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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Reviews by St. Elmo

  • Great view and handling
  • Nagging free play in focus
Seven years ago, I chose these over the Swaro EL because of the color balance. I just sold them. I was using my Zeiss Victory 8x42 exclusively for the last two years and the Leicas were sitting on the shelf. I got $900 for them (wholesale to a birding specialty shop).

Pros: they always felt great in the hands, gave a great contrasty sharp view, colors were true, elegantly styled, easy to set diopter adjustment, rugged build, and they held their value despite the fact that the HD model had been out for quite a while.

Cons: there was always some free play in the focusing mechanism (Leica repair took out some of it, but not all of it), the diopter was always 2-1/2 points off (Leica should have fixed this but didn't).

When I decided to sell, I considered the fact that I was giving up a lifetime Leica Passport replacement warranty (now discontinued), and the fact that I hear nothing but horror stories about Leica repair (from incredible long waits, to bins coming back with same thing wrong).

Moreover, because birders do a lot of focusing, the free play in the focus mechanism was a constant reminder of Leica's arrogance. In plain English, an alpha bin should not have any free play. Not at that price. That said, I think if I has purchased the Swaro EL back then, I would still have two bins - the EL and the Victories.
  • Optical quality (especially in high flare situations)
  • Stiff focus, play in focusing mecanism
I test drove the Leica and the Swaro EL for about the same time - sometimes, side by side. I found both to be excellent. The deciding factor was the color rendition. Greens were spot on with the Leica, but far to the grey side with the Swaro. I\'ve had the Leica about a year now and have used it in all conditions. It\'s built like a truck.
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