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10 x 25 Binoculars Leica Ultravid or Zeiss Conquest?

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I have had a set of 10 x 25 Leica Trinovid binoculars for over 20 years and have been delighted with them. The problem is that they are always in the wrong place. Today, what I think is a Bonelli's Eagle or a very frisky Honey Buzzard, has been disporting itself on the updrafts coming up the cliff in front of my house in Provence. Where are my binoculars - back in the UK? I have therefore decided to get another pair. For me 10 x 25 is the perfect size, combining reasonable magnification, ability to hold steady and light weight. Now that I no longer wear spectacles (thank you Centre for Sight, East Grinstead), they are easier to use than ever. The decision comes down to either the later Leica Ultravid or the new Zeiss Conquest binocs, both in 10 x 25. I know I am asking to be trolled posting this in a Leica forum but I have more than done my bit over the last few years, swelling Blackstone's profits. Any opinions folks?

 

Wilson

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I cannot comment on differences between the Zeiss or Leica since I only have Leica binocs. They are great!

I have a pair 8x20 BC and Trinovid 8x30 B. Did you consider buying a larger type? That would give more added value IMO 

My Trinovid is larger and (not much) heavier but gives quite a different viewing experience from the smaller ones.

 

Its a choice between portability and better quality and clarity, no question about which one I would take if I have both within reach, that much difference between 20 and 30mm of the same magnification !

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I haven't tried the new Zeiss Conquests, but whenever I've tried any Zeiss in the past I've been impressed until that is, I've picked up Leica's again. If you are delighted with your existing Leica bins then I would stick with what you like if I were you. (FWIW I'm currently using an oldish pair of 7x35BAs and they are a delight).

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I decided to stick with what I know (boring old f**t) and have bought a non-new but unused set of Ultravid 10 x 25 from a British buyer, who will send to France. I also preferred the central focusing of the Leica to the offset focusing of the Zeiss. I have weak and arthritic hands, so the compact binocs are about all I can manage to hold comfortably and steady. The other upside is that you put these compact binoculars in your pocket or car glove compartment, so have them with you on a walk, on a classic car rally or on a boat, when the bigger ones are sitting in a cupboard at home. 

 

Wilson

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Exactly my recommendation (including the possibility of used or demo pair) based on having both Leica's, and when buying the Trinovids some years ago liking them better than the comparable Zeiss.

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My 10 x 25 Ultravids arrived yesterday afternoon. They seem effectively new. I don't quite know what the guy was up to. He originally bought a pair of Swarkowski 10 x 25 on the 12th of February and then some 10 days later swapped them for a pair of the Leica Ultravids. He obviously decided he then did not like those either and has bought something else and sells the Ultravids on eBay, at close to £200 less than he paid for them a couple of months before. Seems "looney tunes" to me but as the beneficiary, I am not complaining. I even got an invoice and an uncompleted Passport form, so I will get the warranty and passport coverage as well.

 

It will be interesting to compare them at a later date with my 20 year old Trinovid 10 x 25's. Immediately, I think the diopter adjustment, if slightly more difficult to use, on the combination focus/diopter control, will stay where it is set in comparison to the Trinovids. There it is on a rotating objective and is always getting unintentionally altered, as you take them out of their tight fitting case. The only thing that is not as nice is the case, which is a rather bulky nylon job, rather than the very neat soft leather zip up case of the Trinovids. 

 

Wilson

 

 

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Here are the new on the left and 20 year old on the right. Can I detect any difference looking though them. Maybe with the eye of faith, the contrast and brightness might be a fraction higher on the new Ultravid 10 x 25 compared with the near 20 year old Trinovid 10 x 25. I actually think the older Trinovids look nicer and the case is certainly better. Just goes to show how good those Trinovids were in the 1990's. Still the idea is to have one pair in the UK and one in France. I am taking the newer pair to the USA with me, in the hope there will be lots to see on the Outer Banks, NC. 

 

Wilson

 

 

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I have a cheap, ancient pair of 8x50 binoculars (not high end!).

They're rather large so rarely get used.

I've just bought a pair of 10x25 Ultravids and I'm extremely pleased with them.

In fact, I'm really quite surprised how good they are considering how small they are compared to the huge 8x50's

I use a Billingham Hadley Digital bag for my Leica M camera and stuff.

I've just bought an Avea 3 pouch which neatly fits on the side.

The Ultravids fit (just!).

Now I'm sorted and there's no reason to leave the binoculars at home

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I managed to buy another leather Leica Trinovid case for my Ultravid binoculars. Initially it was a bit tight, as they are fractionally larger than the Trinovids but it is such soft leather, that it soon stretched to fit well. 

 

Wilson

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Not entirely fair to current Zeiss binoculars, but years ago their compact 8x20 lived at our place up in the mountains. I liked it even though focussing was a bit fiddly, but wet snow killed it off (one internal prism became  permanently cloudy). The replacement Leitz Trinovid alternative once had a bath in a stream but still works fine.

 

More recently I have a small  Ultravid for use at home. Nice, fairly wide field of view, but as with all the pocket sized instruments, the small exit pupil seems to require more wiggling of the ocular to get a good view than you will have to if a larger cone of light was coming out .

 

The newer binoculars may have better weather sealing, but the more plasticky and lightweight pocket versions can perhaps not be expected to be as resistant to being knocked about as the older rubberized metal versions. 

 

p.

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I have spent a number of weeks outside in the very wet north west coast of Scotland, with my Trinovid 10 x 25 and not a hint of moisture inside. I bought them back in 1993, as the Nikon 10 x 30 I had been using, leaked and fogged up. I also used to use a Leica riflescope, which was superb and far better than the Schmidt and Bender it replaced, which had far too short an eye-relief. On a lightweight "mountain" 7mm Remington magnum rifle, with heavy recoil, long eye relief (the distance from the rearmost part of the scope to your eye) is important to avoid what is usually known as a "Wetherby Eyebrow" where the back rim of the scope hits your eyebrow on recoil, usually cutting it quite badly.

 

Wilson

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One thing worth mentioning: Leica binoculars come with lifetime free repairs.

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One thing worth mentioning: Leica binoculars come with lifetime free repairs.

 

Presumably not from owner caused damage but for things like leaks and deterioration of the prisms etc. 

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Our original Trinovids went for a surprise swim in a river in Belize when Barbara slipped on some rocks.  That repair was not covered, but they did give us a good price on the replacement pair.

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Bought the same approx 20-year old Trinovid 10x25 binoculars (but the BC not the BCA cover) over the summer, and am completely amazed at how they feel and look totally as-new. Beautiful binoculars, and so unbelievably small and light. Love them.

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Coincidentally, my friend was at our house yesterday afternoon with his two binoculars, namely 8x20 Trinovids, and elderly-ish pair of Swift Audubon 8.5x44 poro prisms, and we spent a happy half hour looking out of our window comparing with my 8x32 Ultravid HD Plus. In normal daylight, it was impressive how the little Trinovids held up, in terms of brightness and contrast, though the superiority of the Ultravid pair was clear, and twilight would be a completely different matter. Optically, the Swifts also held up relatively well, apart from more colour fringing, considering their age, but they were of course heavy and bulky in comparison. (Interestingly, one of their design features emblazoned on them was featherweight!)

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Its interesting that Leica binoculars seem reasonably priced. The last time I looked 8x32 Ultravids were £1200 or so (can't remember exactly how much) which isn't a bad investment for something that should last decades. Even the top of the range Noct-whatsit range are 'only' £2000 or so. I decided I wanted something smaller and ended up buying a pair of 8 x 20 Ultravids for about £450 and they seem like a real bargain for Leicaland. I guess having stiff competition from the likes of Zeiss and Swarovski helps keep the Leica prices at a certain level.

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Take a look at the Steiner Safari or Wildlife Series, or any of their other products.
I have the Trinovid 8 x 20, but also the Steiner Safari (like you, in use in two different places).
The Steiners feel a little less well-made (but the lack of a better term), but that is due to more rubber (that is a good thing). The optics are great and I use the Safari heavily in guiding and avalanche-work, and cannot complain. The Leica is probably for life, but one is enough and the Steiner is a solid performer at work. They are waterproof, robust, clear edge-to-edge.

 

Edited by Peter_S

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