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(4) Quality 8x32 Binoculars- Swarovski EL, SV and Nikon EDG II, SE~ My Impressions (1 Viewer)

stephen b

Well-known member
** note- this ended up being another long one- sorry.- esp. to iPhone and other smart phone users


This is a summary of my personal impressions / review of the following (4) 8x32 binoculars- Swarovski 8x32 EL; Swarovski 8x32 SV and the 8x32 Nikon EDG II and 8x32 Nikon Premier SE.

I was testing these binoculars because I was planing on upgrading to a top quality 8x32. Last year I did a review of the top Swarovski 32/30 mm binoculars where the Swarovski 8x32 EL was clearly the best of that bunch. I have a really nice Pentax 8x32 DCF ED; but that one fell a little bit behind the EL, and I this year decided that I was going to upgrade to an even better 8x32 than the Pentax.

Shortly after obtaining and ordering the above binoculars to test for purchase, as I had posted here on BF earlier my Mother passed away suddenly on 7/07 - and my heart was not into binoculars at all. But I still had the binoculars that I had obtained -in fact one of them arrived on my doorstep the day she died and a couple more arrived 3 days later. So - I certainly did not look at them at all- they seemed to be all very trivial. But a few weeks later I still had to make some sort of decision as to what to do with these binoculars, because the reality was all of them were on a credit card and either all needed to go back, or I was going to have to make a somewhat quick decision as to which if any I was going to keep. Plus I had also just put the cost of the quickly obtained airfare and rental to go to my Mothers service and to see family. And that cost was quite a bit of money, and since my finances are not unlimited- I needed to make a decision soon.

I also reported here before, that when I originally ordered the binoculars I was planning on writing some review and impressions of them because others may be interested in how all of these do side by side. Even though this is just my opinion that is personal, it may in some way be helpful to others. Well, after spending some time with my eyes behind these optics to see what they are like, and to decide which stay and which go-it proved to be helpful and somewhat therapeutic.

So...after that long winded and possibly a bit of a downer (sorry) intro, here are some thoughts and impressions of these fine optics. This may not end up being as in depth of an impression/ review as I had planned, but then again it may end up being so as I get into it.

___________________________________________

All of the following binoculars reviewed are brand new and were recently obtained by me- so they are first owned by me and never used. The Swarovski 8x32 EL was manufactured in 2010; Swarovski 8x32 SV in 2012. The Nikon EDG is brand new, but can not tell exactly what is date of manufacture according to Nikon. And the Nikon Premier SE is newly purchased from US optics dealer and has a serial # of 550849.

What I use to look at and use as testing site is my back yard and view behind our house. All of this was basically handheld with some sitting braced support and also some testing on a tripod for fine detail. In this size of binocular I am mostly using this 8x power in the field handheld or sitting, arms braced against either my knees, or bino's sitting on a pack upright. As reported in my previous review that I did here- I look at the binoculars viewing from the second floor big open unscreened window and also from my back deck of my house. From this point, I have a view across the Mckenzie River Valley here in Oregon. I can look across the valley and see the hillside across at about 2.5 miles in distance. So I can see from 1 ft to 2.5 miles +. I have a wide variety of items to focus on to test a binocular for- FOV, image sharpness, clarity, image color saturation and rendition and also contrast. These include Douglas fir and Cedar tree trunks, bare branches and foliage on evergreens and deciduous trees and grasslands and rock formations across the valley. The different variations of greens is large in #. I can view the river down below with a beaver den along one bank. I can observe deer and elk across the valley at certain times of day. I can observe a # of different birds from small song birds to Osprey's, Eagles Turkey Vultures, Blue Herons, ducks, geese, etc. Just the other day I watched 2 ospreys dive bombing a Bald Eagle; and I usally only see the Eagles on this part of the river behind our house in the winter months.

Here are some pics. of what I look at:















_______________

And here are some pics of the Bino's:







and here is pic of the EL on (L) and SV on the (R). Notice how smaller in size and depth the thumb indents are on the SV.



I am going to give my thoughts on a # of factors and do some possible rankings and will not probably give all of the manufactured specs, as they are easily obtained in other places. The first thing I did when looking at these binoculars was to just enjoy them and get a feel for them without trying to do any sort of analyzing or quantifying. I wanted to simply let my mind and eyes get the fell for what they are like.

Some of the first thoughts that came to my mind was just how great all of these binoculars are. And the other thought that came to mind was that even though previously I thought the Swarovski EL was the best 8x32 that I had seen- I said to the EL after looking at all of these for the first time- " Well bud, it looks like you may have some competition here". Also- even though I previously had owned the Nikon SE a couple times and ended up selling them, this was the first time I had really tested it head to head against such high level binoculars. I do not know if it is this new coatings version or whether my mind does not remember how good they are, or what the story is- but against such high level binoculars I realized how truly fantastic they are. I found my self saying almost every time I brought them up- "Wow- these are really good".

So with such great glass and all of them being so much more than adequate- what are my thoughts on differences between them?

** As stated in a prior review that I had done- This a personal review that is based on my personal empirical observations using my eyes and my hands. No specialized instruments were used -other than a tripod. I am not an optical scientist

The only other thing that I did attempt to use for some testing was resolution charts and a tripod and tried to use a 7x booster. I only did this the last couple days with the EL, SV and the SE- because the EDG II was already out of my possession when I attempted this. I do not know how good I did with this and was a little tough not to get some shake- because I only had the subject bino on the tripod and tried to hold the booster tight behind it. I realized with this test- I really needed (2) tripods and maybe heavier and more steady ones.

Here are some pics of the resolution sheets I used:





The reality with these tests of resolution with the 3 bino's tested- all of them tested very, very well and was difficult to separate them. this also could have been because I am a novice at this particular testing. I also know that since for my use I mostly use these binoculars hand held- this type of testing is really moot for me.

First- Some Basic specs on the binoculars:- ( even though I said prior that I may keep this out)

Swaro EL

Price: $1639 (on sale from reg. price of $1929)
FOV 420 ft. at 1000 yds.
Weight- Manufactures spec- 21.9 oz (Weighed 21.5 oz on my digital scale)
Eye Relief 15mm
close focus 7 ft.

Swaro SV

Price: $2099
FOV 423 ft. at 1000 yds.
Weight - Manufactures spec- 20.5 oz (Weighed 20.65 oz on my digital scale)
Eye Relief 20mm
close focus 6.2 ft.

Nikon EDG II

Price: $2299.95
FOV 409 ft. at 1000 yds.
Weight - Manufactures spec- 23.10 oz (Weighed 23.10 oz on my digital scale)
Eye Relief 18.5mm
close focus 8.2 ft.

Nikon SE

Price: $629.99
FOV 393 ft. at 1000 yds.
Weight - Manufactures spec- 22.2 oz (Weighed 21.8 oz on my digital scale)
Eye Relief 17.4mm
close focus 9.8 ft.

Observations and review:

I was going to at first give a summary of where I ranked these in a few basic categories and then give a discussion and summary; but I decided I would do the discussion and summary first and then list my categories and rankings after . Again- this is based on MY eyes and MY hands- so personal rankings.

Discussion and summary opinion:

First of all all of these are very fine top notch binoculars and trying to pick out which one works best for your own use is a very personal opinion. So- right away I decided as stated above to just use them and feel them for a couple days and find out which ones "spoke" to me the most and gave me that good feeling of using them. There were a few other things I really wanted to test out for my self- 1. since I was was a big fan of the Swaro EL before- I really wanted to see how the new SV compared to it. 2. I really wanted to put to the test- the SV against the EDG II and see what I thought. and 3. I wanted to see how the great SE porro did against these very fine roofs.

To start with # 3 - As far as the SE goes- it blew me away as to how well optically it did against these modern day roofs that cost so much more. It really was super sharp and gave me a big Wow factor. And it is not just because it is a porro- I have a # of Porro's. It more than held its own as far as apparent resolution ( contrast and sharpness of discerning detail) when compared to the other roofs. I ranked it above the EDG and the EL in this category.

As far as the EL vs. the SV. - Well, the SV is better over all; just as others have noted when comparing the other older 8.5x42 EL and the newer 8.5x42 SV. I had never done a side by side of the other EL's and SV's.

The EL is no slouch, but.... The 8x32 SV beats it- it is brighter during all times of day- by quite a bit; and colors seem "pop" more-, there is less CA, there is less glare and it did better by a noticeable margin at twilight. And OH- it obviously has a flatter field design that is crisp to the edge. I experience no globe effect ( rolling ball) with the SV; and I tested it with panning a bunch along with the EL and found no noticeable difference. But, then again-I have to say I have never even seen "rolling ball" since I have not really looked at other SV's or any of the older Nikon's that supposedly had it. But even so- I have a hunch that it would not be a factor for me with other SV's anyways- but do not know that for sure. Needless to say it was not noted by me in this 8x32 SV. Also the focus wheel on both the EL and SV was just as smooth.

As far as ergonomics they are almost the same. The SV weighs about 1 oz. less; it has more rubber wrapping around the barrels instead of the more metal middle part that is on the EL style; and it has 3 click stops for the eye cups. Both of them have very comfortable eye cups that are just the right size for me. I like a narrower type of eye cup for my eye sockets. I wish the eye cups on my 7x30 SLC's were like these SV and EL's. The EDG eyecups are not much bigger than the Swaro EL/SV's- but they are a bit more than the ideal size for me that the Swaro's are.

** one other ergo difference noted between the SV and the EL is the size of the thumb indents on the SV. I prefer the size of the original EL- as the SV's are very small. They do work and seem to be positioned OK,- but they seem to be sized for more for a 10 year old boy. I just wish they were a little wider and deeper ( although the width is more of a factor I think than the depth).
I do not know why they changed them from the original EL.

Another pic. of it:



As to the SV compared to the EDG II - They are both very good optically (outstanding actually) and give a great view. The color rendition was very pleasant in the EDG and FOV was flat and crisp to the edge, as was the FOV on the SV. Colors on the SV I would say was a bit more neutral as far as color bias. To my eyes the SV was brighter over all. Resolution/ contrast of details was very good in both- but again I would give the nod to the SV.

Difference in the 2 binos- the SV beat the EDG II by a fair bit in twilight viewing; in fact all the binoculars in the study beat the EDG at very low light. This somewhat surprised me. I had a 8x42 Leupold Cascade Porro ( that does very well in low light) to compare to all of these 8x32 binoculars to see how they stacked up to a 8x42 in low light. The SV did the best of the 8x32's and the SE was not far behind at all in low light- and they almost did as well in the faintest of light as the 8x42 Cascade. The EL was just a bit behind the SV and the SE. And then the EDG was noticeably behind all the others. I do not know why- I thought it may be it's color bias that lets the Swaro's beat it, and maybe the SE beats it in low light because of the porro design??

For a test subject for low light I was looking and using trees and trunks of trees just up the bank on the far side of the river 350 yards. This is a spot that is a good test for dusk- it has shadows and tree trunks that are in some shade during the day and they get dark first at start of twilight. It is a good subject image to test bino's in low light. All I know is it was a noticeable difference with the EDG and one that I looked at for 3-4 nights in a row and tested all of them at the same low light to make sure that my eyes were seeing what they were seeing. I knew from testing the Swaro EL previously that it did very well at twilight- and it does. But the SV beat it and the SE beat the EL also by a small margin. And then there was the EDG II behind the group.

I know as a hunter this is a big thing for me with binoculars. And the Swaro line in general has a very good tested rep with hunters as far as being good in low light. The old EL's were good in this regard and the new SV's are better.

Other bits and differences noted in the above binos'

Ergo's for me are a tie with the Swaro's- they worked the best. For me I preferred the handling on the SE's almost as much. The EDG's were my least favorite. One reason I like the ergo's on the SE's almost as much as the Swaro's is the wider spread of the SE's help me almost as much as the open bridge design of the Swaro's. One reason I think is because I have a somewhat narrow IPD (59-60mm) and with the smaller barrels of the EL and SV type my hands are fairly close together.

pic of both set up at with my IPD: SE (L) and SV (R)



and all of them set for my IPD:



Some differences noted with regards to focusing and eye cups and eye relief:


The focus on all of these works very good. Only real think I noted with regards to the SV and the EDG- is this: the EDG has a very smooth crisp exact focus. But one thing I noted was that if I did a very fine detailed focus on something- the focus wheel seems to be so totally positive and precise and locked in on that focus. If I moved the dial just a bit either way, that crisp focus moved somewhat. It seemed as if the focus was so positive and precise for that position, that if there was any movement either way it shifted it a bit. Again- this was with very fine detailed focus on a small subject. With the SE's this was not the case and it is one reason one reason I think that objects seem to just snap into place with it. It seems that just as you are coming into focus with something that it snaps in quick and you have a little forgiveness either way where the subject just stays in focus. I noticed with the SE- I could have something in very fine focus and if I moved the wheel just a bit either way- the subject was still in focus for a bit of the turn. It was not sloppy at all, just a bit more forgiving. The Swaro SV and EL also allowed a bit of room in the wheel turn for a detailed subject to stay in focus. So, for me on detailed fine focusing, I felt the EDG was almost too precise and I found myself shifting back and forth a bit more than I like.

Eye cups and eye relief-

All work for me- but the SE's would be my last pick. I like to use my binoculars a lot of time with out eyeglasses on, even though in the field I usually use eyeglasses. So if I had to switch back and forth- the fold down rubber ones are a bit of a pain. Also I found out during hot weather in the sun- those rubber eye cups on the SE heat up a bit. I noticed this when I was testing back and forth and I would pick up the SE's after they were maybe sitting there for a few minutes- I thought- "Whoa- these get kind of a bit hot and sweaty compared to these others."

Even though the ER was good on all of these- the way the ER worked for me on the EDG- it seemed to be too much. Meaning if I had them down all the way for my eyeglass use ( I have fairly close fitting ones)- there was noticeable blackout with the FOV and I had to raise them up a bit to get it dialed in. It was not a small amount either- it was about 3/16 ". I had heard of others having this problem with the other SV models. With the 8x32 SV, or the EL- I had no problem. I am sure with the EDG- it would be an easy fix for me to just use a rubber washer or a zip tie. With the EDG there are 4 click stop positions for the eyecups, but the first click position up is a big one ( more than would work for my eyeglasses) and then the next few before fully extracted are smaller. With the SV's- their steps up are almost all equal. For the EL- there are no click stops, just either rotate up or down.

Summary thoughts- All of these are probably some of the very best of 8x32 binoculars offered today, and any one of them would make a fine binocular to give a lifetime of use and pleasure. It is all personal choices and desires as to which one works best for that person ( and also their own pocketbook-:eek!:)

One thing I thought about the SE- is that it is just amazing that it hangs so well to these modern advanced roofs with all of the latest HD glass and coatings. And we are comparing it to binoculars that cost 3- 4 x's more- it beats them in many optical characteristics. Except for minor coating changes- the SE is essentially unchanged from it original design. It may not be for everyone with its rubber eye cups and non H2O proof design, but it is and remains an optical gem!

Well, that for now is about all I can think of ( or I am way to tired of typing right now and can not think of other things to say). If anyone has ?'s let me know and I am sure something would come to my mind. - or not;)


Categories and Ranking of different elements related to these binoculars:

Ergonomics (fit and overall handling)

Rank order-

1. Really tie SV and EL
2. SE
3. EDG
4.

Build "Sturdiness- robustness" if you will

Rank order-

1. Really tie with all of them- all of them are very well built. Could not pick one that stood apart.

Focus (Knob and use) although there are couple other things with the focus use that I mentioned above which somewhat mixes up this issue

Rank order-

1. SE and EDG tie for smoothness- even though they are somewhat different - both are very good. But even though the EDG II focus is smooth, it was almost too precise and dialed/ locked in for my tastes, as noted above. SE was great as far as focus - so smooth, but of course the weather was warm- so do not have the reported issue of the SE focus in cold weather.

2. EL and SV- tie

Diopter (position, build ,use)

Rank order-

1. tie SV and EL
2. EDG
3. SE

Eye relief Actual and in use

Rank order-

1. tie SV and EL
2. SE and EDG tied for effective use- but each had challenges for me with eyeglass use for different reasons as noted above

FOV

Rank order-

1. SV
2. EL
3. EDG
4. SE

Optic Image Quality:

A. Sharpness/ clarity

Rank order-

1. SV
2. EDG and SE- tie basically
3. EL

B. Resolution of detail (using my eyes and hands)

Rank order-

1. SV
2. SE
3. EDG
4. EL

C. Brightness (summary avg. of all times day- so includes low light avg. in)

Rank order- All were pretty good in this test-

1. SV
2. SE
3. EDG
4. EL

Low light Twilight performance as far as how well they did in last 1/2 of light-

Rank order-

1. SV
2. SE
3. EL
4. EDG

D. Image Colors- (True Rendition and Saturation)

Rank order-( for my tastes )

1. SV
2. SE and EDG- tie
3. EL is 3rd- but not far behind


E. Image Contrast

Rank order-

1. SV
2. SE
3. EDG
4. EL

F. Image "Sweet Spot" size


Rank order-

1. SV
2. EDG
3. SE
4. EL

G. Edge to edge sharpness/ performance

Rank order-

1. SV
2. EDG
3. SE
4. EL

H. CA (Chromatic Aberration) ** Footnote- I do not have a problem with CA myself and I did look real hard to test for it- since is not a big problem for me ( sorry). I found a little here-but for me, minor with the EL. It (The EL ) was a little worse at the edge compared to the other 3, but this was not an objection to me. In the center none of them were a big problem for me. The SV and the EDG seemed to control CA very well and the SE did a good job also.

Rank order- To me- All the binoculars overall tie as far as the center axis with the EL maybe slightly behind in the center and edge. The SV and the EDG control CA very well and the SE is not bad at all.

I. Glare control


Rank order-

1. SE
2. SV and EDG- tie
3. EL


_____________

My Final overall Ranking of these 8x32 binoculars in regards to overall all around use ( not just strict optic qualities) and taking into consideration weather etc. So this is in regards to my overall Optical and Mechanical summary review above and impressions of field use in all types of conditions.

Rank order-

1. SV

2. EDG

3. EL

4. SE

___

And now my My Final overall strictly OPTICAL Ranking of these 8x32 binoculars without regards to weather etc.


Rank order-

1. SV

2. SE

3. EDG

4. EL

______

*** And finally My Final overall Ranking of these 8x32 binoculars in regards to just my overall feelings as to which ones I really LIKE the most- ie: what order that they WOW me and what order I would use for if I was to rank keeping them -

Rank order-

1. SV

2. SE

3. EDG and EL tie for different reasons. (EDG is optically better- but the EL would tie it for other attributes that I like about it)

_____

And another category that I keep in mind when deciding on buying or keeping a particular binocular- Customer service after sale.

My ranking

1. Swarovski

2. Nikon
 
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Sancho

Well-known member
Thank you for that, Stephen. I've been looking forward to it. I've been fooling about a lot with my SV 8x32 and EII 8x30 this last few days, and apart from the obvious of specs and ergos, I'm undecided. (I think the EII's are as close to the SE's as makes no odds, except for the narrower yet flatter field of the latter). I get different impressions in different lighting conditions. The SV are definitely brighter and more natural colour-wise, but I do like the "extra" contrast of the EII's. When viewing SW in bright light, I find the EII's control flare better. Viewing in this direction today, I asked my 9-year old son, and a friend of his of similar age, to check both and tell me which view they preferred, without asking for specifics. I reckoned their opinions would be unsullied and uncontaminated by technicalities. Both preferred the EII's! This might be surprising, but maybe as kids they preferred the slightly more panoramic 3D view, and as I said, lighting conditions were pretty specific.
 

bh46118

Well-known member
That's one heck of an impressive line up of binoculars, as well as a great review.
:clap:

Bruce
 

BruceH

Avatar: Harris Hawk
[B.........

Nikon EDG II

Price: $2999.95
FOV 409 ft. at 1000 yds.
Weight - Manufactures spec- 23.10 oz (Weighed 23.10 oz on my digital scale)
Eye Relief 18.5mm
close focus 8.2 ft.
.................

Stephen,

I just quickly went over the review and need to spend more time studying it, especially the comparision between the EDG II and the SV. I think you are the first to compare the two in detail.

I did notice one correction you might want to make while the edit window is open. The Nikon EDG II 8X32 advertised price in the US is $2,299.95 at the sites I have looked at, not $2,999.95. The selling price is actually much lower if you shop around. Right now it is $1,999.95 at Amazon.

Thanks for taking the time to share your observations.
 
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stephen b

Well-known member
Thank you for that, Stephen. I've been looking forward to it. I've been fooling about a lot with my SV 8x32 and EII 8x30 this last few days, and apart from the obvious of specs and ergos, I'm undecided. (I think the EII's are as close to the SE's as makes no odds, except for the narrower yet flatter field of the latter). I get different impressions in different lighting conditions. The SV are definitely brighter and more natural colour-wise, but I do like the "extra" contrast of the EII's. When viewing SW in bright light, I find the EII's control flare better. Viewing in this direction today, I asked my 9-year old son, and a friend of his of similar age, to check both and tell me which view they preferred, without asking for specifics. I reckoned their opinions would be unsullied and uncontaminated by technicalities. Both preferred the EII's! This might be surprising, but maybe as kids they preferred the slightly more panoramic 3D view, and as I said, lighting conditions were pretty specific.

Hello Sancho,

Yes that EII is a great bino!- I had one also and ended up selling it ( actually I had a couple at different times- the older grey one and the newer black one) because for me, eventually I decided to not keep them for a "Sunday drive, fair weather" type of bin, as I could not justify in my mind keeping it for it's lack of water proofing in our climate. Ours is anything but a fair weather climate. Then there was that metal housing that I did not get on with as well as the SE type and the Leupold Cascade Porro. It was not the best ergonomic feel for my hands, and also cold to touch in cold weather. Being a bowhunter I like quiet bins as opposed to things that go "clang". But funny that my vintage bino's do not bother me, but I am not trying do justify their small cost, as opposed to a bino that I pay more for ( EII) and do not use much. Interesting how we justify all those little things in our mind. But I am sure you understand that- esp. since you have had a few of those EII's over the years and have kind of a "love hate" relationship going on. ;) - Like "I like you, Oh,- I do not need you, Oh, I now would love to love you again".

But that EII wide FOV that is so inviting is the best relaxing FOV I have ever seen. You walk right into it and it is very nice!

BTW- I revised my Flare ranking above. I put the SE above the SV. I just this evening at about 6 pm went out in our 99 deg. day ( hottest day of our year) and looked with the SV and the SE toward the west in the Sun's direction and up into some Cedar trees and looked at them again for control of bright glare through the Cedar branches, and the SE won. It was able to control the bouncing light off the limbs better and allowed me to see more detail and over all control it better. I swear the other day, I thought the SV beat it for glare when I tested them.
 

stephen b

Well-known member
Stephen,


I did notice one correction you might want to make while the edit window is open. The Nikon EDG II 8X32 advertised price in the US is $2,299.95 at the sites I have looked at, not $2,999.95. The selling price is actually much lower if you shop around. Right now it is $1,999.95 at Amazon.

Thanks for taking the time to share your observations.

Thanks Bruce. Now corrected it. That was simply a typo on my part. Too much typing :eek!:
 

absolut_beethoven

Well-known member
Excellent review. Thanks for taking the time.

It will be interesting to see how the new Zeiss HT compares against the SV, but it looks like Zeiss is still putting the finishing touches on it. I'm sure that once they have it up to spec they'll start working on the HT 8x32 model in order not to give up that market to Swarovski.
 

mercedes_sl1970

Active member
This is a terrific review you have written up. I particularly liked your personalised and pragmatic approach - and it being a real world assessment.

Thanks for taking the time.

Andrew

PS you live in what looks to be a beautiful location!
 

Torview

Well-known member
Great review Stephen and thanks for taking the time to go into such depth. I`m not really surprised you found the SV the leader it is an astonishing binocular, you`ve almost convinced me to go try it again, and see if I should have dug a little deeper into reserves and purchased one !

For now I`ll probably stick with the Victory, its pretty hard to fault really. I`m really going to have to find an SE to try out sometime.

I think we have a great deal to look forward to as Leica, Zeiss and all scurry to equal this new Swaro, they`ve got their work cut out I think.
 

Sancho

Well-known member
Hello Sancho,

Yes that EII is a great bino!.....I decided to not keep them for a "Sunday drive, fair weather" type of bin, as I could not justify in my mind keeping it for it's lack of water proofing in our climate.................. Ours is anything but a fair weather climate.
................BTW- I revised my Flare ranking above. I put the SE above the SV.......... I swear the other day, I thought the SV beat it for glare when I tested them.

I understand your climate concerns, Stephen....I've never been to Oregon, but living as you do on the Western edge of a continental landmass, subject to incoming anticyclones, makes waterproofing of binos a concern;).

Interesting about the flare ranking. My thoughts exactly, and similar conditions. I haven't been able to get out and about with both SV and EII this last few days, and the only direction I can comfortably view in from my house is SW.
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
Stephen,

Thanks for taking the time to post. Much appreciated, and very informative :t:
Always good to see a hands-on comparison (at the same time), rather than those 2nd hand, re-hashed reviews .... (somewhat moderately dubious benefits of quasi meta-analyses notwithstanding)!


Chosun :gh:
 

mooreorless

Well-known member
Great review Stephen!:t: No one would go wrong buying any of these binoculars. I think I might know which one you might keep.
 

stephen b

Well-known member
Thanks for the very nice words everyone. This was really fun for me to do, and it ended up being a good project and diversion to dive into- I liked looking through all of this great glass. It ended up being very therapeutic.

One of the things I thought back to when doing this review and write up of these fine binoculars, was something that one of our BF members ( who is a dealer) told me concerning the 8x32 Swaro SV. He said that to him it was a binocular that really did not have any compromises, or weak points. He said almost all binoculars there is some sort of trade offs and compromises concerning them; and with the 8x32 SV- he really did not see any. After looking at them for a while I agree- it is strong in all categories and really does not have any weaknesses. The only things I can think of possibly is cost factor- which is not a bino weakness, and it is not a 42 mm bino- which is not a weak point at all for me; in fact it is a plus!

They (the 8x32 SV) are like an Olympic Decathlete that has no weak event; or like LeBron James who does not have any glaring weakness to his game.

Enjoy the day!
 

marinemaster

Well-known member
Great revue Stephen. I think at this price point - handling - is the most important feature, to me at least - hands fit is the key here - I have used the EDG I and did not like the handling, I do not know how EDG II would have been in that respect.

EL handling was very good, sounds like the better optics in the SV makes it even better.
 

David Swain

Well-known member
Ditto! :t: Bryce...

Yet another :t: for your superb review. I like the attention you pay to carefully separating out subjective factors--a good reminder that sheer optical quality isn't always the whole story.

I wonder if there will be a pair (not yours) of EDG IIs up for sale soon? ;)

David
 

barshnik

John F
I just re-read the review for the 3rd time, and will probably read it another 3 times today and tomorrow. Each time I pick up a small detail or innuendo that I missed before.

Thanks for taking the time and effort to do this, we all appreciate it. I knew the SE was a stubby thing, but seeing it next to glasses I'm very familiar with was a real eye-opener.

I'd like to see a review like yours covering the 10x versions of the best 32mm glasses available, as I suspect designs and implementations might not carry over from an 8x to the same make/model 10x.

John F
LV NV
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
** note- this ended up being another long one- sorry.- esp. to iPhone and other smart phone users


This is a summary of my personal impressions / review of the following (4) 8x32 binoculars- Swarovski 8x32 EL; Swarovski 8x32 SV and the 8x32 Nikon EDG II and 8x32 Nikon Premier SE.

I was testing these binoculars because I was planing on upgrading to a top quality 8x32. Last year I did a review of the top Swarovski 32/30 mm binoculars where the Swarovski 8x32 EL was clearly the best of that bunch. I have a really nice Pentax 8x32 DCF ED; but that one fell a little bit behind the EL, and I this year decided that I was going to upgrade to an even better 8x32 than the Pentax.

Shortly after obtaining and ordering the above binoculars to test for purchase, as I had posted here on BF earlier my Mother passed away suddenly on 7/07 - and my heart was not into binoculars at all. But I still had the binoculars that I had obtained -in fact one of them arrived on my doorstep the day she died and a couple more arrived 3 days later. So - I certainly did not look at them at all- they seemed to be all very trivial. But a few weeks later I still had to make some sort of decision as to what to do with these binoculars, because the reality was all of them were on a credit card and either all needed to go back, or I was going to have to make a somewhat quick decision as to which if any I was going to keep. Plus I had also just put the cost of the quickly obtained airfare and rental to go to my Mothers service and to see family. And that cost was quite a bit of money, and since my finances are not unlimited- I needed to make a decision soon.

I also reported here before, that when I originally ordered the binoculars I was planning on writing some review and impressions of them because others may be interested in how all of these do side by side. Even though this is just my opinion that is personal, it may in some way be helpful to others. Well, after spending some time with my eyes behind these optics to see what they are like, and to decide which stay and which go-it proved to be helpful and somewhat therapeutic.

So...after that long winded and possibly a bit of a downer (sorry) intro, here are some thoughts and impressions of these fine optics. This may not end up being as in depth of an impression/ review as I had planned, but then again it may end up being so as I get into it.

___________________________________________

All of the following binoculars reviewed are brand new and were recently obtained by me- so they are first owned by me and never used. The Swarovski 8x32 EL was manufactured in 2010; Swarovski 8x32 SV in 2012. The Nikon EDG is brand new, but can not tell exactly what is date of manufacture according to Nikon. And the Nikon Premier SE is newly purchased from US optics dealer and has a serial # of 550849.

What I use to look at and use as testing site is my back yard and view behind our house. All of this was basically handheld with some sitting braced support and also some testing on a tripod for fine detail. In this size of binocular I am mostly using this 8x power in the field handheld or sitting, arms braced against either my knees, or bino's sitting on a pack upright. As reported in my previous review that I did here- I look at the binoculars viewing from the second floor big open unscreened window and also from my back deck of my house. From this point, I have a view across the Mckenzie River Valley here in Oregon. I can look across the valley and see the hillside across at about 2.5 miles in distance. So I can see from 1 ft to 2.5 miles +. I have a wide variety of items to focus on to test a binocular for- FOV, image sharpness, clarity, image color saturation and rendition and also contrast. These include Douglas fir and Cedar tree trunks, bare branches and foliage on evergreens and deciduous trees and grasslands and rock formations across the valley. The different variations of greens is large in #. I can view the river down below with a beaver den along one bank. I can observe deer and elk across the valley at certain times of day. I can observe a # of different birds from small song birds to Osprey's, Eagles Turkey Vultures, Blue Herons, ducks, geese, etc. Just the other day I watched 2 ospreys dive bombing a Bald Eagle; and I usally only see the Eagles on this part of the river behind our house in the winter months.

Here are some pics. of what I look at:















_______________

And here are some pics of the Bino's:







and here is pic of the EL on (L) and SV on the (R). Notice how smaller in size and depth the thumb indents are on the SV.



I am going to give my thoughts on a # of factors and do some possible rankings and will not probably give all of the manufactured specs, as they are easily obtained in other places. The first thing I did when looking at these binoculars was to just enjoy them and get a feel for them without trying to do any sort of analyzing or quantifying. I wanted to simply let my mind and eyes get the fell for what they are like.

Some of the first thoughts that came to my mind was just how great all of these binoculars are. And the other thought that came to mind was that even though previously I thought the Swarovski EL was the best 8x32 that I had seen- I said to the EL after looking at all of these for the first time- " Well bud, it looks like you may have some competition here". Also- even though I previously had owned the Nikon SE a couple times and ended up selling them, this was the first time I had really tested it head to head against such high level binoculars. I do not know if it is this new coatings version or whether my mind does not remember how good they are, or what the story is- but against such high level binoculars I realized how truly fantastic they are. I found my self saying almost every time I brought them up- "Wow- these are really good".

So with such great glass and all of them being so much more than adequate- what are my thoughts on differences between them?

** As stated in a prior review that I had done- This a personal review that is based on my personal empirical observations using my eyes and my hands. No specialized instruments were used -other than a tripod. I am not an optical scientist

The only other thing that I did attempt to use for some testing was resolution charts and a tripod and tried to use a 7x booster. I only did this the last couple days with the EL, SV and the SE- because the EDG II was already out of my possession when I attempted this. I do not know how good I did with this and was a little tough not to get some shake- because I only had the subject bino on the tripod and tried to hold the booster tight behind it. I realized with this test- I really needed (2) tripods and maybe heavier and more steady ones.

Here are some pics of the resolution sheets I used:





The reality with these tests of resolution with the 3 bino's tested- all of them tested very, very well and was difficult to separate them. this also could have been because I am a novice at this particular testing. I also know that since for my use I mostly use these binoculars hand held- this type of testing is really moot for me.

First- Some Basic specs on the binoculars:- ( even though I said prior that I may keep this out)

Swaro EL

Price: $1639 (on sale from reg. price of $1929)
FOV 420 ft. at 1000 yds.
Weight- Manufactures spec- 21.9 oz (Weighed 21.5 oz on my digital scale)
Eye Relief 15mm
close focus 7 ft.

Swaro SV

Price: $2099
FOV 423 ft. at 1000 yds.
Weight - Manufactures spec- 20.5 oz (Weighed 20.65 oz on my digital scale)
Eye Relief 20mm
close focus 6.2 ft.

Nikon EDG II

Price: $2299.95
FOV 409 ft. at 1000 yds.
Weight - Manufactures spec- 23.10 oz (Weighed 23.10 oz on my digital scale)
Eye Relief 18.5mm
close focus 8.2 ft.

Nikon SE

Price: $629.99
FOV 393 ft. at 1000 yds.
Weight - Manufactures spec- 22.2 oz (Weighed 21.8 oz on my digital scale)
Eye Relief 17.4mm
close focus 9.8 ft.

Observations and review:

I was going to at first give a summary of where I ranked these in a few basic categories and then give a discussion and summary; but I decided I would do the discussion and summary first and then list my categories and rankings after . Again- this is based on MY eyes and MY hands- so personal rankings.

Discussion and summary opinion:

First of all all of these are very fine top notch binoculars and trying to pick out which one works best for your own use is a very personal opinion. So- right away I decided as stated above to just use them and feel them for a couple days and find out which ones "spoke" to me the most and gave me that good feeling of using them. There were a few other things I really wanted to test out for my self- 1. since I was was a big fan of the Swaro EL before- I really wanted to see how the new SV compared to it. 2. I really wanted to put to the test- the SV against the EDG II and see what I thought. and 3. I wanted to see how the great SE porro did against these very fine roofs.

To start with # 3 - As far as the SE goes- it blew me away as to how well optically it did against these modern day roofs that cost so much more. It really was super sharp and gave me a big Wow factor. And it is not just because it is a porro- I have a # of Porro's. It more than held its own as far as apparent resolution ( contrast and sharpness of discerning detail) when compared to the other roofs. I ranked it above the EDG and the EL in this category.

As far as the EL vs. the SV. - Well, the SV is better over all; just as others have noted when comparing the other older 8.5x42 EL and the newer 8.5x42 SV. I had never done a side by side of the other EL's and SV's.

The EL is no slouch, but.... The 8x32 SV beats it- it is brighter during all times of day- by quite a bit; and colors seem "pop" more-, there is less CA, there is less glare and it did better by a noticeable margin at twilight. And OH- it obviously has a flatter field design that is crisp to the edge. I experience no globe effect ( rolling ball) with the SV; and I tested it with panning a bunch along with the EL and found no noticeable difference. But, then again-I have to say I have never even seen "rolling ball" since I have not really looked at other SV's or any of the older Nikon's that supposedly had it. But even so- I have a hunch that it would not be a factor for me with other SV's anyways- but do not know that for sure. Needless to say it was not noted by me in this 8x32 SV. Also the focus wheel on both the EL and SV was just as smooth.

As far as ergonomics they are almost the same. The SV weighs about 1 oz. less; it has more rubber wrapping around the barrels instead of the more metal middle part that is on the EL style; and it has 3 click stops for the eye cups. Both of them have very comfortable eye cups that are just the right size for me. I like a narrower type of eye cup for my eye sockets. I wish the eye cups on my 7x30 SLC's were like these SV and EL's. The EDG eyecups are not much bigger than the Swaro EL/SV's- but they are a bit more than the ideal size for me that the Swaro's are.

** one other ergo difference noted between the SV and the EL is the size of the thumb indents on the SV. I prefer the size of the original EL- as the SV's are very small. They do work and seem to be positioned OK,- but they seem to be sized for more for a 10 year old boy. I just wish they were a little wider and deeper ( although the width is more of a factor I think than the depth).
I do not know why they changed them from the original EL.

Another pic. of it:



As to the SV compared to the EDG II - They are both very good optically (outstanding actually) and give a great view. The color rendition was very pleasant in the EDG and FOV was flat and crisp to the edge, as was the FOV on the SV. Colors on the SV I would say was a bit more neutral as far as color bias. To my eyes the SV was brighter over all. Resolution/ contrast of details was very good in both- but again I would give the nod to the SV.

Difference in the 2 binos- the SV beat the EDG II by a fair bit in twilight viewing; in fact all the binoculars in the study beat the EDG at very low light. This somewhat surprised me. I had a 8x42 Leupold Cascade Porro ( that does very well in low light) to compare to all of these 8x32 binoculars to see how they stacked up to a 8x42 in low light. The SV did the best of the 8x32's and the SE was not far behind at all in low light- and they almost did as well in the faintest of light as the 8x42 Cascade. The EL was just a bit behind the SV and the SE. And then the EDG was noticeably behind all the others. I do not know why- I thought it may be it's color bias that lets the Swaro's beat it, and maybe the SE beats it in low light because of the porro design??

For a test subject for low light I was looking and using trees and trunks of trees just up the bank on the far side of the river 350 yards. This is a spot that is a good test for dusk- it has shadows and tree trunks that are in some shade during the day and they get dark first at start of twilight. It is a good subject image to test bino's in low light. All I know is it was a noticeable difference with the EDG and one that I looked at for 3-4 nights in a row and tested all of them at the same low light to make sure that my eyes were seeing what they were seeing. I knew from testing the Swaro EL previously that it did very well at twilight- and it does. But the SV beat it and the SE beat the EL also by a small margin. And then there was the EDG II behind the group.

I know as a hunter this is a big thing for me with binoculars. And the Swaro line in general has a very good tested rep with hunters as far as being good in low light. The old EL's were good in this regard and the new SV's are better.

Other bits and differences noted in the above binos'

Ergo's for me are a tie with the Swaro's- they worked the best. For me I preferred the handling on the SE's almost as much. The EDG's were my least favorite. One reason I like the ergo's on the SE's almost as much as the Swaro's is the wider spread of the SE's help me almost as much as the open bridge design of the Swaro's. One reason I think is because I have a somewhat narrow IPD (59-60mm) and with the smaller barrels of the EL and SV type my hands are fairly close together.

pic of both set up at with my IPD: SE (L) and SV (R)



and all of them set for my IPD:



Some differences noted with regards to focusing and eye cups and eye relief:


The focus on all of these works very good. Only real think I noted with regards to the SV and the EDG- is this: the EDG has a very smooth crisp exact focus. But one thing I noted was that if I did a very fine detailed focus on something- the focus wheel seems to be so totally positive and precise and locked in on that focus. If I moved the dial just a bit either way, that crisp focus moved somewhat. It seemed as if the focus was so positive and precise for that position, that if there was any movement either way it shifted it a bit. Again- this was with very fine detailed focus on a small subject. With the SE's this was not the case and it is one reason one reason I think that objects seem to just snap into place with it. It seems that just as you are coming into focus with something that it snaps in quick and you have a little forgiveness either way where the subject just stays in focus. I noticed with the SE- I could have something in very fine focus and if I moved the wheel just a bit either way- the subject was still in focus for a bit of the turn. It was not sloppy at all, just a bit more forgiving. The Swaro SV and EL also allowed a bit of room in the wheel turn for a detailed subject to stay in focus. So, for me on detailed fine focusing, I felt the EDG was almost too precise and I found myself shifting back and forth a bit more than I like.

Eye cups and eye relief-

All work for me- but the SE's would be my last pick. I like to use my binoculars a lot of time with out eyeglasses on, even though in the field I usually use eyeglasses. So if I had to switch back and forth- the fold down rubber ones are a bit of a pain. Also I found out during hot weather in the sun- those rubber eye cups on the SE heat up a bit. I noticed this when I was testing back and forth and I would pick up the SE's after they were maybe sitting there for a few minutes- I thought- "Whoa- these get kind of a bit hot and sweaty compared to these others."

Even though the ER was good on all of these- the way the ER worked for me on the EDG- it seemed to be too much. Meaning if I had them down all the way for my eyeglass use ( I have fairly close fitting ones)- there was noticeable blackout with the FOV and I had to raise them up a bit to get it dialed in. It was not a small amount either- it was about 3/16 ". I had heard of others having this problem with the other SV models. With the 8x32 SV, or the EL- I had no problem. I am sure with the EDG- it would be an easy fix for me to just use a rubber washer or a zip tie. With the EDG there are 4 click stop positions for the eyecups, but the first click position up is a big one ( more than would work for my eyeglasses) and then the next few before fully extracted are smaller. With the SV's- their steps up are almost all equal. For the EL- there are no click stops, just either rotate up or down.

Summary thoughts- All of these are probably some of the very best of 8x32 binoculars offered today, and any one of them would make a fine binocular to give a lifetime of use and pleasure. It is all personal choices and desires as to which one works best for that person ( and also their own pocketbook-:eek!:)

One thing I thought about the SE- is that it is just amazing that it hangs so well to these modern advanced roofs with all of the latest HD glass and coatings. And we are comparing it to binoculars that cost 3- 4 x's more- it beats them in many optical characteristics. Except for minor coating changes- the SE is essentially unchanged from it original design. It may not be for everyone with its rubber eye cups and non H2O proof design, but it is and remains an optical gem!

Well, that for now is about all I can think of ( or I am way to tired of typing right now and can not think of other things to say). If anyone has ?'s let me know and I am sure something would come to my mind. - or not;)


Categories and Ranking of different elements related to these binoculars:

Ergonomics (fit and overall handling)

Rank order-

1. Really tie SV and EL
2. SE
3. EDG
4.

Build "Sturdiness- robustness" if you will

Rank order-

1. Really tie with all of them- all of them are very well built. Could not pick one that stood apart.

Focus (Knob and use) although there are couple other things with the focus use that I mentioned above which somewhat mixes up this issue

Rank order-

1. SE and EDG tie for smoothness- even though they are somewhat different - both are very good. But even though the EDG II focus is smooth, it was almost too precise and dialed/ locked in for my tastes, as noted above. SE was great as far as focus - so smooth, but of course the weather was warm- so do not have the reported issue of the SE focus in cold weather.

2. EL and SV- tie

Diopter (position, build ,use)

Rank order-

1. tie SV and EL
2. EDG
3. SE

Eye relief Actual and in use

Rank order-

1. tie SV and EL
2. SE and EDG tied for effective use- but each had challenges for me with eyeglass use for different reasons as noted above

FOV

Rank order-

1. SV
2. EL
3. EDG
4. SE

Optic Image Quality:

A. Sharpness/ clarity

Rank order-

1. SV
2. EDG and SE- tie basically
3. EL

B. Resolution of detail (using my eyes and hands)

Rank order-

1. SV
2. SE
3. EDG
4. EL

C. Brightness (summary avg. of all times day- so includes low light avg. in)

Rank order- All were pretty good in this test-

1. SV
2. SE
3. EDG
4. EL

Low light Twilight performance as far as how well they did in last 1/2 of light-

Rank order-

1. SV
2. SE
3. EL
4. EDG

D. Image Colors- (True Rendition and Saturation)

Rank order-( for my tastes )

1. SV
2. SE and EDG- tie
3. EL is 3rd- but not far behind


E. Image Contrast

Rank order-

1. SV
2. SE
3. EDG
4. EL

F. Image "Sweet Spot" size


Rank order-

1. SV
2. EDG
3. SE
4. EL

G. Edge to edge sharpness/ performance

Rank order-

1. SV
2. EDG
3. SE
4. EL

H. CA (Chromatic Aberration) ** Footnote- I do not have a problem with CA myself and I did look real hard to test for it- since is not a big problem for me ( sorry). I found a little here-but for me, minor with the EL. It (The EL ) was a little worse at the edge compared to the other 3, but this was not an objection to me. In the center none of them were a big problem for me. The SV and the EDG seemed to control CA very well and the SE did a good job also.

Rank order- To me- All the binoculars overall tie as far as the center axis with the EL maybe slightly behind in the center and edge. The SV and the EDG control CA very well and the SE is not bad at all.

I. Glare control


Rank order-

1. SE
2. SV and EDG- tie
3. EL


_____________

My Final overall Ranking of these 8x32 binoculars in regards to overall all around use ( not just strict optic qualities) and taking into consideration weather etc. So this is in regards to my overall Optical and Mechanical summary review above and impressions of field use in all types of conditions.

Rank order-

1. SV

2. EDG

3. EL

4. SE

___

And now my My Final overall strictly OPTICAL Ranking of these 8x32 binoculars without regards to weather etc.


Rank order-

1. SV

2. SE

3. EDG

4. EL

______

*** And finally My Final overall Ranking of these 8x32 binoculars in regards to just my overall feelings as to which ones I really LIKE the most- ie: what order that they WOW me and what order I would use for if I was to rank keeping them -

Rank order-

1. SV

2. SE

3. EDG and EL tie for different reasons. (EDG is optically better- but the EL would tie it for other attributes that I like about it)

_____

And another category that I keep in mind when deciding on buying or keeping a particular binocular- Customer service after sale.

My ranking

1. Swarovski

2. Nikon

I just compared my Nikon 8x32 SE to the Swarovision 8x32 in Cabellas. The Swarovision sample I tried focused easier in the clockwise direction than the counter clockwise and was gritty in spots same as the 42mm I owned and sold! Inside the store the SE was just as bright as the SV if not brighter and the on-axis resolution was slightly sharper on the SE on fine print. Also, I compared the 8x32 Swarovision's to the 8.5x and I see rolling ball in both of them although I think the 8x32 had a little less but I agree with Henry in that the distortion characteristics are similar and I would say Swarovski followed the same optical formula on both and it could be the 8x doesn't show the rolling ball as bad. Also, I think the 8.5's are a little more impressive than the 8x's optically. So don't trade your SE's in just yet because of this review. Try them yourselves. The best porro will beat the best roof everytime. People tend to be biased when they paid $2200.00 for binoculars. They think it has to better because it is more expensive. Well guess what the SV is not better than the SE optically.
 
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karmantra

Well-known member
I just compared my Nikon 8x32 SE to the Swarovision 8x32 in Cabellas. The Swarovision sample I tried focused easier in the clockwise direction than the counter clockwise and was gritty in spots same as the 42mm I owned and sold! Inside the store the SE was just as bright as the SV if not brighter and the on-axis resolution was slightly sharper on the SE on fine print. So don't trade your SE's in just yet because of this review. Try them yourselves. The best porro will beat the best roof everytime. People tend to be biased when they paid $2200.00 for binoculars. They think it has to better because it is more expensive. Well guess what the SV is not better than the SE optically.

I was hoping that the Troll would not comment on another fine review by stephenb--he managed to trash the last review stephenb did.
 
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