Gear re­view

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents - RE­VIEWED BY MATT MER­RITT

Are Le­ica’s new binoc­u­lars wor­thy of their £2k pric­etag? Read our re­view


WITHIN HALF AN hour of Bird­fair start­ing, a se­ri­ous buzz was run­ning around the op­tics tents af­ter the an­nounce­ment of this new model from Le­ica, who were promis­ing out­stand­ing low-light per­for­mance and a more 3D im­age than ever be­fore. The im­age is cer­tainly very bright in all con­di­tions, and with ex­cel­lent con­trast and near-per­fect colour re­pro­duc­tion, you do get a 3D feel view­ing against a messy back­ground, such as veg­e­ta­tion. Field of view, 135m@1000m, is more than Le­ica’s pre­vi­ous flag­ship, the Ul­travid Plus, too, and there’s lit­tle fall-off in qual­ity to­wards the edge of the im­age, just a very small amount of colour fring­ing against very bright light – this was never dis­tract­ing in prac­tice. Fo­cus­ing, cour­tesy of a fin­ger-wide, well-ridged wheel that takes two clock­wise turns from close fo­cus to in­fin­ity, is very pre­cise, and although that sounds like a lot of travel, in prac­tice, it was quick and easy to find fo­cus. Close fo­cus, quoted at 1.9m, ac­tu­ally felt a lit­tle closer, but ei­ther way it’s more than ad­e­quate for most uses. The diop­tre set­ting, on the wheel, is both cal­i­brated and locks in place. They feel per­fectly bal­anced in the hand, and their cut­away de­sign (the first time Le­ica have pro­duced an open-bridge model) un­doubt­edly helps – oth­er­wise the high qual­ity glass and the very solid ar­mour­ing might have had them weigh­ing in rather on the heavy side. As it is, they don’t re­ally feel their 860g, and they’re easy to grip for long pe­ri­ods. One small gripe – an overly stiff fo­cus wheel – was prob­a­bly down to this be­ing a pre-pro­duc­tion model. Ac­ces­sories are a good rain­guard, clip-on ob­jec­tive lens cov­ers, a well padded strap, and a fab­ric case.


Le­ica’s best yet – it’s hard to find any­thing to fault. They’re £300 more than the Ul­travid Plus, but for that you get a binoc­u­lar that com­pares with any­thing else out there.

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