Monday, March 5, 2007

Leica Compact-A "Thumbs Up"

Everyday is filled with many buttons to push; push the button for power, push radio buttons for a station, push a button for your cappuccino at the convenience store. Think about it-how many times during the day do you push a button? I would bet most of us couldn't keep track. Leica has wisely integrated this simple, effective, push button technology into the operation of its Ultravid 8x20 Compact diopter focus system. I certainly think it deserves a "thumbs up" for its ease of use and precise operation. Instead of separate diopter and focus wheels, the Leica Ultravid has incorporated the diopter function into one larger focus wheel. To unlock the diopter, simply hold in the button underneath the bridge with your thumb, then use your index finger to turn the focus wheel located between the ocular lens. When the diopter focus is correct, just release the button to lock the setting. It works like a charm and is a design I would like to see used on more binoculars.

The 8.5 ounce Ultravid, with its 3.7 inch height by 2.3 inch width, feels good ergonomically. Eyeglass wearers should find the 15mm eye relief satisfactory. The smooth rounded eyecups are comfortable and similar to those offered by the Nikon Premier LX L 8x20 binocular and the Swarovski Pocket 8x20 binoculars. The barrels are a smooth rubber (like the Zeiss Victory Compact 8x20) but for the same price, you can purchase the leather style Ultravid. Leather wraps around the barrels and across the bridge for a classic "old world" look and feel. The leather binocular also comes with an upgraded hard leather snap case. A Cordura buckle case is included with the rubber armored compact. Both include ocular lens covers designed for tethering.

The brightness, contrast, color performance and edge sharpness were all very good and matched almost exactly with the Swarovski Pocket 8x20. The Ultravid did have less color aberration than the Swarovski. An atypical result of the Ultravid comparison is the fair result when evaluating resolution at a distance. The separation of lines were not as defined as the Nikon or Swarovski. Close focus at 7.2 feet was crisply detailed. The build quality, ease of focus, and overall performance combined with the Leica Lifetime USA Passport Warranty makes this compact one to use on numerous occasions and for many years to come.

If you are following my compact reviews, you have seen each one has its own distinct styling and optical performance. Speaking of distinctive styling, all you "Swarovski Devotees" will want to check out the Swarovski Pocket Binocular review-coming next!


Eagle Optics Staff


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