Brief Review of Leica Duovid 8-12x42 Binoculars

To: "Birding Aus" <>, "Auscetnet" <>
Subject: Brief Review of Leica Duovid 8-12x42 Binoculars
From: "Simon Mustoe" <>
Date: Wed, 4 Dec 2002 08:17:29 +1100
Someone put out a message requesting information recently about the Leica Duovids - the ones that range from 8-12 x 42.
I was in a camera shop in the city the other day and they had a pair on display so I took the opportunity to test them out. Optically they did not seem as good as the standard fixed magnification versions. The worst thing about this pair though was that the 'switch' they refer to is actually a dial. Switch indicates that it will 'switch' from one magnification to the other whereas they are actually a zoom pair.
Those familiar with other Leicas will know that the diopter adjuster is located on the focusing wheel on the end that you look at when using the binoculars. With this locked in place on the Duovids, you can then turn the near-end of the drum and zoom in and out. The zoom works by turning the eyepieces which move in and out, changing the focal length.
This pair in the shop were awful! The zoom facility seems to work by applying friction to the ribbed sides of both eyepieces - i.e. it turns them like a pair of cogs. But the system was incredibly stiff and I would have to stop looking through the binoculars to try to handle the zoom piece. What is more, the pair in the shop would turn one eye piece and not the other resulting in one eye piece at 12x and the other at 8x!
It is possible that the pair I viewed were unusually poor but I expect more from Leica and cannot understand how they would have come up with something with fundamental problems. I am a great fan of Leicas but even on the fixed focal-length versions, their main problem is the focusing ring - for example on the 8x32BAs, users complain that the rubber armouring warps until it eventually makes the focusing stiff.
If my experience is anything to go by, the Duovid binoculars are worth avoiding. If you want a simple zoom facility then better to go for a very cheap alternative brand. Otherwise, stick to the known and tested fixed focal length brands. At least we know they work and for about AUS$2,600, the Duovids certainly don't seem to be worth the extra expense.
Simon Mustoe - Director
AES Applied Ecology Solutions Pty Ltd.
59 Joan Avenue
Ferntree Gully
Victoria 3156
Telephone 03 9762 2616
International Telephone +61 (0) 3 9762 2616
Mobile 0405 220830
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