If you're looking for an almost alpha, second tier binocular (around 1000 USD) to use for bird watching, nature observation while hiking or some other similar outdoor activity, Leica Trinovid and Zeiss Conquest HD are probably your best two options (and maybe that's why you're already here).
In this post I compared these two bins in terms of image quality, field of view, close focus and eye relief.
In summary, I'd take the Conquest HD 10x42 because of its apparent sharpness with bigger sweet spot, higher brightness, better & comfortable CA control and more field of view. If you wear glasses, absolutely get the Conquest because eye relief of Trinovid is really borderline (15 mm). Conquest's close focus of 6.5 ft is also very good, but if better 5.3 ft close focus of Trinovid is a HUGE advantage for you (I'd highly doubt) you might maybe be better with the Trinovid 10x42.
You can check the current price of Conquest HD 10x42 on Amazon here. I think it also looks prettier than Trinovid. You can check out its manual [PDF] here.
As you see, the key difference is the superior image quality of Conquest HD 10x42. Its advantages in eye relief, field of view and better CA control aren't much and hence will matter less to most of you - especially if you don't wear glasses.
Still, the most important thing is that you really don't need to worry about going wrong with either of these binoculars because they both work quite well and more than enough for most of us - especially if you don't wear glasses.
#Note: 8x42 is recommended over 10x42 if you're a newbie. I made the comparison for 8x42 models of these bins at the bottom of this post, so go check that out if you're a newbie!
Now let me translate the consequences of their spec differences while actually USING the binoculars.
This is the most obvious and different thing between these bins. Conquest HD 10x42 provides an apparent sharpness, higher brightness and better CA control. Whereas Trinovid provides a "warmer" image with higher contrast.
Let's start with the most important thing in a binocular: Brightness.
It's determined by the light transmission percentage which you can see in the specs of any binocular, and it shows what percentage of light passes through. The higher the transmission percentage, the better, because the image will be more clear.
Here Trinovid stands at 90%, whereas Conquest is around 92%.
This is why Conquest is also more versatile. Higher brightness would still help it perform slightly better in dull, darker and foul weather - even though Twilight factor (which shows their performances in dim light) is the same at 20.5, because as I learned, it isn't the only thing that determines the binocular performance under dim light. Light transmission is crucial!
Sharpness, Contrast and Sweet Spot
Higher contrast looks sharper.
Sharpness of both bins are pretty good as they provide more or less the same contrast.
The difference is in sweet spot, which refers to the what percentage of the image is sharp. Sweet spot of Conquest HD is around 3/4 of the image, which is larger than Trinovid.
CA (chromatic aberration) refers to a failure in image where different wavelengths (colors) aren't brought to the same focal plane. This is one reason why binoculars use focus wheels. Here's what aberration looks like:
These wheels should (1) work with least aberration (2) have high enough sensitivity to precise focus and (3) shouldn't wear over time.
Conquest 10x42 does a better job than Trinovid 10x42 with numbers 1 and 2 - although the difference isn't huge (again). Overall, build of Trinovid feels somewhat more "sturdy" than Conquest, but wheels of Conquest not only feel more pleasant when using, but they also focus better.
I've found a GREAT study while researching!
So... while researching this topic online, I've come across the outcomes of a great Norwegian study made for 8x30 and 8x32 bins. The link was dead though, so I went to the archive.org, and got lucky. Found a screenshot of the document and then downloaded it & uploaded it here so that it doesn't get lost in the oceans of Internet.
Yes, in this review I'm all about 10x42 (and later, 8x42). The reason I'm sharing this study on 30 & 32 mm lens sizes is that so you can see the popularity and general superior performance of Conquest HD.
Here's how the Norwegian in comment section translates to English:
Not tested in back-lighting. Very color chromatic aberration. Large Field of View. Less depth of field competitor demands more focus. Comfortable focus wheel. Rubber seat front cover loosely folded and lettavi falls, but can tethered in the neck strap attachment in the accompanying cord. Body of aluminum clad with rubber. The diopter ring is inside the right eyepiece and missing click stop and lock - can come off in field. LotuTec coating. Produced in Germany. Very good optics. Value for your money.
As you see it holds the highest score in value for money section.
Things mentioned in superior image quality of Conquest HD until this point are the reason behind Conquest's popularity in second tier binocular users. In Germany, you can COUNT the days birding in a group where you don't see anyone using a Conquest HD.
Field of view (FOV)
As the name implies, FOV is the width of view provided by the binocular from 1000 meters. Conquest HD 10x42 offers 115 meters of FOV, which means that the width of your view will be 115 meters every 1000 meters.
Since the FOV of Leica Trinovid 10x42 is 2 meters less (113 meters), your field of view will be more restricted from sides. To give you a visual explanation of FOV for our case, it'd be something like this:
Although it isn't that big of a difference for most, these bins are already quite similar, so I'd list FOV as an advantage that Conquest has over Trinovid.
Combine bigger sweet spot explained above with more field of view, the image Conquest provides becomes something a little more than "slightly" superior.
Close focus is the shortest distance the bins just start providing a blurry image since they can't focus properly. That's why, lower close focus is always better.
Why is it important?
Yeah, the objects you'll observe are mostly (always?) going to be far away, but if you want to observe a butterfly landed just next to you, your bins will help you get an extremely close, clear look.
Trinovid offers a great close focus of 5.3 ft (1.6 meters), which is lower than Conquest HD's 6.5 ft (2 meters).
Besides its lighter weight (1.61 vs 1.75 lbs = 730 g vs 795 g), this is the second thing in which Trinovid is performs better than Conquest HD.
Eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece (one of the fragments inside the bins) and your eye where the optimal vision is achieved.
If you wear glasses you want as much eye relief as possible so that you experience no discomfort while using the bins with your glasses on.
15 mm eye relief of Trinovid is usually considered borderline. At 18 mm, the space Conquest provides for your glasses is substantially and considerably higher than Trinovid. Another thing to consider.
Both Zeiss and Leica are German companies. But they don't manufacture these high quality binoculars in Germany - which is why they aren't THAT expensive.
They're manufactured in Japan (Kamakura) and assembled in Germany, and as a result, same quality is achieved at a lower cost compared to some other companies.
In summary, although both binoculars offer very similar performances, I'd choose Conquest HD 10x42 over Trinovid 10x42 because of 5 main things:
- Apparent sharpness with bigger sweet spot
- Higher brightness,
- Better & comfortable CA control
- More field of view (115 m vs 113 m)
- More eye relief (18 mm vs 15 mm)
For most of us, the lower (better) close focus (5.3 ft = 1.6 m) and lower weight (1.61 lbs = 730 g) of Trinovid can't surpass the mentioned advantages of Conquest HD with 6.5 ft (2 meters) of close focus and 1.75 lbs (795 g) of weight.
You can check out the current price of Conquest HD 10x42 on Amazon by clicking here. It also looks very pretty IMO. I know this isn't a main concern for most of you but I'm not a very big fan of the looks of Trinovid.
Zeiss Conquest HD 8x42 vs Leica Trinovid 8x42
The facts mentioned above are all applicable to 8x42 models - with the exceptions of numbers. Because, in general (not always) 8x42 models provide more:
- Eye relief (Conquest: 18 mm, Trinovid: 17 mm)
- Field of view (Conquest: 128 m, Trinovid: 124 m),
- Steadiness to the image.
...than 10x42 models. In return, magnification is sacrificed.
But, how does Conquest HD 8x42 and Trinovid 8x42 stand when compared to each other? Now for the sake of not repeating myself, I'm not going to lay out all the differences mentioned for 10x42 models of these two different brands, so you can easily go and check that out.
There are 2 things that are mentioned when talking about 10x42 models, but aren't applicable to 8x42 models: Close focus and eye relief.
Close focus of Trinovid is up to 5.9 ft (1.8 m) for 8x42 model, so now it isn't a considerable advantage when compared to Conquest 8x42's 6.5 ft (2 m). Eye relief of Trinovid is up to 17 mm with the 8x42 model, so now it isn't a downside for folks with glasses.
In summary, for 8x42 models, again I'd go for the Conquest over Trinovid because its higher image quality: Easier & more functional CA control, higher brightness, sharpness and bigger sweet spot (75% of image). Its extra 2 meters of field of view is also a plus. Unlike 10x42 models, when you take these 8x42 models into account, close focus advantage the Trinovid has over Conquest disappears.
You can check out the current price of Conquest HD 8x42 on Amazon by clicking here. Typically, I'd recommend 8x42 to more people than I do the 10x42.
If you're looking for this high quality bins AND you're a newbie, I think that might be a sign that they can be an overkill for you.
So... if you're a total newbie, I'd recommend you a 8x42 model - and unless you're looking to make a "buy it for life" purchase, I'd highly recommend you to read my other article on Nikon Monarch 7 8x42 and 10x42 models. I'd say these are third tier bins, unlike Conquest and Trinovid - which are second tier bins.
MOST IMPORTANTLY THOUGH...
I know it sounds like Conquest HD is MUCH better than Trinovid - but it really isn't THAT better. Both bins are incredible and I'd hiiighly doubt you'll regret buying either of them. They're both "buy it for life" products, but I'd just simply go for Conquest HD 10x42 (or 8x42, if you're a newbie).
Comments of Jack McPody
Leica hasn't made a binocular that could truly compete with the Zeiss SF and Swarovski ELs until the Noctavid. The Noctavid is outrageously priced.
If you know the history, Leica originally made the Trinovid, then added a Trinovid Plus, then rebadged the Plus into the Ultravid, made in Germany. The Trinovid is manufactured in Portugal, and optically does not compete with Zeiss at the same price point. Optically, it is a well-built, weather resistant $500 level binocular. The Trinovid can't even compete with the Vortex Razor in terms of resolving ability. A shame, because there is a market for a compact, lightweight binocular in the $1K range.
I thought your evaluation on the Leica Trinovid vs. Zeiss Conquest was spot on.
To summarize: Leica downgraded the Trinovid, the Plus became the Ultravid (optically closer to the older Leitz Trinovid), and then created the Noctavid as its only true high end offering. Don't get me wrong, the Ultravid is an excellent binocular, but you can do better by buying a Swaro at that price point.
Personally, I carry Swarovski for high end, and my everyday beaters are Meoptas and Vanguards. The diminutive Swarovski pocket 8x25 is a fantastic binocular for hiking, and it folds so small you can carry it in a shirt pocket. If I am going to hike 10 miles or more, I am carrying a hip pack with water, energy bars, bug spray, bear repellent. And the Swaro pocket. Minimalist.
Find Jack's further thoughts under the comment section below.
I hope this review was helpful for you to understand which second tier binocular for nature observation while hiking or bird watching would be the best choice for your needs. Feel free to ask me any questions, provide feedback and I'll be happy to respond in the comment section below if it's within my knowledge.
Thanks a lot for reading. Happy trails.
References & Further reading