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SFL 8x40: impressions after 20 years with Swarovski EL's (1 Viewer)

An SF 8x32 is 6"x4.4", NL 8x32 is 5.7"x5.1" and a UVHD+ is 4.5"x4.5". The SF and NL are only 1 1/2 inches longer than the UVHD+ because they have a longer, more complex eyepiece to achieve the much bigger FOV that is sharp to the edge. The SF weighs 21 oz., NL 23 oz. and the UVHD+ 19 oz. and you get almost an increase of 70 feet in the FOV with either the SF or NL over the UVHD+! Now you have to ask yourself isn't 1 1/2 inches worth it for that gain in FOV and edge sharpness? Many people appreciate the extra real estate when holding the binocular because you have more room to wrap your fingers around the tubes and a little extra weight helps you hold the binoculars steadier also.
If I want to carry a smaller x32 binocular with the compromises they may have, I'll carry my Leica uv+, which fits easily in jacket pockets.

If I carry à binocular that's too large to fit in my pockets, it's going to have objectives of size 42 or more. Usually the 12x42.

If weight is a real issue for somebody, they will probably carry the lightest possible instrument whatever the optical compromises.
 
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If I want to carry a smaller x32 binocular with the compromises they may have, I'll carry my Leica uv+, which fits easily in jacket pockets.

If I carry à binocular that's too large to fit in my pockets, it's going to have objectives of size 42 or more. Usually the 12x42.

If weight is a real issue for somebody, they will probably carry the lightest possible instrument whatever the optical compromises.
Even when weight is an issue there are still trade offs that need to be considered. Obviously the 8x20s are going to be the smallest and lightest but the view is usually too compromised. So a lightweight 8X30 is a better option. This is the beauty is the SFL.
 
Really, the first thing?

My first things to look for are appropriate size, weight, comfortable armour, comfortable oculars, a smooth focus, easy diopter, bright view, sharp central image area where subjects are viewed, no CA, large afov...

They are all things I look for before looking for fuzzy edges.
Yea, me to. Fuzzy edges are almost dead last. That said I like em, tho...
 
If I want to carry a smaller x32 binocular with the compromises they may have, I'll carry my Leica uv+, which fits easily in jacket pockets.

If I carry à binocular that's too large to fit in my pockets, it's going to have objectives of size 42 or more. Usually the 12x42.

If weight is a real issue for somebody, they will probably carry the lightest possible instrument whatever the optical compromises.
Think it may be more complicated than this. I never put binos in pockets. Do own and use a compact for travel in backpack/carryon. I do use a scope in several places I bird, no one's talking about this, but when dragging the blasted scope and tripod around (tongue in cheek, please), I prefer a smaller, lighter than 42 bino that still, has real estate for large hands and can be held steady when locating targets for the scope. 32s are also superior for when only one hand is available, walking with scope on shoulder and something catches your eye.
 
Been using Swarovski 8x32 EL's since 2003 along with, more recently, Swaro 8x32 EL SV's. Both excellent and as durable as an anvil. The SFL's were purchaed to augment, not replace, my beloved EL's.

SFL 8x40s:
Image: Bright, sharp and clear -- very nice!!
FOV: Nearly identical to my 8x32 EL's. Edge sharpness is noticeably less than my EL SV's, but this may help when panning and makes no difference to me whatsoever when birding. Overall, the FOV is excellent.
Focusing: I really like the fast focusing speed. Slightly stiffer than my EL's, but otherwise perfect. The focusing wheel itself is big and perfectly situated. Close focus distance is mind blowingly excellent and adds to the SFL's utility.
Balance: Very good. I used the edge of a table to determine the SFL's balance point and found it is at the rear edge of the focusing wheel.
Weight: I was very surprised that the SFL’S feel heavy and bulky, though I know they weigh only 22.6 oz, less than 2 oz. more than my ELs. Too many years, I guess, with my 8x32s.
Shape: I wish the barrels were round like my Swaros. Thus far, I don't like the "squarish" barrel shape, a bit like a Leica Noctivid but not nearly as "blocky" or wide. Again, 20 years with 8x32 Swaros, I just need to get used to using SFL’s.
Diopter Adjuster: I actually like it despite its location below the eyepiece. Set it once and forget it. Less vulnerable to damage if the binos are dropped.
Eyepieces/Adjustment: I really like the eyepieces and the 4 click-stop adjusters. I was able to quickly find the perfect spot for adjustment, in my case in between the third and fourth click-stop.
Veiling glare: Hope to check soon for veiling glare about an hour before sunset at the now-abandoned harrier roost. Both my wonderful EL's
were beset by VG at this time/place. Keeping my fingers crossed for the SFL's.
Quality/Value: High quality (except for the strap attachment). Incredible optics given the price.
Case/Strap: Nice padded case. I haven't used the strap -- I always use a harness.

Am certain I forgot a few things.
Quoting Dennis, who was quoting me, veiling glare is the 8x32 EL's "Achilles' heel," and the "fatal flaw" that led me to return mine. The SFL's wouldn't have to work hard to beat it in that area. Otherwise, the 8x32 EL has excellent optics.

The ergonomics on the 8x32 EL were the best fit for my hands of any roof I've tried or owned. No matter how I picked it up, it was easy to hold steady. With the 8x42 EDG II, and to a lesser degree with the 8x32 EDG II, I have to hold them a particular way to get the steadiest image. Both EDGs are much better at controling VG than the 8x32 EL, particulalry the 8x42 model, which is very well baffled.

Even with the SFL's weight being low for a typical 8x40/42s, going from the ultralight open bridge EL to an open hinge full sized design would make it seem heavier and bulkier.

Perhaps you would be better off with the 8x30 SFL, though since you have two 8x32 ELs, and are not bothered terribly by the VG, I can't see the point in buying one since what you have is already one of the best 8x32s made (VG excepted), and they are plenty bright, so why the interest in the 8x40 SFL?

Brock
 
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We are saying the same thing. Longer, heavier, more complicated glasses lead to sharper images and wider FOV. That's the tradeoff. We're well aware that you prefer the longer heavier side. Rather than comparing to the UVHD+ at 19oz I am comparing to the SFL or the MHG or the Traveller at 160z. That's 5-7 ounces lighter than the SF or NL. THAT is huge.
You can't compare a 30 mm to a 32 mm in weight or size. Weight and size are very important, and they can be the number one feature you are looking for in a binocular. It is very nice to carry and use a smaller 16 oz. binocular in the filed versus a 23 oz. binocular. That 7 oz. makes a big difference, but you are giving up maybe 10% in the optics, but 90% is good enough for a lot of people. That is why Zeiss made the SFL 8x30. They know size and weight are important to a lot of people, but they don't want the limitations of a smaller, compact binocular. I think 8x30 is about the minimum size for a serious binocular, but some people would disagree and say the Zeiss Victory 8x25 will suffice and if you realize it will not perform like an 8x32 it probably will in most situations. If I could get the view of an NL 8x32 in a binocular, the size and weight of a SFL 8x30, I would have the SFL 8x30.
 
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Quoting Dennis, who was quoting me, vieling glare is the 8x32 EL's "Achilles' heel," and the "fatal flaw" that led me to return mine. The SFL's wouldn't have to work hard to beat it in that area. Otherwise, the 8x32 EL has excellent optics.

The ergonomics on the 8x32 EL were the best fit for my hands of any roof I've tried or owned. No matter how I picked it up, it was easy to hold steady. With the 8x42 EDG II, and to a lesser degree with the 8x32 EDG II, I have to hold them a particular way to get the steadiest image. Both EDGs are much better at controling VG than the 8x32 EL, particulalry the 8x42 model, which is very well baffled.

Even with the SFL's weight being low for a typical 8x40/42s, going from the ultralight open bridge EL to an open hinge full sized design would make it seem heavier and bulkier.

Perhaps you would be better off with the 8x30 SFL, though since you have two 8x32 ELs, and are not bothered terribly by the VG, so I can't see the point in buying one since what you have is already one of the best 8x32s made (VG excepted), and they are plenty bright, so why the interest in the 8x40 SFL?

Brock
Excellent observations and summary.

"...so why the interest in the 8x40 40 SFL."
Good question. In retrospect, I was searching for my Holy Grail: a lightweight binocular with better after-sunset performance and more resistance to VG in late afternoon than my 8x32s, with the assumed benefits of a 5mm exit pupil. I surmised, all without prior testing (silly me) but lots of reading on BF and elsewhere, that the SFL was the perfect solution.

They are excellent optically, exceeded my expectations -- especially given their price -- but I need more time with them to determine the wisdom of my purchase. As I noted in post #1, despite their relatively small size and being wonderfully lightweight for 8x40s, they just feel "big" and a bit unwieldly to me after 20 years of 8x32 EL use. As I noted in that same post, thus far, I don't like the "squarish" shape of the larger SFL barrels -- just not what I'm used to. My fault, not the SFL's. Anyway, bone spur removal yesterday will delay more field time for assessment. Damn.
 
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I can see how the 8x40 SFL feels bulky after using 32s, but it's still quite manageable. After trying out the 8x30 SFLs which physically and optically seem a little too much like a compact bin, I found myself wishing for a 8x36 SFL.
I think we need an 8X33 😳
 
Excellent observations and summary.

"...so why the interest in the 8x40 40 SFL."
Good question. In retrospect, I was searching for my Holy Grail: a lightweight binocular with better after-sunset performance and more resistance to VG in late afternoon than my 8x32s, with the assumed benefits of a 5mm exit pupil. I surmised, all without prior testing (silly me) but lots of reading on BF and elsewhere, that the SFL was the perfect solution.

They are excellent optically, exceeded my expectations -- especially given their price -- but I need more time with them to determine the wisdom of my purchase. As I noted in post #1, despite their relatively small size and being wonderfully lightweight for 8x40s, they just feel "big" and a bit unwieldly to me after 20 years of 8x32 EL use. As I noted in that same post, thus far, I don't like the "squarish" shape of the larger SFL barrels -- just not what I'm used to. My fault, not the SFL's. Anyway, bone spur removal yesterday will delay more field time for assessment. Damn.
Sir Search A. Lot,

Thank you. I hate to be the break this to you, but the search for the Holy Grail is an Arthurian legend!

But a lot of us, including me, find ourselves caught up in the search for the grail, sometimes only to find that after we thought we found it, the only thing "holey" is our wallet. :)

I didn't realize the barrels of the SFL were squarish, but now that you mentioned it, I looked at a photo of the objectives, I can see what you mean. I guess like Huey Lewis, Zeiss thinks: It's Hip to Be Square!

I was more concerned with the location of the Smart Focuser, which seems to be where I would cross my thumbs underneath, but since I couldn't, I might have to reach above the focuser and place my thumb tips on the tiny bridge like Roger did in the photo below. Doesn't look comfortable. I'd have to handle one to be sure, but for now I've put a red question mark next to the SFL on my Quest list.

I used my SE and E2 yesterday in the backyard and realized that I would have to spend $2k on the latest and greatest roofs to get optical performance as good as these, and unlike the porros, I might have to struggle to hold them comfortably.

Today, I went down to the park after the wee people departed from the Easter egg hunt, and I took my Cabela 8x32 Guide roof prism binoculars. I looked at birds, ducks, geese and some historic buildings and statues, and the views were sharp with excellent contrast and colors. The Guide cost 1/10th the price of an alpha.

So, I figured out that I don't need to buy an alpha or a beta, I just need to buy a logo from Zeiss, Leica, or Swarovski and glue it on my Japanese bins. :)

Brock
 

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An 8x32 is close enough. But if not, there is the Kowas Genesis Prominar 8x33.
I find the Kowa 8x33 and 10x33 work well for me. I also find that SFL chatter is dwindling to crumbs of inanity sooner than I expected. The x30 cannot generate the same universal and sustained admiration that the x40 did. Physics.
 
Sir Search A. Lot,

Thank you. I hate to be the break this to you, but the search for the Holy Grail is an Arthurian legend!

But a lot of us, including me, find ourselves caught up in the search for the grail, sometimes only to find that after we thought we found it, the only thing "holey" is our wallet. :)

I didn't realize the barrels of the SFL were squarish, but now that you mentioned it, I looked at a photo of the objectives, I can see what you mean. I guess like Huey Lewis, Zeiss thinks: It's Hip to Be Square!

I was more concerned with the location of the Smart Focuser, which seems to be where I would cross my thumbs underneath, but since I couldn't, I might have to reach above the focuser and place my thumb tips on the tiny bridge like Roger did in the photo below. Doesn't look comfortable. I'd have to handle one to be sure, but for now I've put a red question mark next to the SFL on my Quest list.

I used my SE and E2 yesterday in the backyard and realized that I would have to spend $2k on the latest and greatest roofs to get optical performance as good as these, and unlike the porros, I might have to struggle to hold them comfortably.
Really? That’s surprising to me. I didn’t need the latest and greatest to get optical quality as good as E2 and SE, $500 Vipers, Terra’s, M7’s, even Oberwerks at $250 are comparable if not superior than the E2, and most $1000 roofs easily compare to the SE’s. I’m not sure where your reading this information. You should go try them then report back. 😵‍💫
Today, I went down to the park after the wee people departed from the Easter egg hunt, and I took my Cabela 8x32 Guide roof prism binoculars. I looked at birds, ducks, geese and some historic buildings and statues, and the views were sharp with excellent contrast and colors. The Guide cost 1/10th the price of an alpha.

So, I figured out that I don't need to buy an alpha or a beta, I just need to buy a logo from Zeiss, Leica, or Swarovski and glue it on my Japanese bins. :)

Brock
 

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