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Binoculars review

2012-05-07 12:58:18

Leica Ultravid 8x42 HD

The Ultravid HD binoculars’ series was launched in 2007 substituting the Ultravid devices. It consists of roof prism binoculars with the objective lens’s diameter from 20 to 50 mm. All the binoculars from this series feature the Schmidt-Pechan prisms. To ensure high transmission they were covered by dielectric HighLux (HLS) coatings and, additionally, P40 phase coatings.

Compared to the previous version, the producer used some fluorite glass in the objective lenses and better antireflection coatings which are supposed to assure the transmission level higher by 3%. What’s more, the outer optical surfaces were covered by AquaDura coatings which task is to make the water roll off very quickly. These coatings also make the cleaning of optical elements easier – the traces of damp, mud or fingerprints are supposed to be very easy to remove.

The magnesium alloy casing of this pair of binoculars is covered by soft, matt rubber which is supposed to guarantee a firm grip in all circumstances. Additionally the casing is waterproof up to a depth of 5 meters and nitrogen-filled. The Ultravid HD binoculars work in the temperature range from –25 to +60 °C.

Buyers get a neoprene strap, a Cordura case, caps for objectives and eyepieces; the instrument comes with a 10 year guarantee.

Leica Ultravid 8x42 HDLeica Ultravid 8x42 HDLeica Ultravid 8x42 HDLeica Ultravid 8x42 HD
Manufacturer:
Leica
web site
Distribution / Sales:
Hubertus Pro Hunting
web site
e-mail
ul. Ptasia 4a
00-138 Warszawa
 
Basic parameters:
Magnification Lens diameter Angular field of view Prisms Eye relief Weight Price
8x 42mm 130/1000(7.4o) BaK-4/roof 15.5 mm 790g 7900PLN
More information about this product

Results of the review

Real front lens diameter Left:   42+/- 0.05mm
Right:  42+/- 0.05mm
8/8.0
Real magnification 8.06+/- 0.05x 3/3.0
Transmission 88.1+/- 1.5% 12/15.0
Chromatic aberration Slight in the centre, a bit higher than medium on the edge. 5.3/10.0
Astigmatism Very low. 8.7/10.0
Distortion The distance of the first curved line from the field centre compared to the field of vision radius: 45% ± 4% 5/10.0
Coma Appears in the distance of 65-70% of the radius from the field centre and on the very edge it is between medium and high values. 6.1/10.0
Blurring at the edge of the FOV The blur occurs in the distance of 89% ± 4% from the field of vision centre. 8/10.0
Darkening at the edge the FOV Very low. 4.5/5.0
Whiteness of the image The transmission curve slightly inclined with a tendency to grow toward the red part of the spectrum. What’s interesting the inclination in the 8x42 model is a bit steeper than in the 10x42 model – that’s why a lower score. 4/5.0
Collimation Perfect. 5/5.0
Internal reflections
Left: Right:
Leica Ultravid 8x42 HD - Internal reflections - Left Leica Ultravid 8x42 HD - Internal reflections - Right
Very nice areas near the pupils, some very slight flares on the edges of eyepiece elements. What’s interesting, the 8x42 model is much closer to the good result of the 8x32 than to the very average result of the 10x42 HD.
4.8/5.0
Housing One of the smaller 42 mm binoculars. Solid and matt rubber on the padding. Nothing comes off or sticks out. Comfortable to hold and to look through. Ruberized eyecups with smooth regulation in the whole range. No reservations whatsoever. 8/8.0
Focusing Comfortable central wheel which works smoothly (its working range being 460 degrees). Individual focusing through a click-stop on the central wheel. Nothing moves outside. 5/5.0
Tripod An optional tripod adapter. 2/3.0
Interpupilary distance from 54.1 to 75.7mm 5/6.0
Closest focusing distance 2.4 metres 1.5/2.0
Eyepieces FOV Apparent field of view of 60.1 degrees. 7/10.0
Field of view Measured by us amounted to 7.46 ± 0.04 degrees and it was a bit wider than stated in the specifications. A typical field of view for this class of equipment. 6/8.0
Quality of the interior of the barrels Black and matt inner tubes and the bottom. There are several specks of dust on optical elements inside. 4.5/5.0
Vignetting
Left: Right:
Leica Ultravid 8x42 HD - Vignetting - Left Leica Ultravid 8x42 HD - Vignetting - Right
OL: 0.33%. OR: 1.26%
5.5/8.0
Prisms quality High quality BaK-4. 8/8.0
Antireflection coatings Greenish-yellow on the objectives and prisms, pink-orange on the eyepieces. Low intensity. 5/5.0
Warranty [years] 10 4.5/6.0
Final result 136.4/170
80.2%
Econo result 0pkt.
 

Summary


Pros:
  • exceptionally solid, stylish casing which is comfortable to hold,
  • good transmission,
  • sharp image in most part of the field of view,
  • excellent correction of astigmatism,
  • not very high coma,
  • slight chromatic aberration in the centre of the field,
  • negligible light fall-off on the edge of the field,
  • high quality of prisms and coatings,
  • great darkening inside the tubes,
  • good whiteness rendering,
  • area near exit pupils almost perfectly black.

Cons:
  • a bit too high chromatic aberration on the edge of the field of view.



It would be difficult not to say positive things about a pair of binoculars which in no test category dropped below the average and in most got very good or excellent results. All of this was achieved keeping the dimensions of this instrument in check. It makes the Leica one of the smallest binoculars of the 8x42 class - it can be noticed easily in a photo below where it is positioned next to the Zeiss Victory 8x42 T* FL and the Swarovski EL Swarovision 8.5x42.


Miniaturization has its price and it’s easy to find those categories in which the Leica had to pay for it - the noticeable chromatic aberration on the edge of the field of view, in some situations visible distortion or the coma. Also the exit pupils could have been more circular. These all are the reasons why the Leica didn’t reach the level of 140 points in our test; that borderline was crossed by its renowned competitors, though, and also some models noticeably cheaper than the tested binoculars.


The summary of this test is being written while the first new Trinovid series binoculars, presented at the beginning of 2012, are hitting the shelves. After their launch the current situation is interesting indeed. Historically speaking the Trinovid series instruments were launched first (at the turn of the 60s and the 70s of the 20th century). They were given a rubber padding later but, at the beginning of the 90s of the 20th century they were redesigned. As a result the producers got very solid pairs of binoculars but quite heavy for its class. The idea behind the launch of the more expensive Ultravid series was about offering the same quality of optics like that of the Trinovids but in a smaller and physically lighter casing. One glance at the following chart and you see clearly that the old Ultravid BR and the old Trinovid featured the same field of view but that latter device was by as much as 100 grams heavier.

Now the situation changed. The new Trinovid was launched after the new Ultravids. It has a slightly narrower field of view and the difference in weight and dimensions becomes negligible so we get practically twin sets of binoculars. I am very curious about the quality of the new Trinovids’ optics. On the one hand, as a cheaper model, it should be optically worse than that of the Ultravid HD. Judging by the score the Ultravid HD reached in our test it wouldn’t be a piece of good news for the Leica company. If the new Trinovid is comparable or even optically better than the Ultravi HDd, presented here, the sale volume of the more expensive Ultravids will drop dramatically. It won’t be something for Leica to enjoy either.

Perhaps, however, the appearance of new, good Trinovids, indicates that there will be launches of even newer and better Ultravids in the near future? It seems such a situation would be for Leica and its customers the best. New Trinovids would supersede the current Ultravids HD and those newer Ultravids would reach the level comparable or higher than that of the EDG from Nikon or Swarovision Swarovski’s series. I have to admit such a solution appeals to me a lot and I keep my fingers crossed, hoping it will come true.