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Image 'pop' (79 Viewers)

NZbinodude

Well-known member
I received my first pair of 'real' binoculars at the age of 8. I'm 24 now - so it feels like a lifetime ago.

They had belonged to my late Grandfather. A pair of well-worn 6x30B Swedish military issue porros, made by Zeiss Obercochen. He'd acquired them during his career in the Swedish military.

Upon receiving them from my mother, I was probably too young to appreciate the fine mechanical quality, or to understand what the fancy ranging-reticle in the FOV was all about (I presumed all binoculars had them!) but I wasted no time scampering around the hills, scouring the tree tops for bellbirds, tuis, silvereyes and magpies. Countless summer afternoons were spent that way.

Fast forward to when I was about 18, and had the wherewithal to purchase something new and shiny, I bought my first pair of modern alphas. A pair of Zeiss Victory 10x32 T* FL's.

Most of you can probably remember some of your life's 'firsts'. Your first car. Your first romantic relationship. Your first fish/deer (if you're an avid sportsman). Your first parking ticket. Whatever.

Likewise, I can vividly remember the first time I glued those Victory's to my eyes. It was an optical roller-coaster ride! "How good is thaaaat?!" Everything jumped out at me - tree limbs, birds, lamp posts. Whatever I looked at seemed to 'pop' out of the background. I was convinced my binoculars possessed some kind of magic, and that I was only a few short steps away from ruling the world. :)

Unfortunately, I caught that disease. My urge to have the latest and greatest lead me to ditch the 10x32 Victory FL's for a pair of Leica Geovid HDB's. The Geovids were then traded for a pair of Swarovski EL 8.5x42's, and they were traded for a pair of 8.5x42 Field Pros.

For some reason, none of the binoculars I've owned (or tried) since selling the 10x32 Victory FL's, have given me that 'pop' effect. The strong separation of foreground/background. Optical punch. I'm not sure of the correct technical terms?

A part of me wonders if I've become desensitized to good quality glass ? Prior to purchasing the 10x32 Victory FL's, I'd been using an optically inferior vintage instrument, which would have made the FL's seem exceptionally good in comparison. This may have been responsible for my initial positive impression (the sensation of the image through the binos 'coming alive' and 'popping').

But another part of me wonders if that 'pop' effect was due to some special optical design or feature, present in the Zeiss Victory FL's, but absent in the Leicas and Swarovski EL's?

Unfortunately there are no FL's available in NZ for me to look through. So I might have to purchase another and cross my fingers that they'll live up to my rosy recollections of the first pair.

Perhaps somebody can enlighten me. Or slap me in the face (virtually). Lol

Cheers.
 
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A2GG

Beth
Supporter
United States
I think it has a lot to do with going from an old binocular to a modern top tier level or "alpha" binocular.
The difference in contrast and resolution was significant enough to give you that moment of awe.
I had the FL 8x32 and the resolution is awesome in that binocular.
Then you went from FL to other alpha level binos. You may not get that feeling of awe from the difference of contrast again since you're going from one great bino to the next.
If you want to try and gain a little more contrast try out a Leica Noctivid and also the new Swarovski NL.
These should have the utmost contrast or "pop" that you'll be able to find.
 
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[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Contrast or as you call it "pop" is one thing that sets the mid-level binoculars apart from the alphas. Usually the more expensive the binocular the better the contrast in my experience. A binocular can be very good optically but not have the best contrast. An example is the Nikon 8x30 EII. It is very good optically with a huge FOV but for me it is ruined by its just average contrast compared to an alpha roof. It just doesn't have that "pop." A binocular with average contrast when compared with one with exceptional contrast will appear washed out. I have a Kowa Genesis 8x33 which is an excellent mid-level binocular but when compared to my Swarovski NL 8x42 it appears washed out because the contrast is not as good. Beth is correct in that the Leica Noctivid and the Swarovski NL are two binoculars with excellent contrast.
 
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A2GG

Beth
Supporter
United States
Lots of talk about contrast but what is it? Define it as you understand it...colour, edge?

It's not easy to answer. I think when people describe image "pop" they're
seeing good edge contrast combined with perceived saturated colors.
Leica comes immediately to mind for me when talking about image 'pop' from experience with binos I've owned and tried.

Here's an old thread I started which contain sources I found online that I think do a good job of trying to explain resolution vs sharpness (edge contrast)
in simple terms. But it's still difficult sometimes to describe image qualities we perceive when looking through binoculars and comparing them.

https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=373009
 
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[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Lots of talk about contrast but what is it? Define it as you understand it...color, edge?
Here is a picture with lower contrast on the left and higher contrast on the right. See how the lower contrast picture appears washed out and the colors aren't as rich or as vibrant.. To me this looks like the Kowa Genesis 8x33 or Nikon 8x30 EII on the left and NL 8x42 on the right. The excellent contrast of the NL is partly because of it's transmission curve.

From Allbinos.

"We were very curious about transmission of the NL Pure 12x42 and for more than one reason. Firstly, we were wondering whether those 91%, declared by the producer, would be confirmed. Secondly, in our first impressions we wrote about a slight difference in hues of coatings that covered the objective lenses, especially when you looked at an obtuse angle. Drawing our transmission graph we decided to show two curves, one for each optical path. As you see, once again Swarovski specialists have risen to the challenge. Above all you can notice a perfect coordination of both curves – they practically cover each other. Secondly, the maximum transmission we got near 600 nm wavelength amounted to 91.7%, a value you can find in official parameters, stated by Swarovski. It's a pity there is a dip in the center of the visible spectrum - because of it transmission decreases a tad below 90%. Still, you are compensated by an excellent performance at the shortest wavelengths – there are few pairs of binoculars that get a result of 90% at that place. A flat transmission curve and high values, oscillating near 90%, joined with a sensational correction of off-axis aberrations make images, provided by the NL Pure 12x42 very bright, vivid, with natural colors and great contrast. It would be really difficult to show any other set of binoculars which would be able to beat that."
 

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Pinewood

New York correspondent
United States
Hello NZBinodude,

Before the lockdowns, a bird watcher was extolling his 8x42 monarchs to a neophyte. I let her look through my 8x32 FL, which absolutely impressed her. The model may not be the most praised binocular on the Forum but it satisfies a lot of users who had their FL's for fifteen years or more.

Stay safe,
Arthur Pinewood :HI:
 

Mark9473

Well-known member
Belgium
I bought my first pair of modern alphas. A pair of Zeiss Victory 10x32 T* FL's.

Everything jumped out at me - tree limbs, birds, lamp posts. Whatever I looked at seemed to 'pop' out of the background.

My urge to have the latest and greatest lead me to ditch the 10x32 Victory FL's for a pair of Leica Geovid HDB's. The Geovids were then traded for a pair of Swarovski EL 8.5x42's, and they were traded for a pair of 8.5x42 Field Pros.

For some reason, none of the binoculars I've owned (or tried) since selling the 10x32 Victory FL's, have given me that 'pop' effect. The strong separation of foreground/background. Optical punch. I'm not sure of the correct technical terms?

More than anything else, that's due to the magnification. Try another 10x.
 

dries1

Member
The FL 8X32 is still very much a premium glass today, as well as the other FL series, some will disagree, but I have a few FLs and they hold their own quite well,... quite well.

Andy W.
 

james holdsworth

Consulting Biologist
It's not easy to answer. I think when people describe image "pop" they're
seeing good edge contrast combined with perceived saturated colors.
Leica comes immediately to mind for me when talking about image 'pop' from experience with binos I've owned and tried.

Here's an old thread I started which contain sources I found online that I think do a good job of trying to explain resolution vs sharpness (edge contrast)
in simple terms. But it's still difficult sometimes to describe image qualities we perceive when looking through binoculars and comparing them.

https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=373009

That was for Dennis as he extols it a lot, I have my own opinion of it but wanted his.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
The FL 8X32 is still very much a premium glass today, as well as the other FL series, some will disagree, but I have a few FLs and they hold their own quite well,... quite well.

Andy W.
The only glass better than the FL is the SF, SV and the NL and then it depends on if you want flat field or not. If you don't want flat field FL is the best.
 

PeterPS

MEMBER
The only glass better than the FL is the SF, SV and the NL and then it depends on if you want flat field or not. If you don't want flat field FL is the best.
Actually the FL 10x32 does have a flat field, which is one of the reasons I like mine. I don't think Zeiss has ever said that the 10x32 FL has a field flattener, but it was argued on this forum that most likely it has one, unlike other FL models. The "pop" effect mentioned by the OP might in fact be due to the flat field of the 10x32.
 

NZbinodude

Well-known member
Some interesting comments. Cheers everyone.

Yeah, I had a feeling that my initial sense of awe was due to the steep increase in optical quality. And the magnification could have been part of it as well.
 

Patudo

Well-known member
You're a fortunate fellow - not only in owning some excellent binoculars, but in being able to do so at an age where you can perceive the differences between them better than us old fogeys!

A part of me wonders if I've become desensitized to good quality glass ? Prior to purchasing the 10x32 Victory FL's, I'd been using an optically inferior vintage instrument, which would have made the FL's seem exceptionally good in comparison.

Cheers.

I reckon you can test this one for yourself by going back to the 6x30B for a few weeks (OK, stop hyperventilating... I was just kidding - a few days should suffice), then taking out your Fieldpro or other modern alpha-class binocular again.

Your post reminded me that I hadn't taken out my own 8x30 Oberkochen for some time, the spot where I used to love using it so much having been lost forever to "development". So I brought it along with the 8x32 FL this morning and spent the last hour of the five hour stint going from the something like 50-year old Zeiss West porro to the FL. I was able to go back and forth on both binoculars, following Eurasian hobbies that had to be over 1km away and examining the details of pied wagtails that were hopping around less than 10m from me, and somewhat to my surprise, the two Zeisses were remarkably close, much closer than I'd expected them to be. You could see the old 8x30 was not as bright, but it wasn't an issue as it was a very bright day. In detail and sharpness, checked against both the distant and close birds and various terrain features, the FL was only very narrowly ahead. Edge sharpness I didn't compare rigorously, but I know the Zeiss West is better in this respect than the other 8x30 porros I've tried and own (eg. Binuxit) and is probably not far off the FL. Even the FL's colour rendition, which I had expected to appear significantly more natural (which I've found when comparing my 10x40 Dialyt to modern roof binoculars with dielectric prisms, and the yellow colour cast of the image in the 8x30 is more distinct than the Dialyt's), for some reason, wasn't. In the thread in the Zeiss forum discussing the 7x40 EDG, it's said that the purpose of the yellow colour cast was to increase contrast in low-light situations - which may indeed be the case, but I've found that it's in precisely these conditions that I most dislike it, whereas on bright days like this the yellow cast acts very slightly like a pair of sunglasses. And the old Zeiss West was, as ever, a pleasure to use - when a porro is this small and compact it handles virtually as easily as a roof, and the mechanical quality you commented on in your 6x30B hasn't aged. It felt every bit the FL's equal (or better) in this respect and I don't doubt Tobias Mennle's assertion that it "would cost a fortune if manufactured like this today in Germany."

I have to admit the conditions (beautiful bright early autumn sun) were ideal for using an old porro; I know the 8x30's shortcomings very well, and on a more typical dull grey morning the FL would really show its strengths, as it did the day it convinced me to buy it (when the binocular compared against was the 8x30 SLC mark II I used to own). I have the FL for situations where no excuses on the part of the binocular can be tolerated. There have been times I've brought both binoculars with me and thought the FL was distinctly better, and I expected that when writing up this post I'd describe something similar to what you experienced. But on this particular day, the gap in nearly 50 years seemed more like a step, and not a big one at that, than a leap.

Do you see kārearea (New Zealand falcon) in your area regularly?


PS. If you still have your 6x30B, it might be worth checking it for haze etc. as this is a known issue with the old Oberkochen porros. Both mine (I liked the 8x30 so much I went and got a 10x50) needed their optical surfaces to be cleaned. An experienced technician might also be able to remove the reticle, if desired.
 

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[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
This is an absolutely absurd (and probably pre-order motivated) comparison.
Grainyness in a binocular image???

John
The graininess is coming from the phone but actually it did a pretty good job showing the difference in contrast between the two binoculars. A picture says a thousand words.
 

dries1

Member
Remember the 15X56 in the video was the NEU model, not the SLC HD 15X56. And yes it looked dim, changing field/atmospheric conditions while filming is always possible. I would only trust my eyes not the video. Sorry, but this is where filming through a glass can be misleading.

Andy W.
 

NZbinodude

Well-known member
You're a fortunate fellow - not only in owning some excellent binoculars, but in being able to do so at an age where you can perceive the differences between them better than us old fogeys!



I reckon you can test this one for yourself by going back to the 6x30B for a few weeks (OK, stop hyperventilating... I was just kidding - a few days should suffice), then taking out your Fieldpro or other modern alpha-class binocular again.

Your post reminded me that I hadn't taken out my own 8x30 Oberkochen for some time, the spot where I used to love using it so much having been lost forever to "development". So I brought it along with the 8x32 FL this morning and spent the last hour of the five hour stint going from the something like 50-year old Zeiss West porro to the FL. I was able to go back and forth on both binoculars, following Eurasian hobbies that had to be over 1km away and examining the details of pied wagtails that were hopping around less than 10m from me, and somewhat to my surprise, the two Zeisses were remarkably close, much closer than I'd expected them to be. You could see the old 8x30 was not as bright, but it wasn't an issue as it was a very bright day. In detail and sharpness, checked against both the distant and close birds and various terrain features, the FL was only very narrowly ahead. Edge sharpness I didn't compare rigorously, but I know the Zeiss West is better in this respect than the other 8x30 porros I've tried and own (eg. Binuxit) and is probably not far off the FL. Even the FL's colour rendition, which I had expected to appear significantly more natural (which I've found when comparing my 10x40 Dialyt to modern roof binoculars with dielectric prisms, and the yellow colour cast of the image in the 8x30 is more distinct than the Dialyt's), for some reason, wasn't. In the thread in the Zeiss forum discussing the 7x40 EDG, it's said that the purpose of the yellow colour cast was to increase contrast in low-light situations - which may indeed be the case, but I've found that it's in precisely these conditions that I most dislike it, whereas on bright days like this the yellow cast acts very slightly like a pair of sunglasses. And the old Zeiss West was, as ever, a pleasure to use - when a porro is this small and compact it handles virtually as easily as a roof, and the mechanical quality you commented on in your 6x30B hasn't aged. It felt every bit the FL's equal (or better) in this respect and I don't doubt Tobias Mennle's assertion that it "would cost a fortune if manufactured like this today in Germany."

I have to admit the conditions (beautiful bright early autumn sun) were ideal for using an old porro; I know the 8x30's shortcomings very well, and on a more typical dull grey morning the FL would really show its strengths, as it did the day it convinced me to buy it (when the binocular compared against was the 8x30 SLC mark II I used to own). I have the FL for situations where no excuses on the part of the binocular can be tolerated. There have been times I've brought both binoculars with me and thought the FL was distinctly better, and I expected that when writing up this post I'd describe something similar to what you experienced. But on this particular day, the gap in nearly 50 years seemed more like a step, and not a big one at that, than a leap.

Do you see kārearea (New Zealand falcon) in your area regularly?


PS. If you still have your 6x30B, it might be worth checking it for haze etc. as this is a known issue with the old Oberkochen porros. Both mine (I liked the 8x30 so much I went and got a 10x50) needed their optical surfaces to be cleaned. An experienced technician might also be able to remove the reticle, if desired.

Hey Patudo,

Unfortunately I've sold the Field Pros as well! I know, I'm hopeless. :)

Currently, the 6x30B's are all I've got. I had them cleaned by Optrep in the UK last year. They did a fantastic job. They also removed the ranging reticle for me (although I've got it stored away somewhere safe).

I'm now in the market for another pair of alphas, and it's why I'm also considering an FL, because out of the few alphas I've owned, that's the one that left the greatest impression on me. But I suspect it may simply be a strong case of nostalgia, or that it was my first debut into the world of modern glass.

When I had my Fieldpros, I did actually compare them to the 6x30B's, and there were moments when I actually preferred the 6x30B's, despite them not having as much contrast, or that 'washed clean' look.

Like your Oberkochen's, they had a much warmer/slightly yellow hue, and it proved to be rather pleasant on dreary, overcast days, when the world seemed to have all its' color sucked out of it.

They took no (discernible) back seat to the EL's in the sharpness department, and the FOV in the 6x30B's was absolutely tops. And due to the low magnification, I could hand-hold them much steadier than the 8.5x42's.

I think you and I (and many others on this forum) can appreciate owning older examples of binoculars in addition to the modern stuff. It's a lot of fun switching between them and taking note of what has stayed relatively the same over the years, and what's improved (or even deteriorated - e.g build quality).

A vintage binocular can help further your appreciate for a modern binocular. And vice versa.


Digging your FL and the ol' porro! A great team.

Yes, I've seen plenty of karearea. Not through my binos, however! That's still on the cards. B)

Have you been to New Zealand?

I'd like to go to the UK someday. Most people associate it with big city living, but I'd really like to check out your rural areas, and get a glimpse of your ancient trees, and explore the country that was home to the great, great, great grandparents of some of our introduced flora and fauna.
 
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