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Zeiss lover gets wooed by the Leica "enhanced reality" look (2 Viewers)

ZDHart

Well-known member
Supporter
I have used a pair of Zeiss Conquest HD 8x32 for a number of years. These binoculars are quite impressive. Especially so, when considering the $900 price.

BUT... I recently decided to check out a pair of alpha bins, just for interest-sake. So, a few weeks ago, I bought a pair of Zeiss 8x32 Victory SF. Yes... there is a noticeably visible difference - not a "2.5x the price" difference, but there is a nice difference, all around. I still dearly love the Conquest 8x32 HDs. And now, I love the Victory SF 8x32's!

Then, I wanted to explore some more and got curious about Leica Ultravid. So, last week I bought a pair of Ultravid 8x32 HD Plus. I've been using them for a week, comparing to my Victory SF 8x32 and Conquest HD 8x32. I was a bit stunned by how compact the UV 8x32 bins are - they almost felt a little too small to me, for general use. Wonderful size and weight for carrying-around extensively, though.

Zeiss Victory SF 8x32 ~ Zeiss Conquest HD 8x32 ~ Leica Ultravid HD Plus 8x32
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What I love most about the UV 8x32HD+ is the enchanting "look" of the image - snappy contrast, nicely saturated colors, warm color tone. I would call it sort of an enhancement to reality, it seems - the look, that is. (Of course, every optic ever made does change the "look" of reality, to some degree.)

The build quality on the Ultravid is awesome. Sharpness is fantastic. And the size and weight is dramatically small, in comparison to my two Zeiss 8x32's. My main complaint with the Ultravid is the stiff focusing wheel, makes it a little more difficult to "fine tune" focus than the focus wheels with the Zeiss bins. And, the ease-of-use with these tiny Ultravids is not as good, for me.

So as much as I love the visual "look" afforded by the Ultravid, I have concluded, for myself, that the very small size and light weight of the UV 8x32HD+, combined with the stiff focus wheel, is such that I don't find them as enjoyable to use as my Zeiss Victory SF 8x32, or my Zeiss Conquest HD. I felt I should let them go, in spite of loving the Leica "look" of the image.

That said, if having such a small size and light weight was highly important to me - I would keep the UV 8x32's! (I already have two pair of Swaro CL Pockets - 8x25 and 10x25 - for "carrying around.")

Not wanting to forgo that enchanting Leica image "look", I ordered a pair of Leica Ultravid HD Plus in 7x42 size. I've definitely been won-over by the look to the image provided by Leica bins! And, I think that being a little larger than the Ultravid 8x32's, I will enjoy using the 7x42's more. Plus, there is that "twilight" application, when daylight fades, where I think I'll really enjoy the 7x42's.

If I didn't already have the two Swaro CL Pocket bins, I probably would have kept the UV 8x32's. But those Swarovski Pocket CL bins are sweet, incredibly compact, and lightweight.
 
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eitanaltman

Well-known member
You made the right choice. I agree with your conclusion that the 8x32 is redundant in your current lineup. I’ve also concluded there’s not much point in having both a compact 8x30/32 and a large 8x25.

You are going to love the 7x42, it fills a very different functional niche in your lineup. And you’re gong to be stunned when you realize it’s barely larger and heavier than your 8x32 Conquest (and shorter than your 8x32 SF) yet provides an exit pupil more than double the size. I’ve found that the 7x42 UV has somewhat obsoleted the large 8x32 for my uses.

With respect to the “enhanced reality” — I’ve never experienced that impression. I find Leicas to be very “natural” and I’ve always found the color balance of Zeiss to be less pleasing. I’ve got my 7x42 HD in my lap as I write this, and I don’t find anything “enhanced” in the image. I think you’re just used to the different color balance and somewhat lesser contrast/saturation of your Zeiss and Swaro bins, so the warmer, more saturated and punchy view of the Leica feels unfamiliar (and thus less “natural”).
 

ZDHart

Well-known member
Supporter
You made the right choice. I agree with your conclusion that the 8x32 is redundant in your current lineup. I’ve also concluded there’s not much point in having both a compact 8x30/32 and a large 8x25.

You are going to love the 7x42, it fills a very different functional niche in your lineup. And you’re gong to be stunned when you realize it’s barely larger and heavier than your 8x32 Conquest (and shorter than your 8x32 SF) yet provides an exit pupil more than double the size. I’ve found that the 7x42 UV has somewhat obsoleted the large 8x32 for my uses.

With respect to the “enhanced reality” — I’ve never experienced that impression. I find Leicas to be very “natural” and I’ve always found the color balance of Zeiss to be less pleasing. I’ve got my 7x42 HD in my lap as I write this, and I don’t find anything “enhanced” in the image. I think you’re just used to the different color balance and somewhat lesser contrast/saturation of your Zeiss and Swaro bins, so the warmer, more saturated and punchy view of the Leica feels unfamiliar (and thus less “natural”).
Yes, I probably overstated the visual difference somewhat by calling it enhanced reality.

As a retired commercial photographer, I've spent a lifelong career obsessed with color quality and visual enhancement to photographic renditions of reality. It is the difference between my Zeiss & Swaro bins image renditions vs. the Ultravid image rendition that I'm referring to, really. And, I'd say that to my visual taste, it is an enhancement - as I slightly prefer it.

But like you, I too enjoy the visual renditions of all three of these brand bins - with a bit of a special nod toward the way the Ultravids render a scene. Subtle differences aside, life does have a relatively "natural" look with all of them. The barely perceptible "rosy" tint given by Ultravids gives a really wonderful outlook on the world. (Though they are somewhat un-natural, I prefer rose colored sunglasses, too. ;))

I'm eagerly looking forward to the arrival of the Ultravid 7x42's! :)
 
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Gijs van Ginkel

Well-known member
ZDHart, post 3,
As far as I know all large binocular producers use the transmission spectra they determine from their instruments using a DIN standard for color representation of the binocular images. And not all of them make identical choices resulting in perfect color reproduction, slightly warm, or cold or in sme cases yellow colored images so: not all make the same choices. As far as I have seen Swarovski generally scores very high with regard to the criterium of perfect color representation. That does not take into account differences in personal experiences/eye sensitivity or personal likes, since that varies a lot.
Gijs van Ginkel
 

ZDHart

Well-known member
Supporter
ZDHart, post 3,
As far as I know all large binocular producers use the transmission spectra they determine from their instruments using a DIN standard for color representation of the binocular images. And not all of them make identical choices resulting in perfect color reproduction, slightly warm, or cold or in sme cases yellow colored images so: not all make the same choices. As far as I have seen Swarovski generally scores very high with regard to the criterium of perfect color representation. That does not take into account differences in personal experiences/eye sensitivity or personal likes, since that varies a lot.
Gijs van Ginkel

It is quite subtle, but in color spectrum, the Ultravid seem to give an edge toward warmth, while my Victory SF, Conquest HD, and Swarovski CL bins seem fairly centered-neutral (to my eyes) in the color spectrum. And the Ultravid seem a bit more "punchy" in contrast, as well.

As for highly detailed clarity, the Victory SF and Ultravid HD Plus do present a touch of extra crisp clarity over the Conquest HD, but the difference is fairly subtle and may not be noticed by some people, on casual observation. The extra something that comes with alpha bins is definitely clear, on closer observation. As for whether paying 2.5x the price is worth it simply depends on the depth of the pocketbook.

Before buying the Ultravid, for some odd reason I wasn't expecting to like them as much as I like Zeiss and Swaro, but as it turns out, I am enjoying the Ultravid "picture" (color quality and contrast) every bit as much - perhaps even the most of the three - not that any of them are anything less than wonderful.

As for ease-of-use, 3D pop, and field of view... the Victory SF 8x32's are spectacular and easily the best of any bin I've ever used.
 
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Renze de Vries

Well-known member
As far as I have seen Swarovski generally scores very high with regard to the criterium of perfect color representation. That does not take into account differences in personal experiences/eye sensitivity or personal likes, since that varies a lot. Gijs van Ginkel
Aha, facts, measurement, DIN. Where can we see Swarovski's (and others') graphs and figures Gijs?

Renze
 

ZDHart

Well-known member
Supporter
I think what enhances the Leica UV in X42 besides the optics is the smaller size and weight than other premium glass.

I'm sure that you're right.

For many, too, the amazingly and comparatively small size and light weight of the Ultravid 8x32 is an enhancement vs. other premium and near-premium 8x32's.
 

dries1

Member
Regarding 8X32s no wonder not many Zeiss FL 8X32s come up for sale since many like the light weight and small stature and keep them. They might get the larger SF, but many will keep the FL 8X32 - (great travel glass). I have the BN 8X32 and it is a great travel glass, along with the FL.
 

Pinewood

New York correspondent
United States
Regarding 8X32s no wonder not many Zeiss FL 8X32s come up for sale since many like the light weight and small stature and keep them. They might get the larger SF, but many will keep the FL 8X32 - (great travel glass). I have the BN 8X32 and it is a great travel glass, along with the FL.
Hello,

I have both the 8x32 BN and the 8x32 FL. I have hardly used the BN, since I bought the FL. IIRC, the FL has better eye relief and is far handier.

Stay safe,
Arthur
 
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dries1

Member
Either of them work in a pinch for me, when I travel it is without a suitcase, but a backpack and small duffle - sleeping bag included.
 

ZDHart

Well-known member
Supporter
The Victory SF 8x32 isn't very compact, though it is fairly light weight, exceptionally nicely balanced, and quite enjoyable to grab up and put into use. A very nice and especially easy-to-use piece of glass, I certainly will admit.

The Ultravid 8x32 is an enticing little bit of bin, that's for sure. Certainly a very handy size and weight, great "picture quality"... though not quite so effortlessly put to use. It is quite alluring, though - and great for "on the go."

We have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to binoculars to choose from!
 

ZDHart

Well-known member
Supporter
Regarding 8X32s no wonder not many Zeiss FL 8X32s come up for sale since many like the light weight and small stature and keep them. They might get the larger SF, but many will keep the FL 8X32 - (great travel glass). I have the BN 8X32 and it is a great travel glass, along with the FL.
The Zeiss 8x32 FL look like a really wonderful size - a good bit more compact than the 8x32 SF.

Is the optical quality pretty much on par with the SF, differing mostly in the form-factor? Did Zeiss change the design to obtain the wider, flatter field-of-view, chasing after Swaro?
 

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
Yes, I probably overstated the visual difference somewhat by calling it enhanced reality.

As a retired commercial photographer, I've spent a lifelong career obsessed with color quality and visual enhancement to photographic renditions of reality. It is the difference between my Zeiss & Swaro bins image renditions vs. the Ultravid image rendition that I'm referring to, really. And, I'd say that to my visual taste, it is an enhancement - as I slightly prefer it.

But like you, I too enjoy the visual renditions of all three of these brand bins - with a bit of a special nod toward the way the Ultravids render a scene. Subtle differences aside, life does have a relatively "natural" look with all of them. The barely perceptible "rosy" tint given by Ultravids gives a really wonderful outlook on the world. (Though they are somewhat un-natural, I prefer rose colored sunglasses, too. ;))

I'm eagerly looking forward to the arrival of the Ultravid 7x42's! :)
Hello ZDH,

I don't know if your UVHD 7x42 has arrived yet; I hope you like it as much as everyone seems to. You might just find the focuser not living QUITE up to the Zeiss standard (as with your 32 experience), or at least it will be a bit different. Still usually very good but after using UVs and FLs now for three years I find the Zs — to my taste — are probably as close to perfection as there is (leaving aside Nikon EDG). But then again I like the focuser on my Sw SLC, which is often derided for being a bit gritty / agricultural so to speak.

Looking forward to reading your impressions. I was using mine yesterday and have come to like it more and more over the last few years.

Tom
 

ZDHart

Well-known member
Supporter
Hello ZDH,

I don't know if your UVHD 7x42 has arrived yet; I hope you like it as much as everyone seems to. You might just find the focuser not living QUITE up to the Zeiss standard (as with your 32 experience), or at least it will be a bit different. Still usually very good but after using UVs and FLs now for three years I find the Zs — to my taste — are probably as close to perfection as there is (leaving aside Nikon EDG). But then again I like the focuser on my Sw SLC, which is often derided for being a bit gritty / agricultural so to speak.

Looking forward to reading your impressions. I was using mine yesterday and have come to like it more and more over the last few years.

Tom

Hi Tom! Yes, FedEx whisked the UVHD+ 7x42 to my doorstep (from B&H) a couple of hours ago. I've been using them on and off for the last two hours.

First impressions: fantastic. Build quality is solid as a rock, focus wheel is easy to use, though not quite as easy as with my Zeiss and Swaros. The Leica "look" is there, and crystal clear and razor sharp. The depth of focus is deep, such that focus does not pop in and out so clearly and obviously, as it does with my Zeiss Victory SF and Conquest HD. I guess that can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on one's point of view. It does make it a little less easy to "see" when your focus point is dead on. But then again, with deeper depth of focus, finding the dead-on focus point may be less needed?

Diopter is wonderfully easy to adjust and set.

All in all, so far I like these very much. And I'm sure that when this evening's feeding time comes around, just after sunset, I'll really be able to appreciate the low-light capabilities. I'm pretty sure these are keepers.

And these are making me think even more about exchanging the UVHD+ 8x32s that I received last week, for a pair of UVHD+10x42. My daily view of the "back yard" has both close in viewing, and very distant viewing opportunities. The vast majority of my binocular use is at home, and I have Swaro CL Pockets in 8x25 and 10x25 for travel.

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View of hawks on the snag, which can be seen toward the right end of the above image.
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SeldomPerched

Well-known member
Hi Z, fantastic impressions from your photos. In fact I am wondering now what I thought I had put out of mind a few months ago - whether mine are not absolutely in correct adjustment and need comparing with another pair; they seem fine - possibly because of the colour and ease of view and the Leica 3D effect etc, but unless your photos have had a bit of unsharp mask optimization I think mine are trailing a bit behind.

Anyway you have got yourself a good bin there and I am sure you will enjoy it more and more. Well done. :)

I know everyone says the great depth of field means less focusing fuss but personally I have to nail it exactly on the target as I do notice the differences. Do you shoot Leica cameras? That's another amazing experience...

Tom
 

ZDHart

Well-known member
Supporter
Hi Z, fantastic impressions from your photos. In fact I am wondering now what I thought I had put out of mind a few months ago - whether mine are not absolutely in correct adjustment and need comparing with another pair; they seem fine - possibly because of the colour and ease of view and the Leica 3D effect etc, but unless your photos have had a bit of unsharp mask optimization I think mine are trailing a bit behind.

Anyway you have got yourself a good bin there and I am sure you will enjoy it more and more. Well done. :)

I know everyone says the great depth of field means less focusing fuss but personally I have to nail it exactly on the target as I do notice the differences. Do you shoot Leica cameras? That's another amazing experience...

Tom
Tom... those photos of mine are not made with binoculars. I shoot with Lumix and Olympus Micro4/3 cameras these days. And I have a few Leica branded Panasonic lenses for the system. (Panasonic and Leica are in partnership, working together producing cameras and lenses.)

The panorama image off my back patio (above) was made with Lumix GX8 camera and Leica/Pana 12-60 lens, at 25mm normal perspective (50mm equivalent in 35mm format) of several stitched images, combined.

The tele image of the hawks (which does look very much "binocular") was made with the Panasonic 100-300 lens, at 300mm (600mm equivalent in 35mm format).

I have never tried making photographs through binoculars. Perhaps I should "look into" doing that! :cool:
 
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jafritten

Well-known member
And these are making me think even more about exchanging the UVHD+ 8x32s that I received last week, for a pair of UVHD+10x42. My daily view of the "back yard" has both close in viewing, and very distant viewing opportunities. The vast majority of my binocular use is at home, and I have Swaro CL Pockets in 8x25 and 10x25 for travel.

51235802034_840f3d5883_h.jpg
ZD, given your viewing opportunities and the fact that you use your binoculars mainly on your very nice patio, I'd say that the 10x42s will be a better complement to your new 7x42s than the 8x32s. Quite generally, a 7x lined up with a 10x will cover more ground than an 8x. In fact, if I were in your position, I'd consider a pair of 10x50s. I have never had a look through them as they're too big for my purposes but they are supposed to be great.
 

ZDHart

Well-known member
Supporter
ZD, given your viewing opportunities and the fact that you use your binoculars mainly on your very nice patio, I'd say that the 10x42s will be a better complement to your new 7x42s than the 8x32s. Quite generally, a 7x lined up with a 10x will cover more ground than an 8x. In fact, if I were in your position, I'd consider a pair of 10x50s. I have never had a look through them as they're too big for my purposes but they are supposed to be great.
Hello jafritten! Thanks for chiming in. Yes, I think you're right. Much as I adore these little 8x32's, they are of less use to me than a pair of alpha-grade 10x42s. (I also have two other pair of Zeiss 8x32s already: Conquest HD and Victory SF. So, waay over covered for 8x32s.)

Since I am well within the return/exchange policy of B&H... it makes good sense to exchange these wonderful 8x32 bins for some UVHD+ 10x42s.
 

mwhogue

Well Known Member
Supporter
Hello jafritten! Thanks for chiming in. Yes, I think you're right. Much as I adore these little 8x32's, they are of less use to me than a pair of alpha-grade 10x42s. (I also have two other pair of Zeiss 8x32s already: Conquest HD and Victory SF. So, waay over covered for 8x32s.)

Since I am well within the return/exchange policy of B&H... it makes good sense to exchange these wonderful 8x32 bins for some UVHD+ 10x42s.



ZD, I agree with Jafritten's post 18. Owning both the 7x42 and 10x50 UV HD+, IMO the 10x50 would be an even (much) better companion to your 7x42 than a 10x42, especially given the immediate viewing opportunities depicted in your photos. With the right harness I can comfortably carry the 10x50 on challenging hikes and it's great on a Tripod of course. The 7x42 and 10x50 are a fantastic pair of "bookends" in terms of full size bins.

Mike
 

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