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Old Wednesday 27th September 2017, 22:06   #1
Jack Speer
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Zeiss 8x56 FL

So Mrs. Speer's birthday is coming up in a few months and I want to get her a new binocular. She's been using an old EO Ranger 8x42 for a long while.

I recently acquired a Swarovski 8.5x42 FP from the EO closeout. I switched with her and let her use it on a few days out birding and she really likes it. Unfortunately EO has sold out of this model and I would prefer not to pay the full price for a new pair, but I saw they still have a demo 8x56 FL. This would definitely be too big for her, but I was thinking maybe I could give her my 8.5x42 and pick up the FL for myself. I have done some searching and found a very favorable and well written review by Henry Link.

The 43oz and 7.9" long body concern me in terms of image stability, but the unsurpassed image quality intrigues me. Does anyone have any thoughts?
This would be for birding sessions, typically no more than half a day, and shorter day hikes. For backpacking I think I would need to pick up a lighter model, perhaps an 8x32.

Thank you for the help.
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Old Monday 2nd October 2017, 05:32   #2
ronh
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Jack,

It looks like no 8x56 users are going to respond. Unfortunately I am not one either, so cannot comment on the allegedly superlative view. But as a 10x56 FL owner, I can at least tell you that for me it is too heavy and big to be enjoyable for birding. FWIW also, despite the FL's high transmission and good color correction, the view does not so badly beat my 10x50 Leica Ultravid BR to tempt me to use it often. .

For stargazing however, reclined with head, back and elbows braced, I don't much notice its bigness, and it is the best 10x I've used.

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Old Monday 2nd October 2017, 16:58   #3
Jack Speer
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Originally Posted by ronh View Post
Jack,

It looks like no 8x56 users are going to respond. Unfortunately I am not one either, so cannot comment on the allegedly superlative view. But as a 10x56 FL owner, I can at least tell you that for me it is too heavy and big to be enjoyable for birding. FWIW also, despite the FL's high transmission and good color correction, the view does not so badly beat my 10x50 Leica Ultravid BR to tempt me to use it often. .

For stargazing however, reclined with head, back and elbows braced, I don't much notice its bigness, and it is the best 10x I've used.

Ron
Ron,

I appreciate the response. Yes I am thinking it will probably be too big for birding and I am not sure if I want to give up my current pair. It was a fun thought though!

Best,
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Old Monday 2nd October 2017, 17:42   #4
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What kind of viewing does Mrs. Speer usually do?

If it is general birding, then she may go for a nice 8X32. It gives up just a little brightness in extreme gloom and near the dark of the early morning or late evening but that may not be a material factor if the binocular is generally not used at those times. There is also the point that a larger objective can give a better optical result (as you picked up in the 56mm reviews) but again, it may not be a factor in practical use.

She may like the much smaller size and lighter weight. Those attributes may make it easier for her to get a more steady hold. Another advantage of the 8X32 over the 8X42 class is there are more that have a extra wide FOV of over 400 ft which is great for birders. Many of the nicer 8X42 models have a FOV of around 380 ft although there are exceptions.

If you are considering the high end models, my two top choices are the Nikon EDG-II 8X32 and the Swaro EL SV 8X32. I ended up going with the Nikon but the downside is a big drop in resale value. I would not buy one at normal retail street price for a new model. The down side of the Swaro is stray light handling in certain situations and some experience rolling ball.

My choice for best value is the Zeiss Conquest HD 8X32. It has very good optics for a lost less money. Another possible choice is the possibly soon to be outgoing Zeiss FL 8X32 which is very light and small for a high end model.

If Mrs. Speer wants to stay with a 42mm, then consider the new Nikon Monarch HG 8X42. What makes it a standout in the class is the extra wide FOV of 435 ft and the relatively small size and light weight (23.4 oz, no strap or caps) for a 42 mm. I picked one up recently and the more I use it, the more I like it due to the good optics and very nice handling. One thing to note is it has a nice large center view but it is not flat edge to edge even though it uses field fatteners.

I am with Ron H. on the weight of the big Zeiss. The much lighter 10X50 Swaro EL SV is to much for me to use for general use due to the weight. My admiration goes to though that can use the big guys on a regular basis! The Zeiss FL 8X56 FL has appeal to me as a reference binocular based on what Henry has found. It would be fun to use out in the field on occasion but my personal preferences are to use something lighter and smaller on a regular basis.
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Old Monday 2nd October 2017, 23:34   #5
Jack Speer
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Funny bumping into you again Bruce

I donít know if she really knows the pros and cons of 8x32 vs 8x42. She usually doesnít delve deep into these technical things. I will have to give her a quick run down.

I think it is safe to classify our birding as "general." We usually go on a hike, spotting what we can as we go. We are not the best at waking up at the crack of dawn, but we do stay out late some days. Iíd like her to have something that works in more situations, but it seems that most 8x42ís are much heavier than her EO Ranger, with the Nikon Monarch HG being the exception. I donít think she had too much trouble holding up my Swarovski, but I do think she would have an easier time and a steadier view with something lighter. That HG is very intriguing.

For 8x32ís, the Conquest HD 8x32 is a binocular I really like and Iím sure the Victory is even better. Iíve read good things about the EDG as well. As for Swarovski, the glare on the 8x32 does seem like an issue. I do see some glare with my 8.5x42 and I donít think itís a problem, but Iíve read the 8x32 has more and Iím afraid it might hinder bird ID.

Hopefully we get an opportunity for her to try some of these soon. The decision is entirely hers of course.
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