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Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

Choosing SLC over NL... (Swaro please read) (1 Viewer)

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
In relation to what some of us see as an SLC x42 sized hole in the current Swarovski lineup,
its now been over 18 months since Swarovski ceased to offer the SLC, and Kahles introduced the Helia S branded version!
See at: New Kahles Helia S 8x42 and 10x42 Models

Although as I indicated recently, there seems to be some indication (either unintentional or intentionally very low key),
that a new SL line may be forthcoming.
See post #4 at: Swarovski Concept


John
 

kimmik

Well-known member
United Kingdom
SLC 56
EL 50 and 42
NL 42 and 32
SL 7x35 to compete with trinovid
CL 30, 25 and 21

Messy but sort of works 😂
 

Paultricounty

Well-known member
United States
In relation to what some of us see as an SLC x42 sized hole in the current Swarovski lineup,
its now been over 18 months since Swarovski ceased to offer the SLC, and Kahles introduced the Helia S branded version!
See at: New Kahles Helia S 8x42 and 10x42 Models

Although as I indicated recently, there seems to be some indication (either unintentional or intentionally very low key),
that a new SL line may be forthcoming.
See post #4 at: Swarovski Concept


John
Oh no John, not another new binocular. That could cause hundreds of posts with speculations for months before they even are available , after an announcement.

I can see it clearly in my mind

I can see it now , it’s better than SFL , Sf and noctavids and at only $1950. Lee will be waiting to take them to the isles to do a one of enjoyable reviews comparing to his 8x32SF. By that time Dennis would’ve sold the SFL & pre ordered the best binoculars ever 😂.

And at the same time I’m trying to explain to my wife why we need another pair of binoculars. Just one more, this is the last time. She’ll say which ones are you going to sell, I’ll laugh real hard and then have to take her on vacation.
 

Mac308

Well-known member
Quite honestly...optically, you're not going to beat an SLC. I still believe the SLCs have one of the best views of any 42mm binocular I have. Swarovski certainly did something right with the SLC. I think you made a good choice!
The SLC is the only Swarovski I'd own...
 

tenex

reality-based
Minimum focus distance: excellent 1.45m for the SFL, mediocre 3.5m for the SLC (both measured).

Focus speed: much, much faster in the SFL than the SLC (from 3m to infinity: SFL 180 degrees, SLC 580 degrees rotation of the focus wheel – both measured).

Beside the focus speed, the very smooth and precise focusing of the SFL is a step ahead of the (after an earlier repair) still somewhat noisy focus of the SLC. The difference in focus speed is huge: the SFL has one of the fastest focusers I know, the SLC one of the slowest.
All these issues with slow focus speed, poor close focus (and even "noise" or rubbing against armor) can be avoided if you choose the original (2010-13) SLC HD 42 model -- on the right in Chuck's photo below. I think you would enjoy it even more.

[Edit: the current 56mm models do have more normal focus speed/action, though not close focus.]

Last point: central sharpness, contrast, and what I would combined name “image brilliance”. Here, the SLC is ahead in my eyes, it has an incredibly brilliant image, but without the almost painful sharpness of the EL SV.
I agree completely with this, and for me too it outweighs the more neutral color of SFL. SLC 42 has for me just the right combination of (real) sharpness and contrast, while I find contrast overdone in SFL.

But of course these are personal preferences. SLC just seems very special somehow to me as well, so thanks for sharing your own impressions.
 

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chill6x6

Well-known member
WOW Canip! EXCELLENT comparison! I agree....to me the SLC one of the best if not THE best!

To conclude, I find both the SFL and the SLC superb „overall packages“. The one factor that lets me tip the balance in favor of the SLC is its image brilliance that I have hardly ever found in other binoculars. Most probably just a personal perception that others will not share. Over the years, my assessment of many binoculars has changed as I age, but the SLC still impresses me as it did when I first got it. Hard to describe really whether it‘s the specific combination of color tone, sharpness, contrast, and perhaps other factors, I just prefer the SLC‘s image over most other same size binos. For me, the SFL‘s image is great, the SLC’s unbeatable.
 

CharleyBird

Well-known member
England
I had the SLC and the EL, and I compared them closely over several weeks to decide which one to keep. It was an easy choice for me to keep the EL. It has much sharper edges, a bigger FOV, way less coma, better contrast, a much closer focus and the biggest thing for me was WAY less distortion. That is why the EL was Swarovski's top birding binocular until the NL came out. The SFL is as good as the EL, and it has a bigger FOV, truer colors and most importantly it is much smaller and lighter. I can understand somebody choosing the SLC over the NL because the NL has horrendous glare, but I can't see the logic in picking an old now discontinued binocular like the SLC over the EL or the SFL. Allbinos agrees about the EL and SLC. The SLC was targeted for hunter's where close focus doesn't matter, and the EL was targeted for birders. If Canip prefers the SLC over the SFL, he likes more distortion, less sharp edges, less accurate colors, a smaller FOV, more coma, a rougher, slower focuser that is often times harder in one direction and doesn't focus nearly as close as the SFL being almost 3.3 m versus the 1.5 m of the SFL which is not near close enough for bugs and butterflies and a much heavier, bulkier binocular. IMO, the SLC is a dinosaur compared to the SFL. The SFL really doesn't compete directly with the NL or SF. They have it beat with their huge FOV's. The SFL competes with the EL, and optically they are quite similar, both having sharp edges, low distortion and excellent contrast. Both the EL and SFL were both designed to be superior to the SLC for birding with less distortion, sharper edges, better contrast and a closer faster focuser. The SFL actually outdoes the EL though because it has a bigger FOV, truer colors, and it is much smaller and lighter and less expensive. It should give the EL some serious competition, especially for someone that wants a smaller, lighter binocular.


Yes Repeat No
 

Canip

Well-known member
Thanks! What about dim light conditions? Can you tell something about the differences between them too?

The SLC has what you could consider a small advantage in it‘s specs (42 mm aperture vs 40, and 91% transmission vs 90, which is not really a difference), but in practice, I don’t think you will find any considerable difference in so-called „low light performance“ between the two.

Canip
 

Canip

Well-known member
Perhaps a final thought to round things up for myself.
There is no doubt in my mind that Zeiss has been successful in launching a great new binocular which somehow stops (at least for the time being) the race for “more FOV“ or „more edge sharpness“ in the premium sector that in the end has probably not helped anybody‘s margins. Zeiss understood that if they come out with a very well made instrument that as a „package“ satisfies many of its customers demands, it will be successful, and I have no doubt the SFL will be.
Swarovski on the other hand has in my view been the driver / innovator of this market in several ways, followed by Zeiss (EL open bridge / edge sharp / wide field , followed by SF in all respects with even more field; single bridge NL, followed by SFL, etc.). Being the innovator in a market has advantages, but it costs!! Now Zeiss has somehow responded not with an „even more premium“ kind of device, but with something seemingly „less ambitious“, and this may well become a bigger commercial success than a „Super-SF“ or whatever.
 

Paultricounty

Well-known member
United States
SLC 8x42 vs SFL 8x40 - without killing either …

Soon after the SFL came out, I thought: this is Zeiss‘ SLC - like the SLC for Swaro, the SFL is positioned in the second rang behind the top models, and like the SCL, the SFL early on got very good ratings.

Both are in my view fabulous binoculars, and if I prefer one over the other, that has nothing to do with „better“ or „worse“ and everything with personal preferences.

A few numbers to start:

Eye relief and effective/usable eye relief are identical: 18 mm and 15.5 mm, respectively. Both should work well with most glasses.

RFOV is 8 degress for the SFL and 7.8 for the SLC. Almost the same, I could only detect a slight difference when both binos were mounted side by side. Even more so perhaps since the SLC shows a slightly larger AFOV than the SFL (61 vs 60 degrees - both numbers measured myself). Reason: see below under distortion.

Minimum focus distance: excellent 1.45m for the SFL, mediocre 3.5m for the SLC (both measured).

Focus speed: much, much faster in the SFL than the SLC (from 3m to infinity: SFL 180 degrees, SLC 580 degrees rotation of the focus wheel – both measured).

Excess travel beyond infinity: very good for both (6.5 resp. 6 dpt - estimate).

The SFL weighs 710g with eyepiece covers and strap, the SLC 905g (both measured); the difference is substantial.

As for the „softer“ criteria:

As different as the two binos may be, I consider the finish and build quality as well as the haptics about equal in both. Grip in wet conditions, balance and the ergonomics, esp. with regard to the position of the focus wheel (see pic), are clearly better in the SFL.

Similarly regarding the eye cups and the diopter adjustment mechanism: the mechanics work quite differently, but both binos have in my view quality solutions.

Beside the focus speed, the very smooth and precise focusing of the SFL is a step ahead of the (after an earlier repair) still somewhat noisy focus of the SLC. The difference in focus speed is huge: the SFL has one of the fastest focusers I know, the SLC one of the slowest. Depending on usage, both can have advantages and disadvantages. For me, the SFL is too fast, the SCL too slow, ideal would be something in between.

And then the optics:

Field of view and off-axis sharpness are for my eyes very comparable, and the same holds true for CA correction (again, for my eyes!).

Color fidelity is a bit better in the SFL, although only by a small margin. The image of the SLC appears just a tiny bit warmer.

Both binos exhibit little globe effect, the SLC even less than the SFL. That is the result of clearly more pronounced rectilinear distortion of the SLC, which some will probably like and some not (and that’s why measured AFOV is still a useful number, because it takes into account the distortion which the simple formula doesn’t).

No big difference as far as I could see regarding stray-light, spikes etc. However, when observing bright lighting on a football field at night, the SFL let me distinguish the individual spotlights in the beamers even more easily than the SLC, which testifies to the quality of the Zeiss (Kamakura?) optics.

Last point: central sharpness, contrast, and what I would combined name “image brilliance”. Here, the SLC is ahead in my eyes, it has an incredibly brilliant image, but without the almost painful sharpness of the EL SV. To be sure I am not dreaming, I briefly (re)confirmed on the USAF 51 that the SLC with a 4x and a 6x booster exhibits more details than the SFL (that is not to be taken as the final truth, just an indication, the USAF-test is in black and white, and the world isn’t black and white) and is in that sense “sharper” than the SFL.

To conclude, I find both the SFL and the SLC superb „overall packages“. The one factor that lets me tip the balance in favor of the SLC is its image brilliance that I have hardly ever found in other binoculars. Most probably just a personal perception that others will not share. Over the years, my assessment of many binoculars has changed as I age, but the SLC still impresses me as it did when I first got it. Hard to describe really whether it‘s the specific combination of color tone, sharpness, contrast, and perhaps other factors, I just prefer the SLC‘s image over most other same size binos. For me, the SFL‘s image is great, the SLC’s unbeatable.

fwiw Canip
Canip , another excellent comparison. I guess with all binoculars in a price and optical quality category, it will mostly come down to preference. Owning the SF and having had the SLC , the things that pops out in the photos for me are, plastic eyecups, a barrel diopter and rubber armor that looks like it has many areas to lift or peal , and all for only $1800. I’ll be checking one of these out soon , for these will have to have a lot of pop to get rid of an EL, SF or Ultravids.

Paul
 

GrampaTom

Well-known member
United States
. I can understand somebody choosing the SLC over the NL because the NL has horrendous glare.
Dennis, I need some help. How come I never see glare through my binoculars, (except what Mother Nature is throwing at my naked eye any away), while you, (and apparently only you), never fail to report it as a unique thing always associated with either NLs or before them ELs?
 

tenex

reality-based
...but I can't see the logic in picking an old now discontinued binocular like the SLC over the EL or the SFL...

[tenex] is just saying that he prefers the lower contrast of the SLC over the SFL...
So despite initial appearances you do seem to understand what others have been saying here, but it still doesn't strike you as "logical" that (for example) contrast could be overdone? More is always better? The top model must obviously "kill" the lesser?

...not with an „even more premium“ kind of device, but with something seemingly „less ambitious“...
Indeed, and hence apparently not targeting buyers like Dennis -- except he's convinced SFL is the latest advance anyway. I blame Lee's review. ;)

So, in fairness, my choice surprised me which is why I started this thread. And if I could still edit the OP, I would add that SLC isn't quite perfect even for my taste: for example, I'd prefer less pincushioning (as in the 56s), and perhaps a bit more FOV. But it's as close as I can come, which of course is the challenge driving most threads on this forum.
 
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GrampaTom

Well-known member
United States
I am not the only person that sees glare in the NL 8x42. Many people, especially those that don't wear glasses, do. Binomania saw glare in the NL 8x42 exactly like I did.


View attachment 1463319
Not the only, but certainly one of the few. Dennis I don’t believe you’ve answered my question.

We’ve already discussed the limits of this Binomania post. A group of guys bringing whatever binos to have fun handing them around, playing. There is a promise to return with a more in depth review. This was hardly definitive.

Think of Canip, Roger Vine, Holger Merlitz comments on this topic, none would support the degree to which glare exists that you insist it does.

In fact I would direct you to those various postings and notice something. Look at te words that introduce the topic, uniquely from the other discussed attributes. Each acknowledges the “controversy” on this topic that comes from….. well here on Birdforum with a dialogue that just won’t go away no matter how (un)important it is.
 

GrampaTom

Well-known member
United States
Outrageous :) !
SFL is a lovely bino but I am not swapping my SF8x32 for one.....

Lee
Yea but. I’m not swapping my EL 1042 for an NL1042 either. Once you own a great binocular why trade - indeed? I get many here on BF are Bino collectors as distinct from pure users, and will trade cuz that’s their thing. No disparagement intended. But for most a binocular is a tool that serves a purpose. Once you have one that works well/great, it’s silly money to trade. It’s really mostly about what to buy now if you don’t have one that does this or that. See it? The SLC that Tenex has bought is not an easy choice since it’s discontinuance. I think Canip’s comment this morning re a different way to think of the SFL vis a vis the SF or NL is worth thinking about.
 

wdc

Well-known member
Supporter
United States
..... but I can't see the logic in picking an old now discontinued binocular like the SLC over the EL or the SFL.

Dennis, Why do you carry on with these lengthy screeds that are not your own thoughts as much as cut and pasted information from other sources, which you quote to validate your own current and brief position? Many is the time you've purchased a used binocular that is no longer made, and on this forum praised them to the skies, extolled their virtues, and concluded that nobody needs to purchase a new model 'x' because it is a waste of money, etc. You write with utter hypocrisy that repeats itself over and over, every few months.

Canip, Thanks for writing a thoughtful comparison between the SLC and the SFL. Much appreciated.

Tenex, Canip, Chill6x6, and others.... enjoy your SLC's.

-Bill
 

Paultricounty

Well-known member
United States
Dennis, I need some help. How come I never see glare through my binoculars, (except what Mother Nature is throwing at my naked eye any away), while you, (and apparently only you), never fail to report it as a unique thing always associated with either NLs or before them ELs?
I used my NL’s for a few hours today in all different lighting conditions trying to see or induce glare. Under these types of scrutiny I can find glare in almost any binoculars. I was able to recreate the same glare from a photo that Dennis had posted a little while back, but as soon as you tuck the eyecups closer to your eyes it’s gone.
I can see how some people will find this glare , In Dennis’s case , he’s experienced with binoculars , I think there’s more to it than eye-box placement. I believe Dennis has shared the fact that he had Laskk surgery at some point. A very good optometrist client of mind (who reads BF) had told me a certain percentage of people will be more sensitive to glare from this surgery, the levels may vari, but it’s not very uncommon. An example of this is the Swaro 830 Habicht, which some people see some glare , but for Dennis these were unusable, so that’s a perfect t example of this phenomena. Any other optometrists out there or any Lasik surgeons can chime in.
 
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GrampaTom

Well-known member
United States
Perhaps a final thought to round things up for myself.
There is no doubt in my mind that Zeiss has been successful in launching a great new binocular which somehow stops (at least for the time being) the race for “more FOV“ or „more edge sharpness“ in the premium sector that in the end has probably not helped anybody‘s margins. Zeiss understood that if they come out with a very well made instrument that as a „package“ satisfies many of its customers demands, it will be successful, and I have no doubt the SFL will be.
Swarovski on the other hand has in my view been the driver / innovator of this market in several ways, followed by Zeiss (EL open bridge / edge sharp / wide field , followed by SF in all respects with even more field; single bridge NL, followed by SFL, etc.). Being the innovator in a market has advantages, but it costs!! Now Zeiss has somehow responded not with an „even more premium“ kind of device, but with something seemingly „less ambitious“, and this may well become a bigger commercial success than a „Super-SF“ or whatever.
Canip, I believe you’re into something important. You may be on to the unasked/unanswered question “what was Zeiss thinking with these new SFLs?”

The ELs led to the SFs led to the NLs, etc in a sort of arms race that had to require research and development money for arguably minor “improvements” in real performance. Swarovski apparently felt the new and improved optics wasn’t enough to drive things so invested in a fairly radical redesign of what we think a binocular should look and feel like.

The fancy name is “Product Life Cycle Theory” but I’m guessing you’ve sort nailed it that Zeiss quietly slipped in behind these somewhat more ground breaking designs with the SFL and found a potential sweet spot to capitalize on the essentials of the latest product improvements and found away to drive down costs so that a more competitive price could be achieved. Price being the most powerful tool in the marketing bag of tricks it needs to be wielded carefully.

While the usual post WWII biases re place of manufacture, quality perception and price seem somewhat alive here on BF, we do live in a very different world. It’s pure conjecture but I wonder if it’s true with regard to European sourced manufacturing for relatively small volume things like binos, that cost and price of these improvements there threaten the long term viability of SFs and NLs. By going to a dedicated contract manufacturer, wherever, but in this case Japan, they can pull those modern designs sans R&D and brand linked marketing expense into a very highly efficient, quality maker, get lower costs and the attendant lower potential price to grab sales from the $3K models.
 

dries1

Member
If that is the case, we will see in a couple of years. However I still think Swarovski with the amount of marketing they do all over the world, will still take in more $$$ as they are all chasing the dollars, or what other reserve currency will evolve in that time frame.
 

Trinovid

mountain and glacier watcher
United States
Any other optometrists out there or any Lasik surgeons can chime in.
I had lasik done, total of three times for my left eye, twice on the right and having had light sensitive eyes all my life, noticed no change. I think it's very important to put a lot of effort into choosing a specialist when letting someone mess with your eyes and I still think of it as some of the best money I've ever spent.
 

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