Wednesday, December 19, 2007

NEW Leica Ultravid HD hits the market!

photo courtesy of Leica Camera Inc.

Ok all you optics buffs out there, here's the one you've finally been waiting for. Here at the Northwood Center we've just received the first shipment of the new Leica Ultravid HD, both 10x42 and 8x32. Only a couple arrived with this shipment and ETA for the rest is unknown. So, if you have been waiting for these bins now is the time to strike. In fact, a quick look around the internet stores shows these are probably the some of the only Leica HD's that can be purchased at this time.

Now, you are probably saying to yourself, sure, I know that the new Leica HD is supposed to have Fluoride glass for improved light transmission (Leica quotes 3% additional light transmission) and a new improved focus mechanism, also a new hydrophobic coating for repelling water and dust. But, is the optic really better than the standard Ultravid?

Well, I have good new and bad news. I took the 10x42s out at sunset last night to do a quick test. I have to assert that my ten or so minutes of testing the optics in very low light does not a conclusion make on actual performance, look for a more extensive review coming shortly. The good news; is that those of you who already own a Leica Ultravid, well as I have thought the 3% additional light transmission by the fluoride glass is not immediately obviously noticeable. I could notice a slightly brighter image from the HD bins, after the sun was down and the world was dark. In the twilight, the image appeared similar to my eyes. So if you already own a pair then you really are not missing out on too much. You still own a top quality binocular and should continue to be happy with the image you get through those bins. At least I am.

The focusing action did feel a little smoother to me but stiff as well. Anyone who has spent more than an hour and looked through more than one pair of glasses should know that optics right out of the box is not a great test for the focus performance. Like much in life, there is a break in period of a few days to a week or so depending on how much you use the optic. I have always found that the focus knob and diopter adjustment to be stiffish on a brand new optics. So for now, the focus seemed to be improved to me (slightly); the real test will come later. The fact that the focus mechanism uses very little lubricant should be a plus in that those of you in colder climes should notice that the focus wheel does not get VERY stiff. Or, very loose for those who live in warmer areas.

Now for the true value to this bin, and it is possibly worth the extra $100 in cost. The AquraDura hydrophobic coating. I have long thought that these new coatings were really nothing more than a gimmick. Another way for a company to say, "oh look at what we've done to our already fabulous binocular" such that we in the purchasing world have the wool pulled over our eyes. We are not that dumb! I liken these new coatings to putting Rain-X on you glass (disclaimer: I am not suggesting that anyone out there EVER put Rain-X on their binoculars. If you do, you are on your own in terms of what the chemical will do to your coatings) so that you don't have to worry about cleaning anymore. Well, it just so happens that the Cape May CBC was on 12/16 and we had a good amount of rain, like may of you out there probably had. Well at one point I remarked to Laura how I wished that I had a pair of the Leica HD's to try out in the rain.

Last evening I decided to test the new Leica coating and the Zeiss LoTu-Tech coating to see if these are all they are really cracked up to be. Again, I assert that my test was very short and not indicative of the true performance. That being said, after dousing both under a faucet quickly and removing, flicking the wrist and voila; no water left on the glass save for a few minor drops at the very edge of the ocular. So in this instance I must eat my own words and say that this new and highly hyped coating seems for now, every bit worth the extra cost. I honestly can say these new coating may significantly reduce the amount of optics cleaning we do here at the Northwood Center.

So, if you want to be the first person on your block with these great new bins, or want to laugh at everyone else at Higbee birding in the rain; give us a call here at the Northwood Center. Just remember that the Northwood Center will be closed from 12/24-1/1. We will reopen on 1/2/08.

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