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Pocket binoculars that fit in your pocket! (1 Viewer)

eitanaltman

Well-known member
“Figuring out your need” is a great point. Everyone has different real world needs. I love buying and trying binoculars, but I also don’t like clutter and “waste”, so I try to be disciplined and fight my gear junkie tendencies and ask myself “when will I really use this binocular?”

I had the same point on the other end of the spectrum in the current thread on the Leica UV 8x50. I just can’t imagine a situation where I would grab that instead of the 7x42.

My only “criticism” of the Zeiss 8x25 is that it didn’t fit any real need for me. It was in a sort of no-mans-land where it wasn’t quite comfy enough for “serious birding”, but not quite small enough for “carry anywhere emergency use”. So when I asked myself “when will i REALLY use these?”, the truth was that I would always grab a larger bin if I didn’t need to stuff it away. And they weren’t quite comfy enough for me to use them as a lighter alternative. And I would probably still leave them at home if I needed something truly tiny.

So then I veered towards “small 8x30” which (as you know) is all the rage these days, thinking I would prefer the handling as a light weight backup option. But, now that I have a Traveler 8x32, it really strikes me that these tiny-30 class is not that much more ergonomic than the Zeiss. In addition to the Opticron I’ve owned the M7 8x30, and the Swaro 8x30, they are all just a wee bit too small and slender for me to wrap my mitts around and feel totally comfortable using them for hours. The Opticron sits at home most of the time (although I will probably still keep them since the light weight and 51mm min IPD makes them perfect for my daughters).

So I think the Zeiss is more accurately viewed as a competitor to these tiny-30’s, but with the benefit of being able to fold in half! Perfect for someone who wants a serious optic for occasional use that handles almost like a mid sized bin, but can be stuffed into a belt pouch or roomy jacket pocket when not needed.
 

mwhogue

Well Known Member
Supporter
This thread has really developed. I agree with a lot here and particularly Eitan's #81 and the opening concept he references from Imans' #77. For me, it's the (excellent) new SW 8X30 CL that falls into no man's land. While the CL is optically better, I prefer the handling ergonomics of the VP which is also noticeably smaller and lighter. Just about anyplace I could carry the CL, I could carry the SV 8x32. The 8x25 VP is the best bin I can have with me more often than not. That is my number 1 real world need.

Mike
 

Super Dave

Well-known member
I was on a similar quest and have owned two of the Nikon Microns, the Leica 8x20, Swaro 8x25 and Zeiss 8x25. I found the Nikon too small to be enjoyable but a cool novelty. The Leica 8x20 is excellent for what it is. But the impressive views of the 8x25 size blows the smaller ones out of the water. To me, the 8x25 view is so nice that I sold all my larger binoculars (other than image stabilized bins). Out of everything I kept the Swaro 8x25. I like how it folds up into a more compact package than the Zeiss competitor and I also preferred the ergonomics.
 

Sprite1275

Well-known member
United Kingdom
IMO, they shouldn't really be seen as direct competitors as they fill somewhat different niches. The Zeiss to me slots in more in between 8x32's and "true" compacts. The Zeiss is perfect for someone who wants something that has comfort and handling close to an 8x32, but with a significant reduction in size/weight. The Leica is for when you need something that is more literally "pocket sized".

The photo below from the birdwatching.com review tells the story, as well as the subsequent image which I took when I had the Zeiss 8x25, next to my wife's UV 8x32 HD. The 8x20 UV is MUCH smaller, and with the double hinge folds up even smaller when collapsed.

The Zeiss, on the other hand, is (when opened for use) basically the same size as the Ultravid 8x32, albeit with slimmer barrels and a ~40% reduction in weight. It is obviously much smaller than more "full sized" 8x32's, as the Leica is among the smallest, but it's not any smaller (if at all) than the proliferating 8x30 class that's become popular recently.


View attachment 1373643

View attachment 1373644

So to me, the Zeiss 8x25 is really competing with binoculars like the Opticron Traveler or Nikon MHG -- i.e. a small, light binocular for when you want to minimize size/weight while still retaining handling and optical quality "close enough" to a normal-sized 8x32. The Zeiss is still large enough, and optically good enough, to function as an optic that's used for more than just casual views, more like an 8x32. Whereas the Leica UV 8x20 is a for when you want something truly tiny, at the expense of some ergonomics/handling comfort.

The reason I sold the Zeiss 8x25 was that (for me) they weren't small enough to be truly "pocket sized", which reduced their value as something I could have on me at any time even in non-birding contexts.... but when used for normal "I'm birding but I don't want to carry a big 42mm" outings, where I'm not putting the binocular in a pocket or bag, I would rather have a slightly larger 30/32mm with the superior ergonomics and more meat to grab onto.

In other words, if I'm not going to stuff it into a pocket, the small size / light weight is a negative, not a positive. I'd rather carry an 8x32 and benefit from the superior handling, larger exit pupil, fatter eyecups, etc. And if I am going to stuff it into a pocket for "emergency use", I would rather have something even smaller (like the Leica).

It also should be noted that I don't wear glasses, so the long eye relief and small eyecups of the Zeiss didn't work out that well for me, and I much preferred the handling of my wife's Leica. I can totally understand how someone who wears glasses would prefer the Zeiss, as I found it to be virtually the equal of the little Leica optically. Especially if you're more of a "look occasionally at stuff" binocular user, not a hardcore birder who is using them constantly when out in the field.

I have a Leica UV 8x20 on its way, so I will see how I mesh with that one. I'm not expecting it to have the viewing comfort and handling of the Zeiss, but I also expect I'll be more likely to tote it along to random places where I otherwise wouldn't have any binoculars on me.
Your post is what I was getting at when I started the thread. I love the look of the Swarovski 8x25 and was so close to getting it but I had to think to myself if they will not fit into my shorts/trouser pockets then again I'll be leaving them at home. Also if I've got a pair of 8x32 I just don't see the point of having a pair of 8x25.

I know now that when I'm going for a walk, cycle, going camping or to a festival or even the theatre I'll be able to take the Leica with me with out them being a hassle. If I'm going out birding or to an air show etc then the Hawkes will be my companion.
 

sillyak

Well-known member
I think you made the right choice and agree with the sentiment that the Zeiss and Swarovski have optical advantages, but the form factor is somewhere between a "pocket" and midsized.

That's why I like my little Swarovski 8x20 so much, it's even a wee bit smaller and lighter than the Leica. If I was buying new today it would definitely be the Leica.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
I was on a similar quest and have owned two of the Nikon Microns, the Leica 8x20, Swaro 8x25 and Zeiss 8x25. I found the Nikon too small to be enjoyable but a cool novelty. The Leica 8x20 is excellent for what it is. But the impressive views of the 8x25 size blows the smaller ones out of the water. To me, the 8x25 view is so nice that I sold all my larger binoculars (other than image stabilized bins). Out of everything I kept the Swaro 8x25. I like how it folds up into a more compact package than the Zeiss competitor and I also preferred the ergonomics.
I agree. I tried just about every small compact and I kept the Swaro 8x25 CL-P. It folds smaller than the Zeiss Victory 8x25 and even though the FOV is smaller it has a bigger sweet spot and sharper edges which makes up for it. I also preferred the ergonomics of the Swarovski 8x25. The eye cups fit my eye sockets better, and I don't have to "float" it to avoid blackouts like I do the Zeiss 8x25. The Swaro 8x25 kills the Leica Ultravid 8x20 optically.
 

Sprite1275

Well-known member
United Kingdom
So how far do the eye cups pull out on the victory? Looking at pictures they look like they pull out about 6/7mm? Compared to the swaro which looks about 10mm. Surely if they made them to pull out a couple more mil they would suit the eye relief they have?
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
So how far do the eye cups pull out on the victory? Looking at pictures they look like they pull out about 6/7mm? Compared to the swaro which looks about 10mm. Surely if they made them to pull out a couple more mil they would suit the eye relief they have?
That is what they need or maybe a little larger eye cups, so they don't sink into your eye sockets as much. I think the Swaro 8x25 CL-P has bigger diameter eye cups.
 

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