• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Swarovski NL 8x42 - First Impressions (1 Viewer)

pm42

Well-known member
Hey, we are comparing 600 g (SF 8x32) with 840 g (NL 8x42). I think it is a strong argument for the SF that we can make this comparison at all.

BTW, I got my NL 8x42 today and compared it to the SF 8x32. I was not sure I will keep the Swaro or return them as I tend do prefer lighter binoculars.
Still not sure and need more experience with it but at the moment I'm would sell the Zeiss, an excellent bin indeed but the NL Pure is incredible. I prefer the image handling and ergonomics and I'm not bothered by the weight.
The SF has a better focuser and seems to handle glare much better as other have noticed but I'm getting this "wow" effect from the NL I never had from the Zeiss.
 

Steve C

Well-known member
I went into the local Sportsman’s Warehouse store today. To my complete astonishment what did I see in their display case? A Swarovski NL Pure in 10x42. Again to my nearly equal astonishment the new Store Manager actually seemed to know something about optics. Klamath Falls is just about the last place you can expect to see any sort of top end optics, al least those not named Swarovski. However this one does stock some Swarovski glass, so I suppose it was not completely surprising. We went outside (with the NL and a 10x42 SV EL) for about a half an hour, not enough time for any sort of definitive statements, but enough to form some general impressions.

I suppose it is no surprise for me to state I have never been a big Swarovski fan. In my experience beginning with the original EL in 2002, to the new SLC, to the EL SV, I never felt they came anywhere close matching the hype they seemed to be generating. To be fair I always liked the SLC and think it is the best Swarovski offering, at least prior to the NL. So I read all of the posts here about the new NL with some interest, for the hype train was building up its steam. All this was in my head as I took a hold of the NL.

Store views of a binocular do have their limitations, but they are more useful than many people give them credit for. Their value depends strictly on how well the viewer knows what they need, how well that viewer knows what to look for, what kind of disposable money they might have at hand, and what kind of salesman they are dealing with. A store session can easily define whether or not a binocular warrants serious further consideration.

The first thing I noticed was the ergonomics. The wasp waist is certainly effective. It feels not at all like any other full size binocular I have ever held. It feels more like a much smaller glass than it is. It also looks smaller than it is. I used feels twice here. It both feels smaller, both in mass and in apparent weight. It does not feel much more than a smaller binocular in hand, seeming to fill a space that falls somewhere intermediate to the SV 32 and 42 mm binoculars. I wonder if Zeiss missed the boat here. There was some tweaking of the prisms in their SF, making me wonder if the same wasp waist could have been used there as well.

The second thing I looked for was rolling ball, as this was what killed the SV EL for me. This is where my only slight disappointment arises. For me there was no rolling ball per say as in traditional expression of the phenomena. While the image did not roll during panning, there was a slight dis-orienting sensation of the feeling like I was standing on the top rung of a ladder that was barely stable enough. This is something I need to look further into before taking this any further. I suspect this is something perhaps unique to me in some way. I can get the same sensation at times in my Kruger Caldera, which measures 460’ fov, making it another binocular with a quite wide fov, which may be something that somehow affects me.

While I looked for RB, the thing I noticed was the very wide apparent fov. A 10x binocular with a typical 8x fov will get your attention. The edge sharpness seems to be as advertised. For my personal use and needs these are a couple of things that are pretty far down the ladder for me as far as either one being a deal maker. Personally, I’m fine with a binocular that meets the traditional (magnification x angular fov) 60* afov. The edge only needs to be sharp enough as not to interfere with peripheral vision. A bit less may be OK, as well as a bit more, but individual preferences will vary. Actually looking at the edge of this NL fov or for than matter any other wide field binocular will show kidney beaning, some glare and other off axis distortions, it is not particularly easy on the eye. This makes me wonder if there are some human eye differences here. I for one cannot fathom those who claim to like to dart their eyes to the edge for ID purposes. I’ll give them credit, but that is something that is not for me. As for more efficient use of the peripheral vision, then there is useful improvement there.

The focus is just about perfect, the focus travel is maybe a bit slow, but that is a pretty small nit to have to pick.

I could not see, nor could I induce, any glare issues. I could use this glass with the eye cups in either of the last three extended positions. I would prefer either of the outer two positions for all around use. I agree that inadvertent movement of the diopter will not be an issue. The NL does show a couple of false exit pupils, but the internal blackening appeared as an improvement over the SV EL. I did not try either the winged eye cups or the head rest, although they had both in stock.

I have not used the strap attachment system, so other than thinking it looks sort of absurd, it certainly didn’t seem to be placed in a spot where it would interefere with holding the binocular.

It seems a bit brighter than the EL SV, but frankly I could not see any more detail with the NL over the SV. The target was a giant Blue Spruce tree, laden with cones about 400 yards or so away. There was no obvious difference in the ability to count cones at that distance with either the SV or the NL. The color balance is different and may come down to strict personal preference.

This is one excellent binocular. The first top end binocular to give me any sort of a WOW since I looked at the Leica Trinovid BN decades ago. I readily acknowledge the technical advances of the wider field, and appreciate the work that had to go into their coating/glass combinations used to get the color balance and apparent brightness they have, but for me the ergonomics of the NL are its biggest draw. Next is the color presentation and apparent brightness, and the width is third.
 
Last edited:

dries1

Member
Thanks Steve, though with limited time of use, a straight forward description, unbiased and informative.

Andy W.
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal

PeterPS

MEMBER
Hi Peter,

Of course there's always a point with any eyepiece where the eye is too close to the eyepiece so that kidney beaning starts to appear, but I don't think there is any special problem with spherical aberration of the exit pupil in the 8x42 NL. If it weren't for the glare I wouldn't be flirting with very edge of the "eye box". I could happily use the eye cups anywhere from fully extended (23.5mm out) in to about 19mm without any vignetting or kidney beaning.

Henry

Hi Henry,

My comment was prompted by the fact that:
a)with the eyecups fully extended I cannot see the full FoV
b)with them one stop in I still cannot see the full FoV
c)with them two stops in I can see the full FoV but I get slight blackouts, and that position is only about 1mm lower than that in b).

Regarding false pupils there are a few of them but fortunately they are far from the EP and don't cause any problems. But I noticed something interesting/curious: there are four strong false pupils at 2 and 6 in the right ocular, and 10 and 6 in the left one. If you look at them you can see your face in each of them (rotated at different angles) reflected back to you (probably by a facet of the prism). I have never seen that in any other binos, do you have any explanation for it?

Regarding glare there are reflections at 5 and 7 at the very edge of the EP, and those are the problem.

Peter
 
Last edited:

PeterPS

MEMBER
Andy: 8x42.

Andy, to see the four reflections of your face look at the small but bright false pupils that I mentioned in the post above. The interesting question is why did Swaro engineers "need" those false pupils when they designed the NL, it shows how complex the NL's optical system is.///Peter
 

henry link

Well-known member
Hi Henry,

My comment was prompted by the fact that:
a)with the eyecups fully extended I cannot see the full FoV
b)with them one stop in I still cannot see the full FoV
c)with them two stops in I can see the full FoV but I get slight blackouts, and that position is only about 1mm lower than that in b).

Regarding false pupils there are a few of them but fortunately they are far from the EP and don't cause any problems. But I noticed something interesting/curious: there are four strong false pupils at 2 and 6 in the right ocular, and 10 and 6 in the left one. If you look at them you can see your face in each of them (rotated at different angles) reflected back to you (probably by a facet of the prism). I have never seen that in any other binos, do you have any explanation for it?

Regarding glare there are reflections at 5 and 7 at the very edge of the EP, and those are the problem.

Peter

Hi Peter,

I would say your eyes are more deeply set than mine, so your probably need a position just a little longer than two stops in. I find the behavior of the eyecups when trying to set them a bit imprecise. To find the exact position of the stops I've been starting at the fully in position and going out one click at a time to the first stop without kidney beaning. Then I press on the cups gently and they settle about 0.5 mm further in. If there's no kidney beaning there I move them in until I see it and then back off until I don't see it. There should be about 2-2.5mm between one stop in and two stops in, if you use the same method I do for setting the length.

I wouldn't worry about the pupils you're seeing. I see those in many Schmidt -Pechan binoculars. I think all the Swarovski's have them. They must be coming from corner cuts of the prisms and since you can see your face in them they have to be caused by light coming into the eyepiece from the back and then reflecting back and out of the eyepiece to your eye. Once your eye is in the correct position they disappear, both because the back lighting is blocked by your head and because as you bring your eyes closer to the eyepiece they move behind either a baffle or the eyepiece fieldstop, I can't tell which. You can see that the light they reflect doesn't come from the front by just covering the objectives. The pupils will still be there, just as bright with no light at all entering the front of the binoculars.

Henry
 

PeterPS

MEMBER
Hi Peter,

I would say your eyes are more deeply set than mine, so your probably need a position just a little longer than two stops in. I find the behavior of the eyecups when trying to set them a bit imprecise. To find the exact position of the stops I've been starting at the fully in position and going out one click at a time to the first stop without kidney beaning. Then I press on the cups gently and they settle about 0.5 mm further in. If there's no kidney beaning there I move them in until I see it and then back off until I don't see it. There should be about 2-2.5mm between one stop in and two stops in, if you use the same method I do for setting the length.

I wouldn't worry about the pupils you're seeing. I see those in many Schmidt -Pechan binoculars. I think all the Swarovski's have them. They must be coming from corner cuts of the prisms and since you can see your face in them they have to be caused by light coming into the eyepiece from the back and then reflecting back and out of the eyepiece to your eye. Once your eye is in the correct position they disappear, both because the back lighting is blocked by your head and because as you bring your eyes closer to the eyepiece they move behind either a baffle or the eyepiece fieldstop, I can't tell which. You can see that the light they reflect doesn't come from the front by just covering the objectives. The pupils will still be there, just as bright with no light at all entering the front of the binoculars.

Henry

Hi Henry,

It appears that for me the optimal position of the eyecups is two steps in. At one step in I see almost the full FoV, but with the eyecups fully extended a larger part of the FoV is gone. Anyway, it seems to me that the passing from not really seeing the full FoV to getting (slight) blackouts is rather quick, from the 1st step in to the 2nd step in, which is why I said that the NL does not seem to have the so-called "eye box".
I don't worry about the bright false pupils at all, I was just wondering why they exist. If you look inside the tubes thru the front lenses you'll see that the ring in front of the prisms is shaped in a way that leaves the prism corners exposed, and like you I believe that reflections from the prism corners yield the false pupils in question. Why purposely leave those corners exposed? Maybe to divert potential internal reflections away from the EP.

Peter
 

NZbinodude

Well-known member
Hi Henry,

I tried sending you a PM, but your inbox is full apparently.

I'm interested to know whether you still think the Zeiss 8x56 FL is the best roof binocular available for hand-held use, if size and weight is of no concern? Or has your 8x42 NL Pure pushed it off the pedestal?

I'm considering purchasing a Zeiss 8x56 FL, but there are none available locally, so it's hard to know what it's like compared to the latest offerings from Zeiss, Swaro and Leica.

My priorities are: state of the art glare control; highest quality center resolution; very bright (for low-light viewing); great contrast; and robust build quality.

Cheers.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Hi Henry,

I tried sending you a PM, but your inbox is full apparently.

I'm interested to know whether you still think the Zeiss 8x56 FL is the best roof binocular available for hand-held use, if size and weight is of no concern? Or has your 8x42 NL Pure pushed it off the pedestal?

I'm considering purchasing a Zeiss 8x56 FL, but there are none available locally, so it's hard to know what it's like compared to the latest offerings from Zeiss, Swaro and Leica.

My priorities are: state of the art glare control; highest quality center resolution; very bright (for low-light viewing); great contrast; and robust build quality.

Cheers.
I had the Zeiss 8x56 FL and the Swarovski 8x56 SLC, and they are better than the NL for glare control and brightness, especially in low light with their bigger aperture. The NL would equal the FL and the SLC for center resolution and build quality. The NL is better than the FL and SLC in contrast, transparency and has a much bigger FOV than either of them with sharper edges. Then you have to decide if you really want to carry a 44 oz. binocular like the big FL or SLC birding all the time?
 
Last edited:

PYRTLE

Old Berkshire Boy
I'm interested to know whether you still think the Zeiss 8x56 FL is the best roof binocular available for hand-held use, if size and weight is of no concern?
I'm considering purchasing a Zeiss 8x56 FL, but there are none available locally, so it's hard to know what it's like compared to the latest offerings from Zeiss, Swaro and Leica.
My priorities are: state of the art glare control; highest quality center resolution; very bright (for low-light viewing); great contrast; and robust build quality.
Cheers.

From my own experiences, the following quick responses....

Robustness if weight not an issue - Zeiss Night Owl - built like a WWII Tiger Tank and at that time the best for me in regard to dawn and dusk use.

Low light observation ( brightness ) Zeiss 8 x 56 FL. Much lighter in weight and comfort. Also improved, brighter performance than the N.O.
 

Gijs van Ginkel

Well-known member
I did report differences in image quality between the Swarovski NL pure 8x42 and the Zeiss SF 8x32. Part of it is due to the difference in the size of the exit pupil, but the difference is enhanced by the observation that the light transmission of the NL pure 8x42 shows a perfect flat transmission spectrum over a broad wave lenght range and the transmission of the NL pure is more than 3% higher than that of the Zeis Victory SF over that wavelength range (460-625nm). The transmission spectrum of the Zeiss Victory SF is not flat over that same wavelenght range. That explains for us the bright white image impression of the NL pure in comparison with the Zeiss Victory SF. The SF paints whites as "dirty whites" in comparison with the "snow white" whites of the NL pure as I had reported before on the basis of visual observation. I hope that my poetic description is clear. The data will be published soon.
Gijs van Ginkel
 

NZbinodude

Well-known member
I had the Zeiss 8x56 FL and the Swarovski 8x56 SLC, and they are better than the NL for glare control and brightness, especially in low light with their bigger aperture. The NL would equal the FL and the SLC for center resolution and build quality. The NL is better than the FL and SLC in contrast, transparency and has a much bigger FOV than either of them with sharper edges. Then you have to decide if you really want to carry a 44 oz. binocular like the big FL or SLC birding all the time?

From my own experiences, the following quick responses....

Robustness if weight not an issue - Zeiss Night Owl - built like a WWII Tiger Tank and at that time the best for me in regard to dawn and dusk use.

Low light observation ( brightness ) Zeiss 8 x 56 FL. Much lighter in weight and comfort. Also improved, brighter performance than the N.O.

Cheers guys.
 

henry link

Well-known member
Hi Henry,

I tried sending you a PM, but your inbox is full apparently.

I'm interested to know whether you still think the Zeiss 8x56 FL is the best roof binocular available for hand-held use, if size and weight is of no concern? Or has your 8x42 NL Pure pushed it off the pedestal?

I'm considering purchasing a Zeiss 8x56 FL, but there are none available locally, so it's hard to know what it's like compared to the latest offerings from Zeiss, Swaro and Leica.

My priorities are: state of the art glare control; highest quality center resolution; very bright (for low-light viewing); great contrast; and robust build quality.

Cheers.

Sorry for the late reply. My internet service was down yesterday thanks to Hurricane Zeta, which was still at tropical storm strength when it came through my far inland location.

It's also hard for me to know how the 8x56 FL compares to the very latest offerings from Zeiss, Swaro and Leica for your optical priorities. Except for the 8x42 NL I haven't compared it to anything very recently. The last careful comparisons (Zeiss 8x42 HT, Swaro 8x32 and 8.5x42 Els) were three or four years ago. I haven't seen the Leica NV at all.

Im not in much doubt that it would beat the the current Swarovski ELs for glare resistance (if only because of the 7mm exit pupil) as well as center sharpness and brightness, but if I were looking for an 8x56 now the Swaro SLC would be the first one on my list.

The 8x42 NL is now my preferred birding binocular. In a direct comparison its center field sharpness and contrast are in the same class as the FL, but it has slightly lower perceived brightness. Every other optical characteristic of the NL is decidedly superior to the FL, except for glare and that (at least for me) can be brought into the "normal average" range by very careful eyecup adjustment.

Henry
 

NZbinodude

Well-known member
Sorry for the late reply. My internet service was down yesterday thanks to Hurricane Zeta, which was still at tropical storm strength when it came through my far inland location.

It's also hard for me to know how the 8x56 FL compares to the very latest offerings from Zeiss, Swaro and Leica for your optical priorities. Except for the 8x42 NL I haven't compared it to anything very recently. The last careful comparisons (Zeiss 8x42 HT, Swaro 8x32 and 8.5x42 Els) were three or four years ago. I haven't seen the Leica NV at all.

Im not in much doubt that it would beat the the current Swarovski ELs for glare resistance (if only because of the 7mm exit pupil) as well as center sharpness and brightness, but if I were looking for an 8x56 now the Swaro SLC would be the first one on my list.

The 8x42 NL is now my preferred birding binocular. In a direct comparison its center field sharpness and contrast are in the same class as the FL, but it has slightly lower perceived brightness. Every other optical characteristic of the NL is decidedly superior to the FL, except for glare and that (at least for me) can be brought into the "normal average" range by very careful eyecup adjustment.

Henry

Thanks Henry, appreciate it.
 

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
The last careful comparisons (Zeiss 8x42 HT, Swaro 8x32 and 8.5x42 Els) were three or four years ago. I haven't seen the Leica NV at all.

Henry

Very interested by the whole of your post, Henry. Would you mind just pointing or linking me to the comparisons in the selected quote above for my reading as those comparisons happen to be something I'm specifically interested in.

Thank you,

Tom
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top