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|Sunday 13th February 2005, 20:03||#1|
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Sempach, Switzerland
Comparing high-end binoculars
Here is my earlier post again:
I finally had a chance to look at a good number of binoculars at the same time. This gave me the opportunity to
1:try to come to a conclusion about whether 8 or 10x would be better for me.
2:check on some findings that had often been mentioned here and elsewhere.
3:find out which product had the "right" feel for me.
The selection included all Swarovski ELs, Leica Ultravid 10x32, 8x42 and 10x42, Zeiss FL 8x32, 10x32, 7x42, 8x42 and 10x42.
None of the larger Nikons were there, unfortunately. But these are simply not well known here.
There were a number of others which were of minor interest to me and which I therefore did not evaluate, including a x56 Zeiss, a 10-15x50 Duovid Leica (way too heavy for me), and smaller models by Zeiss. In addition there were a number of compact types, among these Swarovski, Zeiss, Leica and Nikon. Of course, I did have a look through these as well, but I then did not go any further with them, except for the following.
Let me first say a word to the compacts: That Leica Ultravid 10x25 (with a rubber coating) really caught my attention. It somehow just felt right. I still want to compare it with the 8x20, but it is hard for me to think those might be as comfortable. The longer tube of the 10x allows my relatively small hands and short fingers to get a comfortable and firm grip that I can only get again with the Swarovski x32 ELs. I tried the other compacts as well, but they just did not feel right for me. E.g. the asymmetrical fold on a Zeiss or the position of the focussing wheel on a Nikon. And the Swarovski had such a horribly long minimal focussing distance! Pooh! I compared the Leica Ultravid 10x25 with my own Leica 8x20BC which I had always considered to be pretty good. However in comparison, it had considerably less contrast; some black was really black in the Ultravid but lighter in my older type. What struck me the most, however, was the amount of glare I had in mine compared to the Ultravid. For this I had a particularly suitable setting as there was sunlit snow shining through a window into a not very well illuminated room.
This same setting also proved that ALL the top end types mentioned above do show glare to some extent! They were all doing somewhat better than my Zeiss Victory (I) 10x40 which I had also brought along for comparison. But my overall impression concerning glare was one of disappointment. I had expected less in the new types. In my comparison a red hinge in a red door disappeared completely behind the glare at one point in my Victory I. In all the new models the hinge was always visible, but also there was always a point where it ALMOST disappeared.
One thing that struck me with the Leica 8x42 was a problem with light from behind. I have to keep my glasses on due to some astigmatism in my eyes. Thus there is a bit more room for light coming in from the side. And here the Leica proved to be more problematical than the others.
Now for the remaining optical points, I must say that I only tested the binoculars freehanded (which is what I will normally use them for). I have not looked at the 7x Zeiss that much as I am not interested in that lower magnification. Thus, I have not evaluated it more than just realizing that it also showed some glare. Needless to say that all binoculars gave an otherwise clear view, but the Zeiss 8x42 was a bit brighter (excluding now the 7x), though not very much, than the others. All of them did show some distortion of vertical lines on the side. However, that reported fall-off of sharpness in the Zeiss was not even noticeable for me after specifically looking for it. I probably concentrate my viewing so much to the central area that it is no topic at all in my case.
As I already have a 8x32 Leica Trinovid, I am looking primarily for a type that has better performance in low light. Thus, the x32 types fell out of my further evaluation. But, as mentioned before, the Swarovski x32s had a particularly good feel in my hands. The EL x42s are too large for my hands. They therefore also fell out of further consideration.
In the end, then, it was basically a choice between the Leica Ultravids and the Zeiss FLs both of the x42 type. Of these, the 10x42 Ultravid had such a horribly coarse focus that I basically was unable to focus properly! The 8x was perfect, however, as was the 10x32, by the way. After long and repeated trials, I think I should really stick to 8x instead of 10x. (But that 10x25 was just fine, nevertheless.)
So I am now down to considering either Leica's Ultravid 8x42 or the corresponding Zeiss FL. To me, the Leica clearly has a better feel. I much prefer the non-ribbed type. It had bothered me, and still does, in my Trinovid. In a way, the Leica is also just that bit smaller (mainly the diameter counts, but I also like it to be less long) that makes it more suitable as well. Though it is a somewhat heavier piece. I also much prefer Leica's focussing wheel. It has, again, a better feel for me, and it always shows the diopter setting. Those ridges on the back of the Leicas were fine for me; I felt quite comfortable having one of my thumbs below the ridge, and the other above. (Though I think that the Swarovski x32s have an even better solution as nothing is protruding.) Optically, the two (Leica and Zeiss) are sufficiently close for me that I think it should not affect my choice. The one important plus for the Zeiss, however, is its considerably better close focussing distance. I roughly measured 1.8 vs 2.8 meters. (The Swarovski 8x32 also has such a nice close focus.) A final plus for Zeiss is also that it is somewhat better suited for eyeglass wearers; it puzzles me why Leica wastes about a millimeter with their eyecups. So far, then, I still have not fully decided which one I will really try to get!
I have, so far, ended up buying that 10x25 first, though the need for a x42 is clearly more justified.
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|Monday 14th February 2005, 08:24||#2|
Join Date: Sep 2004
When I compared the 10x42Ultravid and 10x42FL I liked them both. The Leica felt best but the Zeiss was very nice. The greatest difference was the range of focus. The Zeiss FL 10x42 has a noticably longer range of focus. It also can focus closer. For people with normal eye sight the range of focus may not be important. The close focus of the Leica Ultravid was fine. I could be happy with either binocular. I went with the Zeiss FL but I could have been very happy with the Leica.
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