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NIKON introduces new Monarch HG 8x30 and 10x30 Binoculars

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Old Saturday 18th August 2018, 20:15   #151
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I don't like to have to position the binoculars under my eyebrows for proper positioning so the little MHG's didn't work for me. It sounds like the MHG's have a similar flare problem like the M7's. It is unfortunate since these are Nikon's top binoculars now. Of course a smaller diameter objective is always in general going to be more prone to flare than a larger one in my experience. The Swaro 8X30 CL and the Zeiss 8x32 Conquest HD are two examples of smaller binoculars that have above average flare control and the Swaro EL 8x32 is not quite as good in that area in my experience. I have had all these binoculars.
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Old Monday 20th August 2018, 02:18   #152
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Quick comparison of my Nikon 8x30 MHG to the Swaro 8x30 CL at the local dealer revealed that viewing a backlighted view of the building eaves with the sun just out of the FOV (by varying directions and amounts of 10 to 30 degrees) showed that the problem of stray light image flaring was no better in the little CL and possibly worse than the MHG. They had sold out of the 8X32 SV and the 8X32 Conquest HD so no chance to compare them. Will need to live with the MHG for a while to see how often the stray light manifests itself in field use for birding and nature study when a lightweight glass is needed.

Comparing the imaging of the MHG and the CL I was continually struck by how equal they seem in overall performance. The CL had slightly better CA correction but had to look very carefully at power lines against the sky to tell the difference. Unlike the MHG I could see the field stops in the CL with my eyeglasses on but that is because the FOV and AFOV is slightly less than on the Nikon. The Nikon seems to me to have slightly more of that subtle 3D view effect that is hard to define and fully understand but you know it when you see it.

Both the MHG and the CL are impressively good binoculars considering the small size, weight (450g and 490g!), and midrange cost factors. The main difference of importance to me is the lack of true close focus on the CL. Other factors distinctly in favor of the Nikon are the lower cost and a decent diopter setting function compared to the worst ever diopter adjuster on the CL.
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Old Monday 20th August 2018, 09:46   #153
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Nikon Monarch HG 8X30 – A Brief Review

The new Nikon Monarch HG comes into a market occupied by several dozen other makes and models in sizes 8x33, 8x32 and 8x30. A selection of a few well known models is listed in the attached table.

(( to be followed in next post ))
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File Type: pdf Some current 8x30's.pdf (365.8 KB, 84 views)
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Old Monday 20th August 2018, 09:48   #154
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(( see previous post ))

To briefly compare the Monarch HG 8x30, I chose seven similarly priced 8x30’s, as well as the larger Monarch HG 8x42 introduced some time ago, to see how well the Nikon fares (I may at some later time also compare the Monarch HG to more expensive competitors such as Zeiss FL, Leica Ultravid HD+ and EL SV).

Those models chosen in the attached table are marked in color. I list below only those aspects and features of competitive models that struck me most during this very brief comparative review.

Some data of the Monarch HG 8x30:
- RFOV 8.3 o = 145m/1000m
- AFOV: 60.3 o
- Eye relief: 16 mm
- IPD: 56-74mm
- Close focus: 2 m
- Prisms: Schmidt-Pechan
- Weight acc. to spec. “naked”: 450g
- Weight measured with strap and eye caps: 543g
- Waterproof: 5m, 10 min.

The new HG looks and feels like a “young” Monarch HG 8x42: same design (much less “baroque” than the EDG), same excellent finish, nice haptics and ergonomics, well balanced, small and light.

Mechanically also very similar to its larger brother: the central hinge is firm but not too tight, the eyecups are slightly smaller than on the 8x42 but are comfortable on the eyesockets. Positions are: Fully in, 2 intermediate clickstops, fully out; they exhibit just slightly more play than those of the 8x42.
The focus wheel turns smoothly and very similarly to the bigger model, but with a much higher transmission ratio: on the 8x42, focusing from 3m to infinite requires a 110 degree turn, on the 8x30 only a 60 degree turn. There seems ample travel of the focus wheel beyond infinity.
The same applies to the diopter adjustment; it’s precise, no play; the neutral position matches the “0” mark.

Optics:
Nice round exit pupils, no false pupils, but the area around the EP exhibits quite a bit of light structures and reflexes (reminded me much of the EL SV), but this seems not to affect image quality much.

The ease of view (“Einblickverhalten”) is good, but not as good as on the 8x42. To avoid kidney beaning when observing without glasses, I had to fully extend the eyecups. The 8x42 is a bit more forgiving in this respect. Observing with glasses: no definite answer (I observe without), but I have the impression the 8x42 might again be easier for spectacle wearers than the 8x30.

The field of view is very nice with 145m. This is more than most 8x30s feature (I only know two that have more: the Nikon E II, and the DDoptics Fieldstar). As the attached table shows, most comparable binos have less or even much less (e.g. Trinovid HD) field of view.

In this respect and in most others, the image of the Monarch HG 8x30 is comparable to the 8x42 Monarch HG: very good central sharpness and contrast, good CA correction (there is CA in the outer parts of the image, but less than on many other 8x30s), good straylight suppression – reviewed in daylight only, but including the “glittery water surface” and “low sun” tests -, good color fidelity, bright clear image throughout most of the field of view.

NOTE: recent reviews by other forum members (e.g. AltaVista) indicate a bit of “stray light image flaring” in certain situations; I do not dispute these findings, just did not experience any myself.

But there are differences between the 8x42 and the 8x30: the rectilinear distortion is almost not visible in the 8x30, whereas there is a bit of it in the 8x42. Nevertheless, I could not perceive a substantial rolling ball effect when panning, so Nikon seems to have done a good job here in my view.
And: as I had indicated after a very tentative trial of the new 8x30, the edge sharpness appeared a tad inferior to the 8x42. When panning, the 8x42 appeared to show a slightly better off-axis sharpness than the 8x30, and this impression was confirmed when I mounted the binos on tripod.

Compared to the

Zeiss Conquest HD:
The HD is bigger and heavier. Same eye relief, with 140m not far behinf the HG, similarly “fast” focusing Good brightness in the Zeiss, but for my eyes, central sharpness and contrast are better in the Nikon, and the edge sharpness is much better in the Nikon.

Pentax DCF ED:
The Pentax is compact and gives a rugged impression with its heavy armour. Narrower field of view (131m). Sharpness and contrast thoughout the image are clearly inferior to the Nikon, the same is true for brightness.

Nikon HG-L:
mechanically excellent. Brightness of the image, as well as sharpness and contrast are inferior to the Monarch HG, edge sharpness is much worse. Color fidelity in the HG-L appears as good as in the Monarch HG.

Kowa Genesis:
Wide 140m fov. The Kowa exhibits excellent central sharpness and a nice color saturated image, very nice brightness as well. Edge sharpness is inferior to the Nikon.

Leica Trinovid HD:
central sharpness appears high and almost as good as in the Nikon, despite clearly more CA (I have wondered for some time why Leica calls it “HD”). Edge sharpness is clearly inferior to the Nikon, despite a much narrower field of view (the Trinovid with 124m has the narrowest field of all “contestants”).

Meopta MeoStar B1:
although of dated design, the MeoStar still impresses me with its slightly warmer, but high contrast image and a very acceptable edge sharpness for a non-flat-image bino (not as good as the Nikon, though).

Swarovski CL (new):
this was the “surprise of the day”: the CL showed not only excellent central sharpness, at least equivalent to the Nikon, but also better off-axis sharpness than the Nikon. Even compared to the 8x42 Monarch HG, the CL impressed with a flat, bright, CA- free image sharp almost to the edge, confirmed both in free hand panning and mounted on tripods. Of course, the narrower field of view – 132m in the CL against 145m in the Nikons – needs to be taken into account.

Preliminary conclusion:

The new Monarch HG 8x30 competes well with established models (of course, much will depend on how it is priced in various countries). It beats most in terms of field of view, and its flat bright sharp image leaves many other 8x30s behind. In addition, it’s compact size, light weight, excellent finish and mechanical excellence speak for it as well.

I personally like the larger 8x42 Monarch HG, with its – for my eyes - slightly better edge sharpness, even more.

If I had to rate to rate the 8x30 binoculars compared in this review, based only on their image characteristics - field of view, central sharpness, edge sharpness, brightness - and my personal preferences, this would probably look as follows (not to be taken too seriously :-):

1 Swarovski CL (new)
2 Nikon Monarch HG
3 Kowa Genesis
4 Meopta MeoStar
5 Zeiss Conquest HD
6 Leica Trinovid HD
7 Nikon HG-L
8 Pentax DCF ED

fwiw
Canip

attached image: the HG 8x30 among it's competitors, the 8x42 HG in front.
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Last edited by Canip : Monday 20th August 2018 at 09:51.
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Old Monday 20th August 2018, 11:46   #155
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Canip/Pinac: Thank you for an excellent review! ///Peter
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Old Monday 20th August 2018, 12:14   #156
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Thank you both for your write-ups. Now we're getting to the meat and potatoes of how these binoculars perform... :-)
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Old Monday 20th August 2018, 14:15   #157
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Canip,

Very, VERY nice review! I really appreciate reviews such as this where other binoculars are included and compared. It's time consuming and rather costly but information relayed to potential buyers is so helpful and meaningful. Of course the included pictures really helps as well!

I've been rather on the fence concerning your top two contenders here. Of course each of those two have their own merits as it always seems to be! After reading this review it's easy to see why I AM on the fence!
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Old Monday 20th August 2018, 15:33   #158
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Canip,

Many thanks for the interesting review and pdf. What is surprising is the weight of some recently introduced examples. IIRC the old Nikon 8x32 HG weighed over 700 g, but some are now down to 450 g. This is not achievable just by using Makrolon or magnesium housings instead of aluminium, so if no-one is using plastic optical components, the greatest weight savings are probably to be obtained by scrimping on the prisms.

I own an 8x33 Kowa Genesis, an excellent binocular in many aspects, but I suspect that Kowa have gone this route to achieve a weight of 590 g, quite average by today's standards. If held at arm's length and rotated off-axis, the exit pupils are almond-shaped before they occlude. By contrast, a 950 g brick of an old 7x42 Swarovski SLC shows 3/4 gibbous moon-shaped exit pupils just before occlusion. Perhaps this is what Swarovski call "Randpupille".

I am convinced that vignetting alongside eye relief and exit pupil size can play a role in viewing comfort, and it would be interesting if you could report back on how the candidates hold up in this respect.

John

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Old Monday 20th August 2018, 17:07   #159
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Thank you, John.

Interesting point !! Thanks for bringing this up.

If I compare vignetting in the eight contenders the way you describe it, the following is the ranking, starting with the bino that exhibits the least amount and ending with the one that exhibits most:

Monarch HG
Trinovid HD
MeoStar
Nikon HG-L
Swaro CL
Conquest HD
Pentax
Kowa Genesis

So the Monarch HG performs well in this respect, and the Kowa not so well.

Wether vignetting affects viewing comfort, as you write, I don‘t know; it’s well possible. What it certainly affects is the brightness of the image, since it results from cutting the outmost parts of the light beam (see Merlitz, Handferngläser, 1st ed., p. 157s).

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Old Monday 20th August 2018, 17:25   #160
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Swarovski's are like cream. They almost always rise to the top. Uh-oh! I can hear the Blue Boi's a coming.

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Old Monday 20th August 2018, 17:47   #161
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tringa45 View Post

the greatest weight savings are probably to be obtained by scrimping on the prisms.

John
And the rubber armour and possibly the wall thickness of the optical tube.

Lee
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Old Monday 20th August 2018, 19:04   #162
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Excellent comparison Canip, thanks for all of your effort expended to inform us here!

Your comparison of the view with the 8X30 MHG vs the 8X30 CL is very consistent with what I saw in a brief evaluation.

The stray light flare that I noticed on the Nikon 8X30 MHG (as well as on the more limited test of the Swaro 8X30 CL) was only under rather severe conditions looking towards the sun (well out of the FOV) or towards areas of water with strong glare light from a low sun angle. During most viewing conditions this flare light from internal reflections in the binocular will not be detected.
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Old Monday 20th August 2018, 20:01   #163
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Canip,

Thanks for the comparison on vignetting. I guess that torpedoes my theory on prism weight with the 450 g Monarch HG at the top of the list. It does leave the possibility of optical plastics, which I believe are used in some camera lenses, but I don't think any manufacturer is going to admit to it. How about some crowd funding to trash one of these lightweight 8x32s?

John
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Old Monday 20th August 2018, 22:01   #164
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Many thanks to everybody - Peter, MandoBear, Chuck, John, AltaVista, Dennis - for your feedback!!

John, your idea may become known as „trash funding“, are you sure you want your name linked to that?

AltaVista, your experience of the stray light flare is interesting, as it shows that even in well designed optics, such as the ones in the Monarch HG, stray light suppression efforts have their limitations.

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Old Monday 20th August 2018, 22:28   #165
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Canip. Nice picture of all the binoculars. Where did you get all those binoculars? I have tried many of those binoculars and I agree with you on the Swarovski CL being first overall. It is impressive that the CL and the HG beat the 32mm's with only a 30mm aperture. Stray light is just harder to control in the smaller apertures. For members with shallow eye sockets keep in mind the CL will probably work the best with it's optical box and the HG will be more prone to blackouts. That was my observation at least.
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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 13:41   #166
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Stray light is just harder to control in the smaller apertures. For members with shallow eye sockets keep in mind the CL will probably work the best with it's optical box and the HG will be more prone to blackouts. That was my observation at least.
Denis, I'm not so sure it's necessarily the small aperture per se, I wonder if it's more to do with the shorter focal lengths that are used in the smaller binoculars to achieve a smaller proportioned instrument, rather than one which is merely as long but thinner, if you get my meaning. Shorter focal lengths give rise to shorter, "wider" light cones which are harder to baffle effectively, and also more curved optical surfaces (smaller radii) with more oblique light entry angles; also more prone to reflections and flare.

But yes, - the observed outcome would be the same - a greater tendency to flare under difficult lighting conditions.
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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 15:21   #167
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Denis, I'm not so sure it's necessarily the small aperture per se, I wonder if it's more to do with the shorter focal lengths that are used in the smaller binoculars to achieve a smaller proportioned instrument, rather than one which is merely as long but thinner, if you get my meaning. Shorter focal lengths give rise to shorter, "wider" light cones which are harder to baffle effectively, and also more curved optical surfaces (smaller radii) with more oblique light entry angles; also more prone to reflections and flare.

But yes, - the observed outcome would be the same - a greater tendency to flare under difficult lighting conditions.
That is exactly right MandoBear, those are some of the challenges for controlling stray light in these compact binoculars that make it more difficult than on larger bins. Steeper ray angles make things more difficult to manage internal reflections. Also AR coatings have to be designed to handle the steeper ray angles and may not be as efficient. In addition the need to keep the lens barrel diameters small leaves less room at the periphery of the largest lenses to effectively baffle reflections from lens edges. What can be done to help independent of size is to use ultra low reflectivity materials on the internal surfaces and we see improved black paints and finishes on the newer bins.

You can be sure that the designers of these binoculars struggle to control the stray light while at the same optimizing performance and controlling size/weight/cost. Modern optical design software allows what is called "non-sequential ray tracing" to evaluate stray light paths in the system. That is light rays that don't necessarily travel from optical surface surface in the same linear order as the imaging rays. Regardless of sophisticated software the design of these systems is still a true art!

The newer designs on full size glasses by Leica (Noctivid), and (super sized) Nikon (WX) show what extraordinary good stray light control looks like. I admit to being badly spoiled by the amazing lack of stray light in the 8X42 Noctivid. My hope is that we see some 8x32 class binoculars with similarly good stray light control in the near future. Likely they will be physically longer than the bins in this current discussion to achieve better performance.

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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 15:41   #168
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Interesting. The Leica Ultravid HD Plus 8x32's must have some exceptional baffling because even though the binocular is short and compact the flare control is excellent. The New Swarovski 8x30 CL is a little longer than the HG 8x30 so perhaps that is why the flare control is better?

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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 15:59   #169
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Interesting. The Leica Ultravid HD Plus 8x32's must have some exceptional baffling because even though the binocular is short and compact the flare control is excellent. The New Swarovski 8x30 CL is a little longer than the HG 8x30 so perhaps that is why the flare control is better?
I have not had access to the 8x32 Ultravid HD Plus to evaluate but I would like to. The ER is probably not sufficient for my use (as I have the opposite problem from you as I need to use eyeglasses in viewing). The shorter ER does mean smaller diameter eyepiece lenses and probably allows for more effective baffling.

And the flare control on the 8X30 CL is really no better than the 8X30 MHG in my somewhat limited testing.
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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 16:17   #170
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The other binocular that I would like to see in this comparison of premium compacts is the Zeiss 8X32 Victory FL. Not sure how it performs compared to bins evaluated by Canip but it is relatively compact and lightweight. It is an older design but has received good reviews. There seem to be few of these around at dealers in the US and I was told by a rep that this binocular is no longer in production. I also heard FWIW that Zeiss has an 8X32 SF in the works but it is not coming out anytime soon due to the high demand on the production line in Germany for the 8X42 and 10X42 SF. Take that with a grain of salt.
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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 16:25   #171
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I am also sure that a bigger aperture binocular of the same magnification has better flare control because of the bigger exit pupil. There has been much discussion about it. Henry Link quoted here in his post on the advantages of aperture when explaining why the Zeiss 8x56 FL had such good flare control.

" The 7mm exit pupil also has a benefit in daylight. There is virtually complete freedom from “flare”. When bright reflections from the edge of the objective reach the eye they are out at the edge of a 7mm circle of light, so the flare tends to fall invisibly on the iris rather than entering the eye."

https://www.birdforum.net/showthread...aperture+flare

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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 16:58   #172
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The other binocular that I would like to see in this comparison of premium compacts is the Zeiss 8X32 Victory FL. Not sure how it performs compared to bins evaluated by Canip but it is relatively compact and lightweight. It is an older design but has received good reviews. There seem to be few of these around at dealers in the US and I was told by a rep that this binocular is no longer in production. I also heard FWIW that Zeiss has an 8X32 SF in the works but it is not coming out anytime soon due to the high demand on the production line in Germany for the 8X42 and 10X42 SF. Take that with a grain of salt.
I have tested a lot of the binoculars in Canip's list and I have tested the Zeiss 8x32 FL and the Nikon 8x32 EDG and the Swarovski 8x32 SV side by side. If I put these three in Canip's list they would all be above the Swarovski 8x30 CL with the SV 1st and the EDG 2nd and the FL 3rd and then the CL 4th. The FL and the EDG are a little better at flare control than the SV but overall the SV is the best binocular and IMO the best 8x32.
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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 17:01   #173
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That's certainly true Dennis, a larger exit pupil can be a benefit if the stray light is outside the exit pupil so that the smaller human eye pupil itself blocks that light. That's one of the challenges that the smaller bins have to deal with. Any extra-pupil stray light will be more noticed on a smaller exit pupil in use.
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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 17:08   #174
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A larger EP obviously is an advantage when you want to avoid seeing glare, but the baffling also plays a major role and the FL 56mm is among the very best in this respect. I owned the NVs and, while I did not like them enough to keep them, I agree that their glare control is outstanding. But the glare resistance of my FL 10x56, which has a smaller EP than the 8x56 mentioned above, is even better (the best I have ever seen): when viewing the landscape under a low sun it shows no glare at all but a crystal-clear image (the details of which were completely obscured to the naked eye due to the strong light coming from the sun).
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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 17:12   #175
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I have tested a lot of the binoculars in Canip's list and I have tested the Zeiss 8x32 FL and the Nikon 8x32 EDG and the Swarovski 8x32 SV side by side. If I put these three in Canip's list they would all be above the Swarovski 8x30 CL with the SV 1st and the EDG 2nd and the FL 3rd and then the CL 4th. The FL and the EDG are a little better at flare control than the SV but overall the SV is the best binocular and IMO the best 8x32.
Great info Dennis, thanks for the comparison. I may wind up getting the 8X32 SV eventually but have a hard time liking it enough to justify the 2x price over the 8X30 MHG or 8X30 CL. I would get the 8X32 EDG while they are still around if the close focus was as good as the MHG (not to mention the extra weight of the EDG) but surprisingly the 2.5m vs 2.0m close focus is a significant difference for my use.
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