Binoculars reviews

Endurance test of 8x42 binoculars

30 April 2013
Arkadiusz Olech

12. Leica Ultravid 8x42 HD

Endurance test of 8x42 binoculars - Leica Ultravid 8x42 HD

The Leica Ultravid HD series consist of top-of-the-range binoculars, produced by that German manufacturer. Although the 8x42 model reached 136.4 points in our optical test, the result might leave you a bit unsatisfied. The best models of Nikon, Swarovski or Zeiss, even the best Alpen, fared better than the Leica. The fans of that company and its red dot could explain it by the fact that mechanically the Leica would be able to defeat its rivals without any problem. Is it really true? Let’s check it up!

Low temperature

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Low temperature exposure didn’t cause any changes in the performance of the central focus wheel, dioptre regulation and gauge regulation of the tubes. Only eyecups stopped moving smoothly and their resistance increased.

High temperature

High temperature didn’t influence the resistance of the central focusing wheel, the eyecups worked perfectly well, the same can be said about the gauge of the tubes. The rubber padding fared as it should, there were no grease leakages. The only problem we managed to find was the click-stop for dioptre correction which movements were definitely too loose, with too small difference in the resistance indicating whether you turn it clockwise or anticlockwise.

Waterproof qualities

According to the specifications the Leica Ultravid HD series of binoculars is waterproof up to a depth of 5 meters. We don’t hesitate to say the producer simply doesn’t tell the truth. The binoculars we tested didn’t manage to survive a submersion in knee-deep water for half an hour. After such an operation the device was completely drenched and most of its functions stopped working. It is a huge fault for such a renowned manufacturer because it is expected that they are honest and their product perform exceedingly well. Meanwhile the Ultravid HD didn’t manage to fare as well as the Delta Optical Forrest II, which costs measly 400 PLN or the Pentax DCF 8X43 ED, which was supposed to be only splash-proof!

The photos below show in what miserable state the Leica was after we took it out of water. One of the tubes was fogged up, in the other one the water sloshed merrily about…It is not nice to kick the defeated opponent but we must add here that even the window with a scale, positioned on the focus wheel, was completely flooded. A real tragedy and a complete failure!

Endurance test of 8x42 binoculars - Leica Ultravid 8x42 HD

Endurance test of 8x42 binoculars - Leica Ultravid 8x42 HD

Endurance test of 8x42 binoculars - Leica Ultravid 8x42 HD


Two falls from different heights made one eyecup crack visibly.

Endurance test of 8x42 binoculars - Leica Ultravid 8x42 HD

Optics cleaning

Water residue, which got stuck after the exposure to high temperature, is very easy to remove and so are the fingerprints. The water dribbling down doesn’t leave one single droplet behind. Big grease stains are not an issue either – you can remove them with 3-4 swipes of a dry cloth.


No other flaws.


The chart below shows the results the tested pair of binoculars got in particular categories:

Low temperature:
High temperature:
Waterproof quality:
Optics cleaning:

The final result of the Leica Ultravid 8x42 HD in our test is nothing to be proud of. It is clear that, despite their high price, the binoculars don’t feature either the best optical or mechanical properties. We definitely don’t recommend buying the tested device. If you have such a big sum of money at your disposal you should focus on the most serious Leica rivals – then you will have a guarantee that nothing will happen if your pair of binoculars accidentally falls into a deeper puddle.

It is really sad that both Leica binoculars which took part in our test had the same slip-up concerning the lack of required waterproof qualities. By and large you can exclude any coincidence here. One pair of binoculars could have been damaged accidentally but two pairs? Not likely.