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Leica Noctivid 10x42 Review

High-end binoculars that live up to their pedigree, but have some downsides compared to other top of the line models
leica noctivid 10x42 binocular review
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Price:  $2,849 List | $2,369.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Excellent clarity and brightness, great construction quality
Cons:  Very expensive, not quite as comfortable as other high-end models
Manufacturer:   Leica
By Max Mutter and Steven Tata  ⋅  Jan 11, 2022
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96
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 15
  • Clarity - 25% 10.0
  • Brightness - 20% 10.0
  • Ease of Adjustment - 15% 9.0
  • Construction Quality - 15% 10.0
  • Comfort - 10% 9.0
  • Close Focus Range - 7.5% 8.0
  • Field of View - 7.5% 10.0

Our Verdict

The Leica Noctivid 10x42 binoculars sit in that exorbitantly priced pantheon of high-end optics, and they provide the crystal clear images you would expect of such a product. However, while the optical quality is right on pace with that of the other premium options in ourbest binocular review, the Noctivid lacks some of the design touches of its high-end competitors. It is not quite as comfortable to hold as either the Swarovski EL or the Zeiss Victory HT. The Swarovski also has a better close focus range. Neither of these things are dealbreakers, especially if you can find the Noctivid on sale, but if you're going to pay list price, we would suggest looking at one of the other high-end brands.

Editor's Note: This product review was updated on January 11, 2022 with further comparison info and recommendations on other high-end binoculars we tested.

Compare to Similar Products

 
leica noctivid 10x42 binocular review
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Price $2,849 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Excellent clarity and brightness, great construction qualityIncredible clarity, brightness, comfort, and construction qualityVery clear and bright, easy to adjust, comfortable, high-quality constructionExcellent brightness, great clarity, comfortableInexpensive, good clarity and brightness
Cons Very expensive, not quite as comfortable as other high-end modelsProhibitively expensiveA bit heavy for the backcountrySlightly heavy for backpackingAverage construction quality, mediocre low-light performance
Bottom Line High-end binoculars that live up to their pedigree, but have some downsides compared to other top of the line modelsOne of the best all-around models that we tested, but they also carry a high price tagThis model is our first choice and offers just about the best clarity and brightness you can get from a binocular without a quadruple-digit price tagAn excellent balance of price and all-around performance with particularly impressive brightnessThe most budget-friendly option we've found that offers a good introduction to birdwatching
Rating Categories Leica Noctivid 10x42 Swarovski EL 8.5x42 Vortex Viper HD 8x42 Vortex Diamondback... Celestron Nature DX...
Clarity (25%)
10.0
10.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Brightness (20%)
10.0
10.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
Ease of Adjustment (15%)
9.0
10.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Construction Quality (15%)
10.0
10.0
10.0
9.0
6.0
Comfort (10%)
9.0
10.0
10.0
9.0
7.0
Close Focus Range (7.5%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
Field of View (7.5%)
10.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Specs Leica Noctivid 10x42 Swarovski EL 8.5x42 Vortex Viper HD 8x42 Vortex Diamondback... Celestron Nature DX...
Glass Type HD HD HD HD ED
Multi - Coating FMC FMC FMC FMC FMC
Magnification 10 8.5 8 8 8
Field of View (at 1000 yards) 337 ft 399 ft 409 ft 393 ft 388 ft
Close Focus 6.2 ft 4.9 ft 6.5 ft 5.0 ft 6.5 ft
Eye Relief 19 mm 20 mm 18 mm 17 mm 17.5 mm
Prism Roof Roof Roof Roof Roof
Waterproof/Fogproof? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Size (Length x Width) 5.9 x 2.7 in 6.3 x 4.8 in 5.8 x 5.3 in 5.7 x 5.1 in 5.3 x 4.9 in
Weight 30.3 oz 29.5 oz 24.2 oz 21.8 oz 22.2 oz

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Leica Noctivid 10x42 offers the kind of exceptional quality you'd expect from this venerated optical company. However, both its in-hand comfort and close focus range are bested by other models in the same price range, so if those things are important, you may be better off investing in Swarovski or Zeiss instead.

leica noctivid 10x42 binocular review - the leica 10x42 noctivids are an exceptional pair of binos.
The Leica 10x42 Noctivids are an exceptional pair of binos.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Performance Comparison


While the Leica Noctivid 10x42 was one of the top-scoring pairs of binoculars we tested, it fell slightly behind the other two high-end models.

Clarity and Brightness


For all intents and purposes the Noctivid is even with the other high-end models we tested, the Swarovski EL and the Zeiss Victory HT. If you do a scrutinous side-by-side comparison like we did below and in our best binoculars review, the Swarovski EL is just a tad brighter than the other two, but in practice, we never felt limited by the Noctivid's brightness in comparison to the Swarovski. In the end, all three of these models earned perfect scores of 10 out of 10 in this metric.

leica noctivid 10x42 binocular review - a comparison of some of the high-end binoculars we tested.
A comparison of some of the high-end binoculars we tested.
Credit: Steven Tata

Ease of Adjustment


Here the Noctivid was behind both the Swarovski EL and the Zeiss Victory HT. The Noctivid uses a diopter adjustment that requires pulling the focus knob back until it clicks, and then you can use the main focus knob to adjust the diopter. This is akin to the adjustment on the Swarovski EL. While this adjustment is convenient, we found that it's unlikely but not impossible to accidentally pull out the focus knob during normal use (one of our testers may have missed a Swainson's hawk that way). The Zeiss Victory HT uses a separate knob to adjust the diopter that is just stiff enough that you'll likely never nudge it accidentally.

leica noctivid 10x42 binocular review - it can be a bit difficult to get the leica's eye cups even.
It can be a bit difficult to get the Leica's eye cups even.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Another small point of complaint with the Noctivid is its eyecups. Like the other high-end models, they twist in and out to adjust. However, they don't have as distinctive stopping points as the other high-end models, so it takes a minute to get both eyecups even. This can be a pain, especially if you're passing the bins around between a few people.

Comfort


Here again, we ranked the Noctivid slightly behind the other high-end contenders. It's not uncomfortable in hand, but it lacks any sort of groove indentation to let them nestle into the crook of your thumb. The Zeiss Victory HT also lacks such a feature, but the barrels are slightly thinner and thus sit in hand a bit more comfortably. The Swarovski EL easily takes the cake in this metric. It has two little thumb grooves that make the bins feel like an extension of your hands.

leica noctivid 10x42 binocular review
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Close Focus Range and Field of View


In terms of close focus range, the Noctivid is dead even with the Zeiss Victory HT's 6.2 feet and slightly behind the Swarovski EL's 4.9 feet. Again, this difference is minor, and in practice, you'll only notice the difference if a beautiful butterfly happens to land on your foot. However, if you like to get your bins on insects a lot, this may be a selling point for switching from the Noctivid to the Swarovski EL.

The Noctivid has the best field of view of the high-end models we tested. When comparing the 10x magnification versions, the Noctivid provides a 337-foot wide field of view at 1000 yards, compared to the 336-foot and 330-foot fields of the Swarovski EL and the Zeiss Victory HT, respectively. However, in the field, we didn't feel like that extra field of view added much to the birding experience, and it certainly didn't make it noticeably easier to get glass on a fast-moving bird.

leica noctivid 10x42 binocular review
Credit: Steven Tata

Should You Buy the Leica Noctivid 10x42?


There's no question, Leica makes great glass, and the Noctivid is a great pair of high-end binoculars. We just happen to think its rivals are slightly better in a couple of aspects. If you can find the Noctivid on sale, it's worth snatching up, but if you're paying full price, you may want to consider the Swarovski EL instead.

What Other Binoculars Should You Consider?


The Leica Noctivid's price is slightly higher than the other high-end models we tested. If you have the money to spend on such great optics, we doubt you'd be disappointed. These bins are great. However, we think both the Swarovski EL and Zeiss Victory HT offer slight advantages over the Leica Noctivid, making them slightly better values if you're investing in a new pair of high-end binoculars. If you want a high-performing pair but just can't stomach the premium prices, the Vortex Viper HD 8x42 is an admirable contender.

Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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