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Swarovski CL Companion 8x30 vs Kowa Genesis 8x33 ?? (1 Viewer)


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Has anyone owned or compared both?
Would be keen to hear your thoughts on their merits, downsides and which your prefer.

Main use would be for daily hiking & biking.

The other contender is the Zeiss Victory 8x25, which I owned briefly but sold due to the strap lugs, poor diopter, sub optimal focus wheel and a distinct lack of pop or contrast to the image. May revisit due to the weight & size for hiking trips.

Direct comparisons are tricky so would appreciate any input, thanks.
Has anyone owned or compared both?
Would be keen to hear your thoughts on their merits, downsides and which your prefer.

Main use would be for daily hiking & biking.

The other contender is the Zeiss Victory 8x25, which I owned briefly but sold due to the strap lugs, poor diopter, sub optimal focus wheel and a distinct lack of pop or contrast to the image. May revisit due to the weight & size for hiking trips.

Direct comparisons are tricky so would appreciate any input, thanks.

Since no one with these specific models has yet commented here's my take in the meantime.

The CL 8x30 is overall a good binocular with really great overall image quality. For me the "eye box" does make eye placement nearly fool proof. It is reasonably light and compact for hiking and biking. Good ER for me with close fitting sunglasses -100% full FOV. The main draw backs for me (not deal breakers) are the awkward diopter, a relatively narrow AFOV, and handling ergonomics are not ideal. I actually prefer the handling of the 8x25 Zeiss.

I own the Kowa Genesis 10.5x44 but have never seen the 8x33 version. The image of the 10.5 is really outstanding. However I do lose @ 5 to 10% FOV with close fitting sunglasses but the 8x33 may have more real ER. It may have a larger AFOV than the CL but the published specs on that are not always accurate IME. In relative terms for hiking and biking the 8x33 is heavier and larger, enough that it may make a difference to you.

Hope someone with more direct experience will weigh in.

I had the 8x30 CL for a while and have tested the Genesis 8x33 a couple of times (only on shops). So here goes my take.

These are two very different devices made with very different ideas in mind (or that's the way I see it), and this is especially true for the shape and size (as well as the weight), which can pretty much steer different users in one or the other direction.
The 8x30 CL is a very light 8x30 with pretty slim barrels and a narrow bridge which is located pretty high. This makes for a great (IMHO) grip, since the barrels fill you hand, you grab them like a handle, and the rubber is really very nice (mind you I was recently talking with another forum member who found the barrels just too thin for his taste). On the other hand, the Genesis are more substantial, they're on the heavy side for a 8x32 (33 in this case), more in the line of the Zeiss Conquest HD or the Leica Trinovid HD, to name a few contenders on the same price/specs/range. This can completely tip the balance, depending on what you're looking for. Since you mention the Zeiss 8x25 and that you want them for biking/hiking, I guess you're looking for light/small, a more "agile" (if I may say so) device for walks, treks, etc. If this was the case, I'd say the Swarovski is more suited (by quite a stretch), since this is what it was created for (taking into account that its bigger brother, the EL, is bigger and heavier, filling another gap/niche). For me, great binoculars like the Genesis or the Conquest HD, which have one foot on the next category in terms or optical performance, are just too big and heavy for a light 8x32, so I would consider them more like a rival for an 8x42, but not a daily agile and light bino (like an 8x25). This is a very important first impression I got when having both in my hands.

Optically both have their strengths. The CL is (together with the Monarch HG) probably on top of the 8x30 pyramid of roof binoculars, and as such gives a very alpha-esque image, sharp and with a lot of "pop", only caveat being CA, which I found surprisingly obvious for the price point. The eye position is, just like mwhogue says, outstanding. It's amazing how Swarovski can get this right over and over again in small binoculars. My 8x32 EL is the easiest 8x32 I've tried when it comes to eye position, it makes you forget you're using a small-ish binocular with a humble exit pupil size. However, in my case, the deal breaker were the narrow eyecups. If you like normal to wide eyecups, this could become an issue (provided you don't use glasses). In my experience the field of view was no problem, I'm usually very happy with 7,5º for an 8x. So, summing it up: great view, more CA than expected, terrific size/weight/shape and handling, terribly narrow eyecups for me. Other things I didn't like was the aesthetics: the exposed metal bridge and the typography are just so bling-bling I find them appalling, the type looks already outdated by 3 decades, I don't want to think what they'll look like in 10 years. And then there's the Field Pro system which I find impossible to explain (its benefits, I mean; an overcomplicated solution for an non-existing problem).

The Genesis, as far as I can remember from my test (bear in mind they were inside/outside shops) are terrific performers. The image has a great sharpness and clarity/transparency, like belonging to the upper tier. I remember the FOV being wide enough although you might find the edge softness a bit annoying, since I recall the sweet spot degraded pretty fast, but YMMV. They're super bright and the image appeared to almost lack any colour-hue. I would say that, optically speaking, as a package, the Kowa are probably a tad more complete (or less flawed) than the Swarovski. As I said, when looking for a 8x32 size and shape are critical for me, so I personally found it to be too bulky for what I was after, but I can see how these can be someone primary (or even only) binoculars. The craftsmanship is very high also in the Genesis, but it's displayed in another way, compared to the more luxurious and aspirational Swarovski. The Kowa seems more tool-like, it reminded me greatly of the Conquest HD in this approach to quality. Being a wide-eyecup lover as I am, I found the rim on the eyecups of the Kowa on the thick side, but comfortable either way.

So, in my opinion they're two very different animals aimed probably at customers who value different things when bino-shopping, from the very aesthetics and handling, to the materials and the way they deliver their great optical performance.
Very helpful post, thanks.

Forgot to mention that I own the Kowas and find them outstanding in many ways.
The ease of eye placement, huge immersive view and natural colours are an absolute joy to use.

I much prefer them to the Leica 8x32 UV HD+ which I quickly sold as eye placement could be tricky and I was never wowed when looking through them.

The Kowas are like a mini tank, which is great for years of daily use, but too bulky and heavy to manage for hiking and biking.

My biggest concern is losing the things I love about the Kowas (extreme ease of use, immersive, fantastic colours, brightness and such a pleasure to use) for something that is lighter, more compact and sexier build with possibly a higher pride of ownership.

The design of the CL Companion is drawing me in : clean, minimalist, high quality, the weight is still not light, but I'd put up with that if the optics equal the joy of the Kowa.

The Kowa Genesis 8x22 may also be a contender but would prefer a single hinge.

One binocular to tick as many boxes as possible sure is a challenge!
I have the CL 10x30 and really like it overall. It can be a bit tough to hold steady at times, but the optics are incredibly sharp. Ergonomics are good except for the diopter but once you get it set, you’re good to go. The optical quality coupled with the size make it my 1st choice for hiking and biking. I really dont think you can go wrong with the CL 8x30
I don't have a Genesis 8X33 and I've never even looked thru one. But I do have a couple you mentioned.

I like the CL B though it has never been one of my favorites. The diopter adjustment is among the most fiddly you'll find. I guess the main reason it's not one my my favorites is I much prefer the SV 8X32. Also, it's kind of largish for an 8X30. It IS pretty lightweight at 16.9 ounces

I prefer the Nikon Monarch HG in the 8X30 class. FOV is among the best in class. Diopter adjustment is what you'd typically find under the right eyecup. Focus adjustment is smooth. It's a lot of binocular in such a small frame. Weight is 16.1 ounces.

The Victory Pocket 8X25 is a nice binocular. I'm not crazy about it's off-center focus adjustment but other than that, I like it. Weight 10.1 ounces.

I included the Nikon Monarch 7 in the picture. It's a very decent binocular for sub $400. At least half the price of the above binoculars. I like it. Of course it's not optical equal of any of the above. It's has been a nice knock-around binocular still with good enough optics to do some birding. Weight 15.4 ounces.

FOV kinda goes like this HG/7>VP>CL B. All have plenty of FOV.

My choice of these would be the Monarch HG.

Ha, well, the Leicas were excellent in many ways. Didn't say they were "not that good"
Every binocular seems to have something lacking, which can eat away at you.
Or not tick enough boxes to satisfy.

Soft edges I'm not that bothered about.
Drawn to keep looking through them, seemingly at anything and everything is highest up the list.
Immersive seems to be a big part of that, drawing you into an absorbing other dimension.

Light, compact and superb build too.
And financially within reach.

Not a lot to ask ;-)
Ha, well, the Leicas were excellent in many ways. Didn't say they were "not that good"
Every binocular seems to have something lacking, which can eat away at you.
Or not tick enough boxes to satisfy.

This statement is so true! I got my CL-Bs and they bugged me because always thought I was missing something. Got to try out all the alphas in January and walked out with a 8x32 SV. Its a pleasure to use but I use the CL-B's more. Just throw them in my pack and drag them around with me' binos
I had both, and ended up selling the Kowa. Don't get me wrong, the Kowa is very nice but I found the CL was just that bit better all round, even if it has a little bit more CA and a slightly narrow field of view. The CL is just one of those bins that is very easy and pleasant to use. One of the things I disliked about the Kowa was the wide eyecups. It's a very personal thing, but for me the narrow eye cups on the CL just suit me better
Yes, these two binoculars are very much on the extremes of eyecup style! The CL has unnecessarily small eyecups, despite having huge oculars, the eyecups are about as small as you'll find on a non-compact binocular; they are even smaller in diameter than the already skinny diameter of the optical tubes. The Genesis 33 has thick, wide eyecups with a rounded edge but no taper.


I'm unfortunately in the middle on these two, I with the Kowa eyecups had just a bit of taper so they were slightly skinner at the point where the eyecups is touching your face; those straight sides with no real taper are problematic for people (like me) with somewhat narrow IPD.

Interestingly the Swaro isn't THAT much smaller than the Kowa in length, although it's much "skinnier" and quite a bit lighter. I will quibble a bit that the Kowa is "on the heavy side" for a 32mm; it's about 590g, which to me only feels heavy in comparison to this more recent generation of 8x30 types that pushed below 500g for premium-ish optics. Prior to this, the Ultravid was the lightest premium 32mm at about 535g. But the Ultravid is considerably more compact than the Swaro CL.


Compared to, say, the Ultravid 32mm which is obviously much smaller than the Kowa:


One more size comparison, again as you can see the 8x30 CL, despite the sub-500g weight, is not THAT much smaller than the Kowa 33mm or Conquest HD 32mm.


Others have covered the optical differences well -- the Swaro CL has an avg FOV, but it's extremely well corrected, sharp almost to the edge. The only real optical flaws of the CL (besides the FOV) are a bit of CA and some peripheral flares in harsh light. It has outstandingly easy eye position.... well it would if it had eyecups that fit me better.

The Genesis has a wider, more immersive view, better glare control and first class CA control. The disadvantage is the smaller sweet spot, as Kowa's attempt to flatten the field results in a blurry ring part-way to the edge, such that the edge is slightly sharper than ~70-80% off axis. There's also heavy compression of space (AMD) at the edge.

The ergonomic differences are significant, not just the eyecups, as you can see in the photos and the comments above. The Kowa is a traditional single hinge with more "chunk" and space to put your fingers on top; the Swaro has a high bridge with skinny, open barrels so if you like to rest the fingers on top (vs wrap around) they aren't as ergonomic. The Swaro also has a harder texture, the Kowa feels "cushier". The focus knob position is a big difference as well -- notice in the photos how close the focus knob of the Swaro is to the ocular end, vs the more centered position of the Kowa's knob.

I greatly prefer the Kowa ergonomically, and I think the focus knob position of the Swaro exacerbates the clunky diopter mechanism, it's so close to your forehead that it makes it a nightmare to adjust while using the binoculars.

Personally, if I wanted a lighter/smaller alternative to the Kowa but with still very good optics, I would consider the Monarch HG 8x30 instead. It's more compact than the Swaro, with a wider FOV and better close focus.
There always seems to be one person in the universe with just the right information, although not always at the right time...

Kowa, Swarovski, Nikon. Hmmm

Gonna flip a coin, if the Kowas end up in the classifieds, you'll know it was Heads.
Don’t sell those Kowas unless you’re sure you like the replacement better! It sounds like they work for you, other than being a bit too heavy and bulky for the specific uses you want them for.

Might also want to check out Kite’s 8x30 model which is similar to the Nikon, people speak favorably of its build and optics. Quite a bit cheaper than the Swaro, and smaller in dimensions, perhaps enough of a savings that keeping the Kowa for daily use and having a second lighter/smaller pair for mobile use is viable?
I want to addd the GPO Passion ED 8x32 (380 EUROS) to this list; light, compact , high level of user comfort and beats a similar 32 mm Kowa with respect to image brightness/transmission and handling comfort.
Gijs van Ginkel
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