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First impressions of a few 10x alphas (1 Viewer)

WimDel

Active member
I currently own a first generation Swarovski EL 8x32, my choice for travel, and a Canon 10x42L IS, for ‘local birding’. The Canon is amazing, but it is becoming too heavy for me. Now I’m looking for a new lighter 10x alpha. Being spoiled with the vibration-free views of the Canon, I’m looking for the lightest and most ergonomic 10x, so I can hold it as steady as possible without image stabilization. So obviously that would point me in the direction of the 32’s. Still, I wanted to try some of the 42’s, especially the Zeiss SF 10x42 because of many praise on this forum on its ergonomics. Recently I had a chance to compare a few binoculars I had in mind, I wanted to share my first impressions here. The candidates are:

Zeis SF 10x42
Leica Noctivid 10x42
Swarovski EL SV 10x42
Swarovski EL SV 10x32

Zeiss SF 10x42. After reading so much praise I really wanted to like this one and expected to be my final choice. It is mentioned a few times here, and indeed although it is the largest bino, when I picked it up I was surprised how light it felt. The grip felt really good, the focus was very smooth. But then I was a bit disappointed in the image. While it has an amazing fov and the sharpness is very good, I found the image too greenish for my liking, and this bothered me enough to dismiss it from my list.

Leica Noctivid 10x42. Most compact, but heaviest...Not as comfortable in my hands as the Zeiss. Image quality is superb, the colors stand out really well, very high contrast, giving almost a surreal ‘pop’ image...No colorcast, just neutral. Smaller FOV compared to the Zeiss.

Swaro EL 10x42. Nice feel; size, weight and ergonomics somewhere between Zeiss and Leica. Image quality again top notch, slightly cooler/bluish image, but it did not bother me as much as the greener image in the Zeiss. Same FOV as the Leica.

Swaro EL 10x32. Amazing little gem. Obvious winner on size and weight. Felt really nice too, easy to hold still. Although it is smaller and lighter, the much bigger Zeiss SF is surprisingly not far off in handling! It really has a great balance. Image quality of 32 is superb and almost similar to the EL42, very sharp right to the edge. At the time I could not see a big difference in brightness due to the smaller lenses of the 32. I expect that would be more noticeable in dim light. Also surprisingly the FOV is bigger than the EL42...the same as the Zeiss! I find that very pleasing, it gives you a nice immersive feeling.

So for me the clear winner is the Swarovski EL 10x32. This one has the greatest wow-factor for me. Maybe it is not as good in low light, but usually for me those situations are scarce so that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make in favour of portability, stability and FOV.

For my purposes, I would rate them as follow:

1. Swarovski EL SV 10x32
2. Swarovski EL SV 10x42
3. Leica Noctivid 10x42
4. Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 (the greenish image killed it for me, otherwise it would be on 2.)
 

Samolot

Well-known member
Nice post! Great write up. I also tried the SF 10x42 and wasn't impressed. I then tried the SF 8x42 which was significantly better - much wider FOV and the image popped more; but I know you are not interested in 8x.

Your thoughts on the 10x32 EL are refreshing because they are not discussed much on these forums. I probably share most people's concerns about the 3.2 mm exit pupil. Is eye placement difficult?

I personally like to observe at all hours of the day or night (star gazing), so the 10x32 probably wouldn't work but for strict day time use, I can't imagine a better pair of binoculars on paper.

Cheers!
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
I had a Swarovski SV 10x32 and I loved it at first but but when I used it in the bright sun where there is a lot of reflection like over a lake it showed so much glare I had to get rid of it. I had the 10x42 SV and it showed glare also but to a lesser degree than the 10x32 SV. So that is something you want to check out. The SF and the Noctivid didn't work well for me either. I got orange crescent's at the bottom of the FOV on the two SF's I tried and the Noctivid didn't have enough eye cup extension for me. Two older alpha's you might try are the Nikon EDG 10x42 which is excellent in the 10x42 format and the Zeiss FL 10x42 which if you look around you can find. I personally prefer the Zeiss FL's over the newer SF's. IMO the FL is still one of the best glasses that Zeiss has ever made. Another excellent glass that is less expensive but I still would consider an alpha is the Meopta Meostar in 10x42. All of these will show less glare than the Swarovski SV and the EDG has the smoothest focuser of any binocular out there, whereas, Swarovki's focuser's can be inconsistent and sometimes sticky in my experience. If you don't like CA the Zeiss FL is one of the best at controlling it. It has excellent high fluoride glass. In a 10x I would stay with a 42mm. The 10x32 with it's 3mm exit pupil is small for eye placement comfort and in lower light you will not get the performance you will with a 10x42. The 10x42 brings in 70% more light than a 10x32. I prefer an 8x42 for birding for the better DOF, bigger FOV and steadier view but if you want the 10x at least get a 10x42. But if you do have to have a 10x32 for the size and weight look at the Nikon EDG 10x32 at the bottom link for $1200.00 on Ebay. Here is a new Meopta Meostar B1 10x32 HD on Astromart that was just listed for 649.00 and it would perform very close to the SV 10x32. Just some different option's to consider.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Zeiss-Vict...282344?hash=item4d96e835e8:g:eIEAAOSwimddD07G
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-Bino...536928&hash=item4655c312ee:g:0lsAAOSw4shX6Cd-
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-Bino...rentrq:73f93ac71700a16d1447aa7bfffa8272|iid:1
https://astromart.com/classifieds/a...culars/show/meopta-meostar-b1-10x32-hd-474160
 
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JWalck

Member
Great insights - thx for posting.
I'll be interested in eye placement ease on the EL 10x32. I've been toying with the idea of purchasing the SF 10x42 or EL 10x32 to complement my EL 8x32 and FL 8x32. I cannot use the Swaro CL 8x30 or 10x30 since I get a tunnel vision view on both and eye placement doesn't seem 'natural'. For the EL 8x32, my eye placement is a bit more finicky than the FL 8x32. Thus, I have been concerned with the EL 10x32 if eye placement would be comfortable.
 
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chill6x6

Well-known member
I like your accessment....

The EL 10X32 is a great binocular....for the most part and in most situations it's veiw is crazy good for its size. I have had both the EL 10X42 and 10X32 for close to two years(still have the 10X42) and was stunned at how nice the view actually is. Also since weight is one of your reasons for changing binoculars I feel like it would be an excellent choice. A funny story...I had a birding trip planned in Grand Cayman...I packed my EL 8X32s or so I THOUGHT. Once there I took them out...EL 10X32s! Long story short...they performed just fine!! For me the glare issue that comes up occasionally is certainly not a deal breaker. I saw it probably twice in a year and a half. Otherwise, no issues whatsoever. Another Swarovski worth considering is SLC 10X42....it's about 2.5 ounces lighter than the 10X42 EL.

Since weight IS an issue for you....you might re-look at the SF. When weight is an issue it really is the premium full sized binocular to beat. I've had a 8X42 SF....never really saw a "green" tint although several DO say that they do as well. Do you think you would see a "green" tint if you had nothing to compare it to? Out in the field would you notice a "green" tint?

You might also give a FL 10X32 a chance. Not my cup of tea but many DO like it and it certainly is light weight.

Let us know what you end up with!
 

tenex

reality-based
WimDel, if you like the 10x32 format (as I do) you should also consider the Leica UVHD+. More compact, different feel in the hand than the EL, not "flat field" but sharp enough at least in the 32, colors probably more similar to the Noctivid.
 

mwhogue

Well Known Member
Supporter
10x32 is one of my favorite formats. My personal ranking of the alphas is close, but in order: Nikon EDG, SW SV, Leica UV HD+, Zeiss FL. For me all are surprisingly good in low light.
The SV has big oculars, lots of ER and great multi position eye cups so generally speaking they may be best for someone with concerns about eye placement.

Mike
 

WimDel

Active member
I had no problems with eye placement on the EL10x32, it had a nice ‘walk-in’ view and I didn’t experience any ‘blackouts’. Just as with all the 42’s I tested. Of course that’s something that can vary from person to person so you have to test this for yourself.

Another issue I forgot to mention. I have a narrow IPD so I had to squeeze all the binos almost to their minimum IPD (luckily they got close enough for me), reducing the space I had left to put my fingers around the barrels. This was more a problem with the EL42 and the Leica, much less with the Zeiss and not a problem at all with the EL32, ofc because of the smaller barrels.

I could not detect any glare at the time, but it was a grey overcast day so maybe I would check for that in better light. I know the 32 theoretically doesn’t let in as much light as in a 42, but for me that difference was hardly visible, and that on a dark overcast day...

About the green tint, it was something that struck me immediately. I could not ignore it, I found it somewhat ‘polluting’ (a bit exaggerated) the image. Greys and whites clearly affected. Maybe it’s subjective and I’m a bit too sensitive for a green tint, I find a yellow or bluish tint less irritating. I didn’t had the chance to compare with the SF 8x42, but that’s not an option anyway cause I really want a 10x.

Thanks everyone for the other suggestions, I’ll try to take a look at them if I have the chance!
 

WimDel

Active member
No eyeglasses, I wear contact lenses. But even with eyeglasses, I would expect 20 mm of eye relief would be sufficient to guarantee a blackout-free view.
 

Hermann

Well-known member
Zeiss SF 10x42. After reading so much praise I really wanted to like this one and expected to be my final choice. It is mentioned a few times here, and indeed although it is the largest bino, when I picked it up I was surprised how light it felt. The grip felt really good, the focus was very smooth. But then I was a bit disappointed in the image. While it has an amazing fov and the sharpness is very good, I found the image too greenish for my liking, and this bothered me enough to dismiss it from my list.

Interesting. I only saw a green tint in one very early, grey SF 10x42, none whatsoever in later SF 10x42s. I found them absolutely neutral.

Hermann
 

Robert Moore

Well-known member
I have a gray model and it appears almost as neutral as my Leica 7x42HD plus. The Zeiss even looks more transparent to me like your not even looking through any glass at all. It is my favorite binocular
 

wdc

Well-known member
A good group of binoculars to put through their paces, and pick what works for you. Thanks for sharing your impressions.

Some peripheral comments, based on my own experience:

I own the 8x42 SF, and haven't noticed the green tint, but it doesn't mean that others don't see it. On the day I first looked through that bin in a shop, I also looked through a 10x42 Swarovski EL, and could see a bluer-biased image in the Swaro. It makes me wonder if the first one you look through becomes the reference for the next one... In either case what I perceived was a quiet, temperature shift in the atmosphere of distant hills outside the shop. I've not sought out the 10x42 SF, because I don't want to be tempted by it!

I've used the 10x42 Noctivid for over a year. For an eyeglass wearer, it fits me exceptionally well. It does not have the balance of the SF, but I find it thoroughly enjoyable to use nonetheless. I don't think of FOV I might be missing, just put it to my eyes and enjoy the view.

The 8x32 Swaro EL, which my wife uses most of the time, has been on several trips abroad, and performs like a champ. Easy to pack, easy to carry, plenty of eye relief, and an immersive view. I've never felt when I was using it, that I wished I had a 42 instead. I agree that you can see glare at times under certain conditions, but I suppose whether it is a great bother may depend on the season, or the environment, or how often you point it in the direction of the sun. While I've experienced glare, I never felt that it was a deal breaker. It just performs so well otherwise. That binocular is so light, that it is easy to view with one hand, and if needed, one can use the other hand to shade the objectives. It is tempting to hear that the 10x32 Swaro is eyeglass friendly.

Narrow IPD accommodation doesn't often get mentioned, but it seems like one of the simpler variables a binocular manufacturer could provide, yet many have not, or do not. All of the binoculars you tried not only have excellent eye relief, but also offer a generous IPD range. Go back 20 years and look at how many binoculars offered both those things... Very few! Go back 30 years and the pickings are even slimmer.

Whatever you end up with, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Nice to know there's such a range of good choices.

One other binocular that you might want to try is the 10x42 Nikon Monarch HG. It is one of the lighter 42mm objective binoculars, and probably less expensive than the 10x32 Swaro by a fair amount. I have the 8x42, and the eye relief is right on the verge of being too short for me, so have not looked at the 10x, but you might find it works well for you.

-Bill
 
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JWalck

Member
Check out that link under the Zeiss thread x32 SF. That SF 10x32 looks very interesting - a bit longer than the EL 10x32 (and a few other differences) but that FOV is great.
 
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