Leica Duovid 8+12x42 and 10+15x50 Binoculars
The new Leica Duovid 8+12x42 and 10+15x50 binoculars are a significant departure
from everything else on the market today. As the name implies, these binoculars
actually feature two magnifications each. The 8+12x42 model can switch between 8x
and 12x magnification, and the 10+15x50 model can switch between 10x and 15x. In
so doing, the Duovids force us to adjust our thinking about multiple power binoculars
First, these are not zoom binoculars! Leica was very careful to name the Duovids
with a "+" for "and" rather than a "-" for "to".
These are binoculars with two fixed magnifications that the user can toggle between.
Traditional zoom binoculars focus at every intermediate setting between the highest
and lowest magnification. But such zoom binoculars often yield very poor optical
performance, in part to accommodate the zoom feature. While the Duovids can be dialed
to intermediate magnifications, they are not calibrated to allow matching of the
eyepieces except at the extremes. Trying to use them with mismatched magnifications
can lead to eyestrain and headaches, and Leica recommends strongly against doing
so. The switching mechanism is the same on both models and is fairly simple. The
user simply applies a ¼ twist to a rubber-armored ring on both oculars. The
action is deliberately stiff, to prevent it happening by accident, but it is not
difficult. However, it is not as simple as focusing or using the zoom function on
true zoom binoculars. Switching pretty much requires that the user lower the binoculars,
adjust each ring, and then lift them up again. The point is that the user must choose
the power they intend to bird with and recognize that switching on the fly may mean
losing some birds in the field.
how well do the Duovids do this? The short answer is: very well indeed. The long
answer is the rest of the article! As should be expected on a high-quality roof
prism binocular, Duovids are completely sealed and nitrogen-purged so they are fogproof
and waterproof. Unexpectedly, they are waterproof even submerged to a depth of 16.4
feet! The prisms are phase-coated to minimize color aberration, and the lenses are
fully multi-coated both to maximize light transmission and increase scratch resistance.
Optically, these are beautiful binoculars. The image is tack sharp right to the
edges of the field with no detectable edge effects. With the Duovids, both magnifications
have the kind of bright, high-contrast optical performance that birders expect from
Leica. Both binoculars are noticeably darker at their higher magnification, but
this is only to be expected as the exit pupil decreases. Color fidelity is excellent,
without a hint of distortion or aberration.
The field of view on the 8+12x42 model is 360 feet at 8x and 270 feet at 12x, both
measured at 1,000 yards distance. For the 10+15x50 model, the comparable numbers
are 295 feet at 10x and 230 feet at 15x, again at 1000 yards distance. The minimum
close focus at 8x is listed in the Leica literature as 12 feet. We measured it at
10 feet, whereas at 12x, this increased to about 15 feet. The 10x model close-focused
to about 13 feet, while at 15x, they focused to about 17 feet. One amazing feature
of these binoculars is that, when switching magnification, the image remains in
focus – if it was sharp at 8x, it’s still sharp at 12x without re-focusing!
The diopter adjustment is a knob located in front of the focus knob. To adjust,
pull it up towards the ocular lenses until it turns freely. The Duovids can be adjusted
+/- 3 diopters in a mechanism that is very sensitive – the slightest touch
makes a big change. Push the knob back in to lock it in the desired place. The diopter
also compensates automatically to retain sharpness when the magnification is switched.
Mag x Obj
Field of view
360 ft/1000 yds
4.8" x 6.2" x2.7"
273 ft/1000 yds
4.9" x 7.6" x2.8"
The Duovids go from minimum close focus to infinity in slightly less than 1¼
turns of the focus knob. The knob is large, rubber-armored for a sure grip, and
turns relatively easily, even when brand new. Sharp focus is relatively easily obtained,
particularly as these binoculars seem to have an impressive depth of field. Depth
of field was notably better than on the Trinovid model of the same magnification.
The eye relief on both models of the Duovids is 14.5 mm at lower power, and 14.3
mm at higher power which may present a problem for some birders who wear glasses.
The eyecups adjust with a twist-and-lock mechanism that is locked by detents at
the fully in or out positions.
Birders familiar with Leica’s popular Trinovid model will quickly note a departure
from that line’s recent designs. Where the Trinovids are squat and blocky,
housed in hard rubber armor with uncomfortable ridges, the Duovids are slender,
classic-looking roof-prism binoculars. The armoring (available in either black or
olive green) is smooth appearing, but soft and textured for a secure, comfortable,
no-slip grip. The Duovids have a slight thumb groove just beneath the oculars that
increases user comfort. The mounting brackets for the straps are just above the
thumb groove, out of the way of the user’s hands. The eyecups are made of
a comfortable soft rubber and taper so that they feel more comfortable against user’s
eye sockets. Such comfort issues are significant. At 37 oz. (nearly 44 oz. for the
10+15x50 model), the Duovids are heavy enough that any ergonomic optimization will
help minimize the fatigue of carrying them for a long day in the field.
The rainguard is a pair of soft rubber cups with a flexible linker region that fit
snugly over the ocular lenses. The strap threads through a bracket on the left side.
The fit of the rainguard is tight enough that it cannot be dislodged even when the
binocular is inverted and shaken vigorously. We did not receive objective lens caps
with the Duovids and so, cannot comment on them. The strap is an angled neoprene
device with ample padding that was really quite comfortable. The angling seems to
make the binoculars sit closely on the chest with less bouncing while walking. The
case is leather, reinforced on the bottom, and equipped with a Velcro-closing flap
for the strap to fit through.
At a discount of $1995 (MSRP $2400.00) for the 8+12x42 model and $2295 (MSRP $2750.00)
for the 10+15x50 model, these binoculars are among the most expensive out there.
With the Duovids, you probably are getting what you pay for, and a bit more as well.
They are also one of the most innovative and multifunctional binoculars we’ve
reviewed. Sometimes you just need that little bit of extra power to identify that
raptor perched at the limit of conjecture, or to see that last subtle plumage detail.
We couldn’t help but give these attractive binoculars a thumbs-up.
Find more info for the Leica Duovid Binoculars