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

As always, it's very personal. I have no issues at all with size of 8x30, or the location of focuser.
I agree.

It all depends on whose hands, not on the binocular. No sane manufacturer will produce a binocular which doesn’t fit some (a majority?) of hands.

It would be like a manufacturer of adult shoes only producing size six and down.

With binoculars, many of our choices are forced on us by our bodies.
 
The 8x40s arrived today. As expected, much more comfortable than the 30s. They arrived too late to get any real field use out of them, but a little backyard birding at the feeders made me feel good about the purchase. I have a weekend trip planned to Magee Marsh, so I'm certainly looking forward to using them then!
 
The 8x40s arrived today. As expected, much more comfortable than the 30s. They arrived too late to get any real field use out of them, but a little backyard birding at the feeders made me feel good about the purchase. I have a weekend trip planned to Magee Marsh, so I'm certainly looking forward to using them then!
It's so refreshing to see someone delighted with a new binocular.

Enjoy in the dank, buggy marshes.
 
The 8x40s arrived today. As expected, much more comfortable than the 30s. They arrived too late to get any real field use out of them, but a little backyard birding at the feeders made me feel good about the purchase. I have a weekend trip planned to Magee Marsh, so I'm certainly looking forward to using them then!
Awesome! Color me jealous (never made the trek to Magee...).
 
The 8x40s arrived today. As expected, much more comfortable than the 30s. They arrived too late to get any real field use out of them, but a little backyard birding at the feeders made me feel good about the purchase. I have a weekend trip planned to Magee Marsh, so I'm certainly looking forward to using them then!
Excellent news!

Magee Marsh looks like the perfect place to baptise your new babies, enjoy!

😁
 
I returned the 8x40 SFL after evaluating it as a hiking binocular to be taken on 8-10 mile mountain hikes about 3x per week. I thought it was an excellent general purpose binocular, but not compact or light enough to suit me as a hiking binocular.

The 8x30 SFL that I am evaluating now is significantly smaller and lighter. It’s light enough to be fairly comfortable hanging on my neck for a few hours. It takes up much less space in my daypack, and it fits comfortably in my fanny pack. It has enough eye relief to work with my eyeglasses, and I don’t have a problem with its unusual focuser position. At 16 ounces, I find the 8x30 SFL more comfortable to carry than most 30-32mm binocular that I have owned or evaluated.

However, its small exit pupils make it fiddly to adjust and somewhat uncomfortable for me to look through compared to a 40-42mm binocular. In that respect, it’s no worse than any other 8x30/32mm binocular that I have owned or evaluated though. Otherwise, I have no complaints about its optical or mechanical characteristics. At the current $1250 sale price, I think it’s a good value.
 
I returned the 8x40 SFL after evaluating it as a hiking binocular to be taken on 8-10 mile mountain hikes about 3x per week. I thought it was an excellent general purpose binocular, but not compact or light enough to suit me as a hiking binocular.

The 8x30 SFL that I am evaluating now is significantly smaller and lighter. It’s light enough to be fairly comfortable hanging on my neck for a few hours. It takes up much less space in my daypack, and it fits comfortably in my fanny pack. It has enough eye relief to work with my eyeglasses, and I don’t have a problem with its unusual focuser position. At 16 ounces, I find the 8x30 SFL more comfortable to carry than most 30-32mm binocular that I have owned or evaluated.

However, its small exit pupils make it fiddly to adjust and somewhat uncomfortable for me to look through compared to a 40-42mm binocular. In that respect, it’s no worse than any other 8x30/32mm binocular that I have owned or evaluated though. Otherwise, I have no complaints about its optical or mechanical characteristics. At the current $1250 sale price, I think it’s a good value.

How is the eye relief of 8x30 vs 8x40? Zeiss states the same 18mm for all SFL models, which is a bit unlikely. Or?
 
Swedpat, post 37,
We measured the following eyereliefs::
SFL 8x30 16 mm
SFL 10x30 14 mm
SFL 8x40 17 mm

Gijs van Ginkel

Thanks! So 8x30 has 1mm shorter ER than 8x40 but still longer useful ER according to post 48.
This should mean the eyelens is less recessed from the eyecup edge on the 8x30.
 
Was using the SFL 8x40 today with a few other 32 and 42 binos. Its not my intention to rain on anybody’s parade here, I just want to give my thoughts. I’ve had a love and hate relationship with these SFL’s. On one hand I feel the 40 is the better all around binocular, on the other hand the 30 makes more sense in this Zeiss line, even though I don’t like the ergonomics, which is subjective at best. My reasoning is the SF 8x32 is still smaller and is a better binocular in almost every category in comparison to the SFL8x40. The only benefits I see in the SFL40 is it gives you a few more minutes of observing time early morning and late afternoon, the image color is more neutral , but that’s not necessarily a benefit, and of course a few hundred dollars savings. I own the SF and wouldn’t change it for the SFL40. If was starting from scratch I’d still buy the SF32 because the savings is not enough. Now if the SFL40 was around $1400-$1500 and the SF is still over $2000 , that would make the decision a little bit easier.

Now the 30’s seem to be a different story (if you get along with the ergos) because theres nothing this light , with optics this good anywhere near $1500 , although I still think that’s to high. The only others that compare in size and optics are the Nikon HG 30’s ,which imo are a step down optically, and the Leica UV32‘s (as good or better optically imo, but close) but the Leica is still substantially more expensive and the eye relief is too short for many users. To me these SFL’s are such a unique optic in the Binocular market today. I think if the prices were 20-25% less, these may dominate the market in both the 30/32 and 40/42 formats. That’s my two cents.

Id still pick the 40 though.

Paul
 
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Was using the SFL 8x40 today with a few other 32 and 42 binos. Its not my intention to rain on anybody’s parade here, I just want to give my thoughts. I’ve had a love and hate relationship with these SFL’s. On one hand I feel the 40 is the better all around binocular, on the other hand the 30 makes more sense in this Zeiss line, even though I don’t like the ergonomics, which is subjective at best. My reasoning is the SF 8x32 is still smaller and is a better binocular in almost every category in comparison to the SFL8x40. The only benefits I see in the SFL40 is it gives you a few more minutes of observing time early morning and late afternoon, the image color is more neutral , but that’s not necessarily a benefit, and of course a few hundred dollars savings. I own the SF and wouldn’t change it for the SFL40. If was starting from scratch I’d still buy the SF32 because the savings is not enough. Now if the SFL40 was around $1400-$1500 and the SF is still over $2000 , that would make the decision a little bit easier.

Now the 30’s seem to be a different story (if you get along with the ergos) because theres nothing this light , with optics this good anywhere near $1500 , although I still think that’s to high. The only others that compare in size and optics are the Nikon HG 30’s ,which imo are a step down optically, and the Leica UV32‘s (as good or better optically imo, but close) but the Leica is still substantially more expensive and the eye relief is too short for many users. To me these SFL’s are such a unique optic in the Binocular market today. I think if the prices were 20-25% less, these may dominate the market in both the 30/32 and 40/42 formats. That’s my two cents.

Id still pick the 40 though.

Paul

Newly available, I got to handle/look through the SFL 840 late in my year of shopping mainly for an NL or SF 832. I admit to a certain momentum in my thinking that didn't really allow for a serious comparison of it. Getting to experience an 840 twice, I thought though and have written here, it was a very nice binocular, one that I could bird with alongside one of these 2 other 832s just fine. I guessed if a bud had one and I the other, we could take turns and other than the pause to adjust IPD, diopter, I'd be just fine. I would like more time with one to check that impression. Though I would probably opt for the 1040 as the idea of my favorite 10X in a package essentially the size and weight of either the SF or NL 32, but with a 4mm exit pupil is attractive.

Ive never handled the 830, did carefully read Canip's reviews of those. Looking at the comparative pics, the placement of the focus wheel seems problematic, as well not sure there's room for my largish hands on the forward barrels. I'd admit, thinking of my own modest collection, the way and where I bird, Im not sure there's a utilitarian reason for a bino between the 825 and 832.

Paul, seems fair to say you've been troubled by the SFL price from the get go, have commented on your belief about its value more than once. While I always enjoying paying less for a thing, I'm curious. I believe we've read some reports that Zeiss chose to source the SFLs in Japan do to cost. I wonder what makes that possible? In today's world with Japan's superb reputation for quality, with things we can see like consumer optics or cars, (F1/Red Bull!), and things we cant see like CNC manufacturing equipment, (but wow), why should we think stuff from Japan ought to be cheaper? The cost of living there is not fun. Perhaps the efficiency of larger dedicated optics manufacturers that do OEM production for known brands, provides some efficiencies the folks at Zeiss understand? Admittedly a wildish idea, why not compare the SFL to the SF in performance, material, fits and finishes? Put price to the side for a moment. Why not think of it as a product aimed primarily at a performance niche difference with a smallish price advantage. If you see it as primarily a price/value thing, especially if lurking there's some latent idea MIJ is synonymous with cheap, maybe that colors things.

I wonder...
 
Newly available, I got to handle/look through the SFL 840 late in my year of shopping mainly for an NL or SF 832. I admit to a certain momentum in my thinking that didn't really allow for a serious comparison of it. Getting to experience an 840 twice, I thought though and have written here, it was a very nice binocular, one that I could bird with alongside one of these 2 other 832s just fine. I guessed if a bud had one and I the other, we could take turns and other than the pause to adjust IPD, diopter, I'd be just fine. I would like more time with one to check that impression. Though I would probably opt for the 1040 as the idea of my favorite 10X in a package essentially the size and weight of either the SF or NL 32, but with a 4mm exit pupil is attractive.

Ive never handled the 830, did carefully read Canip's reviews of those. Looking at the comparative pics, the placement of the focus wheel seems problematic, as well not sure there's room for my largish hands on the forward barrels. I'd admit, thinking of my own modest collection, the way and where I bird, Im not sure there's a utilitarian reason for a bino between the 825 and 832.

Paul, seems fair to say you've been troubled by the SFL price from the get go, have commented on your belief about its value more than once. While I always enjoying paying less for a thing, I'm curious. I believe we've read some reports that Zeiss chose to source the SFLs in Japan do to cost. I wonder what makes that possible? In today's world with Japan's superb reputation for quality, with things we can see like consumer optics or cars, (F1/Red Bull!), and things we cant see like CNC manufacturing equipment, (but wow), why should we think stuff from Japan ought to be cheaper? The cost of living there is not fun. Perhaps the efficiency of larger dedicated optics manufacturers that do OEM production for known brands, provides some efficiencies the folks at Zeiss understand? Admittedly a wildish idea, why not compare the SFL to the SF in performance, material, fits and finishes? Put price to the side for a moment. Why not think of it as a product aimed primarily at a performance niche difference with a smallish price advantage. If you see it as primarily a price/value thing, especially if lurking there's some latent idea MIJ is synonymous with cheap, maybe that colors things.

I wonder...
This one is a little complicated for me because I never met a quality binocular that I didn’t like. I also think all the high-end so-called alpha Binoculars are over priced. I don’t think made in Japan is inferior in any way to made in Europe. The pricing for these SFL‘s seem confusing to me as well, how much more would they cost if they were made in Germany like the SF? I understand that Leica moved all production to Portugal, it had something to do with tariffs that would’ve had to be paid to Germany, I don’t know why , I’m sure somebody else can chime in on that. Does that mean that if the Noctivids and Ultravids were still MIG they would’ve cost even more? Build quality I don’t see much of a difference between the SF and the SFL. I’ve had some problems with the focusers on multiple SFL’s I’ve tried , but that could just be something being worked out like Zeiss did with the first introduction of the Grey SF’s. According to my research the focusers should be the same on both models, so that should work it’s way out, imo.
 
The price of optics made outside the PRC is the price of paying Western or Japanese workers the wages for skilled workers in those markets. In short: the price of ensuring that an optics industry, or any other advanced industry, exists outside the PRC. I'd have thought that some here would be all for that.

I am sure a lot of the folks paying our own wages also think our "prices" are too high.
 
The price of optics made outside the PRC is the price of paying Western or Japanese workers the wages for skilled workers in those markets. In short: the price of ensuring that an optics industry, or any other advanced industry, exists outside the PRC. I'd have thought that some here would be all for that.

I am sure a lot of the folks paying our own wages also think our "prices" are too high.
There’s always Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines that could do the job as good as Europe or Japan, with the right quality controls.
 
The pricing for these SFL‘s seem confusing to me as well, how much more would they cost if they were made in Germany like the SF?
Interesting question. Looking at the product, its styling, fits/finishes, focusing mech, hinge, etc. and then through them I wonder, if made in Germany these would not have similar costs with the SFs and therefore have to be priced the same. Going to Japan for whatever economies those larger OEM houses may have then, is the way for Zeiss to separate the two models a bit and recognize your concern of the too high price of Alphas?
 
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On BF there is this perpetual misguided myth about location of manufacture Vs quality Vs cost.
Few posters, if any, have demonstrated any understanding of modern design and manufacture of products. Labour costs are not the key driving factor. A CNC or moulding tool can be located in any country and produce identical components.
It would not surprise me one bit, if the 'premium' optics suppliers don't actually get the majority of their components from China or somewhere similar e.g. Portugal. The game of then assembling them somewhere else and marketing them as Japanese or German or Austrian is then enacted to command the premium price at retail outlets. Apart from glass and coatings, there is nothing in a binocular that is at all exotic.... standard materials, processes and tolerances.
One of the well heeled members here should strip down a £3000 bin and also, say a Svbony SV202 ..... and post detailed pictures of each component.

Here is a real world example worth reading of America's best car company Vs Japan .......


This real world case study demonstrates that cost can be reduced, with quality going up by reducing inspections (BF posters usually call it 'Quality Control', with the belief that finding and reworking or scraping defective components and products through a high level of inspection is a good business approach, more like 1970s GM/British Leyland/Peugeot/etc. vehicles = deliver high cost, low quality products)

Also a point of note, European manufacturing was not and is still not superior to Japan (or China). One difference is that some brands are able to leverage a premium price ..... whether this additional premium is justified in terms of product performance/etc is really the crux.
 
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