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Zeiss or Swaro?

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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 01:36   #1
Kiwimac
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Zeiss or Swaro?

Hi

I have been a long time lurker, but first time posting.

I have a binocular question.

At present I have a pair of Leica Ultravid 8x32 (not the HD version) which have served me well for 12 years now.

I was thinking of an upgrade to a pair of 8.5 x 42 Swaro EL which here in NZ cost $3,590 (approx GBP1,900) including tax.

I was all set to order them but...when I visited the supplier website, they had Zeiss Victory HT 10x42 reduced by 28% to NZ$3,248 (approx GBP1,746).

I live far too far away to try them (500 miles) so have been scouring the net for comparisons etc.

They are 10x not 8.5 so narrower field, of course, but other than that I have some difficulty persuading myself not to jump on the Zeiss at that price. However I know that the Swaros have a flatter field, amongst other things.

Any thoughts from people who have used both? The new SF version is another NZ$1500 or so on top, btw.

I would use them for general observation, birding and nature.
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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 02:43   #2
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I think if that is your only choices I would lean towards the Swarovski EL 8.5x42 for all around use. Do you do a lot of open country or low light observation where the extra magnification and high transmission of the Zeiss would be helpful? You will see more detail with the 10x. If so I might lean towards the Zeiss HT. I would seriously look at the Swarovski 8x32 EL for all around use also. I personally prefer it over the bigger 8.5x42 because in most situations it performs as well and it is much lighter and smaller and has a bigger FOV. I don't think the SF would be worth the price premium over the binoculars you are looking at. I have been to Wellington,NZ. and other areas in NZ. Pretty country and a LOT of sheep!

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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 03:56   #3
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I think if that is your only choices I would lean towards the Swarovski EL 8.5x42 for all around use. Do you do a lot of open country or low light observation where the extra magnification and high transmission of the Zeiss would be helpful? You will see more detail with the 10x. If so I might lean towards the Zeiss HT. I would seriously look at the Swarovski 8x32 EL for all around use also. I personally prefer it over the bigger 8.5x42 because in most situations it performs as well and it is much lighter and smaller and has a bigger FOV. I don't think the SF would be worth the price premium over the binoculars you are looking at. I have been to Wellington,NZ. and other areas in NZ. Pretty country and a LOT of sheep!
Thanks! Yes, plenty of sheep - although in fact the UK has about the same number these days.

Not the only choices. We do not get all the options here in NZ (the upper end Nikons, for example, are not sold here) but Swaro, Zeiss, Leica are all available here. Price order is Zeiss at the top by a mile, then Leica and just beneath Swaro.

I agree re the SF and would not be considering the HT but for the fact that it has an incredibly rare 28% off list - something that happens very very rarely in NZ where there is not enough retail competition to drive prices down as happens in the US or Europe.
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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 07:13   #4
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If you can get the Zeiss HT for 28% less, what are you waiting for, Kiwimac ?
I've owned mine since 2013, think they're awesome, and still love them.

I've never seen the need to get anything else as I prefer the light-gathering ability of their Abbe Konig prisms and the clarity of their superb HT lens to most anything else to this day.

Virtually everyone I know, personally, that got an 8x instead of 10x has regretted not going ahead and getting the 10x.
In your case, it's the 8.5x but I would still want the 10x regardless.
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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 07:47   #5
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I have the 8x42 HT and the 8.5x42 EL SV and I’ll take the Swarovski any day. The Zeiss Victory SF 8x42 is the competitive binocular.

Have you considered ordering from B&H Photo in New York? They ship internationally (with prepaid customs duty and expedited clearance available most of the time) and their prices are usually better than any option short of flying to Hong Kong.
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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 08:06   #6
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I have the 8x42 HT and the 8.5x42 EL SV and I’ll take the Swarovski any day. The Zeiss Victory SF 8x42 is the competitive binocular.

Have you considered ordering from B&H Photo in New York? They ship internationally (with prepaid customs duty and expedited clearance available most of the time) and their prices are usually better than any option short of flying to Hong Kong.
Sadly they do not offer prepaid for NZ - at least, it did not come up as an option.

The base price plus delivery is NZ$3,990.

Assuming that I will get the parcel stopped by Customs on arrival, there will be another NZ$962 in taxes and fees on arrival, a total of NZ$4952, which would actually make it more expensive than the $4,599 that they can be bought from here at the same dealer.
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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 08:21   #7
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Hello Kiwimac,

If these are your only options , I would go for the Swarovski despite its higher price , it is a good binocular and should last for the rest of your life.

For me the Zeiss is too much of a "plastic wonder" and does not appeal at all , others however seem to like them a lot , I also find (for me emphasized), that the 10 power seems to magnify atmospheric disturbances to a greater extent than the 8 power glasses , particularly in hot bright sunlight.

But whatever you buy , enjoy them to the fullest.

Cheers.
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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 09:50   #8
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Wellinton seems to rarely get above 25C, 77F.
Maximum recorded 31C, 88F.
So cooler than England.

I rarely see atmospheric disturbance here with a 10 times binocular.

B.
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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 10:07   #9
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Hi Kiwimac,

Given you have had great service from your 8x Ultravid, and you don`t suggest you have found 8x wanting, I`d go for the 8.5x personally, both represent quite an outlay so I would`nt let the price saving sway me if I intended this purchase to last the next 12 years like the UV has. Also IMHO here in the UK Swaro seem to hold a higher re-sale value so that extra outlay may repay you in the future.

I don`t think you can go wrong with either optically.
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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 10:23   #10
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Wellinton seems to rarely get above 25C, 77F.
Maximum recorded 31C, 88F.
So cooler than England.

I rarely see atmospheric disturbance here with a 10 times binocular.

B.
I have a pair of Canon 15x50 IS that I use for astro. You can see heat shimmer with them - even today, in mid-winter, I could see it on a vineyard you can see from our house. I don't usually find it a bother; I also travel a lot and usually take the glasses with me. Some of the places I go are both hot and humid.

I don't live in Wellington, but in a small village outside it - Wellington just happens to be the closest place anyone will have heard of!
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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 10:25   #11
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I think if your Ultravid 8x32 is still serving you well then the 10x42 HT seems like a better partner to it and that's a killer combination.
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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 10:28   #12
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Zeiss or SW

six of one, half dozen of another
just personal preference

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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 10:30   #13
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Hi Kiwimac,

Given you have had great service from your 8x Ultravid, and you don`t suggest you have found 8x wanting, I`d go for the 8.5x personally, both represent quite an outlay so I would`nt let the price saving sway me if I intended this purchase to last the next 12 years like the UV has. Also IMHO here in the UK Swaro seem to hold a higher re-sale value so that extra outlay may repay you in the future.

I don`t think you can go wrong with either optically.
They've been reliable (although not much to break, I suppose) but they have never had that 'wow' factor that my Leica camera lenses had. Perhaps the HD/HD Plus iterations were improvements, I don't know as I haven't looked through any.

I'm still leaning towards the Swaro; I think the Zeiss SF's are just too expensive - I could buy new Geovid rangefinders for less than the SF costs. I will call the store tomorrow and have a chat, but unless they can give me a very good reason to buy the HT (like another 10% off...!) It seems likely that the Swaro would win on cost v performance.

The store (unusually for NZ) has a 60 day return on binos as long as they are mint and with all original packaging etc, so I at least if I do not like whatever I pick, I can change it out for something else.

Most people seem to prefer the Swaro over the various Leicas too.
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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 10:33   #14
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I think if your Ultravid 8x32 is still serving you well then the 10x42 HT seems like a better partner to it and that's a killer combination.
Interesting; why do you say that?

They serve me fine - they are a good size, well made and so on. The view is a bit underwhelming I always think.

Perhaps it is my unrealistic expectation of Leica (I used their cameras and lenses for a long while) or perhaps the HD and HD + versions corrected that underwhelmingness.
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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 13:01   #15
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Interesting; why do you say that?

They serve me fine - they are a good size, well made and so on. The view is a bit underwhelming I always think.

Perhaps it is my unrealistic expectation of Leica (I used their cameras and lenses for a long while) or perhaps the HD and HD + versions corrected that underwhelmingness.
I have the Swaro 8.5 EL and like Denco I find it quite heavy to take out on walks and trips for the occasional viewing of something, so I take my 8x30 HG more often. So in your case you may still be using the 8x32 a fair bit for its ergonomics. If I'm going to a nature reserve or the coast etc I prefer a 10x42 and take my Razor. I really like the view of the EL and use it in my garden to watch the bird table and bugs etc., so for me it's a good third binocular, but more of a luxury than an essential tool. But perhaps if you use your Canon for distant viewing etc and are going for pure luxury then the Swaro's will definitely give you that. I didn't see that you had the Canon before when I responded, so was thinking of a two binocular set up where the HT seemed to make more sense.

BTW I've often found if the view from a pair of binoculars is underwhelming it can generally be brought back to life with a really thorough clean (I don't mean lots of rubbing with a cloth, I mean, dust blower, fine brush, optics fluid and sterile individual sealed optics wipes and buffering with the dry sterile optics wipes for objectives and eye lenses then repeating in a day or two). Lots of cleaning advice on the forum.
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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 14:07   #16
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Between the two I'd go the with 8.5X42 Swarovski. It's hard to go wrong with that binocular. The main issue with that HT is its 10X. I pause a LITTLE more if it were 8X42.
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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 17:59   #17
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Kiwimac -- one thing to consider is the Zeiss style (in binos prior to SF) of a modest sized area of critical sharpness with rapidly declining quality in the outer field (distortion, not just field curvature). It's more pronounced than in the Leica you're familiar with, just as Swaros have a more uniform field still. Some people just don't find that a problem, but it turns me right off. Apart from that I'm sure the HT is an amazing glass and you would do well to give it a try at that price if you have the option of returning it. (You might even like 10x. I prefer it to 8 myself for several reasons, notably observing most often at considerable distances.)
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Old Monday 5th August 2019, 03:03   #18
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So, update.

The Swaro 8.5 x 42 is en route.

The Zeiss was sold out and the website not updated.

We discussed at length the various points raised here (thanks) and others and the sales guy suggested either the Swaro or the Leica Noctivid.

All three of the Alpha brands offer the same warranty in NZ - 10 years - so there was no way to split them there.

What swung it in the end was the fact that Swarovski have their own facility in NZ (apparently the owners of the company like to come and hunt here!) so warranty service can be provided locally up to a point. Really significant issues still require a trip back to the factory, although the sales rep said that in his experience, they simply replace the product if it is still within the 10 years. Not official policy or anything - just the practical way to deal with it when you are 12,000 miles away from the factory I imagine!

Zeiss and Leica offer no local warranty support - any issue is straight back to Germany, with 8-12 week turnaround.

Given that all the top options are really shades of excellence, local backup seemed as good a reason to support one over the other as any.

They have a 60 day exchange, so if I hate them, I can always try the Leica!

On an interesting note, they told me that they have sold exactly zero pairs of Zeiss SF since they were introduced. The rep won't accept that trying to sell them for $700 more than Noctivids or $1000 more than EL's is not a plan likely to succeed well in New Zealand's tiny, price-sensitive market.
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Old Monday 5th August 2019, 04:11   #19
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Curious, those three binos are nearly the same price in the USA... enjoy your ELs! You certainly live in a beautiful country.
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Old Monday 5th August 2019, 04:21   #20
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Curious, those three binos are nearly the same price in the USA... enjoy your ELs! You certainly live in a beautiful country.
Not sure it's true, but the guy I spoke to said the reason is that some of the top line binoculars are brought into the USA as "parts" and assembled in the US in order to avoid tax or duty of some kind.

Thanks. I will be assessing them over the next few weeks.

OOI has anyone compared them to Noctivids?
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Old Monday 5th August 2019, 04:40   #21
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Curious, those three binos are nearly the same price in the USA... enjoy your ELs! You certainly live in a beautiful country.
Great trout fishing on the feeder streams emptying into Lake Taupo. I couldn't believe the size of the fish that you can catch there!
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Old Monday 5th August 2019, 06:05   #22
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Great trout fishing on the feeder streams emptying into Lake Taupo. I couldn't believe the size of the fish that you can catch there!
Yes, big ones!

However, I grew up fishing trout in the UK and I find the permitting of lures etc a bit below the belt!


Odd New Zealand fact: you'll never see trout on menus or for sale. It's illegal to sell it.
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Old Monday 5th August 2019, 08:24   #23
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The Leica Noctivid is a very good binocular. I was very impressed with it but chose the Zeiss SF due to slightly better ergonomics. I fancied a change from Swarovski ELs.

Good luck.

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Old Monday 5th August 2019, 09:52   #24
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OOI has anyone compared them to Noctivids?
I compared the Zeiss SF 8x42 I had with a pair of Noctivid 8x42 and Swarovski EL 8.5x42 in a shop.

The main thing I learnt from that is that you can't learn anything much comparing binoculars at this level in a shop - you need to get out and use them in the field, in different environments and different lighting to know which you prefer.

So good luck with your EL it really is a great binocular.

(btw I went away from the shop with the ELs leaving behind the SFs as part-exchange. I didn't get on so well with the particular pair of Noctivids they had).
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Old Monday 5th August 2019, 11:51   #25
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I compared the Zeiss SF 8x42 I had with a pair of Noctivid 8x42 and Swarovski EL 8.5x42 in a shop.

The main thing I learnt from that is that you can't learn anything much comparing binoculars at this level in a shop - you need to get out and use them in the field, in different environments and different lighting to know which you prefer.

So good luck with your EL it really is a great binocular.

(btw I went away from the shop with the ELs leaving behind the SFs as part-exchange. I didn't get on so well with the particular pair of Noctivids they had).
Yes I would agree if I was buying in the UK - I grew up not too far from Reading btw.

Problem is in NZ that you simply do not have the number of dealers with wide stock and they certainly won't be letting you wander off into the back blocks with $10,000 worth of kit for the weekend..!

I think the fact that one of the better known sporting optics suppliers, in the largest city in NZ, has never sold a single pair of Zeiss SF tells you a fair bit..!
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