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Monarch HG 8x30 vs Swaro CL-b & EL quick comparisons (2 Viewers)

Gilmore Girl

Beth
Supporter
United States
I recently was able to compare my MHG 8x30 with CL-b 8x30 and EL SV 8x32 outside of a store. I was surprised to find the MHG worked better with my eyeglasses compared to the CL. I've read about the new 'eye box' design of the CL-b and how it makes viewing more comfortable. I'm guessing this is something noticed more when not wearing glasses. I found the eye placement slightly more picky compared to the Nikon and perhaps usable eye relief not quite enough. The view was a bit tunnel-like in comparison. Of course, the HG has a much wider true FOV. However, I did not have this impression when I directly compared my original 8x30 CL to the MHG despite 15mm ER listed for the first CL. The eyecups are almost flush with the ocular lenses on the original CL and I think this helped quite a bit.

The CL-b does have a real nice view and, based on quick impressions, I felt it may have a tiny bit more 'sparkle' compared to the MHG. The ergonomics and feel of it is excellent and I think a little better than the Nikon. It's a little bigger than the HG which is quite tiny and feels almost like a compact binocular. I do like the very compact size and super light weight of the Nikon.

I haven't looked through an EL in quite some time. This time it sort of blew me away. It's really bright. It's almost too bright in comparison. It was a sunny day with some snow still on the ground. I found my Leica Ultravid helpful on sunny days providing a comfortable view and I feel the same way about the Nikon HG. While both are bright, they have warmer tones. The resolution of the EL is just incredible. Micro contrast was clearly on another level. I was able to see more softer and very fine details and textures of a birch tree about 15-20 ft away. With the HG I was fiddling with the focuser to try and tune in those super fine details, but it couldn't. I would say macro contrast was similar in both binos. Slower focus of the EL was noticed immediately. I've gotten used to the quick focuser of the HG and I find it very useful when birding.

Eye comfort when looking through the EL was just way better than the HG. I was quite surprised at this big difference. The Nikon seemed quite picky in comparison. It's amazing the difference a slightly bigger exit pupil can make along with lots of extra eye relief. Even the Zeiss Conquest HD 8x32 seemed to be slightly more comfortable with eye placement compared to 8x30. The EL's sharpness to the very edge was also immediately noticeable. It was sort of strange actually. It's something I think I would need to get used to. The MHG has a flat field, but it's just not as flat and sharp to the very outer edge.

The EL was so impressive I thought for a few days about buying it, but I ultimately decided against it. I have other pressing concerns now and also I like the little HG. It has served me well so far. I enjoy its tiny size and fly weight and also its quick focuser. The view is very pleasing as well. It's a trade off; compact size and low weight, but comes with a little bit less viewing comfort with glasses. You can't have it all. I do notice the yellow-ish (really a subtle cream color) bias often now even without comparing it to anything else. Its warmer tones can make extended viewing relaxing and is helpful on very sunny days.
 
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Gilmore Girl

Beth
Supporter
United States
Few things I forgot to mention:

The HG seemed slightly more magnified than the EL. Either EL is a little under 8x or the HG is a little over.

EL has a more transparent view and this struck me right away.

Noticed some glare which was 'flickering' on and off as I moved the bin from tree top to tree top.

I did not see any rolling ball when panning slowly. I wondered if it may show after some usage over time ... if I bought it.
Has anyone ever experienced rolling ball show up after a while, but not initially?
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
Nice review.... as always, it is a toss-up...one of this for one of that.
I have had both of those and found the MHG to be better overall. While I love the feel of the CL (really loved the ergonomics!!!), the difference in price didn't justify the need. The MHG is so light, compact....great color and contrast, much easier to focus and that dang Diopter of the CL is worthless. Anyhow, the eye-cups didn't bother me so that shows you individual body styles and binoculars.
 

Gilmore Girl

Beth
Supporter
United States
The MHG is so light, compact....great color and contrast, much easier to focus and that dang Diopter of the CL is worthless.
I didn't fiddle with the diopter, but it does look like it would be a real pain to set due to its position.
 

mwhogue

Well Known Member
Supporter
Few things I forgot to mention:

The HG seemed slightly more magnified than the EL. Either EL is a little under 8x or the HG is a little over.

EL has a more transparent view and this struck me right away.

Noticed some glare which was 'flickering' on and off as I moved the bin from tree top to tree top.

I did not see any rolling ball when panning slowly. I wondered if it may show after some usage over time ... if I bought it.
Has anyone ever experienced rolling ball show up after a while, but not initially?

Beth,

Based on reading other posts and my personal experience it does seem that given two bins of the same magnification, the one with a "significantly" wider FOV does create an impression of greater magnification.

Personally I love the EL view. The 32 models are the most prone to glare of the series IME but I just work around it.

In terms of rolling ball, my experience is the same as yours, it is less apparent /problematic when panning slowly. Again, I work around it. Just recently I did experiment with eye cup setting and with the 8x32 SV (pre FP) eyecups extended to the first stop as opposed to my usual all the way down. This seemed to radically decrease the RB effect but I need to repeat that experiment as based on what little I understand technically, that result doesn't make a lot of sense.

Mike
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
Hi Beth,

I'm glad you like your MHG still :) And your recent opinion of the CL vs the MHG is very similar to what I recall (details of eye placement / ease of view aside - I had no problems with either). The CL has perhaps slightly better resolution and a touch more "alpha sparkle" but the MHG has the greater FOV and a very pleasing contrast / color saturation that I prefer.

I've not used an EL 8x32 in some time, but I have lately been alternating between my MHG and a new 8x32 SF. There's no doubt the SF is superior, optically. It is probably the finest binocular I've used - I prefer it to my 10x42SV or my 8x42SF. Contrast and color in brutal lighting conditions (winter, lots of snow, all overcast, birds at the tops of trees) is a bit better than the Nikon. Resolution of very fine detail is a bit better than the Nikon. But the Nikon isn't so far behind. I prefer the lighter focus action of the SF by a bit. On ergonomics, I perhaps prefer the little MHG although I have zero complaints regarding the SF.

Honestly, the 8x32 SF feels, thus far, like a replacement for 42mm bins more than competition for the 30mm MHG - I think I will probably end up, long term, with those two as my 8x bins and be set.
 

Gilmore Girl

Beth
Supporter
United States
Based on reading other posts and my personal experience it does seem that given two bins of the same magnification, the one with a "significantly" wider FOV does create an impression of greater magnification.
This is new information to me. Good to know.
I wonder why. Does it it have to do with having more lense elements in the eyepiece (to achieve wider fov) and the distance of the field lens from the ocular lens?
 

Gilmore Girl

Beth
Supporter
United States
Ok I just did a little reading online and I'm confused which is normal for me. In two binos of same format (8x32 and 8x32 for example) does having more lens elements in the eyepiece make a wider FOV or is it just a larger eye lens that increases FOV (?) So how does this change in FOV result in increased apparent magnification?
 
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tenex

reality-based
In two binos of same format (8x32 and 8x32 for example) does having more lens elements in the eyepiece make a wider FOV or is it just a larger eye lens that increases FOV (?) So how does this change in FOV result in increased apparent magnification?
It does get complicated. A wider FOV is largely about the eyepiece, but it's the combination of that with demand for high ER that requires such a large lens these days. Number of elements probably has more to do with correction of aberrations or curvature than FOV. As to objects seeming larger at the same magnification... ask the psychologists.

Honestly, the 8x32 SF feels, thus far, like a replacement for 42mm bins more than competition for the 30mm MHG
I've had that thought myself... and wondered how well SF 42 will sell going forward. It also leaves a huge opportunity for NL 32.
 

Gilmore Girl

Beth
Supporter
United States
It does get complicated. A wider FOV is largely about the eyepiece, but it's the combination of that with demand for high ER that requires such a large lens these days. Number of elements probably has more to do with correction of aberrations or curvature than FOV. As to objects seeming larger at the same magnification... ask the psychologists.
Thank you !
 

mwhogue

Well Known Member
Supporter
Beth See the post and pic below. This seems consistent with my subjective experience, significantly wider FoV can create an impression of more magnification.

Mike


Perception is reality? The image on the left is from a binocular with a 7-degree field of view. The image on the right shows that object—at the same magnification—but with a 9-degree field. Quite often, the observer sees a larger field of view and equates it to more magnification. The difference, in better binoculars, lies in the unsung field stop. 🐱

Just a thought,

Bill

PS Arthur, did you know any of the Murrow boys, personally?
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chill6x6

Well-known member
For sure the SV 8X32 impresses. It never comes across as "only 32mm" but always performs as a lightweight 42mm. Eye placement is very forgiving and second nature for me. Edge to edge sharpness really is. I've used mine for five years and never had one hiccup. For me there has been really no comparison to the SV and the CL B. Beyond size/weight the SV is just a nicer binocular.

That little MHG 8X30 though....I really like mine. I believe I like it more than the CL B. Size/weight/FOV. I've been using the MHG 8X30 and a Fujinon TS 12X28 out some lately. The optical difference is easy to see. Even with IS the Fujinon is out classed.
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
Interesting to see you also a similar opinion of the MHG vs the CL Chuck. I still FEEL like I SHOULD like the CL better. I'm sure if I had the CL instead of the MHG I would be equally happy. But when I compare the two directly... yeah... I really like that little MHG :)
 

brocknroller

A professed porromaniac
United States
Few things I forgot to mention:

The HG seemed slightly more magnified than the EL. Either EL is a little under 8x or the HG is a little over.

EL has a more transparent view and this struck me right away.

Noticed some glare which was 'flickering' on and off as I moved the bin from tree top to tree top.

I did not see any rolling ball when panning slowly. I wondered if it may show after some usage over time ... if I bought it.
Has anyone ever experienced rolling ball show up after a while, but not initially?
Hi Beth,

Good to see you are doing well. NJ got hit hard by the pandemic, and some of my relatives were laid off from their jobs.

I think I was the first to to coin the term "rolling ball" on Cloudy Nights after seeing it the Nikon 8x and 10x42mm LX and LXLs. I did a lot of research into it when I came over to Birdforum, including reading many posts and reviews, Holger's report on "the globe effect," and taking his distortion test, which measures the amount of pincushion in your eyes. Your eye distortion level largely determines whether you will see RB in low distortion binoculars although neuroplasticity also is a factor since some people with low distortion eyes are able to adjust to RB. Apparently, my neurons are not made of plastic but silicon carbide (second most rigid material after diamonds. :)

Here's Holger's test:

From my experience and reading about and in some cases talking to others about their experience with RB on CN, BF, and Rokslide, the pattern seems to be that if you see it initially, you might adjust to it any where from a couple days up to a couple weeks. If you haven't adjusted to it after a couple weeks, it's likely you never will, which happened in my case and why passed on the SV EL and bought a pre-SV 2010 8x32 EL. The EL's image was among the best I've seen through binoculars (high microcontrast) but the EL had a wonky focuser, and it showed a lot of flaring even when lighting conditions weren't very demanding, and with the stubbly barrels I couldn't add light shields, so I returned it after three weeks for a refund. The edges were sharp to 90% with gradual fall off at the edge, so I don't understand why Swarovski felt the need to add field flatteners to the EL. It didn't need it.

The chances are that if you don't see RB now, you won't see it later, but if you do buy an SV EL, it's best to find a dealer who offers at least a two week return period, just in case you are the exception to the rule. From what I've seen on the used market, the 8x32 SV EL does not hold its value well, I saw four go for the same price or less than what I paid for the 2010 pre-SV model. But this could be due to the pandemic. Last year, people who were laid off were selling whatever luxuries they didn't need. Good buyers market last year, but not good for sellers. So you don't want to be stuck trying to sell the EL in case you can't recoup your investment.

I have a Nikon 8x42 EDG, which has excellent image quality, a buttery smooth focuser, and it's quite resistant to flaring. I wanted the 8x32 EL to have something lighter to carry on long walks, but when I compared the EL to the much lower priced Cabela's 8x32 Guide, there was so little difference that I returned the EL and kept the Guide.

The grass always looks greener on the other side, particularly through Zeiss binoculars. :)
 

Gilmore Girl

Beth
Supporter
United States
Hey Brock,

Welcome back. I decided not to buy the SV 8x32. It's a lot of money and it comes with extra weight and size. I've gotten so used to the 8x30 Monarch HG's super light weight and compact size. The SV is better optically and the best I've experienced in a 8x32 with eyeglasses, but I've been quite happy with the Nikon overall. It has a very pleasing image and I really love the smooth, quick focuser. I've found the faster focus speed helpful.

The pre-SV EL sounds like it could be great and perhaps I would prefer it over the SV, but it's even a little heavier than the SV according to the specs online and also has shorter ER. I'm going to stick with my Nikon. If something amazing in an 8x32 comes out down the road which I feel rivals the HG I may try it out. I don't think I'd go for another 30mm. I'd rather go up to 8x32 with long ER for better comfort with glasses. I don't think there's a better 8x30 out there for me. I compared the HG directly with the new CL-b and I found the HG more suitable all around for me.

The only minor complaint I have of the HG is that it's slightly picky with eye placement with my glasses due to the smaller EP and the ER is just barely enough. I couldn't go any smaller than 30mm. I'm getting by fine with it despite these issues. You can't have it all; I'm working with it and it's been a great little bino so far. I got it for the "refurb" price at $566 which is a very nice bargain.

The pandemic has messed a lot of things up for me, but at least I still have my job and I can work from home. Others have it way worse, so I shouldn't complain.

I'm happy to see you're well too :)
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
For sure the SV 8X32 impresses. It never comes across as "only 32mm" but always performs as a lightweight 42mm.
I absolutely agree with this.
So, here's how I see it. Just like Beth (and many around here) I've been on a quest for "THE" 8x30/32, that mythical creature that can blend tiny size with huge performance. When the MHG 8x30 came out, I just saw the dream come true, but I tried it twice (on different occasions) and I had serious problems with eye position that eventually rendered it unusable for me (funnily enough, the M7 and even better, the Traveller and Lynx HD+ don't cause me those problems). So I bought the CL. Amazing device (terrible looks), I found it to have more "pop", like pbjosh says, "a touch more 'alpha sparkle'" (I liked that!). However, the curse of narrow eyecups that haunts me also negated the CL for me after a while.

So eventually I got the 8x32 ELSV and, coming back to Chuck's quote, I don't think about it as an 8x32, I kind of think about it as an 8x35, because it is soooooo bright and the view is so easy, but it is also a little bigger and heavier (although lighter than a Conquest, Kowa or Nikon HGL). At the moment, having tried most 8x32 (UVHD, FL, HGL, Kowa, SE... almost every top dog except for the SF), I think I see it this way: my main binocular for daily use is the 8x32 ELSV. It is light enough (although the 8x30 M7/Traveller/Lynx/MHG/etc. has the ideal light/bulk/size factor) and the performance is simply in another level, not only optically, but (maybe more importantly) in comfort and ergonomics. When I put the 8x23 ELSV to my eyes I just don't feel they're a 8x32, they feel "bigger". I couldn't agree more with pbjosh when he said that "the 8x32 SF feels, thus far, like a replacement for 42mm bins more than competition for the 30mm MHG". I've realised that I think more or less in similar terms. The 8x32 ELSV is "my favourite 8x35" or 8x42, so to speak.

In the end, the ELSV is not alone: I keep the super light and small 8x30 Traveller (I got it 2nd hand for very little money) as a back up for "risky activities" or when I really need to go light/small, but I use the ELSV most of the times for daylight birding, while I use other flavours for low light, such as 10x50 or 7x50. Basically I just don't see the point of a 8x42 (except maybe the Nikon 8x42 MHG at 660 g, which I might get someday). Why carry all the weight and bulk for a few minutes of brighter image? (I live in a very sunny place, maybe if I lived in a cloudy and gloomy weather, I'd think otherwise). After reading what Chuck writes about the ELSV 8x32 and pbjosh about the SF8x32, I just think of the 8x32 ELSV in the same way.

EDIT: I forgot to write about everyday use of the ELSV. I got mine 2nd hand, it's a 2014 unit that went to Absam last year for a complete rehaul (it started with the focuser, but I understand the eye pieces were changed, as well as the rubber armour: the focuser on my unit is soft, really smooth, utterly enjoyable, as good as anything I've used, and perfect for catching birds on flight. Yes, the Nikon HGL or the Conquest have very soft and nice focusers, but I find the resistance of the ELSV is just perfect. Never miss a bird. Then there's the handling, the rubber armour texture is just perfect, and the barrels are not terribly thick. Over the last months I bird several days a week carrying my little babygirl on one of those ergobaby front carriers, which means I can't use a strap (it just gets in the middle and tangles with her arms while she's sleeping). So I use them without any strap, quite simply holding them in my hand while I walk (they feel amazingly light, even after holding them for more than an hour), and if I need to get them out of the way, I simply slip them in the pocket of my parka (in wintertime) or else in the case of the M7 that I carry on my belt, they disappear from sight and I never know I'm carrying them). I'm really happy with this way of using them. So much so, that I also use the Traveller in a similar fashion.
 
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[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Beth. When you get used to using an 8x30 they perform fine, and they do have the advantage of being smaller and lighter than a 32 mm but just don't try an 8x32 like the SV because you probably have forgotten how good an exceptional 8x32 is. There is no doubt a good 8x32 is better than a good 8x30 and a good 8x42 is better than a good 8x32. When you are dealing with equal quality optics aperture will always rule. The "pop" and "alpha sparkle" that you see in the CL is probably due to better coatings and glass. Swarovski is hard to beat for glass and coatings. The Little Swarovski CL 8x30 also has better contrast than the MHG 8x30 also and I found it to have better contrast than even the larger Zeiss Conquest HD 8x32.
 

Gilmore Girl

Beth
Supporter
United States
I tried the HG 8x30 without glasses once just out of curiosity and immediately wished I didn't have to wear glasses. I found the eyecups comfortable and it was just an easier viewing experience overall. In contrast, I found the Ultravid 8x32 no good with glasses and was surprised to find it finnicky even without glasses, so I know what people mean when they say the eyecup shape is important ... or It could also be the cups not adjusting/accommodating well enough for the ER. It's been so long since I've used binoculars without glasses.

I have to wear glasses with binoculars due to astigmatism, but if I didn't have to wear them I think the little HG would be practically perfect for me; I wouldn't think about 32mm or anything else.
I'm too squeamish for contacts and my prescription too weak to get lasik eye surgery, so I'm stuck wearing glasses.
 
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Gilmore Girl

Beth
Supporter
United States
Beth. When you get used to using an 8x30 they perform fine, and they do have the advantage of being smaller and lighter than a 32 mm but just don't try an 8x32 like the SV because you probably have forgotten how good an exceptional 8x32 is. There is no doubt a good 8x32 is better than a good 8x30 and a good 8x42 is better than a good 8x32. When you are dealing with equal quality optics aperture will always rule. The "pop" and "alpha sparkle" that you see in the CL is probably due to better coatings and glass. Swarovski is hard to beat for glass and coatings. The Little Swarovski CL 8x30 also has better contrast than the MHG 8x30 also and I found it to have better contrast than even the larger Zeiss Conquest HD 8x32.
It is surprising the difference between 30 vs 32 just in terms of the comfort/ease of viewing.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
It is surprising the difference between 30 vs 32 just in terms of the comfort/ease of viewing.
I think there is more to it than the bigger exit pupil and longer eye relief. It is the optical design of the SV 8x32. The SV 8x32 was designed to be an easy binocular to use but consequently because of the design some people will see glare. It is all about trade offs in optics. The NL has a huge FOV but for some people it has difficult eye placement and glare. It is impossible to design a perfect binocular.
 

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