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Old Saturday 26th February 2011, 13:47   #1
Boogieshrew
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Alpha 7x42s- how do they compare optically?

Hi,

I am going to buy an alpha 7x42.

I have compared specs and read reviews and comments (especially here) and will soon go to a shop to try them out. But the trouble with testing at shops is that you can only compare things for a short while and in whatever lighting conditions the day provides.

So I am asking you all a question:

Has any one here directly compared the Leica Ultravid HDs, Zeiss Victory FLs and Nikon EDGs and what did you think of them?

On paper the Zeiss Victory FLs look best to me but I was wondering how they compare with the others in use.

By the way, I have not included the Swarovski SLCs because of their weight.

Thanks in advance for your help and also for providing such a brilliant place to research binoculars.

All the best
Boogieshrew.
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Old Saturday 26th February 2011, 19:08   #2
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I think as a birding binocular, the Zeiss is hard to beat with its very wide field of view, good control of CA and very high transmission. Also, the focus is very fast (although you obviously need that less with 7x).

The other contenders I have looked through (Swaro, Leica) are good, but the Swaro is the SLC thus quite heavy, and the Leica and Swaro have a narrower FOV (and because it is narrower, it is 'cleaner').

So all in all, if you are a birdwatcher, I can recommend the Zeiss (I use it as my only binocular these days), but I can also recommend the Leica. The Swaro is just too heavy as main birding bin for me.
If you like to watch stars or use it for other reasons, you can't go wrong with any of the alphas.
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Old Saturday 26th February 2011, 20:03   #3
Vivian Darkbloom
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I own three 7x42 binoculars. They are my favourite configuration.
Zeiss BGat classic 7x42, Leica BN Trinovid 7x42 and Ultravid 7x42 HD.
I also have owned 8x42 Zeiss FL.
The Zeiss Fl were exchanged for the Ultravid HD 7x42. Basically I much preferred the sharpness of the Leica. The diopter on the Zeiss FL was easily displaced by routinely taking the binoculars out of their case. The overall engineering and optical quality of the Zeiss build was inferior to the Leica, and seemed to be made to a less exacting standard. Handling the Ultravid was a joy in comparison to the Zeiss.
The Classic Zeiss 7x42 Bgat remain by favourite binocular, but clearly there are disadvantages, one being it's failure to be completely waterproof, but overall it still triumphs over all it's competitors because of it's stunningly relaxed view and ease of handling.

Last edited by Vivian Darkbloom : Saturday 26th February 2011 at 20:07.
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Old Sunday 27th February 2011, 03:31   #4
Jonathan B.
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I would pretty much echo the other comments. I own pre-HD Leica Ultravid 7x42 (purchased 2003), and its sharpness and contrast are phenomenal. I have used the Zeiss ClassiC many times (always borrowed from a friend) and wish I had bought one back when it was around $900. The view is amazing, though perhaps slightly less sharp in the center than some of the other bins mentioned here. There is a reason that a mint example costs 50% more now than when it was still a stock item.

When the FL came out, which as I recall was about a year after the Ultravid, I had an opportunity to compare them for a long time outdoors. The FL has lower CA, but otherwise they are extremely similar, and in actual use, the fields of view do not seem to differ noticeably.

Although you may reject the Swaro for its weight, you should look through one. It too is a great binocular. You couldn't possibly go wrong with any of these. I have not tried the EDG.
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Old Sunday 27th February 2011, 20:53   #5
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I've owned three:
Zeiss 7x 42 BGA tp
Zeiss 7x42 FL
Leica Ultravid 7x42 (non HD)

All very fine but I have a distinct preference for the Leica.

Dave
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Old Sunday 27th February 2011, 21:57   #6
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As with all binocular "which to buy" threads I would reiterate please do try before you buy - I once tried a Leica Ultravid 7x42HD and couldn't use it, for some reason they seemed incompatible with me!? I brought them to my eyes and couldn't get a quick comfortable view for some reason.

I have never tried the 7x42 EDG, but have directly compared 7x42FL, 8x42FL, 8.5 Swarovision and Swaro EL old, Zeiss 7x42 Dialyt and the Leica 7x42HD - I would rank them in that order to my eyes/personal preference - I would actually be happy to own any of the first 4, the Dialyts didn't do it for me although were nice for their age, and as mentioned the Leicas are a non starter for my eyes which surprised me. The 7x42FL is the clear winner of those particular 6 binoculars in my opinion though.
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Old Monday 28th February 2011, 05:13   #7
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Here's my comparison of the Zeiss, Leica and Nikon from last year. I chose the Nikons, and I haven't regretted it.


Late this summer I bought the EDG 7x42's (Eagle Optics' last pair, actually), a pair of Zeiss Victory 7x42's, and Leica Ultravid 7x42's. I compared them side-by-side for about two weeks, and wound up keeping the Nikons. The reasons were largely utilitarian. All three were optically excellent, with the Zeiss having maybe a tiny advantage in sharpness. But only the Nikons felt right in my hands -- perfectly balanced and easy to focus quickly. I was able to find and isolate birds more quickly, and that was my bottom line.

I had been using Nikon Premier LXL 8x42's for several years, and have become so accustomed to them that I never have to think about what it is I'm doing (finding a distant bird, a close one, scanning brush). The EDG model is much the same, although the slightly different field-of-view makes the process a little less intuitive (so far). Both Nikon models have focusing mechanisms that are far smoother than the Leica, which I found balky and slow. And the placement of the wheel is better for my hands than the Zeiss's, which is placed too closely to the face and makes the binocs front-heavy.

The Nikons focus slightly more slowly in very cold weather (I'm in southern Michigan) -- as you might expect for a mechanism lubricated with grease -- but I've never had a problem adjusting to this, particularly since winter conditions make birding otherwise much easier (no leaves!), and the birds in winter are usually less active (no warblers). Even in winter, I think the Nikon focusing is smoother and quicker than the Leica in warm weather.

I think any differences in quality between these high-end optics is far outweighed by the considerations noted above. If you can't easily handle the binoculars you use every day, if they don't fit your hands, if they focus too slowly, if something about them makes using them a chore rather than a pleasure, they're not good -- even if everyone tells you they're the best. Only you can decide what's right for you.


Jim
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Old Monday 28th February 2011, 07:07   #8
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Thanks for al the great info everybody.

I suspected before I posted that there would be little difference optically so the decision would come down to ergonomics/userfirendliness just as Ypsi says.

One thing that could be my deciding factor is eye relief as I wear glasses.

Only one thing to do now- go and try some. Looking forward to the weekend.

All the best
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Old Tuesday 1st March 2011, 06:35   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by temmie View Post
because it is narrower, it is 'cleaner'
Hi Temmie,

what do you mean when you say because the fov is narrower it is cleaner?

Do you mean sharper? Or better at the edge, perhaps?

Thanks
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Old Tuesday 1st March 2011, 06:39   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vivian Darkbloom View Post
The Zeiss Fl were exchanged for the Ultravid HD 7x42....The overall engineering and optical quality of the Zeiss build was inferior to the Leica, and seemed to be made to a less exacting standard. Handling the Ultravid was a joy in comparison to the Zeiss.
Hello Vivian,

did you find the Zeiss felt much larger than the Leica? On paper the dimensions aren't vastly different but in photos the Zeiss look much bulkier and the write up for the Leica says that they are almost the size of a 32mm binocular.

The smaller size of the Leica appeals to me for ease of use and for travelling.

Thanks
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Old Tuesday 1st March 2011, 08:45   #11
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The Zeiss is bulkier, but it is as light and also feels very light.
The Leica really did not fit my (bigger) hands, but that may be very different for you. I really had to fold my fingers to much to touch the focus, while in the Zeiss (and in the old trinovid) my fingers just were naturally placed on the focus. So the Leica is a lot 'smaller'.
When I say cleaner, I mean that the edge effects (softness, distortion etc) are less visible in the Leica, simply because the field of view is smaller. If Zeiss would have limited the FOV the same as the Leica, then they would compare. Now you get more edge with the Zeiss, but ofcourse not of the very same optical quality as in the center of the field.
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Old Tuesday 1st March 2011, 09:00   #12
Vivian Darkbloom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boogieshrew View Post
Hello Vivian,

did you find the Zeiss felt much larger than the Leica? On paper the dimensions aren't vastly different but in photos the Zeiss look much bulkier and the write up for the Leica says that they are almost the size of a 32mm binocular.

The smaller size of the Leica appeals to me for ease of use and for travelling.

Thanks
Yes, the Leica is smaller, neater and seems specially designed, with thoughtful ergonomics, to fit the hand.
The Zeiss in contrast is larger and much more difficult to hold. It's strange, but the hand has to make almost an awkward adjustment to be able to hold the Zeiss FL. In the hand it feels like a foreign object. I would add that my hands are average size.
It's not that I'm biased against Zeiss, as I've already said IMO the Classic Dialit Bgat 7x42 is the best binocular ever designed.

Last edited by Vivian Darkbloom : Tuesday 1st March 2011 at 15:02.
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Old Tuesday 1st March 2011, 12:32   #13
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Quote:
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The Zeiss is bulkier, but it is as light and also feels very light.
The Leica really did not fit my (bigger) hands, but that may be very different for you. I really had to fold my fingers to much to touch the focus, while in the Zeiss (and in the old trinovid) my fingers just were naturally placed on the focus. So the Leica is a lot 'smaller'.
When I say cleaner, I mean that the edge effects (softness, distortion etc) are less visible in the Leica, simply because the field of view is smaller. If Zeiss would have limited the FOV the same as the Leica, then they would compare. Now you get more edge with the Zeiss, but ofcourse not of the very same optical quality as in the center of the field.
Thank you Temmie. I thoguht you must mean the edge performance.
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Old Tuesday 1st March 2011, 12:34   #14
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Originally Posted by Vivian Darkbloom View Post
Yes, the Leica is smaller, neater and seems specially designed, with thoughtful ergonomics, to fit the hand.
The Zeiss in contrast is larger and much more difficult to hold. It's strange, but the hand has to make almost an awkward adjustment to be able to hold the Zeiss FL. In the hand it feels like a foreign object. I would add that my hands are average size.
It's not that I'm biased against Zeiss, as I've already said IMO the Classic Dyalit Bgat 7x42 is the best binocular ever designed.
Thanks Vivian. I have smallish hands and to me (judging only from photos) the Leica does look as though it will be easier to hold. Roll on the weekend when I can try them out.
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Old Tuesday 1st March 2011, 20:01   #15
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Originally Posted by Vivian Darkbloom View Post
Yes, the Leica is smaller, neater and seems specially designed, with thoughtful ergonomics, to fit the hand.
The Zeiss in contrast is larger and much more difficult to hold. It's strange, but the hand has to make almost an awkward adjustment to be able to hold the Zeiss FL. In the hand it feels like a foreign object. I would add that my hands are average size.
It's not that I'm biased against Zeiss, as I've already said IMO the Classic Dialit Bgat 7x42 is the best binocular ever designed.
It's a different shape to the Leica.

I've noticed that I initially grip it in the wrong place far too close to my eyes were it feels. I suspect a lot of others when checking the bin out do the same thing.

I find a further toward the objective grip (which puts your index finger on the focuser and then the other hand just a fraction towards the objectives) gives a comfortable and less shaky view.

It's essentially the same as any bin grip but the AK prisms move the hands further away from the body.

It's rather similar to the EL (another bin longer than the Leica) but I think the open bridge seems to draw people's hands down the barrel.
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Old Sunday 6th March 2011, 18:30   #16
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Well, this weekend I had a chance to try the Zeiss FL 7x42 and the Leica Ultravid HD 7x42. Unfortunately the 7x42 Nikon EDG was not to be found so I tried the 8x42 instead.

I was under impressed by the Zeiss and Leica (for the money at least). Both very nice but neither had that extra something to make me think they are worth the high price.

The 8x42 EDG though, I really liked. Still not sure it is worth the high price but that may be because I was comparing them to 7x magnification bins. I really liked the EDG's view so I hope the 7x42 EDG might turn out to be the one that I feel is worth a high price. I shall see eventually. If not, back to the drawing board! Not many 7x42s around though. Perhaps some new ones will appear soon?

Perhaps I was expecting too much but the Zeiss felt like a bit of a let down. It had some distracting distortion at the edge of the view which would annoy me every time I used it I think. At first I thought field curvature but it didn't focus away so it must be something else.

Both the Leica and Zeiss felt like they needed a bit more eyerelief for me.

When I get to try the 7x42 EDG, I'll let you know what I think.
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Old Monday 7th March 2011, 15:43   #17
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Originally Posted by Boogieshrew View Post
Well, this weekend I had a chance to try the Zeiss FL 7x42 and the Leica Ultravid HD 7x42. Unfortunately the 7x42 Nikon EDG was not to be found so I tried the 8x42 instead.

I was under impressed by the Zeiss and Leica (for the money at least). Both very nice but neither had that extra something to make me think they are worth the high price.

The 8x42 EDG though, I really liked. Still not sure it is worth the high price but that may be because I was comparing them to 7x magnification bins. I really liked the EDG's view so I hope the 7x42 EDG might turn out to be the one that I feel is worth a high price. I shall see eventually. If not, back to the drawing board! Not many 7x42s around though. Perhaps some new ones will appear soon?

Perhaps I was expecting too much but the Zeiss felt like a bit of a let down. It had some distracting distortion at the edge of the view which would annoy me every time I used it I think. At first I thought field curvature but it didn't focus away so it must be something else.

Both the Leica and Zeiss felt like they needed a bit more eyerelief for me.

When I get to try the 7x42 EDG, I'll let you know what I think.
Boogieshrew,

Give this bin a try. Meopta Meostar 7x42. You'll be surprised. Alpha level on all except price. Maybe $800 or so. Wide and sharp to the edge. Might give you pause to spending $1800+

http://www.eagleoptics.com/binocular...7x42-binocular

I use the 7x Meostar and love them. Great eye relief and a most comfortable wide view.

100% European made (CZ)

Cheers
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Old Monday 7th March 2011, 18:19   #18
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Hi Oleaf,

I thought about this one but decided it is too heavy. Also I tried a 10x out of curiosity when I came across one by chance. I didn't like the ergonomics. The meopats are too wide and the thunb indentations are not right for me to hold them comfortably.

Thanks for the suggestion though.

Quote:
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Boogieshrew,

Give this bin a try. Meopta Meostar 7x42. You'll be surprised. Alpha level on all except price. Maybe $800 or so. Wide and sharp to the edge. Might give you pause to spending $1800+

http://www.eagleoptics.com/binocular...7x42-binocular

I use the 7x Meostar and love them. Great eye relief and a most comfortable wide view.

100% European made (CZ)

Cheers
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Old Friday 11th March 2011, 20:15   #19
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Oleaf,

guess what- I am now the proud owner of the Meopta 7x42!

Having tried the Zeiss FL and Ultravid HDs and not really liked them, I came across a great price used pair of Meoptas and decided to give them a go.

I have only had the briefest of try outs after work today but wow! I find them much more comfortable to the eye than the Zeiss or Leicas. Not just physically because of the longer eyerelief. There's something about the view that is easier on the eye. It's less harsh, if that's the right way of putting it.

And I was wrong about the ergonomics. I have played around with them and tried different grips and I am sure I can use them comfortably.

Thanks for putting them back on my list of possibilities.

Fantastic. And what a financial saving too.

I now have what I think is a winning combination of binoculars for all seasons and all weathers.

Meopta 7x42 for winter, low light, cold and wet weather and Nikon SE 8x32 for summer, warm and dry weather.

I don't think I will need anything else.

Thanks to everyone for all the advice on the forum that lead me to this choice.

All the best
Boogieshrew
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