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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

I am thinking the new 32 mm alphas from Swarovski and Zeiss are the best birding binoculars you can buy right now. (7 Viewers)

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Stand by......as per always, he will change his mind and have them for sale within a month.
Not unless I find something better, and that is unlikely unless the manufacturers surprise us with something new. It is hard to predict what Swarovski is doing. They have introduced a lot of new binoculars lately, which is surprising given this Covid Pandemic. I had my other binoculars quite awhile until I tried the new alpha 32 mm's. If you like a 32 mm binocular for birding, it is hard to argue the fact that the new SF and NL are the best. Now if Leica comes out with a 32 mm Noctivid I would include it also.
 
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Hermann

Well-known member
I don't honestly see Swarovski or Zeiss ever bringing out a stabilized binocular.
Zeiss 20x60S and 20x60S Mono. The 20x60S is still in production.
I don't think there is a market for it.
I beg to differ.
Even though I agree there are definite advantages to IS, there are too many disadvantages with the current technology. There are still some artifacts, even with the best IS binoculars, and Swarovski and Zeiss are not going to bring out a less than optically perfect binocular with IS. Why should they?
Ever tried the Zeiss 20x60? No? Thought so.
Swarovski has the leading market share by a huge margin, so why mess around with something unproven like IS when they don't need to.
You know what? I'm pretty certain that some Chinese company will start making first class stabilised binoculars in the next five to ten years. That will spell big trouble for Leica, Swarovski and Zeiss.
Hunter's don't use stabilized binoculars. If they are using higher magnification, they just use a tripod.
I don't care what hunters do or think. This is birdforum, not a hunters' forum. And for birding stabilisation makes a huge difference. Even at 8x magnification. And even more at 10x magnfication.

Hermann
 

dries1

Member
Perhaps to some they have closed the gap, but with regard to the SV 8X32 and 8.5X42, many still use the 8.5X42 since inception. I would think they will still sell plenty of NL in 8/10/12X42s also, so those formats are going no where. " Most birders" is an opinion, and generally some will prefer a lighter glass (a priority over other compromises) - understood, but not everyone.
 

PYRTLE

Old Berkshire Boy
Dennis, as discussed at length many moons ago, the Swarovski NL Pure Headrest was created to offer some stability to users, whether they be birders or stalkers. Therefore Swarovski Optik do "bother" with this aspect as part of their Research and Development programme.
Maybe you could remind me whether you experimented with this accessory when you bought your 42mm NL Pures.
Thank you.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Zeiss 20x60S and 20x60S Mono. The 20x60S is still in production.

I beg to differ.

Ever tried the Zeiss 20x60? No? Thought so.

You know what? I'm pretty certain that some Chinese company will start making first class stabilised binoculars in the next five to ten years. That will spell big trouble for Leica, Swarovski and Zeiss.

I don't care what hunters do or think. This is birdforum, not a hunters' forum. And for birding stabilisation makes a huge difference. Even at 8x magnification. And even more at 10x magnfication.

Hermann
Hmm. I don't remember seeing too many birders using a Zeiss 20x60s in the field. The Zeiss 20x60s is a perfect example of why IS binoculars have not caught on with birders. It is too big and heavy, and not too many birders are willing to carry that kind of weight, especially if they are hiking for a couple of miles. I know even a binocular over 30 oz. starts getting heavy and that is exactly why I have switched over to a 32 mm. I really don't think Swarovski, Zeiss or Leica are worried about the Chinese. The big three are usually the ones responsible for new innovations, and the Chinese are the ones to copy them. I agree, stabilization makes a huge difference in detail recognition, but the technology is going to have to improve before they replace the existing alpha level binoculars. There are still some optical artifacts in even the best IS binoculars, and the binoculars themselves are too big and heavy if they approach alpha level optics. The Canon 10x42 IS is very good, but it is still not an NL or SF optically, and most birders are unwilling to put up with the ergonomics and the weight. If somebody could make an IS binocular without artifacts and the ergonomics of an NL, then they would appeal to the birding market.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Dennis, as discussed at length many moons ago, the Swarovski NL Pure Headrest was created to offer some stability to users, whether they be birders or stalkers. Therefore Swarovski do "bother" with this aspect as part of their Research and Development programme.
I agree. I haven't tried the headrest, but a lot of birders use it and swear by it. I will have to try one sometime.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Perhaps to some they have closed the gap, but with regard to the SV 8X32 and 8.5X42, many still use the 8.5X42 since inception. I would think they will still sell plenty of NL in 8/10/12X42s also, so those formats are going no where. " Most birders" is an opinion, and generally some will prefer a lighter glass (a priority over other compromises) - understood, but not everyone.
Yes, I agree when comparing the SV 8x32 and the SV 8.5x42 the aperture IMO did make more difference but with the NL I don't see as much difference in eye placement or brightness between the NL 32 mm and the NL 42 mm and I have had them both. In fact, I got more glare with the NL 42 mm than I did with the NL 32 mm.
 

E_S

Member
United States
Thank you, interesting.
I have received headrest for my NL 10x42s just a few of days ago, and am very pleased. It gives a noticeable boost in stability, which makes prolonged "glassing" a lot more enjoyable. I now plan to always keep the headrest on. For the common scenario of "spot something, put up binoculars to your eyes, identify it, and then stop viewing," the headrest is not that useful, but for prolonged sessions it is a huge benefit.

I have never owned or looked through IS binoculars, so I do not know how the headrest compares to one; I imagine IS is more stable still.
 
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[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
I have received headrest for my NL 10x42s just a few of days ago, and am very pleased. It gives a noticeable boost in stability, which makes prolonged "glassing" a lot more enjoyable. I now plan to always keep the headrest on. For the common scenario of "spot something, put up binoculars to your eyes, identify it, and then stop viewing," the headrest is not that useful, but for prolonged sessions it is a huge benefit.

I have never owned or looked through IS binoculars, so I do not know how the headrest compares to one; I imagine IS is more stable still.
Do you wear spectacles? I have heard the headrest is more beneficial if you do. IS is more stable, but even the best ones introduce a few artifacts and are not quite the optical quality of an NL or SF IMO, and you usually have to tolerate a heavier and bulkier binocular. Think Canon 10x42 is or Fujinon TSX 14x40. I think the Fujinon TSX 14x40 is the best IS binocular on the market with the least artifacts. Without a doubt, you will see more detail with an IS binocular than a NL or SF UNLESS you put them on a tripod, and then they win! For sheer optical quality, nothing beats an alpha from the big three.
 
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ZDHart

Registered User
Supporter
United States
Dennis... I agree that today's alpha x32s are really fine binoculars. SF, NL, UVHD+.

My only quibble with the NL x32 is the pinched shape of the barrels and the comparatively less-than-sticky armor did not feel as secure in my palms as with the more conventional barrel shape and armor stiction of the UVHD+ and SF. Otherwise... I think that they're all three awesome choices in binoculars!

I wound up keeping 8x32 and 10x32 UVHD+, and 8x32 and 10x32 SF. I really have not been able to choose favorites, as I rotate through and enjoy them all immensely. Not to mention my 8x32 and 10x42 Conquest HD that I've used for many years.

My x42s (10x42 SF, 10x42 Conquest HD, and 7x42 UVHD+) are getting comparatively less use, these days, though I still appreciate them as well. 7x42 UVHD+, especially.
 
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E_S

Member
United States
Do you wear spectacles?
I do, though when observing something for more than 30 seconds, which is the exact situation when I find the headrest most useful, I usually take the glasses off (hate those extra layers of glass between me and the subject). The headrest is most definitely also beneficial when not wearing glasses.

I have heard the headrest is more beneficial if you do. IS is more stable, but even the best ones introduce a few artifacts and are not quite the optical quality of an NL or SF IMO, and you usually have to tolerate a heavier and bulkier binocular. Think Canon 10x42 is or Fujinon TSX 14x40. I think the Fujinon TSX 14x40 is the best IS binocular on the market with the least artifacts. Without a doubt, you will see more detail with an IS binocular than a NL or SF UNLESS you put them on a tripod, and then they win!
To take a (very!) slight issue about the level of detail... I have been glassing through my 10x both with support and without, and am finding that at that magnification, while the image produced using stable support is much more pleasing and relaxing, I can identify birds just fine while holding the binos in my hands. Where I do notice a difference is something like reading text from a billboard -- not a typical field scenario. It is much easier to read text from a distant billboard when the image is steady, meanwhile bird identification (except perhaps some very difficult species) can also be done even with a shaky image. I conclude that, when it comes to identification of animals and birds, the human brain is quite good at correcting the shake internally! Nevertheless, I cannot deny that stable image is easier and more enjoyable to look at (hence my headrest!).
 
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LucaPCP

Happy User
Supporter
Hmm. I don't remember seeing too many birders using a Zeiss 20x60s in the field. The Zeiss 20x60s is a perfect example of why IS binoculars have not caught on with birders. It is too big and heavy, and not too many birders are willing to carry that kind of weight, especially if they are hiking for a couple of miles. I know even a binocular over 30 oz. starts getting heavy and that is exactly why I have switched over to a 32 mm. I really don't think Swarovski, Zeiss or Leica are worried about the Chinese. The big three are usually the ones responsible for new innovations, and the Chinese are the ones to copy them. I agree, stabilization makes a huge difference in detail recognition, but the technology is going to have to improve before they replace the existing alpha level binoculars. There are still some optical artifacts in even the best IS binoculars, and the binoculars themselves are too big and heavy if they approach alpha level optics. The Canon 10x42 IS is very good, but it is still not an NL or SF optically, and most birders are unwilling to put up with the ergonomics and the weight. If somebody could make an IS binocular without artifacts and the ergonomics of an NL, then they would appeal to the birding market.
I have the Kite 16x42 stabilized. 200h of battery life. Optically not superb but they can yield bird IDs where only a scope, not an alpha 8x… would do. Very convenient to carry at 750g, even in addition to 8x binoculars. So I think stabilized optics definitely have a place.
 

Owene

Well-known member
Dennis, as discussed at length many moons ago, the Swarovski NL Pure Headrest was created to offer some stability to users, whether they be birders or stalkers. Therefore Swarovski Optik do "bother" with this aspect as part of their Research and Development programme.
Maybe you could remind me whether you experimented with this accessory when you bought your 42mm NL Pures.
Thank you.
I wouldn't have bought the swaro 10x32 without the headrest. Even in still conditions outside the shop the image wobbled a little. Mainly down to me physically I think

With the added stability of the rest alongside the small size I'd guess the stability is a big part of why I've been blown away with the results. A friend tried them in very windy January light conditions the other day and was amazed compared to his top end zeiss 42s. (not sure which model, probably not the latest)
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia

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