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OK folks help! - Swarovski or Zeiss?? (1 Viewer)

KeriBirder

I love Snowy Owls!
I’m going to be financially able to buy bins of my dreams here in a couple of weeks, but am having a most difficult time in choosing which. Firstly, 8x42, 8.5x42 or 10x42? I’m presently using Nikon Monarch 7s at 10x42. I am also buying a Zeiss Harpia 95 spotting scope. Just can’t decide between the Swarovski EL or the Zeiss Victory SF - I like the Zeiss because of the greater field-of-view, yet the Swaroivksis seem to have closer focus. So I’m thinking either the Swarovski 8.5x42 or the Zeiss 10x42... thoughts much appreciated!!
 

Boogieshrew

Well-known member
As a birder I’ve never worried about close focus. I’ve had bins that focus between 3’ and 10’ and never noticed the difference in real use. Close focus is more important to insect watchers.

FOV on the other hand is different. I really love a wide fov. You can see more stuff at once which is great for birding.
I find it easier on the eye as well. More relaxed viewing.

If you’re choice really is only between close focus and fov then I say go with the Zeiss 8x42s.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Thats a tough choice and although my selection would be SF 8x42 for its fabulous field of view and its handling balance, you really need to try both the Zeiss and the Swaro for yourself.

Lee
 

chill6x6

Well-known member
I’m going to be financially able to buy bins of my dreams here in a couple of weeks, but am having a most difficult time in choosing which. Firstly, 8x42, 8.5x42 or 10x42? I’m presently using Nikon Monarch 7s at 10x42. I am also buying a Zeiss Harpia 95 spotting scope. Just can’t decide between the Swarovski EL or the Zeiss Victory SF - I like the Zeiss because of the greater field-of-view, yet the Swaroivksis seem to have closer focus. So I’m thinking either the Swarovski 8.5x42 or the Zeiss 10x42... thoughts much appreciated!!

I'd sure prefer the Swarovski EL 8.5X42 in your case. I'd sure not want a 10X42 as my primary birding binocular. That's EXACTLY why I use the 8.5X42 so much. When I want a little more than 8X but don't want to sacrifice FOV for 10X I reach for the SV 8.5 which lately, has been EVERY TIME. For an all around general birding binocular it's going to be hard to beat.
 

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Steve C

Well-known member
First off welcome to BF.

Yours is likely a candidate for the most asked question we see. Which is better, this one or that one. The likely most common bit of advice given here is "try before you buy". The reason is that any two users may well have different reactions to the same binocular. So if you can try and find retail dealers where you can try both. As to which is best, you are the only one who can answer that for you. Both are at the to end of what can be purchased.

I have not seen the Zeiss SF yet. The one word of caution I would here on the EL is to be aware there is some chance (probably less than 25%) that you might be affected by rolling ball. I have owned several SV EL binoculars and rolling ball is the reason I don't own the 10x50 SV EL. The rolling ball affects me so badly I get motion sickness. You may well not be affected. Just be aware that if you are, you will be obliged to look elsewhere. Swarovski owners don't like to think about this, but for a few it is an obnoxious fact. I'm not the only one so afflicted. Aside from that the Swarovski is superb.
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
Your preference for the Harpia may be an indication that FoV is more important to you, which argues for the Zeiss SF.
The choice between 10x or 8x is likewise impacted, as the 8x SF FoV really stands out from the alternatives. The gap for the 10x is rather less, but the SF still has an edge of over 6%.
Either way, these are all top tier items, any of which should serve you well.

Incidentally, it is perfectly possible to bird very happily with a 10x or even 12x glass, the increased detail provided offsets the reduced FoV nicely imho.
The Canon 10x42IS serves me splendidly and has for the past 12 years, replacing a Nobilem 12x glass which served for the prior decade.
 

wdc

Well-known member
I’m going to be financially able to buy bins of my dreams here in a couple of weeks, but am having a most difficult time in choosing which. Firstly, 8x42, 8.5x42 or 10x42? I’m presently using Nikon Monarch 7s at 10x42. I am also buying a Zeiss Harpia 95 spotting scope. Just can’t decide between the Swarovski EL or the Zeiss Victory SF - I like the Zeiss because of the greater field-of-view, yet the Swaroivksis seem to have closer focus. So I’m thinking either the Swarovski 8.5x42 or the Zeiss 10x42... thoughts much appreciated!!

Here's a few things to consider: If you're going to be carrying a scope around as part of your regular birding regimen, consider a binocular you can one hand with some degree of pleasure and function. I would go with an 8x over a 10 for that, the lightest one, as well as the widest field of view. That speaks to the Zeiss 8x42, in the ones you mentioned..

I've been using a 10x42 for the past year, but a few weeks ago, started carrying a scope on a tripod over my shoulder. I moved to an 8x42 SF to make it easier to still get onto something without putting the scope down. I couldn't do it effectively with the 10x42. A 10x42 is great on its own, but you don't need the magnification if you've got a scope. Of course, your terrain, patch, wherever it is you bird, will tell you what probably will work best for you.
But if you're hauling a scope around, think about a wide field, lower mag, and less weight for the binocular, as the scope will cover the other end.

All those products you mentioned are excellent performers. It comes down to more what you're willing to haul around, and what is the best combination of tools to extend your reach. (widest field, greatest mag, etc)

Enjoy!

-Bill
 
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[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
It looks like outside of Chuck the popular vote is for the Zeiss SF 8x42 and I would agree if they work for you but as Lee says you definitely want to try them both yourself. I had the Swarovski 8.5x42's and I tried two brand new Zeiss SF 8x42's from Sport Optic's but they didn't work for my eyes. I liked everything about them because as Lee says they have a huge FOV and the handling and balance is great. They are almost a perfect binocular but on both pairs I tried I could see an orange crescent of light around the bottom edge of the FOV. It bothered me so I returned them. So my point is it is very important to try them both yourself. Allbino's talks about the crescent of light in their review. For my 8x42's I use a Nikon EDG and a Zeiss 8x42 FL which have less sharp edges than the SV 8.5x42 but they don't have any rolling ball which might bother you and they are a little better at controlling glare. IMO the Zeiss FL with the AK prism which transmits light better is a little brighter than the SV it controls CA a little better and is a little sharper on-axis. The EDG is excellent with probably the best focuser around period. So there are a couple more options for you.

"Cons:
distinct reflections visible beyond the eyepiece's diaphragm

If not for that strange slip-up with reflections beyond the eyepiece's diaphragm, most likely caused by a shiny ring inside tubes which aren’t baffled properly by apertures, you would get an instrument optically perfect, an ideal."

https://www.allbinos.com/304-binoculars_review-Carl_Zeiss_Victory_SF_10x42.html
 
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edwincjones

Well-known member
The SW and Zeiss are fairly equal in quality,
just personal preference;
so go to a shop that has both and try out for yourself,
keeping in mind the above suggestions.

edj
 

Foss

Well-known member
If you do get a chance to try in person before you buy, don't forget to bring along your Monarch 7s for a base line comparison.
 

14Goudvink

Well-known member
Because of its greater depth of view (less focussing when birds move) 8x bins are easier in use when chasing warblers in bushes and trees. The greater field of view will also help in these situations.

George
 

KeriBirder

I love Snowy Owls!
Here's a few things to consider: If you're going to be carrying a scope around as part of your regular birding regimen, consider a binocular you can one hand with some degree of pleasure and function. I would go with an 8x over a 10 for that, the lightest one, as well as the widest field of view. That speaks to the Zeiss 8x42, in the ones you mentioned..

I've been using a 10x42 for the past year, but a few weeks ago, started carrying a scope on a tripod over my shoulder. I moved to an 8x42 SF to make it easier to still get onto something without putting the scope down. I couldn't do it effectively with the 10x42. A 10x42 is great on its own, but you don't need the magnification if you've got a scope. Of course, your terrain, patch, wherever it is you bird, will tell you what probably will work best for you.
But if you're hauling a scope around, think about a wide field, lower mag, and less weight for the binocular, as the scope will cover the other end.

All those products you mentioned are excellent performers. It comes down to more what you're willing to haul around, and what is the best combination of tools to extend your reach. (widest field, greatest mag, etc)

Enjoy!

-Bill

That’s a good point for the 8x42s.. I too have been using 10x42, but now I’m really starting to think about weight... bins, scope and tripod, camera... and I would like to be able to avail myself of my bins without necessarily putting down my scope.
 

Jonno52

John (a bad birdwatcher)
Supporter
United Kingdom
As I posted recently, close focus does matter to me for birding. Many years ago I was trying to watch my first Yellow-browed Warbler in a dense thicket. My Optolyth 10x50s focused no closer than about 6 metres and the bird was 4 or 5 metres away (this is approximate, I can't recall the precise distance). The bird was too close to focus on properly, and I could only just make our enough detail in the blurred image to satisfy myself as to the ID. Not something that happens often, but it's worth having the option to focus as close as 1.5 metres, which my Swaro EL 10x42 SVs do

Here's a video of a Lanceolated Warbler on Shetland walking over someone's hand (start at 0.40 if you don't want to watch it all). There's a video somewhere of the same species walking over a birder's shoe. You'd hardly need bins at that point, but it illustrates than once in a very blue moon birds can come very close indeed.

The only possible downside to the Swaros IMO is that their greaseless focusing system can cause a bit of "stiction". It doesn't bother me and I don't find that it prevents quick accurate focusing, but not everyone likes it.

The images which Swaro and Zeiss provide are probably of equal quality, though I haven't looked through Zeiss flagship models, only my Zeiss Conquest HD 8x32s.
 

Boogieshrew

Well-known member
Wow 6m close focus is very unusual these days. For birding binoculars anyway. I think 3m is considered long in a modern birding binocular. My favourite bins are 3m. I've yet to have a bird too close to focus on.
 

Jonno52

John (a bad birdwatcher)
Supporter
United Kingdom
Absolutely. Those Optolyths were what I used from 1983 to 1990. Even then 6 metres was considered long, but possibly the bins were not originally designed with birders in mind. Focusing was odd too: from near to far, you turned the wheel anticlockwise. Nor were they waterproof, or even very water-resistant. The optical quality was good for the price though, and for some years they appeared in the British Birds annual survey of optics favoured by by birdwatchers. The Optolyth 30x75 scope, which I used, was reviewed in Birding World by the eminent Peter Grant in 1983. He said that if only it were waterproof, it would be "the ideal birder's scope".
Wow 6m close focus is very unusual these days. For birding binoculars anyway. I think 3m is considered long in a modern birding binocular. My favourite bins are 3m. I've yet to have a bird too close to focus on.
 

temmie

Well-known member
If only one of those existed, I would be happy with either of those.

For me, the (subtle) differences would lead me to buy the Zeiss:
It has a wider FOV, better balance and a fluid, faster focus I like better, especially while tracking fast moving birds in trees / flocks ...

The SV has the service reputation, is a bit smaller and has a nicely corrected flat field, but those 'good points' for the Swarovski are for me personally not as important as FOV, balance and speed / fluidity of focusing.

People have discussed the color fidelity in other topics, but as far I could see, the SF was fairly neutral in terms of pure whites, so my eyes don't notice any significant difference.

Take home message: test them both, as some differences are personal preference.
 

Boogieshrew

Well-known member
Absolutely. Those Optolyths were what I used from 1983 to 1990. Even then 6 metres was considered long, but possibly the bins were not originally designed with birders in mind. Focusing was odd too: from near to far, you turned the wheel anticlockwise. Nor were they waterproof, or even very water-resistant. The optical quality was good for the price though, and for some years they appeared in the British Birds annual survey of optics favoured by by birdwatchers. The Optolyth 30x75 scope, which I used, was reviewed in Birding World by the eminent Peter Grant in 1983. He said that if only it were waterproof, it would be "the ideal birder's scope".

Yes I rEmember lots of optolyth bins around in the 80s and draw tube scopes. Ooh I’ve come over all nostalgic! Except I wear glasses and eyerelief back then was rubbish 😀
 

wdc

Well-known member
With a scope a premium 8X32 will do almost as well, and be even less weight. Just a thought.

Andy W.

Thats a good point Andy. In that case my recommendation would be the Swarovski EL 8x32 SV. It knocks 200 grams off the weight of the 8x42 SF.

-Bill
 
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