Why I Love My Leica's
And can't function without them
I’m often asked “what’s my favourite piece of kit” for photography and it has to be my trusty Canon 600mm lens. Ask me what my most essential piece of kit is and the answer would be very different. There is no doubt whatsoever what my answer to that question would be “my Leica binoculars.”
Looking for Otters on Shetland - Photo by Ruth Rowlands
As obvious as it may sound, to function as a wildlife photographer you first need to be able to locate your subject. At times this is the most challenging aspect of my job, and this is where my binoculars come into their own.
So, how do I write a blog extolling the virtues of why I chose Leica for my optics? Not an easy task through the medium of a blog, as it’s impossible to “show” you how good the optical quality is, so to tackle this I’m going to tell you through my own personal experience how I came to trust and rely on my Leica binoculars.
A video of Otters for which I totally rely on my Lecia's for.
In the UK there are a few high quality brands in this sector of the market, and I’ve had dealings with a few of them. Before we go any further don’t think for a second I’m going to slag off the opposition, most of these companies produce fantastic quality optics and if you purchase a pair of binoculars from any of these companies you won’t be disappointed. On a personal front I chose my first pair of Leica binoculars because of the quality and robustness, I tend to be quite demanding of my equipment due in part to the hostile environments I work in. From rough Cairngorm granite to slippery Hebridean beaches I’m forever whacking my ‘bins’ against rocks! They have to be tough to withstanding the abuse I subject them to.
At work in the Cairngorms
Stay with me on this one; for those of you reading this that remember the TV series ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ you will remember the main character was a person called Steve Austin. In the series he was a test pilot involved in a serious accident, he survived and became miracle of modern medicine as ‘they had the technology to re-build him’ and as a result he became ‘bionic’ and benefited from some super-human powers. He could leap over buildings, lift a car with one arm and run at great speeds. To me as a young boy of all Steve’s super human powers it was his bionic eye sight that I was envious of. Using my Leica binoculars is what I imagine looking through Steve’s bionic eye would have been like. The clarity and sharpness of the glass is truly stunning.
I’m not going to bore you with the scientific blurb and technical details of the chemical make up of the glass or components as you can find out all of that on the Leica website. But what I can do is share with you some of the images I’ve captured as a direct result of using my binoculars to help me locate and spot the wildlife.
Recently whilst out in the Cairngorms I forgot my Leica binoculars, I’d left them in my vehicle. I was guiding for a group of Austrian and German clients and was keen to impress them by finding lots of Ptarmigan for them. A wave of panic overtook me at the realisation that I was without my trusty ‘bins’, feeling somewhat naked without them having become so reliant on them. The day went well but only from my in-depth knowledge of the location, but if I’d been in a new area I didn’t know so well, things could have turned out very differently.
Ptarmigan on a day where I remembers my binoculars!
I’ve been using the 10 x 42 Noctivids for over a year now so this blog is a real field test and my love of them has been built up from hundreds of days use, not just a weekend or two. The plusses are they are very tough, super sharp and excel in dull or dark conditions. I’m notoriously hard on my equipment but these guys are still looking good, although they most definitely have a ‘used’ look about them, to me they are a functional tool to be used for the purpose they were designed for.
Boxing Mountain Hares spotted from afar using my Leica's
In our household we also have a pair of Leica Ultravids, 8 x 42s and as before with the Noctivids they are built to last, with top of the range materials. My wife uses these and loves the more compact and lightweight element to them. If you suffer from shaky hands I would recommend the 8 x 42s as they have a more user friendly feel. Saying that if like me the magnification is more important, then go for the 10 x 42s, as the detail you will see through these babies will blow your socks off. Whichever pair you choose they are sure to give you many years of pleasure for your initial investment; the golden rule when it comes to binoculars is you get what you pay for, buy the best you can afford. For me Leica are my number one choice.