Leica Noctivid 10x42 review
Serial Nr.: 2143674
Test period: 4-1 to 10-1-2018
Origin of sample: Leica demo pool/official test weeks
The Leica Ultravid 7x42HD Plus is my master binocular. While it looks underspecced on paper, its images are truly stunning - probably because Leica concentrated on what is really important - contrast, colour, ease of view, compactness. You cannot fake such quality. I enjoy this glass almost every day, it made my life more beautiful. I came to love the Leica way of balancing best qualities in a small package.
Enter the Noctivids. Truly new designs. And very exciting ones, as the view is stunning in both. I am not very interested in 10x binoculars, but as Leica send me this one (instead of the 8x42) I was giving it a short test run for a couple of days.
Now I am even more excited both about the 8x42 and possible 8x32 and 7x42 Noctivids...
Ergonomy: For my taste, a huge step back from the Ultravids. Firstly, space between the barrels is too small to have a firm grip on both barrels with hands in one line, unlike in a Zeiss SF or Swarovision 8x32. On the other hand, the double hinge bulk will prevent the firm grip I have on an Ultravid or Nikon EDG. Secondly, and more importantly, the focuser is way to close to the barrels. As I don´t want to bend my index finger to reach the focuser I am forced to hold the glass like this: Left hand close to the objectives, right hand close to the focuser. Well, it works and I would not mourn forever, but this is far from the simple, efficient ergonomy of an Ultravid or Nikon EDG.
The double hinge is mostly about giving prospective buyers the impression that this is a serious Swarovision contender.
I can only hope that for possible 8x/10x32 versions they will NOT use this design. Anyway those should be as compact as possible.
The focuser is velvety smooth like in a Nikon EDG. Simply fantastic. There must be some grease somewhere here. 1.75 revolutions from close to infinity.
Hinge friction is perfect.
Eyecups lock in 3 positions (plus zero position).
Diopter adjustment works fine by pulling out from the focus knob, +/-5 is displayed, but there is a bit of headroom.
Internal blackening is state of the art, a very matte black everywhere.
top: Ultravid, bottom: Noctivid
Weight is 860g according to Leica, wish it were 100g less like in the Ultravid.
It feels like a top quality product and - as expected from Leica - the industrial design is superb. Why don´t Zeiss and Swarovski build such beautiful glasses?
Global contrast and flare suppression: The Noctivid offers state of the art suppression of peripheral, crescent flares flashing into the image from internal reflections of the sun. But there is still a lot of milky veiling glare when watching against a bright sun, although less than in most competitors. I was a bit shocked that in some circumstances my 7x42 Ultravid had less veiling glare in the image center.
Microcontrast: state of the art contrast from big to medium to small objects down to the resolution limit. If you want to see the glow and the sparkle, here it is as it should be. Perfect. Both in daylight with closed eye pupil and open pupil in twilight a superb performance.
Colour reproduction is very similar to the Ultravid, neutral with a tad of yellow and very saturated. Maybe the Ultravid is a bit more neutral and the Noctivid a tad more green. This is also suggested by the coatings, which are low intensity blue-green but feature a bit more purple/tobacco than the Ultravid. Well its perfect Leica colour but I am not yet buying the Leica statement that this is whiter, more neutral than the Ultravid.
top: Ultravid 7x42, bottom: Noctivid 10x42
Distortion is strong pincushion, panning behaviour perfect with no warping and quite a bit better than in the 7x42 Ultravid. I applaud loudly. See below - dimensionality.
Apparent field of view is 112m according to Leica.
Field curvature is slight but visible, the field curves away from the viewer. Like pincushion distortion, I consider field curvature to be a very good trait in a binocular. Due to field curvature, when focus is on the centre, one has to refocus slightly for getting the far edges of the field into perfect focus. But then, objects are quite sharp, much sharper than in the 7x42 Ultravid. This is an almost flat field binocular but without the major disadvantage of a true flat field with low distortion - that is, that everything looks like a poster on a wall instead of a threedimensional scene.
Ease of view is exemplary for a glass with 4mm exit pupil and it is possible to roam around in the field quite a bit by eye movements, without blackouts. The first I attribute to the excellent control of residual aberrations.
Chromatic aberration when looking at bare branches is something which puzzles me a bit. It almost seems the otherwise advanced optical construction and extreme contrast also unveil quite a bit of extra chromatic aberration. Also, sloppy placement of the exit pupil relentlessly induces CA. Here I would need another 10x glass to get a better feel for the issue. CA is more the yellow-blue kind than the usual magenta-green, and the sometimes strong blue distinctly reminds me of the blooming phenomenon which sometimes occurs in digital images... Fortunately, in most situations CA is absent.
Top: Ultravid 7x42, bottom: Noctivid. These ocular lenses are huge.
Brightness seems much higher than I expected, but I would love to confirm this with the 8x42 vs my 7x42 Ultravid. State of the art brightness for a SP prism design.
Dimensionality of the images is really a strong point of the Noctivid. Space is rendered much more threedimensionally than in true flat field designs like the Swarovision or the Nikon EDG. Bravo. This was my biggest worry about the Noctivids! Probably a product of pincushion distortion, field curvature and extreme microcontrast.
Eye relief is 19mm according to Leica, and this is credible.
Close focus is a mere 1.9m according to Leica, but this involves serious squinting and is not a comfortable view, even if you decrease interpupillary distance and move a bit further away from the oculars.
- Extreme contrast, a truly glowing, sparkling image. Couldn´t be happier, and wouldn´t be happy with less.
- State of the art ease of view
- Superb aberration control
- Lovely colour reproduction
- Great dimensionality
- Chromatic aberration in high contrast scenes
- Heavier and bulkier than Ultravid or Nikon EDG
Zeiss tried it with the SF, but failed (for a couple of good reasons). Leica may do it now with the Noctivid - challenge the Swarovision as the most successful top bin. My only serious complaint is ergonomy, comparing with Ultravid or Nikon EDG this is a big step back. But then, I don´t like the Swarovision ergonomy either. If I were in for a 10x42, I wouldn´t look any further.
As I am not, I am looking forward to using the 8x42, and hope for 8x32 and 7x42 Noctivids ASAP...