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Habicht 8x30W and Italian supercars (my take on the Habicht)

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Old Tuesday 14th May 2019, 07:46   #1
yarrellii
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Habicht 8x30W and Italian supercars (my take on the Habicht)

Italian supercars have both a stunning performance and stunning looks. They can accelerate from 0 to 60 in a sigh and give you goosebumps from their sheer speed and the incredible way they negociate bends. Basically they’re machines of pure joy and will give you indeleble memories and experiences like few other cars can. But then there’s the fact that they only seat two people and hardly any luggage, they’re extremely uncomfortable to get in and out, the ride is harsh and you end up with an aching back, and also the heat from the motor comes into the driver's compartment. This would sum it up for me with the 8x30W Habicht.

I have been using the 8x30W intensively over the last weeks, on every single daily walk, I’ve used it over open terrain, on the coast, on shrubby areas, and then I took it for my holiday trip to a National Park with both thick forests and clear, high-altitude open spaces. They’ve been on boats for seabird and whale watching and have come with me to look for nests among the branches of trees. A bit of backyard astronomy and a bit of the best night skies Europe has to offer. In every situation the Habicht showed its mighty optical quality: sharp as sharp can be, bright, and giving this “supernatural” almost oneiric look to anything you look at; just fan-tas-tic. But then, every single time I’ve used them I’ve thought of how comfortable and relaxing the view is through the Nikon EII (the closest in terms of format/performance that I own). I’ve changed the eyecups for the military green ones (this made them more comfortable) and have tried changing the position of the binoculars, but they never seem to offer a relaxing view (somehow a supercar will always want you to drive it at full speed in tension). And then there’s the glare. I have the much vilified Nikon Monarch 7 8x30; they have been nicknamed “the glare monster” around here. And there’s no denying that the M7 suffers from glare, it can be pretty annoying, actually. But over the weeks I’ve found that the Habicht shows a lesser glare problem but… more often. So, in difficult situations the M7 will make the view almost unusable, but in many situations the Habicht will make it uncomfortable: less annoying but more often. Talking about light where it shouldn’t be: I don’t know if it is the design of the eyecups, but the Habicht gathers “foreign light” in the eyecups like no other binoculars I’ve tried. Then there's one issue, I'm not sure about the name: when there are reflections coming from one side (both during the day and especially by night) you can see strange mirroring images (ghost images?) in the middle of the FOV. The focus wheel is not as hard as I have anticipated (especially the central part, where most of the action happens is not that hard), but nevertheless it makes using them single-handed pretty hard, to say the least, which kind of defeats one of the reasons to have binoculars that are small and light.

Now I am waiting for a new set of Chinese eyecups (slightly winged) to see if they make the situation and use comfort a little better, but I am having a hard time deciding to keep them. They are everything I ever wanted: great optical quality, small size and weight, waterproof and porro (the waterproof is what kills the EII for me, because I live on an extremely humid and dusty environment, where getting your lenses fogged up is not unusual and this makes me concerned about the durability of the EII).

Pros: the optical performance is just mind-blowing, the quality of the image makes you have to pick up your jaw from the floor pretty often, so bright and sharp. The look of the binoculars is simply classy and timeless, and the way they feel in the hands is so reassuring, the grip is perfect and they’re waterproof (the build quality seems remarkable) and the customer service is ace.
Cons: they lack the ease of view other binoculars offer (most notably the EII), so prolonged use can be quite tiring; there is a serious glare issue; the eyecups suffer from light coming from the sides/back; there are strange reflections if there’s a strong source of light; hard focus wheel.

I know there are long-time users of the 8x30 Habicht in the forum. I would like to know if they’ve encountered the issues I mention above and how did they cope with them (besides the new winged eyecups). Thanks for reading this far!
(Needless to say these are my very personal and subjective experiences, I don't pretend to be an expert in optics or binoculars, just give my impressions; I'm happy to stand corrected in any technical term and learn at the same time).

Last edited by yarrellii : Tuesday 14th May 2019 at 13:45.
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Old Tuesday 14th May 2019, 10:56   #2
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Nice write up! I agree with all of your observations. The winged eyecups help with glare and ease of view considerably, i think you will enjoy them. The only gripe I had about the new eyecups is that they would form a seal around my eyes and lead to fogging of the eyepiece quite easily as the day progressed outdoors. The ease of view however was more than worth it. And the view itself? Well as you said: fan-tas-tic.

I sold mine to make room for an EL 8x32. I think the Habicht is sharper and has more contrast. I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel any regret selling them.
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Old Tuesday 14th May 2019, 11:46   #3
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Hi,

thanks a lot for the nice review/rant. I fully agree with your observations - I felt the same when I got to try them (and compare to my E2) thanks to a fellow birder one day - I knew quickly that they are not for me, but their owner liked them.

Joachim
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Old Tuesday 14th May 2019, 14:05   #4
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I had several Habicht 8x30's. I kept trying them because they are very good optically. I did all the changes you did with the green eye cups. I decided I don't like winged eye cups because of fogging issues and I don't like them rubbing against the side of my face. The focus on the Habicht 8x30 is the tightest focus I have ever used on any binocular and I found it hard to focus fast while birding. I used the Habicht for quite a while until I discovered when you look up with it at steep angles the entire FOV is covered with veiling glare. For those reasons I gave up on it and sold it. I compared it many times to my SV 8x32 and the SV is just as sharp on-axis, has a bigger FOV, sharper edges and is a much easier view with better ergonomics for me and the total package is superior with better objective covers, rain guard, case and strap. Many have complained about glare in the SV but I personally do not get the veiling glare that completely covers the FOV the way the Habicht does. It does show a little glare in difficult conditions when you are near the sun at sundown but it really doesn't bother me because overall the binocular performs so well. I agree the optics of the Habicht are very good especially on-axis and it is a very interesting binocular but as a birding tool I find the SV 8x32 superior. I would say the Habicht 8x30 W is a Lamborghini Aventador and the Swarovski SV 8x32 is a Bugatti Chiron. The Lamborghini is cool looking but the Bugatti is faster and much more comfortable.

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Old Wednesday 15th May 2019, 18:55   #5
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I didn't get the 8x30 because of the veiling glare, despite its superb optical performance in favourable lighting conditions. Try the Habicht 10x40. It is MUCH better with regard to veiling glare, as good as an up-to-date roof with the exception of the Noctivid. It's also MUCH better than e.g. the SV 8x32 which is IMNSHO one of the weaker 8x30s/8x32s in that respect.

And if you can cope with the smallish field of view, try the 7x42. It has NO veiling glare. None. It's also easier to use with its large exit pupils and its larger depth of field than either the 8x30 or the 10x40 due to its low magnification.

Hermann

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Old Thursday 16th May 2019, 06:46   #6
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I’m a big fan of the Habicht/ Traditional series of Porro prism binoculars - I have 5 of them and use 4 regularly (an earlier unit is primarily a reference piece) *

However, in considering their attraction, rather than Yarrellii’s supercar comparison, perhaps a better one would be to a new production version of a vintage sports car
- it’s largely faithful to the original blueprints, but incorporates some changes that significantly improve performance, and utilises superior modern production technology
For example, optically we’re looking at early 20th century hardware (lenses, prisms and light control) combined with state of the art firmware (the coatings)

* three are 3 leatherette models: an 8x30 W from June 2013 (#A8324); a 10x40 W from January 2017 (#A8701), and; a 7x42 from February 2017 (#A8705)
along with a rubber armoured 8x30 W from November 1999 (#A6944); and a leatherette 8x30 W from around 1962 (#815,884)

What follows is a few observations about, and ideas on how to better drive, these 'modern anachronisms'


A) EYECUPS
As has been frequently observed on this forum, the diameter of the eyecups on the Traditional leatherette models is too small
When the binoculars are correctly positioned for eye relief, the eyecups ‘float’ without any contact with the upper orbit of the eye socket (this applies to all the current models: 8x30W, 10x40 W and 7x42)

However, as has also been observed, it doesn’t take much of an increase in eyecup diameter to make a significant difference, and either the rubber armoured model eyecups or 3rd party slip over ones solve the problem for most
For reference, the outside diameter of the ends of the eyecups on the leatherette models is 33 mm, and on the RA ones 39 mm


A NO COST ALTERNATIVE
I’ve used both RA and slip on eyecups and while they're effective they’re not essential
Over time, my preferred option has become to ignore the particular eyecup and use finger placement to address the problem!

The placement is as follows:
- Index fingers rest on top of the eyecups
- Middle finger tips rest on the focuser
- Ring and little fingers are wrapped around the binocular body, and
- Thumbs are folded around the underside of the eyepieces, with the left thumb rearmost

The middle fingers act as my ‘anchor’ points for the remainder of the finger and hand positioning
(the index fingers move slightly closer to and away from the middle fingers as the eyepieces move in and out with focusing)

In effect, the index fingers act as larger diameter eyecups - they provide contact with the brow to correctly position the binoculars
They are also much more comfortable than any of the eyecup options as they provide a much broader contact area

The nail of my left thumb rests against the bridge of my nose - and in conjunction with the index fingers acts as a third point of contact
This solid 3 point contact aids steadiness, as it reduces both vertical and horizontal shake,
and it also allows somewhat less arm tension, as part of the weight of the binoculars is rested against the face

- - - -
The above also works well with most other older style binoculars with small diameter, and often narrow edge, eyecups

In contrast, it’s unnecessary with most modern roof prism binoculars, with their large diameter and much more rounded end eyecups
With these I don’t rest my index fingers against against my brow (and I usually use the right index finger to focus), but I still use the left thumb to provide the 3rd point of contact against the nose

From the box, my 8x20 Leica Ultravid was an exception. Although the eyecup ends were well rounded they were just too small at only 29 mm in diameter
Their small diameter combined with the eye relief also allowed a lot of distracting frontal lighting to intrude
However, the performance was transformed with a set of slip over winged eyecups (around 36 mm diameter), and I now use it the same way as the larger roof prism models
(the larger diameter eyecups were both large enough to place against my brow and to eliminate the distracting frontal light)


SPECTACLE USERS
Due to their limited eye relief (nominally between 12 and 14 mm), Traditional models are not ideal for spectacle users
In addition, while the current rubber eyecups can be folded down, they have a tendency to suddenly pop back up with a degree of force
Prior to the new style of rubber eyecups from around 1984, there was an optional bakelite eyecup for spectacle wearers (see the attached image)
While the bakelite cups are sometimes seen on used models, I’ve never seen them offered as seperate items, and I’m not aware of any satisfactory current option

continued . . .
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Last edited by John A Roberts : Thursday 16th May 2019 at 10:34.
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Old Thursday 16th May 2019, 06:54   #7
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B) VEILING GLARE
I have the luxury of a long westerly view from my front door, allowing convenient comparison of binoculars
The view slopes down to a river, across a bay, and then to rising ground on the opposite side around 5 km/ 3 miles away
The view also provides extremely harsh viewing conditions in the late afternoon, accentuating the effects of veiling glare

My experiences in relation to veiling glare are in the same order as those of Hermann
I find that under extreme conditions the 8x30 exhibits significant glare, the 10x40 somewhat less, and the 7x42 markedly less
(the 7x42 has a different eyepiece than the other 2 models, and looking through the objective it also has a slightly smaller opening to the internal stop consistent with the narrower Field Of View)

Again under extreme conditions, the 7x42 Traditional shows a little more glare than either my 7x42 Leica Ultravid HD (pre-Plus) or 7x42 Zeiss Victory FL (pre-LotuTec)
- but there is not a significant difference as to the discernible detail in the centre of the FOV

- - - -
I was initially hesitant to get a 7x42 due to it’s narrow FOV (nominally 6.5 degrees, 114 m/ 342 ft) and the supposed ‘porthole’ effect (or perhaps more correctly porthole illusion?)
However, after getting my 8x20 (nominal FOV of 6.5 degrees, 113 m/ 341 ft) in order, and using it for some time, I reconsidered the matter

Although the 7x42 has a slightly smaller AFOV, the perceived image seems much less restricted than that of the 8x20
I suspect this is in part due to the vast difference in the size of the exit pupils (the area of the 7x42’s is nearly 6 times that of the 8x20!)
n.b. the above is so even under optimal conditions for the 8x20 - in bright sunlight where my pupils would have closed down to 2.5 mm or less

Compared to the Leica and Zeiss 7x42’s, the Traditional’s view is as good - it just does not cover as much of the landscape. However, in practice I’ve not found this a great concern
When I’m looking at something in detail, I normally centre it in the FOV - and visually and mentally concentrate on it - making the peripheral view irrelevant


C) FOCUSING
Especially when new, the focuser is distinctly stiff on fogproof Traditional models (i.e. post-1984 production, readily identifiable by the cover screws on the bridge arms)
With a new unit it’s worthwhile to repeatedly cycle the focuser back and forth along it’s full range of travel, as this typically both slightly smooths and lightens the focuser action


PUSH- PULL FOCUSING
The best way to ‘drive’ the focuser when using the binoculars is with a 2 finger push-pull motion, which works ideally with the hold I’ve described above


FOCUSER TRAVEL
As is common with many external focus binoculars, the Traditional has a lot of excess travel past the point where infinity focus first occurs

From what I’ve observed, while the total focuser travel varies slightly with each unit, it is typically:
- between 1 1/4 and 1 3/8 rotations from lock to lock
- with slightly more than 1/2 rotation past the point of infinity focus

So the actual needed rotation for the full focus range is usually less than 1 complete turn (and of course the amount of rotational movement needed also progressively increases as the focus distance decreases)


FOCUS SCALE
The Traditional models have both:
- a focus scale on the focuser, and
- an index mark on the underside of the bridge arm assembly, in the 6 o’clock position
the first photo shows the scale on a current production unit, and the second shows that on a 1962 era unit

When the zero point on the focus scale is set to the index mark on the underside of the bridge, the focuser is at the nominal infinity focus position - see the third photo
In practice with current models, infinity focus is normally achieved with the zero point set to around 5 o’clock


PRE-SETTING THE FOCUS DISTANCE
With any binocular, getting into the habit of setting/ checking the focus when picking it up, enables the avoiding of excess twiddling when one needs to focus quickly
With their harder than usual focuser action, pre-setting the focus works especially well with Traditional binoculars

My preference, depending on the anticipated circumstances is usually one of two settings:

A) Pre-setting the zero point to 3 o’clock, so that the focus is at about 10 metres/ 11 yards
- and so less than 1/4 turn clockwise will take the focus to infinity
- and 1/4 turn anti-clockwise will shift the focus to near the minimum focus distance

B) Pre-setting the zero point to 4 o’clock, so that the focus is at about 20 metres/ 22 yards
with the clockwise and anti-clockwise rotation varying accordingly


John
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Last edited by John A Roberts : Thursday 16th May 2019 at 11:22.
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Old Thursday 16th May 2019, 13:32   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermann View Post
I didn't get the 8x30 because of the veiling glare, despite its superb optical performance in favourable lighting conditions. Try the Habicht 10x40. It is MUCH better with regard to veiling glare, as good as an up-to-date roof with the exception of the Noctivid. It's also MUCH better than e.g. the SV 8x32 which is IMNSHO one of the weaker 8x30s/8x32s in that respect.

And if you can cope with the smallish field of view, try the 7x42. It has NO veiling glare. None. It's also easier to use with its large exit pupils and its larger depth of field than either the 8x30 or the 10x40 due to its low magnification.

Hermann
Ok, Herman. I tried all the Habicht's EXCEPT the 10x40. The 7x42 had too narrow of a FOV for me. But I will try the 10x40. I bought a new one off of Ebay from the UK for $900.00 in leather. When I get it I will let you know how I like it. Could I ask you what the OD in mm is of the outer objective lens so I can order some lens covers for it before it get's here? Do you think these Opticron covers would have enough room to fit? Also, Roger Vine liked the 10x40 Habicht quite a bit. Here is his review.

John. Good information on the Habicht's. I use your hand hold technique on all my smaller compact binoculars with smaller eye cups. I don't care for winged eye cups. They fog up and they rub the side of my face. Interesting tip about presetting the focus and cycling the focus on the Habicht's to break it in. Do you have any ideas for objective lens covers for the Habicht 10x40?

https://www.amazon.com/Opticron-Rubb...r=8-3-fkmrnull
http://scopeviews.co.uk/Swaro10x40Habicht.htm

Last edited by [email protected] : Thursday 16th May 2019 at 13:47.
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Old Thursday 16th May 2019, 14:09   #9
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Wow, John, that was so interesting. I've always wondered what the 0 and the marks on the focus wheel was about. Really helpful, will try to put that in to practice today! Thank you!
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Old Thursday 16th May 2019, 20:51   #10
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Dennis

The outside diameter of both the leatherette 10x40 and 7x42 objectives is 54 mm (2 1/8”)
However, as I don’t use objective covers I can’t offer an opinion as to what’s good

I only use either:
- a rainguard, or occasionally;
- a Crooked Horn Bino Shield

In essence the Bino Shield is an elastic edged shower cap with an attached adjustable elastic strap (see the first two images)

Interestingly, the advertising fails to mention one of it’s main features!
As it hugs the binocular to the torso, it can be adjusted so that the torso comfortably supports perhaps 2/3 of the weight of the binocular
(my preference is to wear it higher than is shown in the first photograph, which may be a consideration in supporting the weight)
So especially with heavier binos, you can either use:
- a lighter neck strap then otherwise, or;
- a neck strap instead of a harness
either of which seems to be a big advantage

It’s much quicker and easier than dealing with both a rainguard and objective caps, and once removed you don’t have the guard or caps dangling from the binocular

And as it totally covers a binocular, it’s particularly good for those concerned about taking a valuable/ old/ non-waterproof/ non-rubber armoured bino on an outing in the field

The Bino Shield is only available in various complex camouflage finishes, which don’t appeal to me for a number of reasons
However, while a more aesthetically appealing alternative is available, it’s seems excessively expensive - the Swazi brand Bino Beret, which is also offered by Leica (see the last photo)

John
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Old Thursday 16th May 2019, 21:13   #11
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How do you zip up the Bino Shield with the neck strap attached to the binocular? What size does a 10x40 Habicht need? Thanks.
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Old Thursday 16th May 2019, 21:50   #12
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Dennis

It works like a shower cap - you just slip it over the binoculars, with the open portion to the rear (see the second photo) and it's retained on the binocular by the elastic in the rim

As the neck strap lugs are on the back of the binocular, the neck strap extends out of the open portion at the back

The only zip is on a seperate flat front pocket

And the medium size is ideal for the 10x40's

John
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Old Thursday 16th May 2019, 22:15   #13
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Interesting solution! It would be really good for non-waterproof binoculars like Nikon EII's. Kind of a similar idea to the Swarovski Binoshield but better because it protects the objectives. Thanks, for the information.

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Old Friday 17th May 2019, 03:58   #14
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John

How about a picture to demonstrate your hand holding technique. I think it is similar to mine. "A picture says a thousand words."

" The placement is as follows:
- Index fingers rest on top of the eyecups
- Middle finger tips rest on the focuser
- Ring and little fingers are wrapped around the binocular body, and
- Thumbs are folded around the underside of the eyepieces, with the left thumb rearmost"

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Old Friday 17th May 2019, 13:03   #15
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Hello,
With all the ignorance about this model, do you think that it could be said that it is a model totally adapted for the daily use of bird watching?
Thanks for your comments.

Wachi
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Old Friday 17th May 2019, 23:59   #16
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Wachi

‘. . . totally adapted for the daily use of bird watching?’ - the short answer is a resounding ‘NO’

The Traditionals are very acceptable for general outdoor use, as they have stunning on axis resolution
Among other things, this encourages looking around a setting just to enjoy the quality of the detail that can be discerned

Their increased 3D effect (greater objective separation compared to roof prisms), is also appreciable out to at least 50 meters, and adds significantly to the quality of the experience

They also have great charm compared to sameness of many current roof prism designs - their retro appeal, proven design and quality and solidness of construction
(for the same reasons I was greatly anticipating Leica’s proposed 2017 reissue of the Leitz Trinovids - especially the 7x35 leatherette model)

And compared to other alpha class products they are a bargain

For some critical appreciation, see:
Tobias Mennle regarding the 8x30: http://www.greatestbinoculars.com/al...icht8x30w.html
Roger Vine regarding the 10x40: http://www.scopeviews.co.uk/Swaro10x40Habicht.htm


However, the 2 biggest counts against their use for extended birding are:
- the stiffness of the focuser (pre-focusing minimises but does not eliminate the issue compared to the internal focusers on modern roof prisms), and
- the restricted minimum focusing distances (nominally between 3 and 4 metres, however the view is strained for many at the minimum)

Also, glare control control can be an issue
And for many spectacle users, the limited eye relief is unacceptable

Ultimately, they are a 'heart rather than head' choice


For those so inclined, my recommendations would be:

- firstly the 8x30 W (generally the most usable and adaptable, lightest and most compact, BUT potential glare problems)

- then the 10x40 W (superior magnification, better glare control, BUT requiring good holding technique, or the use of rested positions to maximise the magnification potential)

- finally the 7x42 (near state of the art glare control, the stability of 7x compared to 8x for unsupported use, BUT severely restricted Field of View)

I also strongly prefer the leatherette over the RA versions (more retro, more tactile, slightly more compact in the hand)


John

Last edited by John A Roberts : Saturday 18th May 2019 at 03:10.
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Old Saturday 18th May 2019, 02:42   #17
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John. Nice summation of the Habicht's. I had the 8x30 W and the 7x42 and I have a 10x40 W coming and I completely agree with you. The FOV on the 7x42 was to restricted for me and I had glare problems with the 8x30 W when
looking up at extreme angles although as you said the stunning on-axis resolution is a strong attraction for them and makes me keep trying them. If the 10x40 W is better with glare than the 8x30 W I think I will like them because I liked the 8x30 W except for the glare problems. The focuser is tight but manageable if you break it in as you say. I ordered a Nikon 8x30 EII also because I think these classic porro's might be hard to find in the future. Both the Habicht and EII have a transparent and easy relaxed 3D view that make them a joy to just observe with. As you say I don't think of them as a dedicated birding tool like the SV 8.5x42, SV 8x32 or SV 10x32 which I have and they don't have the same "optical perfection" that the SV's do but they do have more character and retro appeal. They are also just higher quality compared to the equivalent priced roof and will probably last forever. I also prefer the leatherette version for it's visual appeal and lighter weight(and leather smell). If you like the Nikon 8x30 EII you might try the Nikon 7x15 Reverse Porro. It is a remarkably tiny 4 oz. porro in the retro style of the EII that will really shock you with it's optical performance. It is almost like a "Baby EII." Well I will let you know how the Habicht 10x40 W is if it arrives from the UK by Monday. Thanks for your help on the objective size's and it would still be great if you could post a picture of your hand holding style for small diameter eye cup binoculars like the Habicht. For me using your type of holding technique opened up a whole new world of binoculars that I can use without modifying the eye cups or using winged eye cups. It is really ground breaking.

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Old Saturday 18th May 2019, 14:42   #18
chill6x6
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I've had the Habichts in 8X30, 7X42, and 10X40. Truly beautiful binoculars. If you wear glasses don't even consider the 8X30 or 10X40. It's a waste of time. I did everything imaginable to try to make them work. If no eyeglasses sure, give them a try. The 7X42 works "pretty" good. The fold-down eye cups are what they are. Focus is stiff. A SV 8X32 and the 8X30 Habicht are worlds apart where ergonomics are concerned. The only porro prism binocular I've EVER had that came close to being "user friendly" and was optically excellent was a Nikon SE 8X32 CF. I sold it because I NEVER used it. I still have the Habicht 7X42....WHY I don't know.

If nostalgia is one's thing you can't beat the Habicht. That's about it IMO.
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Old Sunday 19th May 2019, 00:09   #19
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I received the Habicht's 10x40 a couple days early so I had time to give them a go and I am quite impressed. I looked up at the sun at steep angles and I did not see the veiling glare I observed in the 8x30's. The 10x40's are much better at handling glare than the 8x30's. I forgot how SHARP and BRIGHT the Habicht's truly are and how nice it is to view in 3D. The 10x40 W Habicht is brighter than any 10x42 roof I have looked through and it only weighs 24oz. I guess that is what 95% light transmission can do for you. The build quality is really impressive and even though the focuser is tighter than my SV's it is not as bad as I remember and has absolutely no play or backlash unlike some of the $1000.00 roof's I have tried lately. I hate backlash in a focuser. With John's tip of presetting the focuser for your estimated birding distances it is easily manageable. The 54mm Opticron tethered objective covers fit perfectly and actually match the binocular's black leatherette quite well. The eye cups are smaller than most roof's and will sink into your eye sockets but using the technique of cupping your hands around the eye cups to control the focal length of the binocular by bracing them on your forehead you can avoid any black outs quite easily and get a perfect view. I have the bigger RA Habicht eye cups but I didn't even bother putting them on. Monday I get the Nikon 8x30 EII and I will compare the two. I think I know which one will be brighter.

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