The 7x42 specification in binoculars is one that is often overlooked, mainly in favour of the 8x42 models but the 7x magnification does offer benefits so as one of the latest additions to Leica’s binocular line up I decided to give them a try.

The Leica Ultravid 7x42 HD+ in all it's glory

In terms of design it’s fair to say that Leica’s team have been subtle in their change from the Ultavid HD, the only discernible change is that the ‘HD’ lettering on the badge now appears in red rather than white. One minor niggle is the fact that the box doesn’t mention HD+, they are only referred to as Ultravid HD, a fact that I’ve had to point out to customers to reassure them they are getting the newest model.

HD badge in read, the only sign that this is the new Ultravid HD+ model

The fact that Leica haven’t changed the design may be due to the old quote ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. The Ultravids shape moulds well to the hand & the soft rubber armour ensures a comfortable, well balanced grip, even after hours of use.

As soon as you raise the binocular to your eyes you are greeted by a stunningly bright image, one of the many benefits of the 7x42 spec. Many factors affect how bright a binocular will be such as quality of glass, prism design & coatings but possibly the largest factor is the exit pupil figure, this is the size of the circle of light you see in the eyepiece. Your eye’s pupil is able to dilate to 7mm in diameter in dark conditions ( this does diminish with age ), so to have a binocular with an exit pupil of 7mm ( or as close as possible ) is a great advantage in low light. To work out the exit pupil figure of a binocular, just divide the size of the objective lens by the magnification, in the case of the 7x42 its 6mm compared to an 8x42 with 5mm or a 10x42 with 4.2mm. The time when you benefit most from a larger exit pupil is when the light is fading & your eye’s pupil opens up- If your comparing binoculars in bright sunshine you are unlikely to see any difference as your pupil could be open to say 3mm but as the light drops & your pupil dilates you are able to make use of the additional light gathering potential of the binocular.  The 7x42 is a very good compromise between performance & weight, if you move up to a 50mm objective the overall size & weight of the binocular goes up markedly.

Leica Ultravid 7x42 HD+ Bridge Detail

Setting up the binocular is simple- adjust the distance between the barrels to get a comfortable image. The binocular has twist eyecups, so setting or sharing between a glasses wearer & non wearer is quick & simple. The focus wheel is in two sections which are normally locked together but click apart to allow dioptre correction for the right eye. The focus system is smooth & precise, close focus is 3.3m, not as close as other models in the range but adequate for most situations.

As you would expect with binoculars at this sort of level they are completely waterproof & nitrogen filled so no problems with internal misting after a temperature change. The binoculars come with a 10 year guarantee & for extra peace of mind you get the Leica passport ( UK only ) which offers a free one year accidental damage cover.

Choice of magnification in binoculars is very much a personal thing. For me the ability to hold a steady image & have a good field of view outweighs the benefit of a higher magnification so I’m much happier with a 7 or 8x than 10x & the Leica 7x42 HD+ is definitely one of the best I’ve tried offering edge to edge, razor sharp high contrast images even in poor lighting.

The next time you’re in the market for a new binocular give them a try, they may just change your view. 

Top view of the Leica Ultravid 7x42 HD+

The Leica Ultravid HD+ range, including the 7x42 discussed in this review can be purchased from our online store.