It is incredibly difficult to make binoculars compact without sacrificing optical quality, but Leica largely succeeds at that task with the Ultravid BR 10x25. These bins produce a very clear image with an exceptional amount of brightness considering the small lens diameter. They are also incredibly light at just 9.4 ounces. For comparison, that's the weight of 1.5 empty Nalgene bottles. Though quite pricey, if you're a big bird nerd that wants a nice set of optics on hand when you go on your next backpacking adventure, it'd be hard to do any better.Editor's Note: This review was updated on January 11, 2022 to note new comparison info and information on Leica's naming system.
Leica Ultravid BR 10x25 Review
Cons: Short field of view
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Leica Ultravid BR 10x25
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|Pros||Small and compact, the lightest binoculars we tested||Very clear and bright, easy to adjust, comfortable, high-quality construction||Excellent brightness, great clarity, comfortable||Inexpensive, good clarity and brightness||Good clarity, small and lightweight, relatively comfortable|
|Cons||Short field of view||A bit heavy for the backcountry||Slightly heavy for backpacking||Average construction quality, mediocre low-light performance||Poor low-light performance|
|Bottom Line||This compact and lightweight binocular offers a great balance of optical quality and portability||This 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 tag||An excellent balance of price and all-around performance with particularly impressive brightness||The most budget-friendly option we've found that offers a good introduction to birdwatching||An inexpensive, small, and packable model that offers surprisingly good optics|
|Rating Categories||Leica Ultravid BR 1...||Vortex Viper HD 8x42||Vortex Diamondback...||Celestron Nature DX...||Vortex Diamondback...|
|Ease of Adjustment (15%)|
|Construction Quality (15%)|
|Close Focus Range (7.5%)|
|Field of View (7.5%)|
|Specs||Leica Ultravid BR 1...||Vortex Viper HD 8x42||Vortex Diamondback...||Celestron Nature DX...||Vortex Diamondback...|
|Multi - Coating||FMC||FMC||FMC||FMC||FMC|
|Field of View (at 1000 yards)||273 ft||409 ft||393 ft||388 ft||332 ft|
|Close Focus||10.3 ft||6.5 ft||5.0 ft||6.5 ft||6.0 ft|
|Eye Relief||15 mm||18 mm||17 mm||17.5 mm||18 mm|
|Size (Length x Width)||4.4 x 2.4 in||5.8 x 5.3 in||5.7 x 5.1 in||5.3 x 4.9 in||4.6 x 4.5 in|
|Weight||9.4 oz||24.2 oz||21.8 oz||22.2 oz||14.0 oz|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Leica Ultravid BR 10x25 is the standard for compact binoculars, and you can tell that when you look through them. As one of the smallest and lightest pairs we tested, this is the perfect pair to pack with you on an adventure when size and weight matter. You won't be sacrificing too much in performance either.
Leica previously referred to these bins as the Ultravid BCR. Today, they are more commonly known as the Ultravid BR, which stands for Black Rubber. The C is assumed to stand for Compact. Despite dropping this C from the name, these binoculars are still just as compact as they always were.
Leica claims to have shrunk down the elements that are used in the company's larger binoculars to keep the same sharp image in this compact pair. We wouldn't go so far as to say these are on par with larger pairs, but they did do a good job.
On the ISO 12233 chart in our clarity test, we could make out zone 8 from edge-to-edge. In the center of the optics, you could make out zone 10 with no noticeable fringing or color aberrations. All the curved and slanted lines looked clear. Though Leica doesn't have any information on its website about the type of glass used, it is suspected that the company would use a preparatory type of ED glass on the Ultravid line, though this cannot be confirmed.
With an objective lens of 25mm, you would expect these to be at the bottom of the list for brightness. This is because smaller objective lenses have less light-gathering ability, all things being equal. Things are not equal, though, and Leica's multi-coating on all air-to-glass surfaces keeps what light enters the lenses from straying.
Leica uses a dielectric coating on the prisms, which they call HighLux-System HLS, along with phase corrected prisms. All this makes it hard to tell that the objective lens was almost half the size of some of the larger and brighter binoculars we tested.
Ease of Adjustment
The top hinge design allows the lens barrels on the Leica Ultravid BR 10x25 to fold up under the bridge right next to each other. This allows for a very compact design when folded up.
The center focus knob is small, and some people found it hard to use. The diopter is adjusted from the center focus by pushing a button. This locks the diopter in place — unless you accidentally press the button while focusing, which did happen to one tester. The knobs all adjusted easily, and you could quickly move from close to distant objects once you got used to the size.
Field of View and Close Focus Range
The Leica Ultravid BR 10x25 scored low on the field of view with one of the shortest: 273 feet at 1000 yards. This is on the smaller end of the scale.
The close focus range of the Leica Ultravid BR is in the middle of the pack with 10.3 feet.
Some folks with big hands or larger faces found the Leica Ultravid BR 10x25 a little uncomfortable or hard to use. However, most people had no issue with holding or focusing the Leica.
The rubber eyecups are smaller than most, but still comfortable for a compact pair of binoculars. This model only uses a thin piece of webbing for a strap, but at 9.4 ounces, you could barely notice the Leica when around your neck.
The Ultravid's aluminum body helps keep the weight down, and the rubberized coating makes them quite comfortable in hand. It is missing a lens cover for the objective lens, but it wasn't found to be an issue because most testers kept them in the case since they were so small and light. The Leica Ultravid BR has a lens coating on the objective lens and eyepiece that helps to repel water and oil. We didn't notice any misalignments or flaws. Everything moves easily and stays in place. The quality of the build is apparent when holding these in your hands.
Should You Buy the Leica Ultravid BR 10x25
The scenario: you're embarking on a 1200 mile bicycle tour along the Pacific Coast. What pair of binoculars do you take? In our lead tester's case, he had 12 models to choose from, and he took the Leica Ultravid BR 10x25. Lightweight and small, they didn't take up much room or add a lot of weight. On this trip, he frequently ran across people using full-sized binoculars to enjoy the beautiful scenery and view the various marine mammals. Explaining that he was writing a review, he asked several people over the course of his trip if they would like to take a look through this pair. After looking through, everyone responded with some variation of, "Those are nice, who makes them?" He replied with, "Leica", and the response was always somewhere along the lines of, "Makes sense."
What Other Binoculars Should You Consider?
The Leica Ultravid BR 10x25 are not value-oriented binoculars. The quality and performance of the Leica are high, but so is the price. For a lightweight pair that will keep some extra money in your wallet, the Vortex Diamondback HD 8x28 is worth checking out. On the other hand, if you want a high-quality binocular and don't might toting around some extra weight and bulk, we wholeheartedly recommend the Vortex Viper HD 8x42.
— Max Mutter
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