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Leica Ultravid
Compact Binocular


Michael Porter Diane Porter

by Michael and Diane Porter

We got an advance look at the new Leica Ultravid Compact Binocular at Shot Show, in February, 2006. It was in Las Vegas. Shot Show was big. We spent two days looking just at the optics, as all the manufacturers were there, showing their most exciting new binoculars.

One of the highlights was Leica's new ultra small, ultra light, ultra bright pocket binoculars. Diane really didn't want to stop looking through them. In a number of ways, they are better than Leica's previous smallest binocular, which was the Trinovid. And we already liked the Trinovid well enough to have bought a pair for ourselves.

But this new Ultravid is better than we could have hoped for. In fact, it's the best ultra compact binocular we've ever seen. For starters, it has good eye relief. It actually works better with glasses than Leica's larger 8x32 Ultravid. Leica really went all out to create an eyepiece design that allows a glasses wearer to get the full field of view. (Of course, if you don't wear glasses, you just pull out the eyecups to their extended position.)

The diopter adjustment locks, and it's beautiful in and of itself. When we get our hands on a pair for ourselves, we'll take a picture of it. For now you'll just have to take our word for it. It's a joy to use something so beautifully engineered.

And the whole binocular is put together with the famous Leica attention to detail. It folds up into a tiny, neat packet that will literally fit in almost any pocket.

The only complaint we had against the previous model, the Trinovid Compact, was that it was not waterproof. The Ultravid is completely waterproof. And all the other improvements are above and beyond what we would have thought possible.

Bravo Leica!

The Ultravid Compact will come in four combinations:

8x20 BCL (Black leather)
See price info

8x20 BCR (Rubber armored)
See price info

10x25 BCL (Black leather)
See price info

10x25 BCR (Rubber armored)
See price info

We think the BCR models might be better for clambering around in the mountains or backpacking, because the rubber armoring would help protect it against knocks. (Leica describes this model as "ultra rugged.")

On the other hand, the BCL model is slightly narrower and lighter in weight. It might look more elegant in the opera hall, and it is even tinier than the rubber models. If you look closely, you'll see that in the BCR models, the body is slightly fatter, due to the thickness of the coating. In the BCL models, you can see that the barrel is less wide than the width of the eyecups.

All four Ultravid Compacts are way past worthy.

--Michael and Diane Porter