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Leica Trinovid Noctivid Binoculars- South West Optics

Birding with a Novice Part 3: The Adventures of Bino Man and Roger

It's always nice to receive a call at our showroom. It's especially nice when it's someone that's one of my oldest friends.

Rodger Jackman is a naturalist, photographer and an award winning wildlife cameraman that's travelled all over the world making films, documentaries and he has contributing to major wildlife series such as Attenborough's Life on Earth and many others.

Rodger called me last week to see if South West Optics could help him find an upgrade for his Leica Trinovid 8x42 binoculars. Well, he couldn’t have come to a better place! Of course we can.

Leica, as you probably know, are one of the top brands of binoculars, spotting scopes and optical lenses in general. They are well made and have exceptionally clear and sharp optics so finding something better might have presented a challenge. However, undaunted, I ran to the nearest phone box, donned my “Bino Man” super hero cape and, sensing an hour or so of lunch chatting binoculars with an old friend, I grabbed a couple of pairs of binos, launched the “Optic Mobile” and sped off to Totnes.

Rodger and I met when I was dumped in the seat next to him aged 8 at primary school. I had recently moved back to Paignton from Essex and became the boy with a “funny accent”. We got on well and went through our school years together. He always had an interest in wildlife, his father, Leslie, had written several books on nature and wildlife and was involved in the early days of the BBC Natural History Unit. Les had a studio in their back garden and, as kids, we would always be in there watching him filming things like mice and grass snakes, so it was no surprise that Rodger followed in his father footsteps.

We chose The Cott Inn at Dartington for lunch. I say “we,” it was his choice as I was paying, but great pub with great food. (Note to South West Optics management, how about an expense account for lunch with clients?)

Swarovski NL Pure Binoculars - South West Optics

I'd taken a pair of Swarovski Optik NL Pure 8x32 and a pair of Leica Noctivid 8x42s with me and we spent time between courses chatting and letting him get a feel of them. Both pairs are considered top of the range but are both quite different.

Leica Noctivid binoculars - Sotuh West Opticsc

The Leicas have a more traditional look but do feel good in the hand. They’re comfortable to use and are as sharp as a tack. I'm a great Leica fan but, if I'm honest, unlike the top of the range Noctivids, I don't get on particularly well with their mid range Ultravids. For some reason, they just don't feel right for me but do deliver really good clarity and performance.

The Swarovskis, however, are a totally different kettle of fish! They look different, more “modern” and up to date with their slim waist, plus they feel great in your hand with a lovely rubber armoured coating and good balance. Both have exceptional clarity and sharpness and a good field of view, as you would expect from top end binoculars.

I really like the NL Pures, I love the feel and the build quality. The eye cups are smooth and positive and they focus easily and quickly making them a joy to use. The slightly wasted barrels do look a little like they’ve been squashed at first, but once you get used to them, they do look somewhat more modern and up to date.

The Leicas, however, have a more traditional appearance. There’s no wasting on the barrels, but they do have a nice rubber armour covering and do still feel great to use. As far as I know, there’s only one choice for colour and that's black, whereas the Swarovski's come with the choice of green or burnt orange (my personal favourite).

Swarovski NL Pure binoculars - burnt orange

Optically, there's not a lot to choose from. Both pairs are sharp and beautifully clear. For me, the Leicas gave a slightly richer, warmer colour, which personally I preferred. Rodger, on the other hand, preferred the look of the Swarovski’s.

Having been fleeced for lunch and a shandy or two, we left the pub and headed back a mile or so towards the Dartington Hall Estate. At the entrance to the estate, there is a flooded meadow where there are often Herons, Egrets, and other species of waterfowl. Today, we were blessed with a Heron, Egret and a small group of Eurasian Teal. Being new to birding, I hadn’t come across these lovely little fellows before, but old clever clogs Jackman knew exactly what they were and had great delight in letting me know. However, I did google them when I got home to make sure.

South West Optics

We had a great lunch and a catch up and enjoyed the field trip to try out the binoculars. I can’t guarantee the same treatment for all our customers regarding lunch etc. (unless, of course, its their treat), but if you visit our showroom at Riviera House, Nicholson Road Torquay TQ2 7TD, you will get to try out anything that you have an interest in.

So, what was the outcome regarding Rodgers decision? Which did he choose and why? Being a Leica fan and already having a good clean pair of Leica Trinovids to part exchange, Rodger decided to go for the Leica Noctivids 8x42. He didn’t mind the traditional look and feel or the singular choice of colour (black). Optically, they were pretty much on par with each other and both have exceptional build quality.

Having said all that, I think one deciding factor was the price difference. At time of writing, the NL Pures cost more than £650 more, pretty much the cost of a pair of Swarovski CL Curios (another excellent pair of binoculars).

Swarovski NL Pure 8x32 burnt orange

My thoughts on the subject: If I had the means, would I spend an extra £650 for the NL Pures? With that modern wasted look and beautiful balance? Superb optics and tactile rubber coating in that lovely burnt orange colour?

Yes!! Of course I would…😉

Please feel free to contact us and visit our showroom if you’re in the area.

You can view a wide range of Leica products by clicking HERE.

You can view a broad selection of Swarovski Optik products by clicking HERE.

Be sure to check out the South West Optics website at


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