Leica is known for having some of the best optics in the business but for the most part they aren't heavily marketed to hunters like some of the other major brands. Swaro is definitely the leader (at least from a marketing perspective among hunters) so we were excited to put the Leica APO-Televid 65 spotter to the test in the field to see if the reputation was justified.
The first thing we noticed about the Leica was the sharp vibrant colors. Whether it was first light, last light or looking into the shadows the color and contrast was a step above any other scope we've seen. The amazing contrast just seemed to make colors jump out at you against any backdrop. When glassing for game animals we are often looking for these contrasting lines like the shadow under a deer’s chest or the black line at the top of the back. This where the Leica outperformed any other scope we looked through. Also impressive was the wide and super flat field of view with amazing edge to edge clarity. Perfect for gridding a hillside and catching that ear flicker on the edge of the image that you might have missed with a narrower FOV. If you've never looked through a wide angle eyepiece the best way to describe it would be comparing it to an “I-Max” theater, whereas a narrower FOV scope can feel like sitting in the back row of a normal theater. The eye relief is a generous 19mm and throughout most of the zoom range. Eye glass wearer will have no FOV restrictions anywhere from 25-50x. The zoom control is smooth and consistent. The eye cup is a twist-click style offering 3 height settings.
The dual speed focus wheels are nice but leave a little to be desired when compared to the buttery smooth focus of the Vortex and Swaro. I like that they are on the barrel of the spotter reducing bulk but they just aren't as smooth and easy to use as the other models we’ve used. When digiscoping I struggled to make fine adjustments to the focus without shaking the scope excessively. The lens caps are easy to remove even with gloves, but I wish they were dust proof to keep the lenses as clean as possible. The construction and build quality is what you’d expect from a high end optic like Leica. The rubber armor is rugged, durable and will definitely hold up to years of abuse. The scope is not completely balanced with more weight on the eyepiece side of the scope. But the tripod mount allows you to mount a quick plate in any direction so you can attempt balance the scope by reversing the quick plate and putting more weight forward.
If you are looking for the absolute best optical performance from a 65mm spotter, the Leica APO Televid is the scope for you. The color, clarity and edge to edge sharpness are about as good as it’s going to get. The only drawbacks are the focus wheel, weight and only a 50x magnification but that is made up for by the clarity/contrast of the glass.