Leica 8×20 Monovid Monocular Review: Is Great Glass Good Enough?

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.

If you just want to quickly peek at the Leica Monovid at Amazon, you can click (tap) this link.

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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.

Leica Monovid 8x20 red edition
Leica Monovid 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.

Leica 8×20 Monovid Monocular

Check the pricing and availability of the Leica Monovid at Amazon.

Leica 8×20 Monovid

Check the pricing and availability of the Leica 8×20 Monovid at Ebay.

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.

Gary Sonnenberg

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11 thoughts on “Leica 8×20 Monovid Monocular Review: Is Great Glass Good Enough?”

  1. The only negative aspect of owning Leica’s stunning Monovid Monocular, is the initial purchase price.
    I spent nearly three weeks, reading all the reviews, and trying to persuade myself, that spending well over £300 on a small single eyepiece was a good idea, and i changed my mind five times, during the ordering process, as i was simply too frightened to spend so much money.

    Well i eventually picked up the courage, and ordered one, and i was somewhat relieved when i went through the unpacking process.

    Leica deliver their products in two boxes, which was nice to see considering its a premium item, it’s a plain white cardboard one to protect their famous silver presentation box, and opening the contents was exciting and a bit frightening.

    It had been nearly four years since i had seen a Monovid, so i had forgotten just how good they are.

    I thought it a bit mean, that they did not provide a protective lens cap for the main abjective lens, but i suppose they sell one of those separately, for a crazy price, but i still feel its a bit much, considering the price of the Monovid.

    The overall quality of the Monocualr, almost justifies the asking price, it really is a gorgeous instrument, and the leather carrying case is beautifully made, as is the included macro lens, that screws neatly into the objective lens.

    I would have thought that Leica would have charged extra for the lens attachment, but for some reason its included in the price.

    The only Monocular that comes anywhere near the quality of this Leica Monovid, are the ones manufactured by Karl Zeiss, but the clarity of image is not quite as precise as the Leica, and even though their well made, come nowhere near the quality of the Leica.

    The Monovids image quality is the equal of their larger Binoculars, and apart from the asking price, there is nothing to fault with the way it looks and operates.

    Recently in a local auction house, a second hand pair of 8×20 Ultravid Binoculars, minus a few of its accessories, sold for just over £200, which is well over 50% of their original value, showing that if cared for, a Leica product will command a good price second hand.

    I for one, will never be selling my Monovid, as its a thing of magnificent beauty, and i have almost forgotten how much i paid for it, it was money well spent.

  2. Unless I’m mistaken no one has commented on the separately available neckstrap accessory which strikes me as an essential accessory and very surprising it’s not included in the price of the Monovid. I think I would be wearing the Monovid round my neck for quick access when out and about. However, from pictures I’ve seen of the neckstrap the thin cord that attaches to the Monovid goes through what looks like a leather loop attached to the main neck cord. Should we have confidence in the durability, practicality of the leather loop given that it’s supporting a £300+ piece of precision equipment? Can anyone suggest an alternative neckstrap?

    1. Hey TC,

      Thanks for your comments. I don’t have a specific suggestion related to the neck strap, but maybe another visitor here will have something to say about it.

  3. The small lanyard, with two small loops, one to connect to the monocular itself, and the other, to the plastic lens cap, is more designed to be worn around the owners wrist.

    I shudder to think what Leica would charge for the optional neckstrap.

    Earlier this year, i purchased a pair of Leicas stunning 7x42HD+ Ultravid binoculars.
    Superb optical quality, and a build quality that just nudges the Swarovski ELs off their perch, of best binoculars at the premium end of the market.

    Oh what a calamity, my young daughter decided to rip the lid off the silver presentation box that the binoculars come in.

    It was my fault, for leaving the box unattended, so i made an enquiry to Leica, on the cost of a replacement.

    They came back with a quote of £80 + vat and carriage.

    Its a silver cardboard box, for goodness sake, but it has the Leica association, and is unique to their products, but £93 for a small cardboard box, expect a small neck lanyard for the Monovid to cost unrealistic money.

  4. I used an Olympus Stylus TOUGH TG-4 Neck Strap (Lanyard Style) Adjustable With Quick-Release from Amazon (or where ever else you can find it).

    Combined with the Leica wrist strap…

    And you can build your own neck strap for around $16.00.
    Attaches to the lens cap and the Mono

  5. I just bought the Leica monocular 3 days ago and Crutchfield shipped it across the country in 2 days.
    My Swarovski binoculars are heavy, so I wanted to try this out.
    I steady my thumb against my cheekbone and it is great to use.

    I think I saw a box and paperwork available for sale on Ebay for $20.00.

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