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(Ergonomic) Test EL 8x32, FL 8x32, XD 8x33 (1 Viewer)

kristoffer

Used Register
Today I took some time to compare the FL 8x32, EL 8x32 and Kowa XD 8x33.

I had some time to look through all three and try the ergonomics. First I have to say that all three was very good and based on the view only I can´t really pick a winner, even if I have to say that the Kowa maybe gave me the most "wow" factor, surprisingly enough.

That said I did not test them with rough tests like viewing snow to see CA etc, just looked at some birds outside so I leave the optical testing to you other guys, all three was very very good.

First I tried the FL, I had read about some thinking it was "plastic" so this time I sort of expected it. I don´t think they are that plastic though, but maybe not as solid feel as the FL. I use a open bridge atm (ED2) but they feelt very good in my hands. I also liked the weight, no having them around the neck all day. I really liked the focus wheel and dioptre adjustments, way better then on my ED2. I really feel that it was a bin I could get used to owning ;)

Then I moved on to the Swarovski EL 8x32. Now it was similar size, but open bridge instead. They fit SO good in my hands, way better then the EL 8.5x42, the 8x32 got the perfect fit for me. I did not really fancy the thumb depressions though, bit too deep. The focus wheel was very smooth here too, just like I want it. They also had a less "plastic" feel then the FLs, more metal and rubber and feels very well built.

Last of the three was the Kowa XD 8x33. It has a Swarovski feel and look and like I said, the view through them was very good. They also had a nice size and fit my hands quite good, but maybe not as good as the others. Also the focus knob was a bit too stiff for me, I think my ED2s has made me really sensitive to stiff focus-wheels so maybe other wont find the XDs wheel too stiff.

All three had good eyecup designs and dioptre adjustments.

So results.

Considering view only, all three was very good, maybe with a little edge to the Kowa. Maybe with more time and different objects to study, the FL would show to be the best one, the tests seem to indicate that. But the Kowas image had something special, maybe not "better" but something extra. Hard to pick a winner and I would not select my bin based on this (the image) factor when it was these three bins compared. Other factors is more important since it was so close, imo.

Considering ergonomics the EL 8x32 wins, I liked it best in my hands and it had the best focus wheel. Not by much though, the FL also fit me very good

Considering price, Kowa wins hands down.

Considering warranty, personally I feel safest owning a Swarovski. I know they will give me a replacement bin if I need to service them and "no-questions asked". However Zeiss might be as good, but I have never owned one.

End note. This test did not make me feel that it was tough to return to my ZR ED2, it really has a great image and I would buy a new bin to get a better image, not sure if its a upgrade. However, it is beaten badly when it comes to ergonomics.


Weight:

Swaro EL 8x32 620 gram
Kowa XD 8x33 619 gram
Zeiss FL 8x32 559 gram
 

kristoffer

Used Register
And by the way. Forgot to mention it. The store manager told me about a customer who walked in with a old pair of porro Swarovskis and told him that he wanted a new pair of bins. (Apparently not everyone buys a new bin every 6 months). The manager got interested and asked how old they were. He was not sure but they checked the serial-number and it turned out that they are 29.5 years old. He called Swarovski and they really wanted him to send em in for service. I think they had interest in seeing how a pair of 30 year old Swaros look like and what still works/not works. Needless to say he got back a pair of bins with fixed armor, cleaned, changed front lenses and spotless body.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Today I took some time to compare the FL 8x32, EL 8x32 and Kowa XD 8x33.

I had some time to look through all three and try the ergonomics. First I have to say that all three was very good and based on the view only I can´t really pick a winner, even if I have to say that the Kowa maybe gave me the most "wow" factor, surprisingly enough.

That said I did not test them with rough tests like viewing snow to see CA etc, just looked at some birds outside so I leave the optical testing to you other guys, all three was very very good.

First I tried the FL, I had read about some thinking it was "plastic" so this time I sort of expected it. I don´t think they are that plastic though, but maybe not as solid feel as the FL. I use a open bridge atm (ED2) but they feelt very good in my hands. I also liked the weight, no having them around the neck all day. I really liked the focus wheel and dioptre adjustments, way better then on my ED2. I really feel that it was a bin I could get used to owning ;)

Then I moved on to the Swarovski EL 8x32. Now it was similar size, but open bridge instead. They fit SO good in my hands, way better then the EL 8.5x42, the 8x32 got the perfect fit for me. I did not really fancy the thumb depressions though, bit too deep. The focus wheel was very smooth here too, just like I want it. They also had a less "plastic" feel then the FLs, more metal and rubber and feels very well built.

Last of the three was the Kowa XD 8x33. It has a Swarovski feel and look and like I said, the view through them was very good. They also had a nice size and fit my hands quite good, but maybe not as good as the others. Also the focus knob was a bit too stiff for me, I think my ED2s has made me really sensitive to stiff focus-wheels so maybe other wont find the XDs wheel too stiff.

All three had good eyecup designs and dioptre adjustments.

So results.

Considering view only, all three was very good, maybe with a little edge to the Kowa. Maybe with more time and different objects to study, the FL would show to be the best one, the tests seem to indicate that. But the Kowas image had something special, maybe not "better" but something extra. Hard to pick a winner and I would not select my bin based on this (the image) factor when it was these three bins compared. Other factors is more important since it was so close, imo.

Considering ergonomics the EL 8x32 wins, I liked it best in my hands and it had the best focus wheel. Not by much though, the FL also fit me very good

Considering price, Kowa wins hands down.

Considering warranty, personally I feel safest owning a Swarovski. I know they will give me a replacement bin if I need to service them and "no-questions asked". However Zeiss might be as good, but I have never owned one.

End note. This test did not make me feel that it was tough to return to my ZR ED2, it really has a great image and I would buy a new bin to get a better image, not sure if its a upgrade. However, it is beaten badly when it comes to ergonomics.


Weight:

Swaro EL 8x32 620 gram
Kowa XD 8x33 619 gram
Zeiss FL 8x32 559 gram

I really am surprised when somebody says they prefer the view of a Kowa XD over any of the alphas. When I compared them I didn't feel they were even that close to being as good optically as the Zeiss FL. Also, in the Kikkert test for binoculars the Kowa XD is like 16th place or way down the list exactly where I would put them. The Zeiss FL score for optics were 10+,11,10+,11,11 and the Kowa were 10+,10,9+,10+,9+(quite a difference! A whole point better for contrast in the Zeiss FL) Makes me wonder what people are seeing that they like so much about the Kowas.

http://www.kikkerter.no/pdf/test8x40.pdf
 
Last edited:

RJM

Don't Worry, Be Happy!
Kinda odd to "rank" optics of significantly different apertures Dennis. Besides the Kowa 8.5x44 XD image is not "penalized", only its often mentioned weight and diopter ergonomics suffer. And ergonomics is pretty subjective and pretty much makes up the main differences noticed among the flagship binoculars. Besides these issues have been solved in the XD 33mm series which is the subject of this post.

FWIW, I get the same impression comparing the Zeiss with the Kowa. The Kowa images just have more "pop"... better contrast, brighter colors. Makes me wonder about how much FL is in the Zeiss!

No matter to me since ~$1000 the Kowa XD Genesis views are still not $800 better than the Kowa BD8x32 I have now and paid only ~$200 for.

Rick
 
Last edited:

Fireform

Well-known member
I really am surprised when somebody says they prefer the view of a Kowa XD over any of the alphas. When I compared them I didn't feel they were even that close to being as good optically as the Zeiss FL. Also, in the Kikkert test for binoculars the Kowa XD is like 16th place or way down the list exactly where I would put them. The Zeiss FL score for optics were 10+,11,10+,11,11 and the Kowa were 10+,10,9+,10+,9+(quite a difference! A whole point better for contrast in the Zeiss FL) Makes me wonder what people are seeing that they like so much about the Kowas.

http://www.kikkerter.no/pdf/test8x40.pdf

Have you seen the 8x33 XD, Dennis? That's the subject of the thread. Like the Zeisses, the 33mm Kowas are quite different from their big brothers. The Kikkert review doesn't include 32-33mm bins.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Have you seen the 8x33 XD, Dennis? That's the subject of the thread. Like the Zeisses, the 33mm Kowas are quite different from their big brothers. The Kikkert review doesn't include 32-33mm bins.

I wouldn't say the Zeiss 8x32 FL's are quite different than their big brothers. There are small differences but the manufacturers are using the same basic design parameters and quality of materials so a top alpha 8x32 only differs in the fact that it's aperture is smaller so consequently it's FOV is larger. they are a little less sharp and a little less bright under low light conditions, and they have a little less ER and sometimes they are sharper at the edge. That's why if you look at all these tests and reviews you will see a repeating pattern with Zeiss FL's both 8x32's and 8x42's ranking near the top and then Leica Ultravid HD 8x32's and 8x42's next followed by Swarovski's 8.5x42's and 8x32's coming in third place. USUALLY in optics with the exception of a few Chinese ED's and the Nikon 8x32 SE you get what you pay for and a $2000.00 binocular is almost always going to be superior in alot of ways to a $1200.00 binocular like the Kowa when you are talking roof prisms. Because the Bigger Kowa came in 16th place I would find it highly unlikely that it's little brother would beat out all the top alpha's in 32mm. Just isn't going to happen!
 

RJM

Don't Worry, Be Happy!
USUALLY in optics with the exception of a few Chinese ED's and the Nikon 8x32 SE you get what you pay for and a $2000.00 binocular is almost always going to be superior in alot of ways to a $1200.00 binocular like the Kowa when you are talking roof prisms.

But it looks like your Zeiss 10x20 Victory is being destroyed by a few Opticrons in this ranking:-O Not even 5th place!

http://www.kikkertspesialisten.no/Customers/ks/documents/Tester/testkomp_2.pdf

Maybe now you can see how these dealer "tests" are ridiculus.

Rick
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
But it looks like your Zeiss 10x20 Victory is being destroyed by a few Opticrons in this ranking:-O Not even 5th place!

http://www.kikkertspesialisten.no/Customers/ks/documents/Tester/testkomp_2.pdf

Maybe now you can see how these dealer "tests" are ridiculus.

Rick

That was tested before Zeiss improved the coatings on the Victory. I have compared my Zeiss 8x20 Victory to the Leica Ultravid 8x20 and it is just as good if not better optically and almost a little brighter. The coatings made a big difference.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
And here is a Aug 2009 test showing the Leica has now shot to #1 but the Kowa 8x33XD is still MIA, http://www.kikkertspesialisten.no/Customers/ks/documents/Tester/test8x30.pdf

Meanwhile, their Nov 2009 fieldscope test has the Kowa 883, Leica 82HD and Swaro ATM 80HD tied for #1 while the Zeiss 85 only manages #11 behind the TV60!
http://www.kikkertspesialisten.no/Customers/ks/documents/Tester/testtele.pdf

Rick

Yes, the Leica HD and the Zeiss FL are very close and the Swarovski EL is third. Pretty much how I would rank them although I prefer the view through the Zeiss a little. I think it is a little sharper in the center with the Leica having slightly better contrast. When the new Swarovision comes out it will probably take over first place. Those are three superb binoculars!
 

Jonathan B.

Well-known member
Today I took some time to compare the FL 8x32, EL 8x32 and Kowa XD 8x33.

I had some time to look through all three and try the ergonomics. First I have to say that all three was very good and based on the view only I can´t really pick a winner, even if I have to say that the Kowa maybe gave me the most "wow" factor, surprisingly enough.

That said I did not test them with rough tests like viewing snow to see CA etc, just looked at some birds outside so I leave the optical testing to you other guys, all three was very very good.

First I tried the FL, I had read about some thinking it was "plastic" so this time I sort of expected it. I don´t think they are that plastic though, but maybe not as solid feel as the FL. I use a open bridge atm (ED2) but they feelt very good in my hands. I also liked the weight, no having them around the neck all day. I really liked the focus wheel and dioptre adjustments, way better then on my ED2. I really feel that it was a bin I could get used to owning ;)

Then I moved on to the Swarovski EL 8x32. Now it was similar size, but open bridge instead. They fit SO good in my hands, way better then the EL 8.5x42, the 8x32 got the perfect fit for me. I did not really fancy the thumb depressions though, bit too deep. The focus wheel was very smooth here too, just like I want it. They also had a less "plastic" feel then the FLs, more metal and rubber and feels very well built.

Last of the three was the Kowa XD 8x33. It has a Swarovski feel and look and like I said, the view through them was very good. They also had a nice size and fit my hands quite good, but maybe not as good as the others. Also the focus knob was a bit too stiff for me, I think my ED2s has made me really sensitive to stiff focus-wheels so maybe other wont find the XDs wheel too stiff.

All three had good eyecup designs and dioptre adjustments.

So results.

Considering view only, all three was very good, maybe with a little edge to the Kowa. Maybe with more time and different objects to study, the FL would show to be the best one, the tests seem to indicate that. But the Kowas image had something special, maybe not "better" but something extra. Hard to pick a winner and I would not select my bin based on this (the image) factor when it was these three bins compared. Other factors is more important since it was so close, imo.

Considering ergonomics the EL 8x32 wins, I liked it best in my hands and it had the best focus wheel. Not by much though, the FL also fit me very good

Considering price, Kowa wins hands down.

Considering warranty, personally I feel safest owning a Swarovski. I know they will give me a replacement bin if I need to service them and "no-questions asked". However Zeiss might be as good, but I have never owned one.

End note. This test did not make me feel that it was tough to return to my ZR ED2, it really has a great image and I would buy a new bin to get a better image, not sure if its a upgrade. However, it is beaten badly when it comes to ergonomics.


Weight:

Swaro EL 8x32 620 gram
Kowa XD 8x33 619 gram
Zeiss FL 8x32 559 gram


Kristoffer, sorry to see that one of your first comparative assessments of binoculars had to be attacked with quotes from magazines rather than met with comments based on experience. I have never paid much attention to scores assigned in magazine reviews. Nothing beats handling binoculars.

I agree completely with your assessment. The latest Kowa optics are exceptional, and I think the 33mm Genesis is fantastic. In the limited side-by-side comparison I did with the FL and other bins, the Kowa's optics were unquestionably in the same class as the alphas. I don't understand why they don't get more attention.

If you are out looking at scopes, you will have a similar experience. The 88mm Kowa blows away the competition (again, my impression). I have looked through every scope on the market in the 60mm to 88mm range (except Tele Vue), and the only one that made me respond out loud with a "Wow" was the Kowa. The one that disappointed me the most in the alpha price range was Zeiss.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Kristoffer, sorry to see that one of your first comparative assessments of binoculars had to be attacked with quotes from magazines rather than met with comments based on experience. I have never paid much attention to scores assigned in magazine reviews. Nothing beats handling binoculars.

I agree completely with your assessment. The latest Kowa optics are exceptional, and I think the 33mm Genesis is fantastic. In the limited side-by-side comparison I did with the FL and other bins, the Kowa's optics were unquestionably in the same class as the alphas. I don't understand why they don't get more attention.

If you are out looking at scopes, you will have a similar experience. The 88mm Kowa blows away the competition (again, my impression). I have looked through every scope on the market in the 60mm to 88mm range (except Tele Vue), and the only one that made me respond out loud with a "Wow" was the Kowa. The one that disappointed me the most in the alpha price range was Zeiss.

I have looked throught the Kowas and really I don't agree that they are equal to the Alphas. Close but not equal. I threw the tests in as a somewhat unbiased support for my opinion.
 

brocknroller

A professed porromaniac
United States
Thanks for that three way ergo comparo.

I have a question about the Kowa's optics.

Does the 8x33 Kowa lack pincushion like the full sized model?

I had assumed that the midsized models were based on the same design as the full sized models in a series of bins until I tried an 8x42 LX and an 8x32 LX.

The 8x42 has no pincushion (extreme "rolling ball") whereas the 8x32 has enough pincushion to make panning fairly smooth.
 

Jonathan B.

Well-known member
I have looked throught the Kowas and really I don't agree that they are equal to the Alphas. Close but not equal. I threw the tests in as a somewhat unbiased support for my opinion.

I think we need to see some good, objective (as far as possible) comparisons by somebody whose tests we trust. My point is that with magazine reviews, like the Cornell tests, we don't have a clue who is comparing what. Often, for example, a binocular is downgraded considerably in one or more categories because it is not eyeglass friendly, though you may have to read the fine print to know that, if it is explained at all. At least at this point in my life, that is fortunately irrelevant.

Also, for example in the Cornell tests, a 60mm scope may receive a relatively poor score for its optics, though it is being rated against 80mm or larger scopes. Of course it will rate lower under those circumstances, but that is meaningless in comparison to other 60mm scopes. And brand fidelity plays into many reviews, despite denials to the contrary.

Kowa has made some of the world's finest scopes for many years, and the company made excellent binoculars fifty years ago, though examples are now difficult to find. There is an undeniable "wow" factor to the new Genesis line, and I'm not the least bit surprised. The 8.5X has a comparatively narrow field of view, but the 8X is a very fine binocular. The 8.5 has exhibited some issues with the eyecups, and I don't know if that extends to the 8X. Again, some serious testing will be helpful.
 

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