Leica APO-Televid 65 telescope

Almost a year has passed since I reviewed, hot from production, the Leica APO-Televid 82 (Birdwatch 202: 48-49). Since then its little sister, the APO-Televid 65, has made its debut in Britain and Ireland, being widely available from late summer 2009 and offering birders the opportunity to enjoy the benefits associated with using a smaller top-end model from the same stable. It has a lot to live up to, and appears to rise well to the challenge, as I discovered during the latter part of last year.
Like the larger model, the 65 comes complete with a detachable wide-angle 25-50x zoom eyepiece. An essential element of the package, which is not included in the price, is the £xxx Cordura Ever Ready case, with inset strip magnets that hold the covers for the objective lens and eyepiece in place. Unwrapped, the scope’s black diecast magnesium body reveals itself as light, streamlined, compact and overlaid with a sturdy covering of rubber armour, which gives a clear impression of a high-quality build, designed to withstand the rigours of extensive field use.
Its foot slots directly into a Manfrotto tripod head, so there’s no need to attach it to a quick-release plate and no chance of the scope working loose on the tripod when used with this manufacturer’s equipment. The scope is, of course, compatible with all other tripod brands and attaches in the normal manner.
I found the eyepiece easy to fit and remove, as it simply click-locks in with a single twist. It cannot be released until you press a small, unobtrusive button located on the rear end of the body. While the body is perfectly balanced, the addition of the eyepiece adds weight to the ‘business end’ of the scope, causing it to pitch backwards on the tripod if the latter’s tilt control is not fully tightened – unless your tripod’s head employs an adjustable counterbalance system.
The telescope is a great pleasure to use. The eyepiece adjustment turns wonderfully smoothly and for a zoom delivers a relatively wide field of view, 41 m at 1,000 m at 25x magnification. Arguably this may not have a huge impact on helping to locate distant birds any more quickly than with a more conventional zoom, but in ramping up the magnification to 50x to appreciate more detail there is none of the ‘tunnel-vision syndrome’ which is often evident with other zoom eyepieces.
The resolution at the highest magnification is also impressive, the image remaining pin-sharp to the edges, with no apparent loss of detail. There is, however, some inevitable loss of light at this highest setting. Nevertheless, this did not detract from the viewing experience, and even on a murky October day I was still able to fully appreciate the subtleties and feather-perfect views of Surrey’s Brown Shrike, as well as enjoying the fine detail on many more common birds around my Midlands home.
I also used the scope extensively at dusk, when the image returned was still impressively bright; perhaps unsurprisingly, though, it fell just short of delivering the ‘illuminating’ effect I recall getting from the APO-Televid 82 in the same locality earlier in the year.
Focusing is achieved via a split-wheel dual-focusing system. This is top mounted, and the larger of the two wheels provides fast focus, with the smaller geared to deliver fine tuning. Both turn smoothly, with nearly five rotations of the larger wheel taking the image from close focus to infinity, although the scope’s generous depth of field and the general mid- to long-distance viewing range for which it would usually be employed means that much of the focusing can be achieved using the smaller wheel.
In terms of image integrity I found rich, natural colours and a high level of contrast. Some degree of chromatic aberration still lurks within the outer 10-15 per cent of the field of view generally, but this is not enough to significantly detract from enjoyment of use.
Leica’s 65 mm scope is a black diamond – a high-value gem which absorbs light and ultimately delivers an impressive image for its size. If you missed it when it was first launched, current exchange rates and the VAT increase have contributed to its becoming more expensive than previously, although some dealers are still selling it for considerably less than the recommended retail price. Its 10-year guarantee also includes the ‘Leica Passport’, which entitles the owner to one year’s free accidental damage insurance cover.

Price: £2,340, including 25x50x wide-angle zoom
Length: straight 288 mm; angled 302 mm
Weight: 1,123 g, including 390 g zoom
Field of view: 41-28 m at 1,000 m
Close focus: 2.9 mm
Gas-filled: yes
Waterproof: yes
Guarantee: 10 years