asked this question elsewhere on Birdforum but never received an answer.

Do lovers of the Leica colour balance like it because they find it more attractive or because they find it more true to real life (i.e. more like what the naked eye sees)?

Lee
 

Gilmore Girl

Beth
Supporter
United States
I have asked this question elsewhere on Birdforum but never received an answer.

Do lovers of the Leica colour balance like it because they find it more attractive or because they find it more true to real life (i.e. more like what the naked eye sees)?

Lee

I found the colors more attractive than other bins when I had the Ultravid hd plus.
But at the same time I didn't find the colors unnatural.
With the Zeiss FL I found greens in Pines and Junipers a little more
saturated than other bins, but overall I found the colors to appear natural for the most part.
Perhaps not perfectly true to life with either of these two, but not so off that they appear unnatural.


My Swaro CL (1st gen) appear to have a more neutral color balance than the other two mentioned.

Out of all binoculars I've owned and have experience with, I find colors most
pleasing in the Leica Ultravid and original Swarovski CL.
 
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Kevin Conville

yardbirder
I have asked this question elsewhere on Birdforum but never received an answer.

Do lovers of the Leica colour balance like it because they find it more attractive or because they find it more true to real life (i.e. more like what the naked eye sees)?

Lee

Well, it's a little embarrassing for me to admit after my post #35, but I had Leica 8x32 BNs, Zeiss Victory Pocket 8x25s, and Nikon MHG 8x42s in the backyard after reading your post Lee and concluded there isn't enough of a difference to write about.

To my admittedly aging eyes, colors generally appeared pretty much the same to me. I think my statement above was based on my historical recollections of how they compare and not against these two modern bins.

Nikons have for many years rendered a view very similar to Leicas (to me) so that isn't too surprising. Larger Zeiss looked "bluer" to my eyes and somewhat less contrasty. These 8x25 VPs don't show me that however and render a similar and beautiful view like the Leica and Nikon.

The little Zeiss do come to focus about the same as the Leicas as well, with the Nikons just a tad slower for some reason.
 

eitanaltman

Well-known member
I think, and it has been supported somewhat in this thread, that color rendition, contrast, and saturation are quite important attributes that don't get a lot of air play, so to speak.
I think it is at least partly responsible for why I find Leicas so easy to focus on a subject. They seem to quickly "pop" into focus. The result making them very quick and easy to use for birding.
No other binoculars I currently have perform quite like my old 8x32BNs in this respect.

I have asked this question elsewhere on Birdforum but never received an answer.

Do lovers of the Leica colour balance like it because they find it more attractive or because they find it more true to real life (i.e. more like what the naked eye sees)?


This is an interesting subject, and one I've been thinking about as I test various binoculars. I'm VERY sensitive to color balance, having a background both in fine art as well as graphic design, some digital photography, and also some semi-professional work doing video calibration for home theater. I've done some basic online tests and always score as having perfect color acuity, for whatever that's worth.

In the classic Zeiss vs Leica framing, we get "Zeiss is brighter" because they have higher peak transmission in the center of the visible spectrum (500-550nm). When Gijs quotes transmission in his House of Outdoor test reports, for example, he reports 500nm (night) and 550nm (day) since these roughly correspond to our peak sensitivity to brightness in night/day conditions. I believe the Allbinos transmission figure is also quoted in the center of the visible spectrum.

How often have we seen discussions where "binocular X has 92% transmission and binocular Y has only 86%, no way do I want a binocular that much darker than binocular X!"? Certain models with very "tilted" spectrums perform relatively poorly on the 500/550nm standard but still can feel bright and colorful to many.

So I think Kevin and you have touched on an important point, which is that it's a lot more complicated than just looking at one number (or even two numbers for day vs night). The visible spectrum covers a broad range from at least ~400nm up to and beyond 700nm. If you're just looking at 500/550nm, you're missing insight on the deep blues and reds. You may be able accurately predict "relative brightness", but you won't know that much about overall color saturation / white balance.

Most people are aware of general emphasis and form a consensus "stereotype", e.g. Leica or Nikon tends to peak above 600nm, so they are "warm" or "emphasize reds", whereas Zeiss tends to peak closer in the center of the visible spectrum so they tend to have more of a "green" cast.

However, I don't see a lot of discussion about how broadly the transmission is maintained out to the extremes and what impact that has on the things Kevin mentioned like color rendition, contrast, saturation. Looking at various transmission data from Allbinos, Gijs, etc. Zeiss models almost always outperform comparable Leicas in that peak 500-550 range, and thus have a well earned reputation for brightness and low light viewing. And the transmission is also fairly symmetrical, falling off on both ends, so they are often quite "neutral" in most viewing conditions. However, while Leicas are behind in the center of the spectrum, they do not fall off as much on either end. Once you get below ~450nm on the blue end they catch up, and above ~600nm on the red end, the Leicas often pull ahead.

What does this mean? I'm not sure, but my amateur pet theory is that the "special sauce" of the Leica saturation / contrast is how broad/extended the transmission is out to the edges of the human visible spectrum. While it may not have the peak brightness, it has a larger "color gamut" (to borrow video calibration terminology) which adds to the depth and richness of not just the bright green / yellow / orange tones in the middle, but that extra bit of oomph in the deep reds that the comparable Zeiss is not giving you. It's a subtle difference that isn't obvious in all conditions, but in my own head cannon I am attributing it as the causal factor distinguishing the "Leica view".

NOTE: I'm not promoting one or the other as "better", even though my subjective preference is for the Leica/Nikon color balance, more a thought exercise.....
 
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John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
To help illustrate eitanaltman's point, see 2 graphs from a May 2017 test published by Gijs
It shows various current 8x42's from Leica, Zeiss and Swarovski


John
 

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