Leica 1.8x extender

Factfile:
Magnification: 1.8x (25-50x becomes a 45-90x)
Field of view (m@1000 m): 21.6 – 14
Close focus: 3.8 m (quoted)
Weight: 92gRRP: £320.
Warranty: 5 years.

Ratings (out of 5)
Optics 4
Handling 4
Price 4.5
Overall 4

Review by David Chandler

Leica’s 1.8x extender fits between the eyepiece and body of a Televid scope, adding 20 mm to the length of the eyepiece. You can use it with 65mm and 82mm Televids – but only the angled ones. What it does is turn the 25-50x eyepiece into a whopping 45-90x for relatively little money – in top-end price terms anyway. The eyepiece has a RRP of £750. The extender is a mere £320. I tested it on the 82mm scope.

First things first – binocular practicalities

The extender has the quality feel you expect from Leica, and a stiff, solid, bayonet mount. The first time I tried to fit it I didn’t find it easy, but with a little practice it gets much easier.
You can fit the extender onto the eyepiece first, or the body. When you fit it to the body, you line up a red mark on the extender with a white dot on the body and twist 45° clockwise. 

To remove it, I recommend removing the eyepiece from the extender while the extender is attached to the body – it’s easier than separating the two after removing them as a unit. There’s a release button on the extender that you pull out to liberate the eyepiece, which I found a bit fiddly to use.

Then you twist the eyepiece about 45° anti-clockwise, and wiggle it around a bit to remove it. It’s a similar exercise with the extender, except that you push in a release button on the scope to set it free.

High-magnification comes with challenges – you need a really stable tripod and focusing is trickier. The Televid’s dual-focusing mechanism was a great help – the fine-focusing wheel proved very useful.

Binocular image quality

I tested the extender on a reasonably bright afternoon at a country park, and again at Fen Drayton Lakes on an overcast morning, with Fieldfares overhead and a Cetti’s Warbler yelling out its song. In brighter conditions, the extender performed very well – the image quality was excellent at 45x and very good at 90x.

Colours looked natural and sharpness was excellent at the bottom end of the zoom range, and very good at 90x. I noticed a very small amount of edge softness, but nothing significant. Not surprisingly, the view was duller at the top end, but on the whole was still useable. I struggled looking into shade up close at 90x – the image just looked black – but why would you do that anyway?

The field of view didn’t feel claustrophobic, even at 90x, and colour-fringing seemed pretty well controlled, though I did see some at the top of the field of view on rippling waves. I used the fine-focus wheel even in brighter conditions at 45x. Leica quote the close-focus as 3.8m – I measured it as almost 4m.

The extender wasn’t as easy to use in dull, overcast conditions. During this session I was scoping over much bigger distances – probably around 400m. The extender was fine at 45x, but at 90x focusing was tricky and it was difficult to get a satisfactory image. With care, the view was reasonable at about 54x (30x1.8).

I had more success looking at birds that were closer (but still distant), with a functional view at 90x, where I could see the bill pattern on a female Gadwall. In dull conditions there was some peripheral softness to the field of view, which of course, was less noticeable at 45x. Again, I was pleased to have the fine-focus facility!

Focus precision in Fen Drayton’s dullness (it’s only the weather I’m referring to!) was good at 45x, though care was needed with very distant subjects, but at 90x could be tricky, especially at very long range.

Verdict:

If you own an angled Televid, this is a relatively affordable way of giving yourself what is effectively an extra eyepiece, that more or less takes over where the 25-50x leaves off. Don’t expect miracles when the light isn’t too good, but when it’s reasonable or better, the extender does a very good job.

This scope review first appeared in the February 2016 issue of Bird Watching magazine.