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Zeiss Conquest vs Swarovski EL 8x32 (1 Viewer)

gecko18000

Active member
Hi all,

I know there is maybe an obvious answer to this (other than 'try them both') but does anyone have any thoughts, or has seen a direct comparison between the 8x32 Zeiss Conquest and Swarovski EL 8x32?

Obviously it's a chunky price difference, and I do wonder if I bought the Zeiss whether I would still lust after the Swarovski, but there is no way I could afford the Swarovski any time soon - there don't seem to be many pairs that come up for sale second hand. I really just want one pair of 'all round' binoculars for birding to replace my current 8x42 pair. I typically do use 8x42 bins, but several people have said that the Swaro 8x32s are good enough to be a 'main' pair and replace 8x42 with little difference in terms of e.g. brightness.

Any thoughts welcomed.

Thanks
 

Nethero

Well-known member
Hi all,

I know there is maybe an obvious answer to this (other than 'try them both') but does anyone have any thoughts, or has seen a direct comparison between the 8x32 Zeiss Conquest and Swarovski EL 8x32?

Obviously it's a chunky price difference, and I do wonder if I bought the Zeiss whether I would still lust after the Swarovski, but there is no way I could afford the Swarovski any time soon - there don't seem to be many pairs that come up for sale second hand. I really just want one pair of 'all round' binoculars for birding to replace my current 8x42 pair. I typically do use 8x42 bins, but several people have said that the Swaro 8x32s are good enough to be a 'main' pair and replace 8x42 with little difference in terms of e.g. brightness.

Any thoughts welcomed.

Thanks
Hi Gecko,

It is funny you should ask for such a comparison, as I was literally just looking between both of these bins this morning out of my back window. Behind my house I have agricultural fields that span for about 1000 meters until they hit a tree line. At 264 meters away is a big old oak tree and offset to it’s side and further behind it another oak at 620 meters away.

Periodically while making my boys breakfast I would look out the back window and compare. At about 30 minutes before sunrise, when the sky is still dreary but starting to lighten, I could make out both trees with both binoculars. However, I could resolve the lines and contours in the front oak trees bark with the EL SV 8x32 (manufacturing year 2013) at this time, the conquest could not. It was not until about another 10-15 minutes later when the sky was a bit brighter could I make out the fine details in the bark. It wasn’t until this time could I make out the back trees bark with the EL SV. Another 10 minutes or so until with the Conquest HD.

The EL SV is slightly brighter in this dimmer lighting situation, but once the sun was up and shining their center performance was very similar.

Both are great to be perfectly honest. My wife actually prefers the optical performance of the Conquest HD 8x32 more than the EL SV. I prefer the EL SV, if anything, mainly for the open bridge ability to use one hand to hold steady and view.
 

PhilR.

Well-known member
The 8x32 Zeiss Conquest was a $399 binocular that isn’t in any way comparable to the EL. Better to compare the Conquest HD, which is a much better binocular than the one you are asking about, and therefore can be compared in some ways to the EL.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
The 8x32 Zeiss Conquest was a $399 binocular that isn’t in any way comparable to the EL. Better to compare the Conquest HD, which is a much better binocular than the one you are asking about, and therefore can be compared in some ways to the EL.
Phil I know just what you mean but the $399 Conquest you are referring to was an 8x30. With the OP referring to Conquest 8x32 he has already specified Conquest HD which as you rightly point out is a different class of instrument.

I have never compared the Conquest HD 8x32 to an EL but I do have a great respect for it.

Lee
 

chill6x6

Well-known member
The SV 8X32 is probably still my favorite birding binocular BUT the Conquest HD 8X32 is no slouch. I really like the the CHD. It's really a nice birding binocular. If it was the only binocular I had I'd certainly be happy with it. Main differences are conventional FOV vs. flat field, ergonomics, and of course price. I've used the Conquest HD 8X32 MANY outings and really have noting but good to say about it!
DSC_0106.jpg
 

PhilR.

Well-known member
I agree that the Conquest HD is no slouch. In fact, I think it is one of the best binos under $1k. The only reason why I got rid of mine is that I didn't care for it's color presentation. I prefer our 8x32 EL and UVHD+ more, so they stayed. Also got rid of our original Conquest too, but for other reasons.....
 

gecko18000

Active member
Hi Gecko,

It is funny you should ask for such a comparison, as I was literally just looking between both of these bins this morning out of my back window. Behind my house I have agricultural fields that span for about 1000 meters until they hit a tree line. At 264 meters away is a big old oak tree and offset to it’s side and further behind it another oak at 620 meters away.

Periodically while making my boys breakfast I would look out the back window and compare. At about 30 minutes before sunrise, when the sky is still dreary but starting to lighten, I could make out both trees with both binoculars. However, I could resolve the lines and contours in the front oak trees bark with the EL SV 8x32 (manufacturing year 2013) at this time, the conquest could not. It was not until about another 10-15 minutes later when the sky was a bit brighter could I make out the fine details in the bark. It wasn’t until this time could I make out the back trees bark with the EL SV. Another 10 minutes or so until with the Conquest HD.

The EL SV is slightly brighter in this dimmer lighting situation, but once the sun was up and shining their center performance was very similar.

Both are great to be perfectly honest. My wife actually prefers the optical performance of the Conquest HD 8x32 more than the EL SV. I prefer the EL SV, if anything, mainly for the open bridge ability to use one hand to hold steady and view.
Thank you for such a detailed reply - I suppose I will have to try each pair, ideally side by side. If I could afford it I would probably just buy the Swarovski, but if the difference (to me) is very minor then I would go for the Zeiss!
 

gecko18000

Active member
The 8x32 Zeiss Conquest was a $399 binocular that isn’t in any way comparable to the EL. Better to compare the Conquest HD, which is a much better binocular than the one you are asking about, and therefore can be compared in some ways to the EL.
Sorry yes, I was meaning the Conquest HD
 

gecko18000

Active member
The SV 8X32 is probably still my favorite birding binocular BUT the Conquest HD 8X32 is no slouch. I really like the the CHD. It's really a nice birding binocular. If it was the only binocular I had I'd certainly be happy with it. Main differences are conventional FOV vs. flat field, ergonomics, and of course price. I've used the Conquest HD 8X32 MANY outings and really have noting but good to say about it!
DSC_0106.jpg
Thanks - in terms of flat field of view, could you elaborate a bit? I don't know if I know what you mean. Thanks!
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Thanks - in terms of flat field of view, could you elaborate a bit? I don't know if I know what you mean. Thanks!
Gecko in most binos the image you see is somewhat curved and this is called field curvature. It can mean that the edges of the fov are not sharp even when the centre of the view is. However a small adjustment of the focus wheel can make the edge sharp but do this and the centre is no longer sharp. Some binos have lenses called Field Flatteners and the do indeed correct the field curvature and this can mean that the image is sharp from edge to edge. Some folks like this a lot, others find it uncomfortable to rotate their eyes to look at the field edge and anyway will centre any object of interest in the middle of the fov to view it comfortably. Chuck's EL has field flatteners and Conquest HD does not. BTW some folks find the field flattener view a little 'artificial' and the field-curved view more 'realstic'. This probably is due to what the observer is used to.

Lee
 

Mike C

Emeritus President at Burnage Rugby Club
With the Swarovski NL 8x32 hitting the shops soon you might be able to find a well cared for "pre-loved" pair of EL 8x32 at a much better price.
 

Mike C

Emeritus President at Burnage Rugby Club
"Belonged to a little old lady who only used it to look at warblers on Sundays."

that's how I got my first Swarovski SLC 10x42 and my first pair of ELs (traded in the SLCs). A redundancy cheque (plus trade in of the ELs) funded my current ELs (which were new)
 

gecko18000

Active member
Gecko in most binos the image you see is somewhat curved and this is called field curvature. It can mean that the edges of the fov are not sharp even when the centre of the view is. However a small adjustment of the focus wheel can make the edge sharp but do this and the centre is no longer sharp. Some binos have lenses called Field Flatteners and the do indeed correct the field curvature and this can mean that the image is sharp from edge to edge. Some folks like this a lot, others find it uncomfortable to rotate their eyes to look at the field edge and anyway will centre any object of interest in the middle of the fov to view it comfortably. Chuck's EL has field flatteners and Conquest HD does not. BTW some folks find the field flattener view a little 'artificial' and the field-curved view more 'realstic'. This probably is due to what the observer is used to.

Lee
Thanks Lee, that's a great explanation. I think I typically prefer the field-curved view, although I would get used to either once I had been using the bins for a while.
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
Having tested both side by side recently, I'd say the Conquest HD punches way above its price and is pretty close to the EL (Swarovision) in terms of sharpness and brightness.

I'd say the EL (mine is a 2014 SV that was repaired by Swarovski last year and got a new focus) delivers an image that appears brighter, but I'm not sure if the % of light that goes through the objective of the EL and Conquest is actually very different (when it comes to the 10x42, Allbinos has measured actually 93 % for the Zeiss and 91 % for the EL), but the way the EL delivers the image makes it appear brighter, it's difficult to put it into words. The Conquest appears a bit darker, but maybe because it shows more contrast (like in more black areas), which is something I've seen when comparing the EL to other binoculars. And this is probably one of the strengths of the EL, because this perceived brightness allows for an astonishing level of detail, it somehow pulls more information (tiny, minute details from feathers, leaves or whatever you're looking at). This is by no means a demerit of the Zeiss, which if you compare them directly A-B, offers a very similar level of sharpness. Let's say that they offer different approaches to being very sharp and bright. I'm not sure if the flat field, and the fact that the image is sharp to the edge on the EL helps creating this perception of enhanced sharpness and transparency. I really don't care about flat fields (except for astronomy) but I love the image on the EL, so maybe the field flatteners have side effect of giving a more pronounced feeling of "being there", since basically the entire image is "sweet spot".

As for colour representation, the colour on the Zeiss appeared a little warmer (somewhere where yellow and green meet) after looking through the EL, which I found surprising, because some years ago I had the 8x42 Conquest HD and I remember a cooler hue. Compared to the Conquest HD, the colours on the EL seem to lack any tendency towards a particular colour.

Build quality (or the perception of ruggedness) is very high on both, but it's again expressed in different ways. The Conquest HD seem to be built like a Panzer, but they're less refined. The eyecups are nowhere as nice as the EL, and the general feeling when holding them is that they're a tool for the job (which is really something nice, since tools from different activities are usually things to love, be it a knife or the peel of a baker), while the EL are nicer to hold in the hands and have a much higher feeling of luxury and attention to detail. But, again, this is no demerit of the Zeiss, I could see how someone would actually prefer the look and feel of the Zeiss and despise the colour and appearance of the Swarovski (the fact that it spots a huge logo with the name of the company in capital letters doesn't actually help with my idea of understatement; luckily the Field Pro got rid of it).

So, if you look at the retail price (around 800 € for the Zeiss and 1600 € for the EL, although both can be found for less) I'd say there is no way the EL can justify costing actually twice the price of the Conquest HD. I'd say the image of the Zeiss goes "beyond 1000 €" and could satisfy you 100 % in every single way. Actually, the reasons I keep an EL and not the Conquest HD don't have to do with the image (I'd be completely happy with the Conquest HD), but have to do with handling/using. The Conquest has 3 things I don't like that much, or (to put it other way) the EL does better for my taste:
  • The Conquest HD feels bulkier, which for a compact like 8x32 is a minus on my book, although people with large hands might actually find this is a plus.
  • The eye position on the Conquest HD is more critical. Again, not a demerit of the Zeiss, but this is just the area where the EL excels for me: it behaves almost like a 8x42, it's so easy to find the right position, while the Conquest HD is more prone to "kidney-beans" (having black crescents on the edges of the images).
  • Last but no least, the Conquest HD is heavier than the EL. 630 vs 580 g. Yes, it might not seem much, but there's less weight difference between the Leica Ultravid and the EL than between the EL and the Conquest HD. It's probably not only the weight, but also the fact that the Conquest HD is shorter but bulkier (with thicker tubes) that makes it feel heavier. Again, something some people might not find relevant.

But, on the other hand:
  • The Zeiss offers a better performance in extreme light situations (suffers from less veiling).
  • The focus on the Zeiss is faster, really superb, many people would find it can be even better suited for birding (nothing wrong with the one on my EL, is smooth as anything, actually better than my partners EL - FP)
  • The Zeiss is cheaper, I wouldn't call it a "bargain", but I'd say if you can find it for around 700 € new or 500 € used is close to the best possible value.

And, to end with things that are hard to understand... while both Zeiss and Swarovski boast amazing customer and repair service (I've used them both several times and I just can't praise them enough) it's hard to understand how the Conquest HD can be sold with the lousiest objective covers ever to be created by man, and the EL Swarovision comes with the most over-engineered and at the same time useless rain guard :D

Imagewise, I don't think there's a way you can find a 2x price difference (if actually any difference), in fact, some people might actually prefer the non-flat image of the Zeiss.
Shape/grip/feel do show the Swarovski is a more expensive device from an upper category.
You simply can't go wrong with the Zeiss. I'd only go for the Swaro if you had eye positioning problems or find the Zeiss too heavy bulky.

I hope that helps.
 

eitanaltman

Well-known member
As for colour representation, the colour on the Zeiss appeared a little warmer (somewhere where yellow and green meet) after looking through the EL, which I found surprising, because some years ago I had the 8x42 Conquest HD and I remember a cooler hue. Compared to the Conquest HD, the colours on the EL seem to lack any tendency towards a particular colour.

The reason people struggle to define them as cool or warm is because they are neither.

These color balance leans have mostly to do with the ends of the visible spectrum: more blue is “cool” and more red is “warm”.

It’s clear why when looking at 3rd party transmission data. Zeiss peak in the middle, and fall off on both ends (below 500nm and above 600). They are both red AND blue deficient. So if you compare to a “warm” binocular like a Leica (which tend to smoothly slope up in transmission from blue to red) they can feel “cool” due to the reduced red relatively; but when you compare to a binocular with terrific blue transmission like a modern Swaro EL, the deficiency in deep blue transmission makes the Zeiss look yellow/green which feels “warm” relatively, but it’s not really a warm view at all.

On the other hand, that high transmission in the center yields excellent brightness and low light, and perhaps even enhances perceived sharpness. Tobias likens this to “digital sharpening” in his reviews, to me it doesn’t feel artificial at all but it does give a sense of extreme micro contrast where textures and edges look almost “etched”.

The Swaro has very flat transmission, so it has nearly perfect color fidelity. When I compare a Swaro to a Leica or EDG, the Swaro doesn’t look as “rich” or contrasty but the relatively warm view of the other highlights the superb blue rendition of the Swaro, which to me feels almost “crystalline” and bright/sparkly in comparison.
 

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