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Zeiss SF 8X32 after 8 weeks of use... (1 Viewer)

chill6x6

Well-known member
Greetings BF readers!

Today I feel pretty comfortable in presenting some info and thoughts on the actual use of my SF 8X32. Eight weeks isn't really a lot time. It usually takes me a little while to sort out a new binocular as was the case here. More time will be needed for a complete opinion but I feel pretty safe in my thoughts here today. I was a little apprehensive in actually purchasing this binocular or ANY of the new offerings such as the Swarovski NL basically asking myself really how much better IS "better." My prediction was "not much" at the time. We shall see...

I kicked around "pre-ordering" the SF. I could have gotten a "free" Terra ED if I had done so. I purchased my SF after this promotion and purchased at a price better than what was being listed as the promo price. I all ready have a couple of Terra EDs so this was the best option for me.

The SF arrived at work two days after purchase. Opening the box the first thing one notices is the binocular case. I like it much better than the SF 42mm case. It's easier to use and is more roomy. I have no problem wrapping the Rick Young ULH around it and placing the SF in it's case. The case has proven to be issue free in the time I've had it. The actual binocular looked to be blemish free and without any issues upon examination. It sure didn't "squeak" the way my new, early production SF 8X42 did.

I thought about statistical comparisons for quite a while. What should one compare the Zeiss SF 8X32 to? This binocular is somewhat of an oddity in that it compares to 42mm binoculars in stature but has the FOV and objective of 32mm binoculars. So to solve that issue, I did a little of both picking a few binoculars I thought would good comparisons.

Field of View([email protected])
Zeiss SF 8X32..............- 465
Nikon Monarch HG 8X42- 435
Nikon Monarch HG 8X30- 435
Swarovski SV 8X32.......- 423
Nikon EDG II 8X32........- 409(same as the EDG 8X42 BTW)
Leica UVHD+ 8X42........- 389

Weight(ounces, actual)

Leica UVHD+ 8X42........- 27.1
Nikon Monarch HG 8X42- 23.5
Nikon EDG II 8X32...... .- 23.1
Zeiss SF 8X32...............- 21.3
Swarovski SV 8X32.......- 20.6
Nikon Monarch HG 8X30.-16.7

Close Focus

HOPEFULLY the picture below will be self explanatory. All the binoculars except for the Leica which was about 9 feet were all within about 1.5 feet of each other.

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chill6x6

Well-known member
Once I received the SF, I didn't use another binocular while birding until my last two trips. That means I basically did not even pick up another binocular during this time. I really wanted to use it and come to some conclusions in as unbiased of a way as possible.

Eye cups- I guess most would call the eye cups as having four positions. All the way up, all the way down, and two between these positions. For me they actually have more than that. I sometimes find there is a spot just above each "click" that I can rest the eyecup. That allows me to fine tune the eye cup position a little more. That was the case in this SF. You know...lots of folks here complain about the SFs "cheap" eyecups. I just don't see that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these eyecups. I never had a single issue.

Focus adjustment- What's not to like here? So far it's the best focus adjustment on any binocular I've ever had. HUGE focus wheel. Absolutely EDG like smoothness with lower effort. Maybe slightly more effort clockwise, maybe.

Diopter adjustment- Center adjustment where I like it. Very easy to use! Pull out the adjustment, adjust, and push back in to retain. Very smooth and easy to use. I've kept it on "0" since I've had it.

Strap- Haven't opened it so I don't know. I attached a Rick Young UL harness right out of the box.

Lens covers- These are the typical covers that started with the HTs and have continued with the SFs. Probably of little use in the field. I never use them except when in the case.

Below:
Picture 1 is the HG 8X42, UVHD+ 8X42 and the SF 8X32
Picture 2 is the SV 8X32, EDG II 8X32, and the SF 8X32

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Gijs van Ginkel

Well-known member
chill, post 3,
There is a difference in the open gap between both tubes between both binoculars (SF 32 and EL-SV 32). How does that feel for you?
Gijs van Ginkel
 

chill6x6

Well-known member
SF 8X32 in the field

To date I've used the SF during several trips while in the panhandle of Florida and during my normal trips to my normal birding spots here in north Alabama. There is one small issue I had to sort out right away. For me eyecup position has to be perfect otherwise there is a slight tendency to kidney bean at the eye cup position for maximum FOV. As most of you know I wear eyeglasses. With the eye cups all the way DOWN there are no issues except that I am not seeing the maximum FOV. My remedy was to keep the eyecup position resting on top of the "click" for all the way down. One of the problems is mine...the exact distance a binocular needs to be from my eye varies sometimes probably 1-2mms. So with some binoculars I will need to tweak the eyecup position slightly upon each use, sometimes daily, some never. During the last three trips it has really been no issue.

I've viewed a lot of birds with the SF. Some notable ones are common and purple gallinule, black bellied whistling duck, snowy egrets, sandhill cranes, savannah sparrow, various terns and shore birds, and today a Virginia rail. I have found that the SF points very instinctively. See a bird with the naked eye, put the binocular up, there it is. It's very second nature. Focusing is quick and easy with a semi-fast focus of about 1.6 turns lock to lock. For reference it's faster than the SV 32 @ about 2 turns lock to lock. Of course the FOV is wide and bright. At first glance it appears to be pretty close to flat edge to edge. More on this later. In carry with the RYUL harness you hardly know the binocular is there as it should be for a 32mm binocular. Several times when looking at birds with a lot going on such as a hermit thrush or song sparrow I wondered how a binoculars resolution could get any better. The SF simply presents an excellent image! Color, excellent(more on this later). CA seems excellent.

So NATURALLY the binocular to compare the SF 8X32 to is the SV 8X32 which just happens to be my favorite binocular. So yes I have done some of this. First thing I want to talk about is FOV. YES the SF has 465ft @ 1000yds FOV and the SV has 423. YES I could tell a SLIGHT difference but I do mean slight and here's why. 1000 yards is over half a mile. 0.568 miles to be exact. At FIFTY yards the SF has a FOV of 23.25ft and the SV 21.15ft. That's not much difference! Even using area at 50yds only about 21% difference between the two. In actual birding I don't find any meaningful difference. But don't get me wrong, I'll take the increased FOV! For sure after using the SF and THEN using the SV the focus adjustment of the SV feels antiquated. For sure the SV focus is precise and slack free but it's not nearly as smooth as the SF. My SV is about four years old and is the same is when it was taken out of the box. We will see if the SF fares as well. CA- I find the SF slightly better but neither exhibits CA in a meaning way to me. Color....Hmmm...there's a difference. Only in direct comparison did I notice this with one binocular on top of the other but the SF does have a tendency to emphasize greens. ALSO if I were a betting man I'd bet the transmission % of the SV is slightly more than the SF. I supposed we will soon see. LASTLY....edge to edge performance, ie flat field. While birding, both binoculars seem pretty MUCH equal but not so. Looking at LETTERS one can tell the SV FOV is slightly flatter than the SF. I estimate it's about 90% flat for the SV and maybe 80-85% for the SF. There's a difference.
 

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chill6x6

Well-known member
So I'm going to keep the SF 8X32. I like it. It's really a pleasure to use. It's not perfect. If I were going to GRADE the SF and SV it would be as follows:

Focus- SF
FOV- SF
Flat field- SV
Color presentation/transmission- SV
CA- SF
Handling- =
Ease of use- SV
Diopter adjustment- =

Both the SV and SF are great birding binoculars. As it stands today, I'd have a hard time picking between the two. I don't feel like the added FOV and the smooth focus is enough to overturn the excellent track record of my SV. I will continue to use the SF throughout the fall/winter and we will see how it goes.
 

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chill6x6

Well-known member
chill, post 3,
There is a difference in the open gap between both tubes between both binoculars (SF 32 and EL-SV 32). How does that feel for you?
Gijs van Ginkel

Hi Gijs,
The main difference in the two is the distance between the hinges. The SV has more room between the hinges. That wasn't an issue for me but it may be when wearing gloves or with someone what has really large hands..
 

Conndomat

United States of Europe
Europe
Hello Chuck,

very nice report, thank you for that.

It is interesting that you also notice a green emphasis on the SF, I can see this green tone very clearly in the SF 8x42, especially in poor visibility conditions, even without comparing the SF with other binoculars.
Do you also notice this emphasis on green in the 8x42 or is it only available for you in the 8x32?

Andreas
 

eitanaltman

Well-known member
Excellent Chuck! I knew you would cave and add this to the collection ;) always enjoy your comparisons.

Where does the EDG sit in comparison? Obviously it cannot hang in terms of FOV but otherwise I prefer the optics of the EDG to the SV... the EDG has just about the best combination of color rendition, glare control and CA control for me, plus that focus knob! But that SF makes me wonder....
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Chuck. Nice review. How did they compare on glare? I know you don't have a problem with glare with the EL but did you feel the SF handled glare better? I wish you could find an NL 8x42 to compare to the SF 8x32. I would be interested to hear your opinion.
 

Gijs van Ginkel

Well-known member
Chuck, post 7,
What is your opinion about the difference in eyecups. The 32 SF has plastic eyecups, the EL-SV has metal ones. With THE samples I have, there are three eyecup positions for the SF 32 versus six for the El-SV 32.
You noticed a difference in color representation, that is what I see also, but the EL-SV has definitely a higher level of brightness and that I can explain very well with our measured data. How did you experience that?
By the way, I did not observe any difference in turning resistance between the focussing wheel of both binoculars, that feels the same to me. Both are excellent binoculars.
Gijs van Ginkel
 

Hermann

Well-known member
The 32 SF has plastic eyecups, the EL-SV has metal ones.

One argument I've heard is that plastic eyecups will help protect the binoculars in case you drop them. Plastic eyecups - that are easily replaced - will break, protecting the eyepiece from damage.

Hermann
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
Nice write up Chuck - always enjoy your practical, undramatic, feed forward :)

Do you take requests ?

If so, I'd like to see a photo of the 32 SF, 32 SV, and 42 MHG together, with the eye cups fully in AND with all the binoculars sitting eye cup side down on the same level surface. (they may need some propping or care that they don't fall).

The purpose for this rare request is that it's the only way to easily visually compare focus wheel position (and hence hand position) in relation to the eyecups, between different binoculars.

Thanks for everyone taking photos of bins for comparison - but when they're resting on the objectives it pretty much drives me mental ! :-O

Thanks :t:






Chosun :gh:
 

dries1

Member
Chuck,

Thanks for the info regarding the SF 8X32 by one who actually goes out and uses the glass.
I am anxious to view one to see if I observe the green tint.
With respect to the requests, I think there more than adequate photos to relay the physical comparisons of other glass.

Andy W.
 

master5

Well-known member
Where does the EDG sit in comparison? Obviously it cannot hang in terms of FOV but otherwise I prefer the optics of the EDG to the SV... the EDG has just about the best combination of color rendition, glare control and CA control for me, plus that focus knob! But that SF makes me wonder....

+1

thanks for the review!
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
Nice write up....looks to be a winner although the SV is too... one thing you haven't eluded too much is the 'size'. Obviously the SF is larger and although lighter than some, the physical size is large. Thoughts on that? jim
 

Foss

Well-known member
Great write up! I like the way you summed it up with the comparison & photo of the SV and SF. Well done, Chuck
 

Gijs van Ginkel

Well-known member
Chuck,
I tried to see a green cast in the SF but after numerous attempts it did not turn up and my eyes are pretty good.
Gijs van Ginkel
 

PhilR.

Well-known member
Thank you for the review Chuck!

I also tried the 8x32 SF alongside my 8x32 SV. I liked the ergonomics and focus wheel of the SF, but I didn’t find its increased FOV to be greatly different from the SV. Yes, the increased FOV is nice to have, but I felt no disadvantage when I switched back to the SV. What I really didn’t care for in the SF was the way it over-emphasized the greens. I live in a sea of green (well - not now since it is Fall), which makes this coloration jump out at me every time I raised the bino to my eyes.

In the end, even though I liked the SF, I decided to send it back. The advantages of slightly better focus wheel and FOV just didn’t outweigh the slightly decreased brightness (only noticeable when it gets pretty dim) and weird coloration (to *my* eyes) enough to make it an interesting alternative to my SV. So I sent the SF back and purchased an NL.

Now I am really looking forward to a 32mm NL. An 8x32 NL that doesn’t weigh any more than the current SV would really be something......:t:

Phil
 

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