Welcome to Optics Trade Debates and today we are going to talk about a really special series of Leica binoculars, called Duovid, and we are going to tell you what makes this series of binoculars so special.
It is not every day that we have the pleasure of talking about zoom binoculars because they are quite rare on the market, even today. Duovid is one of the series of binoculars made by Leica – it was introduced in 2001. Now we are in 2019, and it is still on the market, so this can tell you a little bit about its quality. It is still really competitive because when you look through it, you are amazed. For the variable magnification binoculars, the quality is outstanding.
We have some other variable magnification binoculars. By testing some, we found out it is really difficult not to get eye fatigue after even seconds of their use. Usually, the optical performance is not the best, but with Duovid, it is the complete opposite – the optical performance here is really worthy of the Leica badge and the Leica name.
There are two models in this series: 8+12x42, and 10+15x50. You always have two magnifications and what was noticeable while using them is that if you are really precise and set both magnifications on those two rings precisely, you can also use them in intermediate settings. However, the quality of the picture is as high as on 8 or 12, and the diopter can only be set to 8 or 12. This is the only placement to be able to pull out the ring. For example, if set on 9, the ring is locked. This is the reason you will only benefit from maximum diopter quality on these magnifications.
The focus is adjusted only slightly when changing the magnification from 8 to 12. Setting it at 8, then adjusting the focus, and then moving to 12, only slight adjustments have to be made; it is really precise. When using these binoculars for a couple of minutes you can see them for the masterpiece they are. It is also understandable why Leica is the only manufacturer that produces variable magnification binoculars – because it is so difficult. They are basically without competition, as no one would dare to tackle Leica.
We have to be honest – they are not being sold in huge numbers; because they are really expensive, and people are used to the fixed power binoculars, which are optically still a little bit better.
Taking a look at the general features: the form factor is normal, the prisms used inside are Schmidt-Pechan, made in Germany, Wetzlar – the cradle of the optical industry. What about size and weight? They are a little bit bigger than most of the 8x42 binoculars because the eye-pieces are bigger than on typical standard 42mm binoculars. Their weight is one of the disadvantages, as they weigh over a kilogram (about 1030 grams). The size is very similar – taking a look at Zeiss Victory SF, it is even a little bit bigger; as well as the Swarovski EL. The only thing that is significantly different compared to other binoculars is the weight. They weigh more, but they are still lighter than having two 42mm objective lens binoculars – something to keep in mind.
The housing is made out of aluminum, filled with nitrogen, waterproof, and can also be used in temperatures as low as -25° C, which gives us some insight into how well they are made. They have a central bridge, which is a little bit longer due to the whole system for the manipulation of magnification, so they are not as handy as binoculars with an open-bridge design. It is a single-hinge design which makes it a little bit difficult to use them with one hand, but the focusing is positioned perfectly – people with smaller hands do not have problems with reaching the button for Geovid.
When it comes to optical performance, what needs to be pointed out is that when testing these, we were amazed at the high quality of zoom binoculars. We were surprised, as no one from the premium top class of binocular manufacturers is producing variable magnification binoculars. So when we got them, we had mixed feelings regarding the optical performance and we noticed that on 12, they were superb and everything, including the field of view, was excellent. The only real disadvantage is the smaller field of view – 118 m on 1000 m – which is not at the premium segment anymore. But on the 12x magnification it is 90 m, which is not all that bad. In low light situations, the binoculars without magnification will perform better, but for day-time use, it is a perfect choice.
The price-point for the smaller model is 2200 €, and the bigger model is a bit more expensive. Here, you have to think if you can benefit from two magnifications because if you would rather have 8x magnification only, or if you mostly use that magnification, you can pay an additional 100 €, 150 €. So this is something you have to keep in mind here when selecting. The warranty is 10 years, and the service is in Germany, Wetzlar.
To go over the plus points: two binoculars in one, two different magnifications, decent optical performance, and outstanding build quality. What we also must mention here is the accessories. With Leica, it is not only owning the binoculars, but the whole package – the unboxing, the whole history, and the genuine leather bag is a nice addition.
What could have been done better? The field of view on 8x magnification, the weight is a little bit heavier than normal (due to the mechanism used), and when using it with glasses, they are not as comfortable as normal binoculars because the eye relief is a little bit shorter than the standard. Altogether, we have four positions of the eyecups and it is really easy to remove and clean them.
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Products mentioned in the Leica Duovid binoculars debate:
Leica Duovid binoculars: https://www.optics-trade.eu/en/manufacturer-leica/binoculars_series-leica_duovid.html
Leica Duovid 8+12x42: https://www.optics-trade.eu/en/leica-duovid-8-12x42.html
Leica Duovid 10+15x50: https://www.optics-trade.eu/en/leica-duovid-10-15x50.html
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is part of the Marketing team at Optics Trade. She is a nature and astronomy enthusiast, that's why you'll find most of her articles in these two categories.