Leica 8x42 Noctivid Binoculars
When I was given the chance to test Leica’s ‘new’ flagship binocular, the Noctivid, I jumped at the chance, especially as they were the 8x42s, my binocular size of choice.
These open-hinged, smooth rubber armoured binoculars felt well balanced in the hand as soon as I picked them up; the 860g weight being a little more than I am used to with my current binoculars, but this didn’t make them feel overly heavy. As a spectacle wearer I usually keep the eyecups fully down, but to get the best out of this pair I had to move each side up by one click-stop, something another spectacle wearer had commented on to a friend. Once the bins were set up like this I was raring to go and headed out to test them in field conditions.
Immediately, the clarity and brightness of the optic was apparent, even though the weather, typical of the UK, was dull and drizzly! The field of view seemed less than my current bins, but the difference was only a drop of 0.1°, so this was probably just an optical illusion. One difference that became obvious in the first few minutes of use, was the amount of travel in the focus knob to get from the closest focus to infinity. This was only a couple of rotations in these Leicas, whereas my current bins require a full rotation more. Although this gave a narrower depth of field to the Noctivids, it was very useful when switching from looking into close bushes to over the lakes on my local patch. Each birder has their own preferences for depth of field and speed to focus from near to far away, so this should be taken into consideration when thinking about the Leica Noctivids as your main binocular.
The wide glass on the eyepieces gave good eye relief and made using the Noctivids very comfortable on the eye. In all instances I was able to get onto birds rapidly and focus in without losing my subject; especially useful when watching hirundines over the lakes and being able to identify all three UK species in the one flock, even against the light background of the sky. The AquaDura coating, which is water repellent, meant that even though I was using the Noctivids in drizzle, excess water never stayed put on the objective lens end and so didn’t obscure my viewing.
The excellent build quality and finish of these binoculars was as expected from one of the brand leaders; Leica has clearly added another great product to their already impressive range of optics. I would have no hesitation in recommending the Leica Noctivids as a binocular purchase for life. I really cannot see any reason to upgrade further, if that is even possible, once you have a pair of these in your birding kit. As always, binocular choice is personal; I prefer 8x42s such as these Leica Noctivids that I put through their paces in this test. In summary, I feel that in quality, performance, balance, feel and excellence there is little to choose between the top three brands but the Leica Noctivids are a must-test binocular before any choice is made. If the choice is for the Noctivids then they will give a lifetime of quality optical performance for your nature watching.