Tom, thanks for reporting your experience and impressions. In the world of field preferences and colour rendition preferences, there really are no wrong answers - only different ones. We each have our own level of distortions in our eyes, and glasses too. Performing Holger Merlitz's Distortion Tests can be a very informative exercise for an individual - relative to their field perceptions and preferences.
I agree that it's the subtleties in the blacks and darker colours that can help separate the great from the good. One bird that very subtley does this for me under varied lighting conditions is our Dollarbird. Besides that they are just a joy to watch and listen to.
I would not classify my use of the term 'muddy' (to convey my perceptions) the way you have - as underexposed. To me underexposed would be like in the photographic sense - a general darkening, and loss of colour 'lustre' - reduction or inability to capture the dynamic range of a scene.
To my way of thinking, my term 'muddy' would be looking at a perfectly neutral yet vibrant and clear colour reproduction print of a scene, with any 3-D present in the scene if that helps - but it is the colour aspect that is most important - and then spilling your weakly brewed straight tea all over the print. Providing the whole scene as a weakly warm tint of reality and seemingly the impression of some loss of detail. As I've said before, I also found the colours at the extremities of the spectrum a little 'muted' in comparison to the SV. This makes them appear a bit more 'natural' you could say, whereas the SV's colours are really vibrant - particularly so on the 10x50 SV.
This (SV) to me seems a little bit more realistic, in that if you could transport your eyeball 10x closer in distance to the actual subject you would indeed see those vibrant colours. Having said that though, I feel I can always detect some S-P dielectric mirror coating shenanigans. I know you're not supposed to be able to tell the difference between 100% totally internally reflected, and the 98-99% over the spectrum of a dielectric mirror, but I reckon I can, it's almost intangible, but real to me nevertheless. There you go. BB duly stacked. I am indeed a wonder of nature !
I find that an A-K, or Porro I, II, etc, 100% internally reflecting prism does away with this 1-2% funky town aspect of the view, and neutral coatings allowing, provides that wonderful quality to the view that I like to call 'clarity', others may term it transparency, and that's fine too. The x56mm SLC's have this 'clarity' quality, and a pretty neutral (though muted) colour rendition. They are my several latest experiences of the x56's. Oddly enough, as I mentioned, my first ever experience of the big SLC's (a 10x56) had that weak tea tint. Not 'muddy' tea tint like the 42's, but like the kind that my Nan used to make - where she would take 1 used tea bag and brew a big pot to be drunk by 8 people !
One other thing I have to say about the way the SV's strike me, and that is that the two formats that really Wow me are the 8x32 SV - which is truly remarkable for what it can do with a 4mm exit pupil, and the 10x50 SV which gives the most 3-D view of any S-P roof I have ever seen. The rest of the range I'm a bit 'meh' about (8.5x42 SV gets an honorable mention I suppose). Interesting too, that I can hold the hand filling 10x50 SV absolutely rock steady - one of the best ever. Yet with the 12x50 SV I was like a dog sh*tt*n razor blades - very nervous and uncomfortable ! Perhaps the 10x is just my limit, or the several hours I spent with the Zeiss SF beforehand with their contrived hands forward positioning totally r**ted my dodgy shoulder ..... ?
On that view of the 10x50 SV, I'd like to ask you, and Ed, in particular, and anyone else with the relevant comparison experience, how do you find the 3-D effect, and the field characteristics of the 10x50 SV in comparison to that of the latest 8x42 SLC in particular, and/or the 10x42 SLC ......... ??? :cat:
Interesting: first, I see what you mean about muddy as in weak tea effect. I mean that I understand your description, but hardly dare look for that in case I find it and it affects my view of the SLC. A bit like hearing a rumour about someone you have always held in great respect.
The colour vibrancy of the ELs is something I'm keen to go back and check. Perhaps I'm a clairvoyant, though people I know really well would certainly laugh at that idea; again I was thinking yesterday about some things you have now aired in your post, and following on from that, how it would be a good idea now to rationalize my bins a bit, i.e. downsize for storage space, and the foremost thought was to part with the 8.5 EL. I do like the 8x32 EL very much (I just recognize glare can be a problem, but otherwise the view, clarity and above all the comfort of handling are so good that they are very special to me. Likewise the 10x50 EL or I would have traded it in when getting the 10x42 SLC. So I'll be very happy to get them out in a couple of days' time -- not much chance till Monday or Tuesday -- and have a good look. I think as they are different from the 42 SLCs, for me it's not about which is better (and therefore which is not so good) but more about what are the best points of each. Of course that way of looking at it means downsizing becomes that much harder, but while I enjoy them I will keep them.
Do you find you only really get the dog and the razorblades effect when fiddling about testing glass out, but all is forgotten when your concentration is taken up in viewing in earnest?
Strangely enough, I was also wondering idly if I shouldn't have gone further with the EL and got the 12 myself when I originally got the 10x50. You may have given me the answer or at least a caveat!
Will report back about the 10x50 EL and its 3D effect etc vs. the 42 SLCs soon. By the way, are there any optical differences between SV and Field Pro versions of the various EL glass? And what do you reckon is the relative failing of the 8.5 (to a lesser extent -- your 'honorable mention') and the other glasses in the EL range compared to the 8x32 and 10x50?
I must find Holger Merlitz's distortion tests.