If you’re going to call an item compact, it had better fit in my pocket – at least, in most cases. Maybe a compact car doesn’t have to, but the best compact binoculars sure should.
There are probably dozens of binoculars that are called compact on the market today. Let’s take a look at a few of those high end compact binoculars to see if the literally measure up to the name compact binoculars.
First, we’ll compare two 8×20 sets – the Nikon Premier LX L and the Leica Ultravid BCR. Then we’ll contrast two 10×25 binoculars – the Zeiss Victory and the Leica Trinovid BCA.
If you’d like to skip to a particular section right away, just use the items in the box below. Otherwise, you can scroll to read the entire compact binoculars review.
- 1 Comparison Table
- 2 What Makes Compact Binoculars Compact?
- 3 How Do the Nikon Premier and Leica Ultravid 8×20 Compare?
- 4 How Do the Zeiss Victory and the Leica Trinovid 10×25 Compare?
- 5 Which Is the Best High End Compact Binoculars to Buy?
- 6 Will Any of These Binoculars Fit into Your Pocket?
- 7 About the Manufacturers
Here is a brief overview of the features we’ll be looking at for these 4 compact binoculars. Obviously, there are more features to consider, but we’re zeroing in on the term compact here.
That said, I did include field of view (FOV) in this chart too because that is often an important consideration when deciding which (compact) binoculars set is best for you. It’s something you want to know to see if the particular pair of tubes is the best (compact) binoculars for your situation.
|Nikon Premier||Zeiss Victory||Leica Ultravid||Leica Trinovid|
What Makes Compact Binoculars Compact?
Compact by definition means closely and neatly packed together. Binoculars that deserve this designation then must be smaller and lighter than their standard or extra large brethren.
If a pair of binoculars is less than 5 inches long and 5 inches (or even 4 inches) wide, then they qualify as compact in my book. All of the sets in this article fit that description.
These binoculars should also weigh less than a pound. The closer to half a pound, the better I like them. All of the binoculars here are under 10 ounces, so again, they fit the description. Two of them come very close to that half-pound target.
For all the comparisons in this article, I will focus on just a few features, since we’re really trying to determine if these are compact binoculars or not. (I realize I kind of gave the answer to that away already.)
If other features not discussed here are important to you, you can easily find them either at the manufacturer’s website or by doing a quick search for the model in question.
How Do the Nikon Premier and Leica Ultravid 8×20 Compare?
The Nikon compact binoculars in question here are the Premier LX L 8×20 binoculars. (See the photo above.) They come with fully multi-coated glass. That’s the best you can get currently. This means they will let as much light pass through as technology currently permits. That’s what you want in a good pair of binoculars. It allows you to get the best view of your target object, whether that be a bird, a deer, a person, or some inanimate object.
Nikon also uses what they call Eco-Glass™ optics. According to the Nikon knowledge base, this means that their glass does not use any lead or arsenic. This implies that some other manufacturers do use those elements, but I don’t know for certain whether this is the case or not. I also don’t know that Eco-Glass gives you a better view of things. It seems that they are just trying to be more ecologically responsible, which is commendable.
I’m not sure what the LX L in the model name stands for. It appears to be Roman numerals for 60 and 50, but I don’t know what those numbers would stand for. If you have an idea, perhaps you could let us know in the comments section below.
The Nikon Premier LX L glasses have a field of view of 356 feet (at the standard 1000 yards). This is the widest view of any of the binoculars in this binoculars review. As you’ll soon see, it is 15 feet wider than the field of view you get with the Leica Ultravids.
These Nikon compact binoculars measure 4.3 in. by 3.7 in. That’s 15.91 square inches overall. (I’m only giving you this calculation because it makes comparisons a little easier. It really doesn’t matter in and of itself.) They weigh 9.5 ounces making them the heaviest of all four pair, but even 9.5 oz. isn’t very heavy.
To recap the main features we looked at, here is an abbreviated list.
Nikon Premier LX L 8×20
- Fully multi-coated
- Eco-Glass™ optics
- FOV: 356 ft.
- Measurements: 4.3 x 3.7 in. (15.91 sq. in.)
- Weight: 9.5 oz.
The Leica Ultravid BR 8×20 binoculars also have fully multi-coated lenses. Again, this is top of the line in coatings lingo.
Note that you may see this model listed as Leica Ultravid BCR (instead of BR) in some places. I believe these are the same model, but I could not find the meaning of either designation.
The Ultravids have what Leica calls AquaDura™ coating. This makes them waterproof, as well as dirt and scratch resistant. The depth to which they are waterproof is not mentioned anywhere that I could see. Often waterproofing is good to about 3 feet or so.
As noted earlier, the field of view is 15 feet narrower, at 341 feet, than the Nikon model. This isn’t a huge difference, but if this is a deciding factor for you, you’ll want the Nikon binoculars.
The Leica Ultravids are virtually the same size at the Nikons. They measure 4.375 inches by 3.625 inches (15.86 square inches) which is just a hair less than the Nikon Premier.
Probably due to the materials used, Leica manages to weigh in a just 8.5 ounces – a full ounce less than the Nikon model. If the weight is your deal breaker, then you’ll want the Leicas. Keep in mind though that we’re talking about ounces here, not pounds. Most people won’t be able to distinguish such a small difference in weight.
Here is a summary of the Leica features we discussed.
Leica Ultravid BR 8×20
- Fully multi-coated
- AquaDura™ coating
- FOV: 341 ft.
- Measurements: 4.375 x 3.625 in. (15.86 sq. in.)
- Weight: 8.5 oz.
How Do the Zeiss Victory and the Leica Trinovid 10×25 Compare?
Both of these compact binoculars are more powerful (10x vs 8x) than those above. They also have larger objective lenses (25 vs 20). So you would think that they would have bigger measurements and weigh more, but they really don’t, according to the statistics I could find.
This may mean that one of these two pair will be for you, especially if you want greater magnification and don’t care as much about field of view.
The Zeiss Victory Compact T* 10×25 has a field of view of 285 feet. This is greater than the Leica Trinovids.
They measure 4.33 inches by 3.82 inches, making them the largest compacts listed here by a small margin. However, they weigh just 8.82 ounces, making them the second lightest!
Here’s another quick summary of features.
Zeiss Victory Compact T* 10×25
- FOV: 285 ft.
- Measurements: 4.33 x 3.82 in. (16.54 sq. in.)
- Weight: 8.82 oz.
Finally, the Leica Trinovid BCA 10×25 compact binoculars have the narrowest field of view at 273 feet.
They measure 4.375 inches by 3.625 inches. Unless the data at the Leica website is incorrect, this makes them the exact same size as the Ultravids above. How this is possible with a larger objective lens seems questionable. It is possible that their only difference is in height, not width.
The Trinovids weigh in at an even 9 ounces. This makes them the second heaviest here, if you can call 9 ounces heavy.
And here is their stats summary.
Leica Trinovid BCA 10×25
- FOV: 273 ft.
- Measurements: 4.375 x 3.625 in. (15.86 sq. in.)
- Weight: 9 oz.
Which Is the Best High End Compact Binoculars to Buy?
First of all, keep in mind that these are not the only high end compact binoculars available to you. These are some of the best and most compact you can find, but you obviously don’t have to limit yourself to these four options.
If you want the lightest in weight, then you have to go with the Leica Ultravid BR 8×20.
If you want the smallest in overall size, you can apparently pick either the Leica Ultravids or the Leica Trinovids.
If you want the widest field of view, take the Nikon Premier LX L 8×20 model.
If you want German manufacturing, which is normally very good, then you could go for the Zeiss Victory Compact T* 10×25. Yes, Leica is also a German company, but I already gave them credit for the smallest binoculars here.
Personally, the Zeiss compact binoculars would be my favorite of the four examined here. The reason, however, isn’t for any of the features mentioned. It’s because of the location of the focus mechanism. Notice that it is not centered as is true of the other models.
This is obviously just a personal preference kind of thing, but I like the idea of always using the one hand to control the focus. You might take that as a reason not to get the Zeiss model, and that’s fine.
If you research any more of the details about any of these models, you might find something else that clicks with you and helps you decide that that specific pair is the one you want. That could be another point of discussion in the comments that we certainly would appreciate hearing about!
Will Any of These Binoculars Fit into Your Pocket?
My shirt pocket is just 4 inches across, so no, they’re not fitting in there. That’s not the intent of a pair of compact binoculars, though.
On the other hand, both my windbreaker and my down-filled winter coat have 6-inch pockets. Binoculars that are under 5 inches at the longest point should easily fit in either of those. Even the largest Zeiss Victory model should not be a problem.
So unless you have some non-standard, smaller pockets, you should be able to tuck any and all of these compact binoculars inside.
About the Manufacturers
When you hear the name Nikon, you probably first think of cameras. Thanks in part to Simon and Garfunkel’s classic song.
I’ve got a Nikon camera.
I love to take the photographs.
But Nikon makes quite a wide array of products that use lenses such as the binoculars mentioned here. They know glass quite well, so they can put it in just about any product that needs it and turn out something worth buying.
Leica is a German optics manufacturer that is probably also better-known for its cameras (particularly the rangefinder cameras) and camera lenses. Just like Nikon, they have also learned to transfer their knowledge of camera glass to other products and have done well in the process.
The Carl Zeiss company is also German. It’s root go way back to the mid-1800s. Zeiss got into optics by first making microscopes and expanded from there into many other product lines. Yet again cameras have been a mainstay while at the same time the company is well-known for high-quality binoculars.
Based on these companies’ history and background, you should feel safe purchasing optical products from any of them.