This is a 'first impressions' comparison, not a long term test.
Me: 55 years old. Not experienced with binoculars or birding. But getting into it mainly because of imminent holiday in the Outer Hebrides. Where I feel I ought to exploit the opportunities there to explore nature and the landscape. I use glasses for reading only.
Previous binoculars are my dad's old Swift Supreme's, 8x40 (488 feet FOV!) which have just been serviced by Tony Kay. They're pretty good. But big, heavy and not waterproof.
I've been through a few things:
1. I got a pair of Vortex Raptor 8.5x32s. Which for the price (they were NOS or ex display or something) are excellent. I'll keep those as they're really light so great for hiking. And easier for my 12 year old daughter to carry.
2. I got a pair of Nikon Action EX 7x35s. Which I returned. Great value for money but the seller didn't include a Nikon Warranty card, even though they were supposed to be new. I might be another pair from a proper retailer anyway. As a pair of 'rough treatment' bins that you wouldn't worry too much about if they got stolen/dropped overboard/left on car roof when you drove off/whatever they're pretty good.
3. Opticron BGA SE 7x42s. See my other thread. Good optics, just couldn't get on with them. Even though they were on sale at a fantastic discount.
So now I've got a pair of Swarovski Habicht 7x42s (S/H but mint) and a pair of Zeiss Victory FL 7x42s, new.
Optics: Nothing in it. Both are very sharp, bright and neutral. The Habichts maybe a touch more colour neutral.
FOV: Yes, the Habichts are very narrow, the Victories very wide. Which seemed to mean that things which were starting to go out of focus at the edge the Habichts were in focus with the Victories. But that's not the main thing. The main thing is you'll catch things you wouldn't see with the Victories. They also 'feel' a bit more expansive. The Habichts end up feeling a bit like tunnel vision.
Handling: The Victories are a little heavier than the Habichts, and you can tell, just. The Habicths are beautiful in the hand. Beautiful full stop, in a traditional way. You'd like to pass them on to your grandchildren.
Focus: The focus wheel on the Victories is both bigger and a lot easier than the Habichts. It is also faster. Focussing on the Habichts is probably more accurate, potentially. Except that there is quite a bit of movement while you're actually trying to focus. Which makes it harder. Whereas the Victories stay still while you're focussing.
Eyecups: The Victories have large twist up eyecups. They seem to be fine. Although I've had a few blackouts, which I've never had with dad's old Swifts. But maybe just need to get used to them. The Habichts have tiny eyepieces, with fold down rubber cups. What this means is you are obliged to adopt a different grip to make these work. 3rd and 4th fingers on the prism housings. 2nd finger on the focus wheel, 1st finger across the oculars, thumbs at the side of the oculars and against your temples. Now, the first time I tried this (which is, supposedly the 'correct' way to hold binoculars) it seemed like a faff. But I'm getting used to it. And in some ways it might be better. You have a little more control, and you block side light. But it will always take a bit longer getting the bins up to your eyes.
Accessories: I really like the Habichts accessories. Which is practically nothing. No objective covers. A simple one piece rain guard and a thin leather strap. As a simple unit it works. The rain guard stays on top of the oculars, slides up the strap when you want to use them, back down when you've finished. You'd leave it on all the time. It's so small it isn't in the way. The Victories on the other hand has objective covers, which I suppose is OK, but the rain guard is one of the two-covers-joined-at-the-middle affairs. And the strap is the usual padded thing with 'ZEISS' emblazoned across it (pet hate, photographers who feel the need to tell the whole world they're using 'CANON' or 'NIKON' gear). The thing about the adjustable nylon straps is that you can't do the slide-the-rainguard-up-and-down thing that you can with the Habichts. Or at least only by a bit of adaption. This might seem like a little thing, but it makes the Habichts really nice to use, especially in a casual wandering about situation.
The case for the Habicths is a bit naff. Well made, but not really a travelling case. It's a pouch, as it's got no strap. The case for the Victories is the usual nylon thing with straps. But presumably if you've bought waterproof bins you're expecting to take them out 'naked'.
1. At this level, the pure optical quality is a wash. The Habichts have it by a short nose, but that is offset by the loss of field of view.
2. At this level, again, usability is more important. Do the eyecups work for you? Do they handle the way you want?
All of which means that if you're buying unseen, you need a retailer with a good returns policy, AND you have to do a huge amount of research.