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Zeiss SFL 8x40 vs. Swarovski EL 8.5x42 (1 Viewer)

HenChamp

Active member
United States
New time birder, just into the hobby with my wife. I bought her a pair of Monarch M7s and since then, we’ve both gotten into this. Recently bought the EL8.5x42 after seeing so many glowing reviews and the image is incredible. I am curious on the SFL 8x40 for smaller size and faster focus for birding (the throw on the Swaros is long, really my only complaint with them but also a smaller bin could be nice if I am not giving up much else). I also wear glasses. What would you do for general birding + nature bins? I got the swaros new from an AD for $2100 all in, and the SFLs are $1800 I believe. Thanks in advance!
 
because the swaros are returnable, I could swap for the sfl40 as well and save a little money, but it doesn’t seem worth it, from what I’ve read. Just wanted different opinions on the SFL vs EL.
 
This is not a usual complaint, as EL 8.5x42 was designed for birding. Has the focus throw got longer in this Legend version?
I’d say this is, and has been since its introduction, a usual complaint. They are fine for birding per se, but a lot of cranking to get to close focus for invertebrates etc. I even find the somewhat faster FL and SF a bit on the slow side…my Conquest HD is my ideal.
 
I’d say this is, and has been since its introduction, a usual complaint. They are fine for birding per se, but a lot of cranking to get to close focus for invertebrates etc. I even find the somewhat faster FL and SF a bit on the slow side…my Conquest HD is my ideal.
Funny, because I did try a conquest HD and really enjoyed the focus feel. But much preferred the el8.5 in every other regard.
 
I’d say this is, and has been since its introduction, a usual complaint. They are fine for birding per se, but a lot of cranking to get to close focus for invertebrates etc.
Most bins require some cranking to get to close focus; the question here is what EL Legend is like in typical use. When SLC 42 underwent the same reduction in focus range in 2014, the focus speed across the remaining range got slower. If the same thing has happened with the Legend, it may not be quite so "fine for birding" anymore, as the OP may have been saying.
 
There's good, bad and different. Going from a faster focuser like the Conquest or SF, to the slower focuser of an EL or NL on paper sorta sounds like good or bad depending. I wonder, if its just a difference? People get used to one and balk at the other, when first experiencing the actual. Whereas if they'd just go use it maybe it'll turn out fine.

Turning down to the 4.5' of my ELs is fun once in a while. Its cool too see my shoe laces flopping or the woodgrain in my floor, or... For birding? At birding ranges? Where I bird? Slow? I'm used to it. I like the ability to slowly move the focuser and tune the view when Im onto something that deserves it. My VPs and 1040BGAs are faster, scope to. Not good or bad, just different.
 
It wouldn't be wrong to add the SFL's....you could justify it as an upgrade to the M7's. The SFL for more portability, the EL's for a little more horsepower. You'd have fun comparing them. I'm currently holding two 42mm's and one 40mm bino.
 
There's good, bad and different. Going from a faster focuser like the Conquest or SF, to the slower focuser of an EL or NL on paper sorta sounds like good or bad depending. I wonder, if its just a difference? People get used to one and balk at the other, when first experiencing the actual. Whereas if they'd just go use it maybe it'll turn out fine.

Turning down to the 4.5' of my ELs is fun once in a while. Its cool too see my shoe laces flopping or the woodgrain in my floor, or... For birding? At birding ranges? Where I bird? Slow? I'm used to it. I like the ability to slowly move the focuser and tune the view when Im onto something that deserves it. My VPs and 1040BGAs are faster, scope to. Not good or bad, just different.
I had thought the same thing, that the focuser are on the EL was on the slow side. But we did a little bit of a test on a few binoculars to see how the focus ratio’s were. I’m gonna see if I can look it up later on today for the EL. I recently did this test on the Vortex 8x42 UHD just the other day. Its unusually slow, with 2.7 turns from close to infinity. But similar to the EL’s is that the close focus (about 4feet) to 25 feet was close to two revolutions , and 25 feet to infinity was almost less than 3/4 of a turn. So from a birding perspective they’re relatively fast.

As for the OP, definitely the EL over the SFL overall. If you want light and compact , then SFL will serve very well.

Paul
 
An update. Got the NL pure 8x32 and then had some trouble with my glasses (just slight trouble with eye strain / and very particular placement needed). My wife loved them though, and declared them hers, so I bought NL pure 8x42s used here. They’re fantastic. I also had the SFL 8x40 to try, optics were great, but it didn’t have the wow factor of the NL for me. I also didn’t love the objective covers. Swarovski as a package is just really, really nice. Of course, you pay for it.

The EL is great, and the NL optics are barely better, but they are, and the handling / feeling is easily worth the price difference to me. So I am finally happy and we’re going birding tomorrow morning.
 
An update. Got the NL pure 8x32 and then had some trouble with my glasses (just slight trouble with eye strain / and very particular placement needed). My wife loved them though, and declared them hers, so I bought NL pure 8x42s used here. They’re fantastic. I also had the SFL 8x40 to try, optics were great, but it didn’t have the wow factor of the NL for me. I also didn’t love the objective covers. Swarovski as a package is just really, really nice. Of course, you pay for it.

The EL is great, and the NL optics are barely better, but they are, and the handling / feeling is easily worth the price difference to me. So I am finally happy and we’re going birding tomorrow morning.
Good decision, the NLs are a dream. Now just don't go looking through a Noctivid or the 12xNL. 😏
 

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