A monocular is a relatively simple optic device compared to something like binoculars or a full-blown telescope. In this Leica 8×20 Monovid review, I’ll try to point out what makes this particular monocular special and different from the rest of the pack.
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What Do I Get If I Buy a Leica 8×20 Monovid?
With some monocular purchases, you will just get the optical instrument itself. But with this Leica model, you get more.
In addition to the Monovid roof prism tube, you get a close focus lens, an eyepiece cover, and a leather carrying case with a belt loop.
You also have a choice between the black model and the red edition.
With the close focus accessory lens, you can easily see objects like insects and flowers as close as 10 to 12 inches. (Without this lens, close focus is about 6 feet.) You screw the lens onto the front of the Monovid tube to get this macro effect. The leather case accessory makes the perfect place to store this close focusing lens when you don’t need it.
The video below is a good explanation of the Monovid. Just keep in mind that the prices may have changed since it was recorded.
What Are the Specifications of the Leica 8×20 Monovid Monocular?
You can tell from the name of this Monovid that the magnification power is 8x. That is, it will show your target 8 times as large as normal. This is on the strong side for a monocular. It might take some practice to learn how to hold the unit still enough to zero in on an object. Holding it with two hands, if possible, will help in most cases.
The 20 millimeter objective lens is on the small side, but with the high quality Leica glass, HDC (highly durable coating), and AquaDura (repels both water and dirt) lens applications, you should get a very clear picture through the tube. Note that these coatings apply to the outer lenses of the main tube but not to the close focus lens mentioned above.
The field of view (FOV) at 1000 meters is 110 meters. (Sorry, I don’t know what the FOV is at the standard 1000 yards.) That might be a little on the narrow side if you’re trying to spot wildlife, like birds, in motion. It’s more than respectable for still or slowly-moving targets.
For eyeglass wearers, you get an eye relief of 15 millimeters. That’s not huge, but it should suffice in all but the most extreme cases. Sliding eyecups will help the situation.
Internally you will find prisms with phase correction coatings that will enhance the resolution, contrast, and color accuracy of the object you are looking at. In other words, you get a clearer picture than normal.
The aluminum tube of the Monovid is filled with nitrogen which makes them both waterproof and fog proof. It is watertight to a depth of 16.5 feet (5 meters), so if you accidentally drop it in a puddle or even a more major body of water, you should still have a working monocular after fishing it out. Drying it off as soon as possible still makes sense, of course.
The Leica Monovid measures just under 98 millimeters (3.8 inches) in length. Add another 7 millimeters or so for the close focus lens. It weighs about 112 grams (4 ounces). Add about 14 grams for the additional lens. This little tube won’t tire you arm if you need to use it for an extended period of time.
Conclusions about the Leica 8×20 Monovid Monocular
As I hinted at earlier, Leica is known for excellent glass in all of its optics – camera lenses, binoculars, and so on. So it should be no surprise that the lenses in the 8×20 Monovid are top notch as well.
One owner who prefers a monocular with a maximum magnification power of 6x so he can hold it steady enough to see the target, had this to say about the Monovid.
“The design and workmanship are excellent, and the look and feel far surpasses any monocular I have ever seen, but, in my opinion, the product is fatally flawed. Add to that the fact that the case is quite large, which defeats the purpose of having a portable piece of optical equipment.”
I think “fatally flawed” is a bit of an overstatement. Just because you have trouble holding it steady enough, doesn’t mean the unit is flawed. Find a way to hold it still (like a tripod, if the situation allows) and the alleged flaw goes away.
The carrying case is larger than needed so you can toss in something else small too. Some would probably complain if the case only had room for the monocular that they wished it had room for other objects.
If you don’t think the Leica Monovid is what you are looking for, check out this overview article about monoculars. You’ll probably find another one that suits your needs better.