Leica Geovid HD-B - Binocular Rangefinder Perfection?
Leica has introduced a very unique and advanced binocular rangefinder series called the Geovid HD-B. Leica, who has long enjoyed a dominant position in the rangefinder binocular market, was likely feeling the heat from the still relatively new but instantly popular Swarovski El Range series. Wasting no time Leica fired back with its own ultra long range model complete with a long list of features that should appeal to both the long range hunting and shooting crowd.
What’s with the Shape?
If you’re like me the first thing you probably noticed about the new Geovid HD-B series was the funky dip or wave on the barrels of this rangefinder. This is because the unit uses a Perger prism which is a Porro style prism setup but looks more like a Roof prism model. Without getting too technical Porro prisms don’t “mess” with the light as much as a Roof prism as it travels through the unit; however they are generally bulkier. On the other hand, Roof prisms are generally more compact and ergonomically friendly. The Perger Porro is kind of a hybrid that combines the Porro prism optical quality with the Roof Prism compactness and ergonomics.
How Far will it Range?
Leica lists the maximum range of their new Geovid HD-B series as 2000 yards; and this is in under ideal circumstances on a highly reflective target. This is of course how most rangefinders list their maximum distance; what is noteworthy is that this is significantly more yardage than the 1500 yards advertised by the Swarovski El Range. Now not many people even shoot at targets that far let alone at game so does it even matter? As a general rule of thumb a quality rangefinder will range an animal like a deer at about half the distance of its advertised max range so that puts the Leica at roughly 1000 yards, and the Swarovski at roughly 750 yards. However, these numbers also reflect the range under ideal circumstances, so these distances can decrease if light conditions, target surface, target angle, etc. is less than optimum. Of course this is theory and general rules of thumb but something to consider.
What’s Unique about it?
Like some other binocular rangefinders, the new Leica Geovid HD-B comes equipped with preprogrammed ballistics charts from which the user can select and then enter one of three zero ranges; once set the output can be selected to display in holdover, click adjustments, or equivalent horizontal distance. However, this new Geovid is also capable of detecting and accounting for temperature and atmospheric pressure, factors that are often either left off competing models or that have to be manually programmed. Furthermore, the Leica Geovid accepts microSD cards that can be programmed on your computer through their website to your specific cartridge/load combination which can result in a more precisely matched ballistic curve than one of the preprogrammed options.
How Much do they Cost?
Leica is currently making two versions of the Geovid HD-B. The first is a 10x42, their model #40049, which is currently selling for $3145 online which compares closely to the Swarovski El Range 10x42 which is currently going for $3099. The second versions is an 8x42, their model #40047, which is going for $2945 online which is slightly less than the $3049 that the Swarovski 8x42 is selling for. So it would be pretty comparable to buying a premium pair of either manufactures binoculars, along with their premium stand alone rangefinder which would also come out to right around $3000.
Long Range Hunting
Despite the ballistic capabilities of the Leica Geovid HD-B and its competitors, taking a shot at some of the extreme ranges these units are capable of is generally ill advised and most rangefinder manufacturers limit the range in which ballistic calculated reading are returned for ethical reasons. In the case of the Geovid HD-B the max range of calculated ballistics is 875 yards for preprogrammed settings and 1000 yards for customized settings off a microSD chip. Despite these generous “limitations” and the advanced reading and calculations capabilities of these units, you should always range test these units with your particular rifle to determine how close the ballistics curves actually match and how far you can consistently make an ethical shot.
Long Range Shooting
Those who want to use this Leica for long range target shooting will be pleased to know that you can access the angle of inclination, temperature, and atmospheric pressure readings separately on this unit during a reading. This is important for many hardcore long distance shooters who often use a separate ballistic device like a smart phone for their calculations so they can precisely account for other shot factors like wind that they are measuring with portable anemometer.
Each microSD card can only hold 1 custom ballistic curve; however, you can have multiple cards, or select one of the preprogrammed versions while the card is still inserted. Be aware that a microSD card is small and that it fits into a slot in the battery compartment and requires the battery to be removed to be installed. Removing appears to be tricky especially for those with large fingers; Leica is aware of this and actually includes a set of tweezers with purchase. Another factor to consider is that the red LED display screen is auto adjusting to light conditions. When done right auto adjusting brightness levels can be quite nice but not being able to manually set the brightness level if you want more or less reticle illumination can be frustrating. While this was a common complaint on many cheaper monocular style rangefinders I haven’t seen reviews of the Geovid HD-B mentioning this as a problem.
While still relatively new, early reviews coming in are quite positive on the new Leica Geovid HD-B. Their of course is endless discussion about which is better this or the Swarovski El Range since they are direct competitors and priced very similarly, much of which essentially is a Ford vs. Chevy debate. If you are a Swarovski fan I would get the El Range, if you are a Leica fan get the Geovid HD-B; making a bad decision between those two models would probably be pretty hard to do. Not having the opportunity to get my hands on these two models make it tough to make a call, as many of you are probably in same boat note being able to test drive $3000 rangefinders at your leisure. I would say it is a safe bet that the optics on both are excellent, so if I had no brand preference I would probably lean toward the Leica Geovid HD-B for the additional range and customizable ballistics.
Leica Geovid HD-B Models
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