Given to Fly
Bill, I appreciate the advice of the 8x25 Zeiss Victory Pocket - but I'm far from ready to go there .... maybe one long day from now when I'm wrinkled, old, and grey ! Even going to a Swaro 8x32 SV would somehow seem like 'giving up' 😲8x25 Zeiss Victory Pocket.
If it was the only binocular you owned, you might use it, albeit with initial reluctance. I expect that it may meet some of your needs, and perhaps fail miserably at others, as it appears all binoculars are doomed to do in some capacity, with the exception of your beloved Zen Ray. Since you've been so faithful to this one binocular, which nothing on the market can best, perhaps your search for the perfect bin has been over for some time. I get the impression that you are so used to a single optical device that everything that differs from it falls short in comparison for one reason or another. If you had to use a few different ones in rotation, you might find each has some merits, and some faults, but would be able to adapt more readily to each one in short order, like different musical instruments.
Due to your physical circumstances, it seems weight of said object is a primary issue, hence my suggestion. If you can alleviate that one issue, maintain physical comfort, still get good optical performance, and your enjoyment of observing nature improves, your opinion may evolve about what your critical needs truly are.
A glamazon should be able to take on the world - 42mm binoculars included 😁
You are right, the 25mm would fail miserably at a few key performance parameters for me. All bins on the market contain a compromise in one or more areas for me, and I expect most people. It's not so much that I am used to the single device, it's just that the Zen ticks several key boxes - ergonomics, including focus wheel tactile feel (probably it's best and most important feature !)/speed, central view, CA handling, and Fov.
I have even learned to live with some of its drawbacks - focus wheel backlash /hysteresis, average outer field view, and average colour spectrum extremities saturation, and average glare handling. Average - not bad, but just a little short of wow in those areas.
In short, I can whack it up to the face (specs always on), get a good view of an off axis fleeting bird, change focus as rapidly as needed, and not be plagued by major annoyances like finicky alignment, debilitating glare or CA. In that regard it is 'good enough', and a pleasure to hold (if not cart around at the moment).
Paying (substantial amounts) for other bins with other compromises just does not seem an efficient use of the planet or funds (which could be better spent on blueberry muffins, banana smoothies, and fruit salads ! 😁 )
I could be happy enough to pay even for a less than perfect bin if it was a worthwhile improvement in key areas. If you could shove NL, SF (would have to fix up that green ham - welcome to Mars colour cast), or even SV optics in a Nikon MHG body, keep the weight down to zero increase, and swap the focus wheel out for a knurled lightweight metal one - then I would be a very happy camper 😊