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Swarovski SLC. Zeiss Conquest Nikon MHG and Vortex Razors 10x42 (1 Viewer)

giosblue

Well-known member
Ok, here goes.A couple of years ago I sold my Optolyth 12x50 and my Bausch and Lomb 10x42, Both were 30 years plus old and not weather proof.
So I started look at some new bins, Vortex Razor, Zeiss Conquest and the Nikon MHG seemed to be the top three in my price range here in the UK. So I ordered the Conquests and the Razor to try out side by side. I had them for a couple of weeks and used them in all kinds of lighting conditions.
I ended up keeping the Vortex Razors for the following reasons.

The ergonomics on the Razor were much better suited to me, I thought the Zeiss were too chunky. Having said that, once you had used them for a while they were fine.
I did extensive testing/viewing over the two weeks and I really wanted the Zeiss, they were both the same price, so that didn't come into the equation.

The view from the Zeiss was good, very good, but the view from the Razor was better. The Zeiss had more punch and the colours seemed more saturated, which to be honest gave lovely view. The Vortex were more neutral, less like looking through binoculars. With the Vortex you felt like you could reach and touch what you were looking at.There just seemed to be less in the way with the Vortex. So I bought them. At the time i didn't try the Nikon MHG, because the Vortex were so good and they got excellent reviews from every professional reviewer.

Anyway, recently everyone's be raving about the Nikon MHG, which at the time I passed on because I was happy with the Vortex, so I bought some and compared them to the Razors for a couple of weeks. From memory, which not very reliable, I found the Nikons to be similar to the Zeiss,although I think if I had to chose between then I would have gone with Nikon. Both the Nikon and the Zeiss had too much false colour, cracking view though, but to my eyes over egged.

Another bin which is highly regarded is the Swarovski SLC, the gets so much praise wherever you look, but it was not on my list due to the price difference.
Anyway you know what it's like, you have to scratch the itch, so I bought a used pair and I been trying them out over the weekend. And what did I find? First off, I asked my son look through them both, he knows bugger all about optics and has no interest in binoculars. I left them with him for a few minutes and his conclusion was they were nearly identical, but he thought the Razors were a tad brighter. These were also my findings at first glance they looked exactly the same, no false colour and with both you felt like you could reach out and touch what you were looking at. I have been out with both sets today, perfect viewing conditions, good clear air quality a mixture of bright sunshine and hazy, but bright viewing conditions.The more I compared them ( just over two hours). The more I looked, the more I liked the Vortex over the SLC. The Vortex had sparkle that was lacking in the SLC. Having said that, it was very subtle, but it was there.
The Razor and the SLC were so close if someone swapped out the glass from the Razor and put in the SLC without telling you, you wouldn't know.

Now go on, tell me I'm talking rubbish and there must be something wrong and I need my eyes testing. Lol

So in anyone wants to buy a nice set of Swarovski SLC 10x42 let me know.
 
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Arthur Red Rod

Well-known member
I think it would be difficult to seriously discern the differences between binos of this class under field conditions, aside from obvious ones like false colour.
Having said that, the SLC Neu should be the top performer according to measured tests. I think it is a blessing that you find the SLC's redundant - for you and your wallet.
 

giosblue

Well-known member
I think it would be difficult to seriously discern the differences between binos of this class under field conditions, aside from obvious ones like false colour.
Having said that, the SLC Neu should be the top performer according to measured tests. I think it is a blessing that you find the SLC's redundant - for you and your wallet.


To be honest, I was perfectly happy with the Optolyths and the B&L Elites before the internet came along. Lol

Ron
 

dipped

Well-known member
To be honest, I was perfectly happy with the Optolyths and the B&L Elites before the internet came along. Lol

Ron

Haha the internet/forums/advertising all designed to make you feel dissatisfied, seemingly with what you have.

Back in the day(40 years ago), I was happy with my Mirador 10x40 binoculars (porro) and Optolyth 30x75 drawtube scope. But I had to upgrade? to Optolyth 10x40's which apart from lighter weight in reality were no better.

Now you have something you're happy with don't look at anything!
 

giosblue

Well-known member
Just noticed this, lying on the bed watching the telly, thought I would check out the close focussing. On the window sill we have a square porcelain pot, with a circle pattern on it, it's about 6in square and flat on all sides. When I use the SLCs, the pot looks quite dished, with the Vortex it flat.
It's also dished with the two small Nikon bins I have, but not as much. Don't see it in normal use though, so it wouldn't bother me.
 

giosblue

Well-known member
Haha the internet/forums/advertising all designed to make you feel dissatisfied, seemingly with what you have.

Back in the day(40 years ago), I was happy with my Mirador 10x40 binoculars (porro) and Optolyth 30x75 drawtube scope. But I had to upgrade? to Optolyth 10x40's which apart from lighter weight in reality were no better.

Now you have something you're happy with don't look at anything!

Don't look at anything don't join any forums and don't believe anything you read on the internet. Easier said than done.
 

Arthur Red Rod

Well-known member
I overlooked the Razors during my recent search for a modern 10x42. The Razor line itself has excellent optics - more than adequate for any enthusiast or professional as a general birding glass. However, some users on here have experienced some issues with build quality...

Don't look for those posts!
 

giosblue

Well-known member
I overlooked the Razors during my recent search for a modern 10x42. The Razor line itself has excellent optics - more than adequate for any enthusiast or professional as a general birding glass. However, some users on here have experienced some issues with build quality...

Don't look for those posts!

Like said, don't believe everything you read on the internet’.
The build quality is as good as anything else. It they had Swarovski badges on everyone would be raving about them.
 

Xlr8n

Well-known member
Keep in mind the latest versions of the SLC were designed more as a hunting optic with low light clarity, depth of field, and light gathering ability being the primary goals while the EL focused more on color rendition and giving a nice even FOV.
It's the clarity at first and last light, along with the clarity at longer ranges where the SLC's distance themselves from the other 3 models in your comparison.
Simply put, five minutes behind each of them won't give you the same impression as five hours will.

It's no surprise your son with little experience in glassing thinks they all look "nearly identical" as they are still all high quality glass, and at first glance all are going to be stunning to the human eye compared to cheap bins.

Also keep in mind there is a reason Vortex markets their warranty more than the actual features of their glass.
I've used many Vortex optics over the years, and their made in Japan optical glass was top notch but the build quality could be hit and miss. The made in China stuff is a step down in both glass and build quality imho.

As an investment in optics, I'd choose the SLC, then the Nikon MHG, followed by the Conquest, and finally the Razor.
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
Interesting your comments regarding the Conquest vs MHG. In my experience the Conquest has better control of CA (false color unless I'm misunderstanding what you mean by that term) than the MHG, and the MHG has both more natural but also more saturated colors. Based on samples I've seen, the Conquest HD is a touch reddish/terra cotta hued and a touch less contrasted/saturated compared a the MHG, which is really rich in color and perhaps tilts a touch to yellow. The SLC is more neutral than either, Swaro's color balance is beyond reproach, and the view through the SLC is lovely, but I don't care for the combined package, I greatly prefer the EL. I've never looked through a Razor so can't comment there.
 

giosblue

Well-known member
Keep in mind the latest versions of the SLC were designed more as a hunting optic with low light clarity, depth of field, and light gathering ability being the primary goals while the EL focused more on color rendition and giving a nice even FOV.
It's the clarity at first and last light, along with the clarity at longer ranges where the SLC's distance themselves from the other 3 models in your comparison.
Simply put, five minutes behind each of them won't give you the same impression as five hours will.

It's no surprise your son with little experience in glassing thinks they all look "nearly identical" as they are still all high quality glass, and at first glance all are going to be stunning to the human eye compared to cheap bins.

Also keep in mind there is a reason Vortex markets their warranty more than the actual features of their glass.
I've used many Vortex optics over the years, and their made in Japan optical glass was top notch but the build quality could be hit and miss. The made in China stuff is a step down in both glass and build quality imho.

As an investment in optics, I'd choose the SLC, then the Nikon MHG, followed by the Conquest, and finally the Razor.

Who says the latest SLC were designed more as an hunting binocular?
Was it Swarovski ?
I didn't say my son said they all look the same, he said the BOTH look the same. I have other bins he has looked through and he does notice a difference. You say the China made Vortex are step down in build quality and optical quality. Every single professional review I have read would disagree with you, nevertheless you are entitled to your opinion as we all are. I can tell you from personal experience that the build quality and optical quality are superb. As an investment financially, you may be correct. However, most people don't buy binoculars as an investment. They buy them as tool to enjoy, however if you were to sell I agree you may lose more on the Vortex, but you pay less in the first place.
 

Xlr8n

Well-known member
Who says the latest SLC were designed more as an hunting binocular?
Was it Swarovski ?
Yes.
I didn't say my son said they all look the same, he said the BOTH look the same.
Ok, so your son thought the SLC and Razor looked "nearly identical" but thought the Razors were "a tad brighter"? My apology, I misread.
I have other bins he has looked through and he does notice a difference. You say the China made Vortex are step down in build quality and optical quality. Every single professional review I have read would disagree with you, nevertheless you are entitled to your opinion as we all are.
From my personal experience, I would always choose a MIJ optic over a MIC, although that option is rapidly becoming obsolete. The MIJ Razors usually fetch a bit more on the used market than the newer MIC version.

I can tell you from personal experience that the build quality and optical quality are superb.
Did you just purchase the Razors recently? If so, you are indicating the 'initial' build quality seems superb but you have no long term experience of their actual durability, correct?

As an investment financially, you may be correct. However, most people don't buy binoculars as an investment. They buy them as tool to enjoy, however if you were to sell I agree you may lose more on the Vortex, but you pay less in the first place.
Actually with a bit of luck you can find the MIJ Nikons on sale cheaper than the Razors and the Conquests are about the same price as the Razors. The SLC's are a bit higher although I picked up some new 10x42 SLC's through Cabela's for $1599 with another $100 off for trading in any old bino's and another $100 back in club card points, so $1399. Not too far off the mark of the other 3.
 

NDhunter

Experienced observer
United States
Just noticed this, lying on the bed watching the telly, thought I would check out the close focussing. On the window sill we have a square porcelain pot, with a circle pattern on it, it's about 6in square and flat on all sides. When I use the SLCs, the pot looks quite dished, with the Vortex it flat.
It's also dished with the two small Nikon bins I have, but not as much. Don't see it in normal use though, so it wouldn't bother me.

You mention false color, so tell us what it is and how you can evaluate for
this feature ?

Jerry
 

chill6x6

Well-known member
Let's think about the SLC for a minute...

I have personally been using some form of a Swarovski SLC since 1999. That's twenty-one years. Think about it. Many forum members including myself have been using some sort of SLC for literally years, decades, etc. It's an EASY no-brainer recommendation. They have a reputation of exceptional optics and robust construction. It took YEARS to get to this point. ALSO...the SLC was made in Austria Day 1, and it still is. Lastly...I know of no binocular company that has a better reputation for a quality product and service than Swarovski. Very few binoculars and binocular companies can match that. So, the reputation of the SLC is for good reason.

I am glad for you that you have figured out what binoculars you like best. That's up to the individual user.
 

Arthur Red Rod

Well-known member
Sigh... I made one hint that the SLC is actually better by all objective metrics with the hope that someone else could be a little more firm, but the pros just up and flooded this poor fellow with some street knowledge!
 

jremmons

Wildlife Biologist
I mean I've owned all of these binoculars (excluding the MHG) for a time and while I'd say the SLC is the best, particularly with regards to build quality and also overall low levels of various "distortions" throughout the field of view, I'd be hard pressed to say it was objectively better than the Razor HD if not in side by side comparisons. I think a lot of people speak about the Razor without having much actual experience. I was actually a big fan of them and found them superior to the Conquest, about equal to the Meostar HD, and just below the SLC and Kowa Genesis. The difference was minor overall, but the Kowa had the best CA control (easily seen) and the SLC had better overall elimination of distortion than the others.
The made in China thing matters little to me as it seems Vortex has a reputable factory doing the production of their binoculars, in addition to their very generous warranty. Many of my colleagues use Vortex binoculars behind their eyes for hours a day doing survey and monitoring work, and I've heard few complaints.

Justin
 

dries1

Member
One should make up their own mind of what works for them, then enjoy the glass. Just remember they are behind your eyes, don't ever second guess yourself.

Andy W.
 

Xlr8n

Well-known member
I mean I've owned all of these binoculars (excluding the MHG) for a time and while I'd say the SLC is the best, particularly with regards to build quality and also overall low levels of various "distortions" throughout the field of view, I'd be hard pressed to say it was objectively better than the Razor HD if not in side by side comparisons. I think a lot of people speak about the Razor without having much actual experience. I was actually a big fan of them and found them superior to the Conquest, about equal to the Meostar HD, and just below the SLC and Kowa Genesis. The difference was minor overall, but the Kowa had the best CA control (easily seen) and the SLC had better overall elimination of distortion than the others.
The made in China thing matters little to me as it seems Vortex has a reputable factory doing the production of their binoculars, in addition to their very generous warranty. Many of my colleagues use Vortex binoculars behind their eyes for hours a day doing survey and monitoring work, and I've heard few complaints.

Justin

Very well put. The differences are slim when you get to this level of glass and yes, all are very good glass.

fwiw- I was told by a Vortex rep a few years back that the move from Japan to China wasn't initiated by Vortex themselves, but by the actual optics manufacturer. Their Japanese manufacturer, like many others at that time, were moving their own operations over to China in a new factory that they built. It was a simple matter of the company no longer being able to turn much of a profit with the increased cost of production in their own country along with much less stringent enviromental controls in China.

That being said, I liked Vortex when they were made in Japan, but if there are similar choices at similar prices, I'll choose the non-MIC option 100% of the time. Luckily optics is one area where we still have viable choices.
 

giosblue

Well-known member
You mention false color, so tell us what it is and how you can evaluate for
this feature ?

Jerry

False colour? To my eyes the colours on the Conquest and MHG were too saturated. The blacks on the MHG were too black and to my eyes it was harder to see the detail in the dogs hair compared to the Razor.

Maybe false colour is not the correct description. To my eyes the colours were deeper and the view had more punch. But not as accurate. Having said that, all my observation are quite subtle.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
One should make up their own mind of what works for them, then enjoy the glass. Just remember they are behind your eyes, don't ever second guess yourself.

Andy W.
Good point. These three binoculars are all so close that it just comes down to personal preference. Each one is going to have it's strong and weak points and it depends upon which criteria you value the most. Try them yourself and see which one YOU like.
 
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