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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

My only four hand-held binoculars (1 Viewer)

The "new kid on the block": Leica Ultravid 8x20 replaced my Leica Trinovid 8x20.
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Leica Ultravid 8x20 it is the binoculars that I always have with me, obviously due to its extremely compact volume. It has a top mechanical construction. Something totally absent from other pocket binoculars is the generous focus system. It is being serios dimensioned for a comfortable and pleasant experience. Has surprisingly good eye relief, because I raise the eyecups very little and still see the field stop with glasses on. Every time I look through it, I appreciate its optical clarity and colors. The name "Ultravid" suits perfectly!

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From an optical and constructive point of view, Nikon Monarch HG 8x30 it is the most balanced of my binoculars. It is very small (the smallest 8x30), being easy to transport when I don't want to have big binoculars, but still without optical compromises. It has an enormous visual field of view, and in the same time it is easy to see up to the field stop, without too much loss of clarity on the edges. The resolution is without reproach on the center! The colors are natural with only a slight warm tint, as they should to be pleasant and calm! The structure is made of magnesium and is covered with a beautiful and velvety to the touch but resistant armor. A very nice pair of binoculars! The name "HG" (High Grade) fits perfectly!

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Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 is the binocular that I like everything about it: ease of looking through the eyepieces, wide FOV and AFOV, the best resolution I've encountered, high brightness, glare resistance, impeccable ergonomics for me and mechanical quality. The complex eyepieces, without any reflection, look like two deep wells. In the middle, like a perfect coordinator, is the impeccable focus system! It deserves the name "SF" Smart Focus

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Swarovski Habicht 7x42. In addition to two 8x and a 10x, it was normal to choose a 7x. This is the binocular with the strongest personality among the others. May be only little Leica Ultravid can be more characterful! I like the spartan character of Habicht 7x. Those who are sensitive are not allowed to look through it! (I joke :)) However, if they do, they must do it with respect and that way they will understand the true qualities of this Habicht. The image has an unreal clarity with impeccable colors and at the same time pleasantly saturated. The image looks like a bright round painting surrounded by a very thick black frame, or better said hanging on a big black wall. The high light transmission by contrast with this deep black background, amplifies even more the feeling of brightness of the image.

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These four binoculars complement each other very well for me, and cover all my handheld binocular situations and requirements!

But on the tripod, for astronomy, I have two large binoculars: APM 28x110 and an APM SemiAPO 70mm Binoscop (45deg.) These two large binoculars gave me the most beautiful images of open star clusters. With APM 70mm binoscop I use pairs of eyepieces that give me magnifications from 12.5x to 67x

I am very happy with this setup!

Nice setup & nice pictures!
Zeiss SF 10x42 focuser is the best I've tried. I can characterize it as very butter smooth and quick response to the slightest movement. Also, the position of the focus wheel in the center of gravity of the binoculars, which is closer to the eyepieces, plays an important role in perfect ergonomics and stability. I took a very suggestive picture of how Zeiss SF can balance over the edge of "the abyss" by more than half of its length. Do not try this at home :)SF 10x42  gravity.JPGSF 10x42 focuser.JPG

Nikon MHG 8x30 focuser is a bit firm, exactly as I needed. It has a kind of "elastic" movement with very pleasant viscosity feeling. This pleasant elasticity, however, takes away a little from the accuracy of movementMHG 8x30 focuser.JPG

Swarovski Habicht 7x42 came with a very stiff focuser. But this disadvantage is compensated by the fact that has accurate focuser without jerking, and has a smooth spin, like a knife in a hardened butter. After using it over time, it lost some of its stiffness, becoming easier to spin and more pleasant. However, it has the stiffest focuser of my binoculars. I think this feeling is also due to the fact that the focus wheel is metal and very thin compared to its diameter (for example Habicht focuser it is three times thinner than Leica Ultravid 8x20 focuser, and twice larger in diameter than Leica one. This makes it hard to spin)Habicht 7x42 focuser.JPG

Leica Ultarvid 8x20 focuser has firmness and accuracy throughout the movement but has a slightly grainy movement that makes it feel less smooth/ continuous. However, the focus wheel is very large for a pocket binoculars, making it more ergonomic, easy to handle and increases spin comfort.Ultravid 8x20 focuser.JPG

My Swarovski EL 8x32 specimen that I tested had a grainy and inconsistent movement. Swarovski focuser moves more easily in one direction than the other, with a slight hesitation when changing directionSwaro EL 8x32 focuser.JPG

Even if I have my personal preferences reflected in this table, personally I can get used to any of these focusers, and I can learn the habit curve of each binocular very easily!
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Having only 2 pairs of binoculars I will chose:
First one I clearly opt for the SF Victory 10x42. It is the most comfortable binoculars I have tested. It has a body with "consistency" when held in hands. It sticks to eyes by itself, thanks to the superb ergonomics, and I feel it is a 10x only in resolution, not for the imagine shaking. So the first pair of binoculars is undoubtedly this one! The biggest proof that it is the first choice and the best binocular for me is the test of passing of time. This SF10x42 is my oldest set of binoculars, which has remained "faithful" to me for so many years. I was had many different binoculars in my kit, but this one remained!

But for choice of the SECOND pairs, the choice would be more complicated because I have three options (suitors), each with his own advantages:

Mainly the fight is between Nikon MonarchHG 8x30 vs Swarovski Habicht 7x42.
Nikon MHG 8X30 has the advantage of versatility. It has a very large visual field of view (8.3°), with acceptable clarity even up to the edges. It is more comfortable for glasses, and it has a good quality image with pleasant colors. MHG has good short close focus (~1.7m)! Mechanical quality olso superb. But the most important thing of MHG 8x30 is that these qualities are sealed in an extremely small and light body (450g), which is not much bigger than an 8x25 bino.
Zeiss Nikon.JPG

Swarovski Habicht 7x42, on the other hand, is from another story. It's a pair of binoculars with personality. Habicht likes to torture you and then reward you with a unique experience. From the moment you hold it in your hand torture begin...It has a bony structure, spartan to the touch. The focus requires force to rotate (but mine softens over time). The AFOV is a spartan one of only 46°, similar to an astronomical orthoscopic eyepiece. But paradoxaly with this small 6.5° field of view, the magic of these binoculars begins. The beauty is that, being very small, you can easily spot it immediately to the edge of the fieldstop, with both eyes without effort. This magic is amplified by the exemplary stability and large depth field of 7x, fantastic clarity of the image. And, in the world of binoculars, Habicht has the best transmission of light at all wavelengths. To this recipe of magic, is added like a salt and pepper, the three-dimensionality specific of a porro binos . The body has the classic porro beauty and is sealed for water.
Zeiss Swaro.JPG
SO it's hard to choose between versatility and magic. Sometimes I need versatility, and sometimes I feel need for magic. It depends a lot on my mood and concrete situations. When I want relaxation and a unique experience, I choose Habicht 7x42.
But more often I see myself in situations like expeditions, animal photography, or other action situations, where I choose versatility of Nikon MHG 8x30 over the Habicht magic. Because MHG 8x30 it is so compact and does not burden my luggage much, and I do not feel its presence around my neck that much, and that without feeling that it lacks optical and mechanical qualities.

But what about the third option, and more precisely what is it? I can put it in my backpack or pocket and forget about it there. It is the binocular carried everywhere, but used the least, due to the fact that it is the binocular for emergencies and unforeseen situations. It is a design object, just as it is good for a pair of binoculars carried everywhere, to make you happy when you look at it as an object itself. This does not mean that it does not have real optical and mechanical qualities such as image definition, contrast, superb colors and last but not least, the most comfortable focus system in the world of pocket binoculars, thanks to the oversized focus wheel comparared to binocular scale. So the third option for second pair of binoculars it is Leica Ultravid 8x20. But, being extremely small, I don't count it anymore... because with or without UV 8x20 in my backpack I don't feel the difference. So UV it is out of the race because it'll stay in my backpack anyway :) It's so small, and it's like a mechanical/optical jewel. It is a keeper in any situations! Maybe the fact that I no longer count the Ultravid 8x20 in the race, it has this special and privileged status, that means that these small binoculars are actually my seeking second choice?!
Zeiss Leica.JPG

However, if someone forces me to choose only two: As I said, clearly and easily, instantly, the first choice will be Zeiss SF 10x42. But the second choice will be very difficult to make. Maybe Nikon Monarch HG 8x30 due to its usefulness and convenience in use. But then I will immediately miss the magic of Habicht 7x42, or the gem of Ultravid 8x20. I'd be happy with any of these three bino, to make the team with Zeiss SF, appreciating each one's unique qualities. So I'll flip a coin :)
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