• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Speculative 10x30/32 question (1 Viewer)

Sheepwatcher

Well-known member
United States
My primary binoculars over the last 20 years have been Zeiss 10x42s, first FL and now SF, and I've been very happy with them for dedicated birding activities. I recently got a wonderful deal on a pair of EL 8x32s as part of a quest to have a smaller, lighter pair of bins that I can keep with me all the time while I'm out working on the farm. Carrying the 8x32s in a pouch on my hip has been revelatory -- I barely notice they're there, and I've seen many birds I would otherwise have missed (today an indigo bunting and scarlet tanager at eye level in a flowering apple tree in the same binocular field!). I'm really enjoying the little ELs, but I do find myself missing the higher magnification I'm accustomed to. So here's the question: does 10x with a smaller objective work in a satisfying way, and which specific models might be good ones to try out? My concerns are the smaller exit pupil making for fiddly viewing and a lighter binocular being hard to hold steady at 10x. I'm ok if the answer is that physics is against me, but I'd love to hear of small 10x bins that have worked well for folks. My criteria are that the binoculars should be no bigger than the EL 8x32; weight is a little less of a concern than size; and I don't wear glasses while looking through binoculars. These will be used daily for birding and farm work (primarily spying on my sheep), so they won't be treated like objet d'art.

Thanks very much!

Milton
NH, USA
 
So here's the question: does 10x with a smaller objective work in a satisfying way,
Yes. I've used 10x32 for over 20 years.
and which specific models might be good ones to try out?
10x32 FL is excellent. So is UV, although it's getting just a bit small for me to hold (so I wouldn't consider 10x30 myself). And EL, and NL, depending on your preferences and budget.
 
If you like the 8x32 ELs I'd hunt down the 10x32 ELs - same size, still a decent FOV and personally I don't find the exit pupil makes them any fiddlier eye placement wise.
Fully agree, I've recently started using these for weight purposes and am converted (having been a 10x42 user my whole birding life).
 
If you like the 8x32 EL's because of their lighter weight and compact size, and you want the higher magnification of 10x, get either an NL 10x32 or SF 10x32. These two are the best alpha 10x32's without a doubt. I have the Zeiss SF 10x32 and I love it. No problem at all with eye placement or blackouts, and if you use them primarily in the daytime, you will never miss the bigger aperture of a 42mm, and you will appreciate the smaller size and lighter weight. I have the NL in a 8x32, but the NL 10x32 is excellent also.

Choosing between the NL 10x32 and SF 10x32 is mainly personal preference. The NL has slightly sharper edges and a flatter field than the SF, but the SF has a little smoother focuser and for me a little better handling. I like having an NL 8x32 and an SF 10x32 because it is fun to change off because you appreciate the differences between the two. If money is not an issue, the NL 10x32 or SF 10x32 are the ones to get because they have a much bigger FOV, sharper edges and are more transparent than the EL, FL, SFL or UV. The NL and SF 10x32's are very sweet binoculars.P5020580.JPG
 
Last edited:
Fully agree, I've recently started using these for weight purposes and am converted (having been a 10x42 user my whole birding life).
+1

I have an 8 year old 10x32 EL FP as my main everyday binocular. I wear glasses, if that makes a difference, and for me it is the best fit and most comfortable to use of any 10x30/32 binocular.

I also own 10x32 NL's, which I find easy and perfectly comfortable to use, 10x30 SFL's which I find less comfortable, but remarkably comfortable for their size. Maybe consider the 10x40 SFL if you're concerned about exit pupil size. My personal experience of the 10x32 SF was in stark contrast to Dennis, who clearly finds them perfectly comfortable. For me, finding a set up which avoided blackouts whilst still offering the full field of view was nigh on impossible, so I'd advise caution, they're not for everyone.
 
I vote for a secondhand EL 10x32 too. The NL 10x32 (which I have) is not remarkably better imo, but about 70g heavier.
If size and weight is really important, the CL Companion 10x30 might be interesting as well. For me an exit pupil of >= 3 mm is comfortable enough for daylight use. I have no difficulties with holding 10 power steady, even with a 10x25.
 
+1

I have an 8 year old 10x32 EL FP as my main everyday binocular. I wear glasses, if that makes a difference, and for me it is the best fit and most comfortable to use of any 10x30/32 binocular.

I also own 10x32 NL's, which I find easy and perfectly comfortable to use, 10x30 SFL's which I find less comfortable, but remarkably comfortable for their size. Maybe consider the 10x40 SFL if you're concerned about exit pupil size. My personal experience of the 10x32 SF was in stark contrast to Dennis, who clearly finds them perfectly comfortable. For me, finding a set up which avoided blackouts whilst still offering the full field of view was nigh on impossible, so I'd advise caution, they're not for everyone.
I would be cautious of the SFL's because I tried them all, and I personally saw the blue ring of death around the FOV, which appears to be a type of CA in several of them. Try them yourself first. I compared a 8x40 SFL to a 8x42 SLC and the SLC just killed it. Then I bought an EL 8x32 and the EL killed the SLC, and then I bought an NL 8x32 and the NL killed the EL 8x32. I sold the EL 8x32.

The NL not only has a bigger FOV than the EL, it is much more transparent and has much better contrast. It was immediately obvious to me when I compared them back to back. There is not that much difference in weight, maybe an ounce or two, and the focuser is much better on the NL than the EL. Get the NL 10x32 or SF 10x32 if you want the best and price doesn't matter. The NL and SF in 8x32 and 10x32 are IMO the best birding binoculars you can get. If I had to choose just one birding binocular for daytime use, it would be the NL 8x32.
 
Last edited:
The top 10x32's are all pretty heavy for their size, I'd be tempted to get something small, light and fairly rugged like Monarch HG 10x30 or SFL 10x30, they are both quite a bit lighter than 32mm EL's
 
The top 10x32's are all pretty heavy for their size, I'd be tempted to get something small, light and fairly rugged like Monarch HG 10x30 or SFL 10x30, they are both quite a bit lighter than 32mm EL's
The trouble I found with the HG 10x30 and SFL 10x30 is they both have difficult eye placement, and they have a tendency to have blackouts, whereas, the SF 10x32 and NL 10x32 are much more immune to blackouts. The SFL 10x30 can also have the blue ring of death for some people because of a type of CA around the edge of the FOV. It did for me.

The Monarch HG 10x30 is also famous for having eye cups that are too short for the eye relief, so you have to hold the binoculars in front of your face to avoid blackouts. The SF and NL also have better contrast and transparency than the SFL and HG because of better coatings and glass. You give up a LOT in optics when you drop to an SFL 10x30 or HG 10x30, so you have to decide if that 5 oz. weight savings is worth it. For me, it is not worth it.
 
You give up a LOT in optics when you drop to an SFL 10x30 or HG 10x30
That depends on the user, you also pay way less for 90% of the performance of an alpha. Some people are willing to pay 3x extra for that 5-10% difference. I remember another thread where you praised the subalphas like Trac Torics, according to you, why would someone spend $3000 for an alpha when you have the 90% percent of performance with a Tract Toric. Do you still think the same way? Or was it specific to that brand of binocular?
 
The top 10x32's are all pretty heavy for their size, I'd be tempted to get something small, light and fairly rugged like Monarch HG 10x30 or SFL 10x30, they are both quite a bit lighter than 32mm EL's
I don't have any firsthand experience with these smaller 10x binoculars...how easy are they to hold steady, and how is the ease of view? Do you prefer one to another?
 
The trouble I found with the HG 10x30 and SFL 10x30 is they both have difficult eye placement, and they have a tendency to have blackouts, whereas, the SF 10x32 and NL 10x32 are much more immune to blackouts. The SFL 10x30 can also have the blue ring of death for some people because of a type of CA around the edge of the FOV. It did for me.

The Monarch HG 10x30 is also famous for having eye cups that are too short for the eye relief, so you have to hold the binoculars in front of your face to avoid blackouts. The SF and NL also have better contrast and transparency than the SFL and HG because of better coatings and glass. You give up a LOT in optics when you drop to an SFL 10x30 or HG 10x30, so you have to decide if that 5 oz. weight savings is worth it. For me, it is not worth it.
I came to this same conclusion comparing the sfl 10x40 with the sf 10x42, so I kept the sf and sold the sfl. The 32ish class play a more utilitarian role in my life and work, so I'm not sure the same calculus applies for me there...
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Back
Top