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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
Credit: Jenna Ammerman
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Price:  $2,849 List
Manufacturer:   Leica
By Max Mutter and Steven Tata  ⋅  Dec 7, 2022
92
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 16
  • Clarity - 45% 10.0
  • Brightness - 25% 9.7
  • Comfort - 10% 9.0
  • Field of View - 10% 5.0
  • Ease of Adjustment - 5% 9.0
  • Close Focus Range - 5% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Leica Noctivid 10x42 binoculars sit in that exorbitantly priced tier of high-end optics, and they provide the crystal clear images you would expect of such a premium product. However, while the optical quality is right on pace with that of the other premium options in our best binocular review, the Noctivid lacks some of the finer touches of its high-end competitors. 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 the list price, we would suggest looking at one of the other high-end models we tested, to determine if this is the best model for you.
REASONS TO BUY
Excellent clarity and brightness
Great construction quality
REASONS TO AVOID
Very expensive
Not quite as comfortable as other high-end models
Editor's Note: The Leica Noctivid 10x42 received an update on December 7th, 2022. We retested this product and updated the stats in the review.

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leica noctivid 10x42 binocular review
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Price $2,849 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
92
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Star Rating
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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 constructionGood clarity and brightness, smooth focus knobInexpensive, good clarity and brightness
Cons Very expensive, not quite as comfortable as other high-end modelsProhibitively expensiveA bit heavy for the backcountryMediocre close focus range, mediocre field of viewAverage 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 tagThese perform well for the price, offering a smooth focus knob and decent brightness and clarityThe 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 Nikon Monarch M5 8x42 Celestron Nature DX...
Clarity (45%)
10.0
10.0
7.5
7.1
5.8
Brightness (25%)
9.7
9.8
9.5
8.6
7.7
Comfort (10%)
9.0
10.0
9.0
8.1
5.6
Field of View (10%)
5.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Ease of Adjustment (5%)
9.0
10.0
5.8
8.0
7.0
Close Focus Range (5%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Specs Leica Noctivid 10x42 Swarovski EL 8.5x42 Vortex Viper HD 8x42 Nikon Monarch M5 8x42 Celestron Nature DX...
Glass Type HD HD HD ED Bak-4
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 335 ft 388 ft
Close Focus 6.2 ft 4.9 ft 6.0 ft 8.2 ft 6.5 ft
Eye Relief 19 mm 20 mm 18 mm 19.5 mm 17.5 mm
Prism Roof Roof Roof Roof Roof
Waterproof/Fog Resistant? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Measured Size (Length x Width) 5.9 x 2.7 in 6.3 x 4.8 in 5.6 x 4.9 in 5.7 x 5.1 in 5.3 x 4.9 in
Measured Weight 30 oz 30 oz 24 oz 22 oz 22 oz
Tripod Adapter No No Yes Yes Yes

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, close focus range, and field of view are bested by other models in the same price range.

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


The Leica Noctivid, like other very premium pairs of binoculars, offer a crystal-clear lens all the way up to the edges, for a viewing experience only achievable in the multi-thousand-dollar range. Leica's Schott HT glass and P40 phase-corrected roof prisms result in a stunningly sharp image with incredible resolution and detail.

Brightness


The Noctivid is also about even with the other high-end models we tested when it comes to brightness. If you do a scrutinous side-by-side comparison like we did below, the Noctivid is as good as it gets, and you will love the bright experience offered by this model. In the end, all three of these premium 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

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. Despite lacking this feature, the barrels are slightly thinner and thus sit in hand a bit more comfortably. It has two little thumb grooves that make the bins feel like an extension of your hands.

leica noctivid 10x42 binocular review - our testers performing a distance test in the field.
Our testers performing a distance test in the field.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Field of View


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 manufacturer-specified 337-foot wide field of view at 1000 yards. 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.

Ease of Adjustment


Here the Noctivid was behind some of our best-rated lenses in this metric. 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. 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).

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.

Close Focus Range


In terms of close focus range, the Noctivid scored middle of the pack. The performance difference in this metric can be 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 another model.

leica noctivid 10x42 binocular review - one of the fake birds we used to test the quality and brightness of...
One of the fake birds we used to test the quality and brightness of the lenses.
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 the Swarovski EL offers 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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