Leica binoculars have played a role in outdoor sports, and hobbies such as birding, for more than a century. The company periodically updates its product offerings and, like many manufacturers, Leica's model names can be confusing and hard to differentiate. This is certainly the case with its 8x32 BA and BN lines of binoculars.
The Ernst Leitz optical company produced its first binocular, the Binocle 6x18, in 1907. The German company went on to pioneer camera development, and changed its name in the 1980s to Leica, combining parts of the words "Leitz" and "camera." Leica Camera AG continues to build and market camera lenses and binoculars today.
In 1963, Leica introduced Trinovid binoculars at the Photokina exposition in Cologne, Germany. The roof-prism construction allowed for a slimmer design, with an internal central-focus system to improve the process of adjusting focus. In 1969, NASA modified a pair of Leica Trinovid binoculars for the Apollo 11 lunar exploration mission. In 1990, Leica introduced the second-generation Trinovid BA with new lens development and a fully redesigned mechanism, and released a third-generation of Trinovid binoculars in 2007.
Binoculars are categorized in terms of magnification multiplied by the objective diameter; the Leica 8x32 BA binocular, introduced in 1990, will magnify an image eight times, while the diameter of its objective lens is a relative number that explains how bright an image will be. The Trinovid BA line introduced an internal-focusing design that protected the precision parts and a shock-absorbing polyurethane shell. The optics also offered multi-layered coatings to reduce risk of scratching. The Leica 8x32 BA was manufactured in Portugal and weighed about 1.4 pounds. It offered a field of view ranging from 135 to 1,000 meters -- 148 to 1,094 yards -- and a close-focusing distance of 3.25 meters, or 10 feet 8 inches.
Leica refined its Trinovid line of binoculars with the BN series, introduced in 2001. The company applied computer-aided optical design to deliver 11 optical elements of raw glass alongside higher-grade structural materials, such as magnesium and aluminum alloys. The primary difference that the 8x32 BN offered was a better near focus of 2.1 meters, or almost 7 feet. The now-discontinued 8x32 BA and BN binoculars were manufactured in slate and green, and there's a robust market for used models.
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