Best Leica Binoculars Reviews
Leica binoculars and high quality go hand in hand, when purchasing a pair, you get a three-year no-fault warranty.
Best Leica Binoculars
When looking at Binoculars you cannot miss the brand Leica. Leica Binoculars is one of the “Big Three” in Binoculars and a brand that stands for high quality in optics. Leica’s quality comes with a price though, along with the two other brands in the “Big Three” (Zeiss and Swarovski) they are regarded as the most expensive.
So, what makes Leica Binoculars expensive and are they really better than Binoculars at a (much) lower price point? Are they worth the price? In this post you will read what the Best Leica Binoculars are and also what makes them special. One thing is for sure, if you want a high-quality pair of Binoculars that will last you a lifetime then Leica Binoculars are a very good option.
Leica is a German manufacturer that is famous for Binoculars, camera’s, and camera lenses. In these field they are regarded as one of the top brands. Leica users are most enthusiastic about the crystal-clear pictures that provide excellent dept, where in camera’s (and lenses) they most like the look and feel of the pictures it produces. The lenses transmit so much of the light that even dark areas are still detailed. The technology and knowledge that is used to produce the lenses benefits both the camera and the binoculars departments.
Lesser known is that Leica also manufactures rifle scopes, microscopes and ophthalmic lenses. In each of those areas they have a similar reputation as in the Binoculars and camera’s area.
When asking around for binoculars, everyone knows Leica Binoculars and many people claim they are the best. Let’s dive directly into which models are best and read more about the brand and the other models later in this post. At the end I have included a short explanation on all the numbers that are used to describe Leica Binoculars (or any pair of Binoculars for that matter).
Leica binoculars and high quality go hand in hand, when purchasing a pair, you get a three-year no-fault warranty. Basically, if you manage to break it in the first 3 years you can return it and get a new one, no questions asked. After those three years, you have a lifetime limited warranty, this covers manufacturing defects.
#1) Best Leica Binoculars Overall
- Magnification: 8x
- Lens diameter: 42 mm
- Exit pupil: 5,25 mm
- Eye relief: 19 mm
- Field of view: 135 m @ 1000 m / 443 ft @ 1000 yds
- Minimum focus distance: 1,8 m / 6,2 ft
- Waterproof: 5 m / 16,5 ft
- Weight: 860 gr / 30 oz
The best Leica Binoculars overall are the Leica Noctivid 8×42. The Noctivid is the high-end range that Leica offers and the 8x is just a bit easier to use than the 10x. For the 10x you need a more stable hand when looking longer times through the binoculars. The Leica Noctivid are waterproof, filled with nitrogen and are ergonomically designed which makes holding them a pleasure. They provide a crystal-clear image in all light conditions. They really are the best you can get in terms of binoculars.
#2) Best Budget Leica Binoculars
- Magnification: 8x
- Lens diameter: 32 mm
- Exit pupil: 4 mm
- Eye relief: 17 mm
- Field of view: 124 m @ 1000 m / 372 ft @ 1000 yds
- Minimum focus distance: 1 m / 3,3 ft
- Waterproof: 4 m / 13 ft
- Weight: 652 gr / 22 oz
The best budget Leica Binoculars are not the cheapest they have to offer, but they almost are. The best budget option is the Leica Trinovid 8×32. The Trinovid is the entry level range at Leica Binoculars but that doesn’t mean low quality. Every model of Leica has a very high quality. The Leica Trinovid 8×32 is relatively small and light combined with a long eye relief and close focus distance. They are great for all round use and will last you a lifetime when used normally.
#3) Best Runner Up Leica Binoculars
- Magnification: 8x
- Lens diameter: 32 mm
- Exit pupil: 4 mm
- Eye relief: 13,3 mm
- Field of view: 135 m @ 1000 m / 404 ft @ 1000 yds
- Minimum focus distance: 2,1 m / 7,2 ft
- Waterproof: 5 m / 16,5 ft
- Weight: 535 gr / 18,9 oz
As a runner up Leica Binoculars, I have selected a pair that can be used at all occasions. Similar to the budget choice it is an 8×32 model but this time from the Ultravid range. It is a small full-sized pair of binoculars which makes it easy to carry around. You can bring it everywhere with ease.
#4) Best Leica Binoculars for Astronomy
- Magnification: 10x
- Lens diameter: 50 mm
- Exit pupil: 5 mm
- Eye relief: 15 mm
- Field of view: 117 m @ 1000 m / 352 ft @ 1000 yds
- Minimum focus distance: 3,3 m / 10,8 ft
- Waterproof: 5 m / 16,5 ft
- Weight: 1000 gr / 35,3 oz
When looking at the night sky, you want as much as possible of the available light to go into the binoculars, the Best Leica Binoculars for Astronomy are the Ultravid range models with a lens diameter of 50 mm. There are three models in this range: the 8×50, 10×50, and 12×50. For the 12×50 you might need a tripod to create a steady view. The top pick would be the Leica Ultravid 10×50.
Leica Binoculars models
Leica Binoculars have three ranges of binoculars, the entry level range is the Trinovid which is also the oldest of the three. The absolute top range is the Noctivid range, which is also the most expensive. In the middle there is the Ultravid range, this range also has the most models.
Leica Trinovid HD
At the first introduction of the Leica Trinovid, it quickly became clear that it was not the most popular Binoculars on the market. High production costs made the Leica Trinovid very expensive, even for the wealthy Leica customers. The Trinovid has been developed since and recently got a major update (in 2016) to come at the model we know today. The first Trinovid was made in 1958.
The name “Trinovid” is derived from the three (Tri) new (Novel -> nov) innovations (i). These innovations were an internal focusing system, better (if not the best) optical performance and all of this combined in an ergonomic and compact design.
Today, production costs are way lower then at first introduction which results in an entry level pair of Leica Trinovid HD Binoculars starting just below the $1000 price mark. First this price, even the “cheapest” option is still a real Leica. Lower price does not mean lower quality at Leica, all of the Trinovid HD Binoculars come for example with the Leica special AquaDura lens coatings.
Leica Trinovid HD Binoculars are known for their close focusing range, they start already at 1 meter (3,3 ft) for the smaller models (32 mm) and come around 1,8 meters (6 ft) for the bigger models (42 mm). Close minimum focusing distance is really beneficial when looking at things that are close by, for example flowers and plants. If you take it one step further, this close focusing distance comes in handy when visiting a museum to take a closer look at your favorite painting.
Leica Ultravid HD plus
The Leica Ultravid HD Plus as we know it today was introduced in 2014 as a successor or the Ultravid HD. The Ultravid HD was released in 2007 as an update of the original Leica Ultravid that was first manufactured in 2003. The Ultravid model range can be considered the benchmark of Leica Binoculars and subject to some special editions together with other brands.
In the Leica Ultravid HD Plus, the well-known Schott HT glass is used. This type of glass has a better light transmission the maybe all other glass used in Binoculars. This range of Leica Binoculars uses a lot of the same technology, such as coatings and body material, as the higher end Noctivid models.
The Ultravid HD Plus is also a big range of Binoculars, you could say that there is a version for everyone. These Leica Binoculars have magnifications of 7x up to 10x with lens diameter sizes starting at 32 mm up to 50 mm. In this range there is a version (the 8×32) which offers crystal clear images and is a compact model making it one of the best options for travelers, hikers and birders that like to pack light. There is also a model (7×42) with a lower magnification but that has a very wide field of view (of 140 meter / 420 ft) which is ideal for observing landscapes and spotting of fast-moving objects.
The Leica Noctivid range is the high-end range of Leica Binoculars. In this range, that only consists of two models, all of Leica’s technology and expertise is combined. The Noctivid range comes in the models of 8×42 and 10×42, the both uses only Schott glass for all of the lenses and have an aesthetically pleasing open bridge design. The Leica Noctivid was introduced in 2016.
These high-end range of Leica Noctivid Binoculars are most famous for their ability to transmit light. They perform extremely well in low light conditions. Looking at the name, that could not come as a surprise: “Noct” means “Light” in Latin. The perform better on all aspects compared to the other models of Leica: crystal clear images, vibrant colors, an ergonomic body and excellent low light performance.
The open bridge design translates into a very pleasing feel when holding them. The weight distribution of the lenses within the binoculars is also very good making it a pleasure to hold, single handed or with both hands at the same time. The Leica Noctivid is slightly heavier than the Leica Ultravid but this is barely noticed when holding them.
Another great advantage of the Leica Noctivids is the eye-relief of 19 mm. Binoculars with an eye relief of 11 mm or more are suitable for people the wear glasses. The 19 mm of the Noctivids make them a good option in this regard. All in all, the Noctivids are the top range but also the best Leica has to offer.
Leica Noctivid Binoculars are made with lead free Schott glass, which is the top quality in terms of light transmitting. The Noctivid range are build with a water- and fog proof magnesium body. The prisms used are Bak-4 (the best available quality) and all the surfaces where light enters and leaves the glass (lenses and prisms) are multi coated. Leica uses special coating for each of the wavelengths to ensure optimal light and color transmitting.
Leica Noctivid uses a thing what they call the “HighLux System” mirror coating to the prisms. They do not mention any details but it is said that it improves light transmission. Often mentioned and rumored is that this HighLux system is a sort of dielectric coating, as is used in high end laser technology.
Leica Trinovid vs Ultravid vs Noctivid
You cannot go wrong with any of the Leica Binoculars. All of them are built to a very high standard of quality. If you have an unlimited budget, go for one of the Noctivid models, for a more specialized model you can opt for one of the Ultravids and if you are more on budget, the Trinovid is your range.
About Leica Binoculars
Before selecting a pair of Binoculars, you want to buy, you need to know at least 2 things: what you are going to use it for and which brand you want. Everyone has heard of Leica Binoculars. Leica stands for high quality at a premium price. They have models for everyone, it doesn’t matter if it is your first, second or one of many pairs that you own. All Leica Binoculars are rugged and durable, at minimum they are splash proof and most are even waterproof. They have high quality multi coated glass and prisms. The bodies are made of lightweight magnesium (which is almost indestructible) and are rubber coated, the inside is filled with nitrogen to prevent them from fogging up. Leica has coated the objective lenses with AquaDura which is a very effective water-repellent coating.
Buying a Leica is done from emotion, and it is rewarding. Leica Binoculars do not compromise in any aspect in terms of sharpness, image clarity and colors. Leica can be seen as an excellent investment as they will last a long time while preserving value, and have a lifetime warranty.
What do all the numbers mean?
I have written a separate and more in dept article on what the numbers mean including a detailed description of all the terminology used,
Just to be sure, I have added shorter descriptions in this article.
Size and Magnification
Binoculars are always noted with their magnification and size, for example the Leica Noctivid 8×42. This means that these Binoculars magnify the image you are looking at 8 times and that the diameter of the lens is 42 mm.
Full size Binoculars have a lens diameter starting from around 35 mm, compact binoculars are considered everything below this size.
The exit pupil is the diameter of the circle of light that comes out of the binoculars (and thus what you can see). The bigger the exit pupil, the better the binoculars are suited for low light conditions. In low light conditions, the pupils of your eye become bigger (up to 7 mm at night!). The smaller the exit pupil of binoculars, the more have to “search” for your subject.
The exit pupil can be calculated by dividing the size by the magnification, for example an 8×42 binoculars have an exit pupil of 5,25 mm (42 / 8 = 5,25). Looking at that calculation, the exit pupil gets bigger at lower magnifications and bigger lens diameters.
Field of view
The field of view is how much you can see when looking through the binoculars. It is measured in meters (or feet) that you can see at a distance of 1000 meters (or yards). Generally, the higher magnification, the smaller the field of view. Different models of the same size and magnification can however have a different field of view.
For example, let’s take three Leica Binoculars 8×42 models: at 1000 meters the field of view for the Noctivid, Ultravid, and Trinovid are respectively 123 meters (404 ft), 118 meters (389 ft) and 113 meters (372 ft).
The eye relief describes the distance your eyes should be from the binoculars in order to see the full picture. Leica Binoculars have eye pieces that can be extended and retracted to accommodate everyone. The Leica Noctivids have the biggest eye relief (19 mm) which means your eye should be almost 2 cm away from the eye piece to see to full picture. This is helpful for people that wear glasses.
How to focus Leica Binoculars?
All Leica Binoculars have a centered focus wheel. Due to the fact that their binoculars are ergonomically designed, this focus wheel is easily accessible. The focus wheel of Leica Binoculars has enough weight to facilitate precise focusing without to being so tight that it would require force.
By turning the wheel, internal lenses will shift slightly and thus adjusting the focus.
How to clean Leica Binoculars?
The best tip in how to clean your Binoculars is to prevent them from getting dirty in the first place. This is not always feasible, so here are some quick tips on how to clean your Leica Binoculars.
- Blow off dust with pressured air or a brush
- Never use water directly on your Binoculars
- Moisten a cloth and use that to clean
- Take your Binoculars to a specialized shop for thorough cleaning
How to spot fake Leica Binoculars?
All Leica Binoculars come with certificates proving they are legit. If anyone is offering a pair without those documents, this could be an indicator the Binoculars are counterfeit. It also helps if you are experienced with Binoculars, you can just look through them and see if they are the expected high quality. Next to that, always ask for the original invoice and call the shop if you do not trust the seller. Basically, you should be aware if the price seems too good to be true (most of the times it is too good to be true).