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Best all-around: SFL 8x30 or 8x40? (3 Viewers)

zgbrown10

Member
United States
I plan to purchase a pair of Zeiss SFLs, but I can't quite decide between the 8x30 or 8x40. Does anyone have experience with both and have an opinion?

Some context on my usage:

My go-to size has been 8x32 (+/- a few mm of objective lens size). Never much cared for the ~42mm for general birding and nature observation, given I'll sometimes take them hiking or kayaking long distances.

However, I see the appeal of the 40mm SFL given its lighter-weight design, the larger exit pupil, and the added benefit of lower-light viewing. That said, ~90% of the time I'm using them in daytime conditions. My fear is with the smaller objective size, I may have a harder time making IDs - especially during the overcast days we frequently experience here.
 
I plan to purchase a pair of Zeiss SFLs, but I can't quite decide between the 8x30 or 8x40. Does anyone have experience with both and have an opinion?
I have both. I prefer the 8x40 for visual comfort but I often pick the 8x30 because they are so light & small.
Also, the 8x40 were perfect from day one but I encountered black beans with the 8x30 (I wearing glasses). I fixed it with o-rings.

However, I see the appeal of the 40mm SFL given its lighter-weight design, the larger exit pupil, and the added benefit of lower-light viewing. That said, ~90% of the time I'm using them in daytime conditions.
I see no point the the extra 40mm in your case except for the larger exit pupil.
But you should try both and if you feel comfortable with the 8x30 and want something compact, they are probably a good choice.
If size & weight is not an issue, the 8x40 are clearly excellent all-around binoculars.
 
I have had them both and unless weight and compact size are your number one priorities, I would get 8x40. The 8x40 is brighter especially in low light like in a wooded area or under canopy and most importantly eye placement is much easier and less finicky with the bigger exit pupil, and you will get way fewer blackouts.

The 8x40 also has less glare than the 8x30 if that is important to you. The 8x40 SFL is a small light binocular anyway, and it is an excellent all around binocular. I really liked the color purity it has say compared to a Zeiss FL which often times has a green tint. The only reason I sold mine is to get an even bigger aperture.
 
Mostly a repeat of what others have said...
I (still) have both. The 40 is an excellent everyday bino with excellent IQ and some weight savings over comparable glass. I picked up the 30 for travel where I'm trying to fit camera equip, first-aid, water-bottle, layer/shell, and binos etc. in a compact go-everywhere-with-me (including 4+mi hikes) daypack. The difference in weight helps and the size makes a big diff to me.

At first the 8x30 was a little more finicky but I quickly realized the IP has to be set 'right' and I just got used to them. No issues and the view has never disappointed me. The 40's are a little brighter into the shadows but I have honestly not ever found myself thinking 'oh, this is a problem'.

On any given day I find myself wondering if I should sell the 8x40's simply because the 30's do everything 96.872 % as well. Yeah, I made that number up... but you get my point hopefully :)
 
Thanks - these are all great insights.

I currently have the Conquest 8x32 (which my wife has been stealing a lot), and I have considered them to be my favorite all-around pair for a while. But they do sometimes lose their "pop" if we're hiking into deep woods or if it's a particularly drab day. I've never once missed my 8x42 Monarchs though...

Given the dimensions and weight of the 8x40 SFL and 8x32 Conquest are so close, I have definitely been leaning in that direction. It's honestly shocking I haven't seen more comparisons of these two models as I have the SF vs. SFL.
 
On any given day I find myself wondering if I should sell the 8x40's simply because the 30's do everything 96.872 % as well. Yeah, I made that number up... but you get my point hopefully :)

Out of curiosity, what is keeping you from feeling like you can let go of the 40s?
 
They're just great binos. And I bought new (and they are a 'good' pair with no issues) so I tell myself I'll regret it someday. And of course, resale... Bought new, little used, and I hate to take the expected hit. Last year I went through (too much) bino soul searching. Lost money on all... lol. I have Nocs in 8x42 so the question is which to keep the nocs or the 40SFL's. And then there's the 10x Nocs that I've never really used. Or the 8x42 UVHD's... I know it's the cost of evaluating good glass but I hate loosing several hundred bucks each time I go out on a diff limb! :cry:

I'll add that I'm not a collector. Really all I need is one good 8x. Sooo... maybe one of these days I'll thin the herd and maybe just keep the 7x35 retros and the 30SFLs!
 
I plan to purchase a pair of Zeiss SFLs, but I can't quite decide between the 8x30 or 8x40. Does anyone have experience with both and have an opinion?

Some context on my usage:

My go-to size has been 8x32 (+/- a few mm of objective lens size). Never much cared for the ~42mm for general birding and nature observation, given I'll sometimes take them hiking or kayaking long distances.

However, I see the appeal of the 40mm SFL given its lighter-weight design, the larger exit pupil, and the added benefit of lower-light viewing. That said, ~90% of the time I'm using them in daytime conditions. My fear is with the smaller objective size, I may have a harder time making IDs - especially during the overcast days we frequently experience here.
Excellent question. I can only compare Swarovski 8x32 EL (and ELSV) and Zeiss 8x40 SFL, but nonetheless my experience and travail may provide some insight. Your needs and experience may differ.

After 20 great years using Swaro 8x32 EL(and later EL/SV), I bought a pair of wonderful Zeiss SFL 8x40s for this winter's late afternoon/early evening harrier counts in FL. Last winter, the Swaro 8x32s proved inadequate. I was initially greatly impressed by the 8x40 SFL's and provided my initial impressions here on birdforum.
SFL 8x40: impressions after 20 years with Swarovski EL's

Yes, optically the SFL was very impressive -- especially given the price -- and were incredibly light (22.6 oz/641 g) for 8x40s. But after a couple weeks of use during my 3-4 mile daily hikes, as much as I liked the SFL's optics (and fast focus), I realized they just weren't for me.

After so many years with the slimmer 8x32s, the 8x40 SFLs just felt huge and unwieldy. For several weeks, I futilely tried to get used to their bulkier width and squarish lens barrels (shaped like a Leica Noctivid), to no avail. I realized sadly they weren't for me and I ended up selling them on BirdForum to HenChamp. I know now the importance of haptics. I still have my 8x32 EL and ELSV Swarovskis (they're like old friends).

In retrospect, perhaps I should have kept the SFLs solely for the harrier count -- they likely would have been excellent. As is, am hoping (frantically) to get a chance to try the Nikon HG 10x42 given their narrow barrels, big FOV, and light weight.

The mantra on BF wisely is try before you buy. Joining a bird club is an excellent way to try a limited range of models outdoors.
Good luck.
 
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Actually, I can add this: IF the priorities are good glass and a bit lighter weight (e.g. the 8x40 compared to my NV 8x42 or UVHD are a huuuuge diff), then just get the 8x40. IF you find yourself wanting more compact size - something that packs better, could go in fanny pack or even big cargo pocket or inside jacket without creating a big lump - then def the 30's. And of course they are a little lighter.
 
It sounds silly, but had Zeiss just come out with an 8x32 in between the Conquest and Victory, this would have been a much easier decision... :ROFLMAO:
 
They're just great binos. And I bought new (and they are a 'good' pair with no issues) so I tell myself I'll regret it someday. And of course, resale... Bought new, little used, and I hate to take the expected hit. . Lost money on all... lol. I have Nocs in 8x42 so the question is which to keep the nocs or the 40SFL's. And then there's the 10x Nocs that I've never really used. Or the 8x42 UVHD's... I know it's the cost of evaluating good glass but I hate loosing several hundred bucks each time I go out on a diff limb! :cry:

I'll add that I'm not a collector. Really all I need is one good 8x. Sooo... maybe one of these days I'll thin the herd and maybe just keep the 7x35 retros and the 30SFLs!
LOL: The entire first paragraph. Oh, the sheer agony.

Last year I went through (too much) bino soul searching
I felt like you were reading my mind. Oh, the brain cells I have wasted choosing a binocular.... and I ended up selling the pair I most recently bought and am back to square one.
 
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I felt like you were reading my mind. Oh, the brain cells I have wasted choosing a binocular.... and I ended up selling the pair I most recently bought and am back to square one.

not to hijack this thread but sounds uncannily like the journey I've just been through trying to find an alternative to my Swaro EL 8x32...... Zeiss SF, Zeiss FL, Leica UVHD+, Nikon EDG, and back to square one.... sometimes lessons are learnt the hard (expensive) way.
 
For me the first question is: which one will be used most? And the answer will be the one which is easiest to carry around. Consequently the 8x30.
The difference in brightness is not huge and for most situations 8x30 is enough bright.

My answer is providing the eye relief is sufficient, though.
 
You've all more or less convinced the 8x30 is the way to go... I just can't help but ask myself whether it's "enough" for ~95% of my uses.
 
You've all more or less convinced the 8x30 is the way to go... I just can't help but ask myself whether it's "enough" for ~95% of my uses.
I would most definitely lean towards the 8x40 if you're buying without testing. But, ideally, you should be going to a dealer and testing both side by side yourself. If these are to be your only pair of binoculars, those 8x30's need to be tested thoroughly, to make absolutely sure they work for you. As has been well documented in other threads on this forum, they're both tricky and challenging, and personally I hated them. The 8x40's, however, I think are terrific, and exactly the same length and weight as 8x32 NL's and just 10 grams heavier than your 8x32 Conquest.

Go test side by side then decide.
 
These sorts of questions are tough as they don't indicate all the other bins if any a user has, and what they're trying to achieve with the new bins relative to others. Would you sell the Conquests, or are these a second pair since your wife likes the Conquests (beware, she will steal the SFLs :) )...

I had the 8x32 Conquests for years, used them hard, and gave them to a friend, who continues to use them, even harder actually. Excellent bins.

I now have both 8x30 and x40 SFLs, as well a handful of others....

If I could have only one binocular, it would be the 8x40SFLs, hands down. Including any other choice. It's that good, just a fabulous all rounder that always gives sharp and great views...combines outstanding sharpness and optics with a "big easy" lack of fuss... I absolutely love them.

For me, the 8x30 SFL is more niche - for travel and/or hiking. It is a great bin, but as others have said, a bit more finicky. I wouldn't want to use it all the time given the choices.

If I had to pick two bins, they'd be the 8x40 SFLs and the Curios, despite the Curios curio-ness...
 

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