From Hector G. in Vermont:
Leica Ultravid HD Plus 7x42 vs. 8x42
After looking through a friend's Ultravid HDs sometime ago, I have had a hankering for these Leica bins. When the new Ultravid HD-PLUS came out, I decided that it was time to take the next step. I didn't know, however, whether I wanted the 7x42 or 8x42 instrument.
I have never been a fan of higher magnifications like the 10x. My go-to binocular up until now has been the Swarovski EL Swarovision 8x32 Binocular, and I was looking for something that would complement them. So, Eagle Optics, with their usual unparalleled service, sent me both the 7x and 8x and I spent a week or so comparing them in the field.
Both are incredible bins. Ergonomically, they are fantastic for me and the view is pin-sharp and bright. I guess that the new prisms and coatings make a real difference over the old HDs. In the end, I was seduced by the wide fov, deep depth of field, and bright and crystal clear view of the Leica Ultravid HD-PLUS 7x42 Binocular. I will be sending the 8x42 back to EO, but, make no mistake, these too are incredible bins.
So, how do they stack up against their competitors? Compared with the Swaro SVs they do not have such a pancake flat field, nor are they sharp right to the very edge. But, this somehow makes they view seem more "natural" and easy to look at. I am beginning the believe that in their quest for edge to edge sharpness and a completely flat field, some big manufacturers have created an "unnatural" view and lost the easiness of viewing in their most recent instruments. Also, the HD plus handles stray light better than my Swaro SVs and I can see no "veiling glare", a problem that seems to be systematic in the 8x32s.
Swaro and Zeiss seem to be in competition to produce the next most exciting and individual gadgets, whether it is flat field, edge-to-edge sharpness, or wider fov. This quest has resulted, IMO, in discontinuities in their product lines, with, sometimes, other successful aspects of their bins being sacrificed to incorporate the latest gimmick.
Not so with Leica. They have been criticized on various forums for not stepping up to the latest fancy bin with lots of new bells and whistles. What they have actually done, however, is improve incrementally on an already successful product, without throwing the baby out with the bath water. Has this succeeded? I'd say yes. I consider the new Leica Ultravid HD-PLUS 7x42 Binocular up there, if not surpassing the major competitors.