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ULTRAVID 8 x 20 BL and 8 x 20 BR Compact Binoculars

the most ultimately compact, and most ultimate compact binoculars - everybody shown own one!

Above: ULTRAVID 8 x 20 BL (left) and 8 x 20 BR on display at Company Seven
The BL is shown with strap and eyepiece covers attached as also provided with the BR.
Click on image to see enlarged view

Leica binoculars have traditionally set the highest standards of brilliance and clarity when it comes to meeting the objectives of turning observational opportunities into an unforgettable experience. And now, Leica has succeeded in establishing an entirely new standard of excellence with their introduction of the ULTRAVID binocular line in 2004. The compact Leica binoculars have always been incredibly useful and most handy, with the new ULTRAVID showing improvement over the prior Leica compact models even in aspects where no improvements could have been anticipated. These are among those few personal items that are made to last a lifetime. These therefore make an excellent gift which will be appreciated and remembered for years to come - a real no brainer for the gift giver looking for something uncommon, memorable and practical.

Our Love Affair with Leica and the 8 x 20

When Company Seven was conceived in the late 1970's as a company that would serve the needs of the amateur and professional astronomy community. We have always been cautious in our selection of products, never selling something simply because it could be profitable; each product had to earn its place on its own merits in our showroom. As we were cautious with our choices of telescopes, we also decided to pickup some lines of binoculars with our preferences focused on makers who could provide models with apertures of 50 mm or greater with good to excellent qualities. Since Leica offered models of apertures from 20 mm to 42 mm at the in the late 1970's and early 1980's (since having introduced their outstanding 50 mm models), we believed their models were best suited for birders and nature watchers - a market which we did not anticipate.

Over time we were introduced to Mr. Jerry Brown, the regional representative of Leica Camera. Understood our rationale for offering makes with larger models he explained that there are very few true optical specialists showing and explaining binoculars and spotting telescopes. He suggested if we included Leica, then Company Seven could perform a good service for our own customer base and for the birder or nature watcher who might happen upon us. When Mr. Brown commented that the absence of Leica in a highly demanding company as ours is might imply something was lacking with Leica products, we decided to give the product line a try.

We evaluated and stocked a representative selection of the Leica products, and for a shop that at first seemed interested only in 50 mm and larger models, our staff were immediately impressed with the 32 mm and 43 mm aperture models and we were also taken aback by the Leica mini binoculars. We had seen many "mini binoculars", but all others except our Carl Zeiss models really did not fare well through our evaluation processes. The Leica were obviously the best compact binoculars in terms of:

  • durability - these are likely to work when you need them most, and their incredible factory warranty back them for life!
  • contrast and clarity - on a well lighted scene (daytime, concert or sport activities) the detail and clarity revealed compared well against much larger binoculars,
  • field of view - while mini binoculars cannot equal larger models in area they can show, these minis provided a compfortable field of view,
  • if the first goal of a mini binocular is portability, then nothing else of this quality can rival the Leica ULTRAVID in how compact and lightweight they are.

As one of our employees evaluated our first 8 x 20 BCA model (since supplanted by the ULTRAVID), he said "this is a keeper" and he bought it. His purchase was followed by most of our employees who find these to be incredibly handy. When our staff travels the world, or go for a casual drive or hike - most of us keep a Leica 8 x 20 close at hand. When the owner of Company Seven ("Benevolent Dictator and Field Marshal General for Life") visited Paris, France some years ago he packed his Carl Zeiss 7 x 45 mm "Night Owl", a superb ultra wide angle binocular. He also took his Leica 8 x 20 BCA. Once in Paris he quickly tired of carrying the large 47 oz "Night Owl", and so he he came into the habit of leaving it in the hotel. When he finally came across the Eifel Tower, anticipating those tack sharp 8.7 degree panoramic views of all Paris and the suburbs - the 7 x 45 were not there - they were left in his hotel room! But handily his 8.3 oz. Leica 8 x 20 BCA were there, tucked away inconspicuously under his sport coat in the leather pouch attached to his belt. He will never forget his views of Paris with the Leica 8 x 20, even if they were only 6.6 degree actual field of view they provided even better views than the pay binoculars installed on the stands at the tower. The lesson here kids is:

"the best bincoular is the one that gets used"

Postscript: for travel to Hawaii in early 2005 our Benevolent Dictator and Field Marshal General for Life bought an 8 x 20 BL ULTRAVID and used it quite often for panoramic observing, bird and whale watching, hiking and the like. Later in 2005 while on a trip to Barbados with friends (each whom owned a Leica 8 x 20 BC) they compared their BCA's against the ULTRAVID: each now own a 8 x 20 ULTRAVID.

Introduction to The ULTRAVID

Announced in 2003 and available in limited supply that Winter, the new generation of the Leica binocular product line is the ULTRAVID series. The 42mm models are available in magnifications of 7x, 8x, and 10x "BR" indicating a soft armor covering. In addition the lighter weight 8x 42mm BL and 10x 42mm BL described here are provided with a black leather covering. While the larger ULTRAVID 50mm models come in 8x 50, 10x 50 and 12x50 arrangements. The compact 20 mm BL and BR described here, and 25 mm models were introduced in 2004. This line represents Leica's best possible optical performance, coupled with a lightweight yet rugged body design with improved ergonomics.

Left: Leica ULTRAVID automated presentation (269,609 bytes) showing 50 mm BR model at introduction with overview of the product construction and components features. Click "Start Film" below and right of illustrated ULTRAVID 50mm binocular image to view.

Note: this is a Macromedia "Shockwave" film presentation and so your Web Browser must be suitably enabled to play it. Broad Band Internet access is also suggested to speed download time.

ULTRAVID takes the 20 and 25 mm BC and BCA compacts, the 42 mm Trinovid BN and 50 mm Trinovid BN series to the next level of technology development and ease of use. The ULTRAVID are in some cases an alternative to the remaining Trinovid line while some of the most popular Trinovid BC and BN models also remain in production.


Easier to Use: Better, Faster and More Durable: Logically tailored to the intended use, every technical and ergonomic detail that went into the development of the ULTRAVID has been painstakingly examined, perfected or completely reinvented. The ULTRAVID simply put "feels good in the hands". Its ergonomics provide an instrument that is an extension of the observer - it "gets out of the observer's way" with a very comfortable, natural and well balanced feel. It places its controls and hardware at a convenient and comfortable position - and it's obstructions (strap hinges, etc.) remain out of the way.

The BR and BR models are covered with a new "soft touch" rugged cladding. This material is comfortable to grip in all kinds of weather conditions. The covering is available in the customers choice of either black or green.

The BL versions covered in black leather are even lighter in weight than the BR and inspire confidence with their professionally crafted appearance.

The ULTRAVID incorporate new eyepiece designs which provide reduced distortion over prior generations. You will see a wider true field of view than before. This can be observed in how a straight long object (tree, building, etc.) when seen along the edges of the field of view do not bow out at the edges (hence the term "pincushion distortion") as much as on other models.

Right: ULTRAVID 8 x 20 BL with strap, eyepieice covers, and open hard leather case.
This is similar to the arrangement provided with the 10 x 25 BL. click on image to see enlarged view (189,500 bytes)

They also provide improved eye relief over prior models thereby making the observing experience more comfortable whether observing with the naked eye, or with sunglasses or prescription spectacles. And with their diopter adjustment range of ± 3.5 diopters many people with near or distant eye focus problems (and no notable astigmatism) can use these without having to rely on their prescription glasses.

Twist up rubber covered eye cups allow the user to quickly and conveniently snap the eye cup in or out to accommodate observing preference, attain a shorter profile for storage. Unlike some other twist up designs, there is no peaked contour of the rubber cup so that the ULTRAVID eye cup can be used while in or out, or in between their extension range without the observing bumping into the peak of the contour of other binoculars.

The ULTRAVID focus gearing provides smooth focus for a lifetime of reliable service, with rapid focus from infinity to near focus points with slightly more than one full revolution of the convenient focus knob. This process can require as many as three revolutions in some competing models!

The diopter adjustment of the ULTRAVID is accomplished quickly by a pull and turn adjustment of the Leica Multifunction Center Drive focus mechanism. This can be locked securely, and when secured it preserves the waterproof integrity of the binocular.

The ULTRAVID compact binoculars also differs from their predecessors in that the BL are provided with an innovative, form fitted hard shell case made of leather finished in black. The BL case also incorporates a belt loop to keep it close at hand. Since the leather case of the BL snaps shut, and will open or close lengthwise it is a simple matter to store or remove the case while it is on your belt.

The ULTRAVID BR models are provided with a newly designed durable black nylon pouch with flap lid, and a belt loop. The new pouch has a snap closure, is more resistant to abrasion and rot and is therefore a better solution for those who keep a binocular near the salt air environments.

Left: Black fitted leather zip case (shown opened) as is provided with Leica Ultravid 42mm BL Binoculars
click on image to see enlarged view (245,496 bytes)

Brighter: This development is achieved by Leica's continued application of state of the art computer aided optical design, and by the use of special high grade optical raw glass materials. The optics incorporate the new HighLux System (HLS™), this is an optical coating that is unequalled in its quantity and uniformity of transmission of light in the visible spectrum. The HLS™ coatings consist of a precisely applied forty three (43) layer coating, with each layer applied as thin as only 40 nanometers. By means of a special mirror layer on the prism system the process yields a level reflection of 99.5%. It was possible to raise the image brightness to this level over the prior generation models. This among those attributes that makes the impressively high resolution imaging performance and striking enhanced contrast possible.

The external lens surface of the eyepiece and objective field lenses are multi-coated with Leica's patented High Durability Coatings. This provides improved long term resistance to abrasion and environmental staining.

Stronger: As if the Leica durability was not already good enough (read about our Leica No-Fault warranty), Leica takes this too to another level of endurance. The housing of the ULTRAVID is made of an all metal aluminum chassis construction. This provides light weight and great strength compared to most other compact binoculars; the ULTRAVID BL and BR frame has nearly twice the thickness and strength of any competing composite binocular made today.

The critical oversized Center Axis Shaft is highly resistant to wear, contributes to structural integrity, and is a critical aspect of maintaining precise alignment of the binocular over a lifetime of service. The all metal focusing system of the ULTRAVID utilizes a precise helicoid gearing mechanism. This is smoother, more durable, and more costly choice than the spur gear drive and materials employed by many competitors.

The ULTRAVID compact models are now even more highly shock resistant, are nitrogen purged to remain fogproof, are waterproof to a depth of 5 meters (16.5 feet), and will function over an extremely broad range of temperatures of from -25 degrees C (-13 degrees F).


The 20 mm aperture ULTRAVID provide a fine balance of resolving power and portability - certainly beyond what most people expect of such a small bincoular. These models achieve an image brightness that was impossible before now in a compact roof prism binocular; in fact their images will appear brighter even when compared against other less sophisticated models even with larger aperture objective (front) lenses. At 8 x almost anyone in reasonable health can hand hold them.

For backpackers who seek closer views of distant birds or landmarks we also offer the 10 x 25 ULTRAVID also in the choice of BR and BL arrangements. If you visit our page describing the 10 x 25 then you may see how the two models compare in size.

If you buy a Leica compact binocular then in time you will probably find yourself coming back to buy a second larger binocular for times when the lighting is inadequate for the compact binocular - even one as good as the BR and BL. For Fall and Winter in particular, when the sunrise is later in the morning and dusk comes earlier in the evening (or afternoon), or for applications requiring wider fields of view and greater resolution of fine detail, then we encourage you to consider one of the larger ULTRAVID models such as those with 42 mm or even larger 50 mm apertures.

Right: larger Leica Ultravid 42mm BR Series Binocular
click on image to see enlarged view (181,339 bytes)

The remarkably slim and compact housings of the compact models, and even those of the 32 and 42 mm cousins assure these binoculars can easily be put into a large coat pocket, into a brief case or travel bag, making these a very handy binocular to travel with - having a binocular available is just as important as its optical properties.

  • Summary of the ULTRAVID 8 x 20 BL and BR

    The consumate compact binoculars - so compact each fits easily into a shirt pocket or purse. These are easy to hand hold. Each delivers astoundingly clear images, rich in true colors and excellent contrast. Useful for observation of objects in daylight and at well lit environments. With 15 mm of eye relief, these are a practical choice for those who observe while wearing sunglasses or prescription spectacles. The ratio of performance and weight and size make these well suited for a great many applications - probably the binocular you will wish to use the most often.

    The BL leather covering makes it possible to reduce the weight to 229 grams (8.1 oz) rendering the BL to be the binoculars of choice of true compact binocular purists. It is also preferred in terms of appearance for indoor and fair weather events. The hard case provided with the BL provides the best protection if you are a bit reckless with your packing or traveling.

    The BR may be preferred for uses in environments prone to fungus, or corrosion (salt air, etc.) since the covering and the provided case are more resistant to rot. In wet and icy weather, some people prefer the BR over the BL since they find the BR covering to be not as slippery in the gloved hand than the BL.


Binocular   Magni-
    Field of view   Near
  Dimensions   Weight   Eye Relief  
8 X 20 BL
  8 x   20 mm   2.5 mm   12.6     110 m/1000 m   2.2 m / 7.2 ft approx.   92.7 x 64.4 x 38 mm   229 g / 8.1 oz   15 mm  
8 X 20 BR
  8 x   20 mm   2.5 mm   12.6     110 m/1000 m   2.2 m / 7.2 ft approx.   93.2 x 65.6 x 37.8 mm   240 g / 8.5 oz   15 mm  


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