• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Zeiss Victory 10x25 verses Swarovski CL Curio 7x21 vs. Kowa Genesis 10x22 (1 Viewer)

kimsrk

I dnt knw enuf 2 knw if what I'm asking is evn dum
United States
My binocular addiction continues....

I fell in love with the idea of quality pocket bino's after feeling a little nerdy walking around with some big Kowa Genesis 10.5x44 at a local trail. Compact, powerful enough, and still a great view? Too good to be true?

I grabbed 3, hopefully top end pairs, to compare side by side. A Zeiss and Swaro comparison makes a lot of sense but I wanted to add in Kowa to the mix as they are often touted as near high end, and since they are all priced within about $150 of each other it is a good chance to see, if Kowas were priced the same as Swarovski's and Zeiss, will hold their own optically?


Swaro
In a group of compact bin's these are teeny tiny fun sized binoculars. The other two are not big at all and they still sort of dwarf the Curios. Not surprisingly these weighed the least at about 260g. Right in line with all the Swaros I've put hands on, they feel and look great. Their small size is unassuming, the view is not. They are flat to the edge with a crystal clear, almost shimmering brightness to the image. FOV is great and eye relief with glasses was the best of the 3. I still am a stickler for CA and although these are very good, I still found it easier to get false color out of these compared to Zeiss or Kowa. They are near perfect dead center, but if the view is not perfectly aligned with your pupil (which is considerably more difficult using this style), any tilting or binocular movement produced noticeable CA pretty early in the view. Despite that, the CA suppression is over-all still top tier, just, of the top tier I don't find it to be the best.

Mechanically these hit all the usual top notch Swaro wickets, eye cups extend smoothly and felt comfortable against my eye sockets. The rubber armor feels grippy but smooth. Eye placement is easy enough for this style of bin, but the double hinge design can be annoying and if they are going in and out of your pocket frequently it can get really annoying, not a fault of Swaro, more-so a limiting factor of ultra compact binoculars. The focusing knob is thin knurled plastic, comfortably palced, with a slow precise focus. I personally don't like how slow the focusing is, but I can see why some people do as it allows for the most precise focus. The diopter is OK, nothing special, nothing bad. With all of the models I had to check on it once in a while because they all can be accidentally adjusted. Accessories are slightly lower end for Swaro, but nothing at all to complain about. Standard straps and a nice carrying case.


Zeiss
First noteworthy thing is the off center hinge, and despite it being a little awkward to use at first, it grew on me very quickly. The advantage of only adjusting one hinge, for me, greatly outweighs any slight awkwardness of aesthetics or function. The second noteworthy thing is the armor. I don't like it at all. It has a sticky rubber feel that makes me think it's only going to be good for a few years and it is a fuzz magnet. I got an open box demo so maybe it is slightly worse than normal, but I doubt it. The view through these is great, but the Swaro's view is sublime and somehow seemed just as bright and brilliant as the Zeiss with larger objective lenses. The Zeiss' view is slightly distorted near the outer edge, but not at all distracting and barely noticeable to me. CA suppression was about the same as the Curio's, maybe slightly edging them out. FOV is nice and wide and the extra magnification is really nice. Color brightness and detail were all very good. Weight for these came in at about 288g.

Mechanically everything is tight and smooth. The eyecups suffice but were my least favorite of the three, and eye relief was second, just barely, to Swaro. They were usable with glasses for me, but a little FOV was lost. Another rubber knurled focusing knob that is faster yet still precise, much more to my taste, and falls nicely between the speed of Kowa and Swaro. Nothing really to say about the diopter. Accessories are about the same quality as Swaro, not spectacular, just fine. The case is much bigger and more rugged, which could be a positive or a negative based on your preferences. I would actually like to see a more pouch-like design to carry these in. But that's just me.


Kowa
At first I really liked them. On paper they should be nice and bright and my experience with the genesis line has been good for me so far. In bright day light the Kowas were more than adequate and at first glance seemed to be right up there with the two big dogs. But, because I wanted to prove some people here wrong about Kowa ;) I was determined to dig and see if they really could hold up. The glass seemed pretty flat with minimal distortion but slightly more than Zeiss, and for my eyes more than good enough to not be distracting. CA suppression was the best overall of the 3, IMHO, but they are all very good. At mid-day I didn't notice any brightness difference between the 3, but there was a very noticeable tint to these when I looked at distant, white-colored objects. I'm not actually sure which was more accurate because the Swaros and Zeiss almost seemed too white, or maybe 'cool', so perhaps the Kowas have a warmer tone; not necessarily bad or any more inaccurate. Going back and forth between these and either Swaro or Zeiss, it was clear (or not so clear :) ) that something was different with the Kowa glass. At night, lit only by the moon, it stood out that the Kowas were weirdly dark. I could pick out reds and greens of flowers nicely with the Swaros or Zeiss that were muted, dull, and just not good when using the Kowas...but this was under the most extreme use case. The last thing I tried was to use books in a dimly lit room as props to see if maybe there was still hope for the Kowa’s reputation. With poor lighting I used all 3 bino's to try and read small print on some book bindings across the room, maybe 20 feet away. Long story short, the Swaros and Zeiss undoubtedly outperformed the Kowas. Don't get me wrong, the Kowas were fine, but they were darker and less sharp. Perhaps showing that they are not quite in the top tier, especially considering that the Swaro magnification is only 7X yet their view was crisper and brighter.

Mechanically I like the Kowas better than Zeiss, but not really better than Swaro, for me it's about equal. Eye relief was the worst with these, they were the most frustrating to use with glasses; serviceable but definitely sacrificing FOV. Accessories were about on par with Swaro and Zeiss, noting to write home about; adequate. Weight for these is about 320g.


Parting thoughts
Putting these in order of quality was not too difficult, Swaro was the best overall optically, but Zeiss was not far behind, and really only got edged out because the Swaros view just had the 'wow' factor. The Zeiss should not be under estimated here, though. Kowa was slightly disappointing, both me and my SO were the least impressed with Kowas clarity at long distances when we field tested them, and to me the dimly lit room test most obviously showed the flaws in the Kowas. The only thing worth considering between the Victory Pockets and the Curios is the size and hinge design. I really preferred Zeiss for the one hinge and the focusing knob, but the ultra-compact Curios manage to be so much and so small at the same time it is really impressive. As for the Kowas, I think they are still great and deserve a lot of praise, but the issues in low light, and lack of sharpness were evident next to Swaro and Zeiss. I preferred Kowa CA suppression and their fit and finish is also very good. Because these are basically all priced the same, there's really no reason to even look at Kowa in the pocket bino category. 100% get either the Victory Pockets or Curios, or just go a tier lower and save some money. If you want the 10x magnification get the Zeiss, if you want to smallest bino's ever made that still deliver high quality views, get the Swaros. Stay away form the Kowa Genesis 10x22's.

**I'll still leave it out there that these could just be a bad pair from Kowa but I don't feel like going through any back and forth to find out.
 

Attachments

  • 123.jpg
    123.jpg
    308.2 KB · Views: 49
kimsrk,

Nice useful and practical comparison. I especially like the fact that you chose to compare a 7x 8x and 10x. I agree with Chuck,@chill6x6, that the 2.2 mm EP of the Kowa could be part of the problem. Also for context, I have tried the 8.5x44 Genesis and for 6+ years have regularly used the 10.5 as a beach bin. They are both excellent for the price IMO and often go on sale for less than $1000. I haven't tried either Genesis pocket but would hazard a guess based on my experience with the larger models and comparing them with similar even higher end models that the pocket versions are overpriced at the MSRP versus Zeiss, SW and Leica. So I don't think your findings are based on a sub par example of the Kowa.

Mike
 
kimsrk,

Nice useful and practical comparison. I especially like the fact that you chose to compare a 7x 8x and 10x. I agree with Chuck,@chill6x6, that the 2.2 mm EP of the Kowa could be part of the problem. Also for context, I have tried the 8.5x44 Genesis and for 6+ years have regularly used the 10.5 as a beach bin. They are both excellent for the price IMO and often go on sale for less than $1000. I haven't tried either Genesis pocket but would hazard a guess based on my experience with the larger models and comparing them with similar even higher end models that the pocket versions are overpriced at the MSRP versus Zeiss, SW and Leica. So I don't think your findings are based on a sub par example of the Kowa.

Mike

Hey Mike
Thanks, yeah I picked up a pair of Kowa Genesis 10.5x44 that I love and don't have any (major) issues with. My biggest complaint is really just eye relief. I've put them side by side with top end Swaros and felt like I wasn't missing enough to justify an extra $1k+. I can't deny the Swaros are optically better they're just not worth it to me when the Genesis 10.5x44 exist.

For these though, since they were all about $750 there's no way I'd recommend getting the Kowas.

I was wondering about the pupil size, I don't really know enough to know if it matters in this case.

Steve
 
Do you think one of the issues with the 10X22 Kowa could be that it has the smallest exit pupil of the three?
That was my first thought, but I don't really know. From what I've read at least 2mm should be fine, but perhaps these ones were too close to the edge of useable. I really want to think that it was a fluke pair and others might not be like this, but I don't want a whole bunch of back and forth when I'm spending $20 a pop for shipping.
 
I enjoyed your review, but I think it better if you compared all 3 in 7-8X. I assume Kowa is available
in 8x22. I find any 8X binocular is easier to view through in many cases compared to its 10X counterpart.
Especially in pockets this is important, the smaller size, lighter weight more chances for shake.
Jerry
 
I'm not sure I quite understand the brightness difference? The Swaros have about 70% the aperture area of the Zeiss and the Zeiss claim 91% light transmission. I don't quite see 7x vs 8x making up the difference. The Swaros have a 51 degree apparent field (135m at 1000m) and a 3mm exit pupil vs. 60 degree and 3.1mm (130m at 1000m). What makes the difference up, the significantly narrower apparent field, any ideas?
The Leica Ultravid 10x25 / 8x20 are also competitors but an 8x25 would have been nice plus the FoV is somewhat narrow...
 
I enjoyed your review, but I think it better if you compared all 3 in 7-8X. I assume Kowa is available
in 8x22. I find any 8X binocular is easier to view through in many cases compared to its 10X counterpart.
Especially in pockets this is important, the smaller size, lighter weight more chances for shake.
Jerry
Actually I just realized that the Zeiss are 10x25. As much as I would have liked to compare to Swaro 10x pockets, I saw a lot of good reviews of the Curios and wanted to see for myself.
 
Since you've got both the 8x25 and 10x25 Zeiss maybe you could tell him a bit about the differences between the two as you see them?

Right. I have never directly compared the VP 10x25 with the Curio. May have a chance to compare them on the beach this weekend. Might throw the Leitz 10x22 into the ring as well since I have never tried the 10x22 Genesis.

Mike
 
Many years ago I was looking for 10x compact bins from the big 3. Primary use was hiking and SAR work in the Idaho back country. I ended up with, what was for me, the clear winner - Zeiss Victory 10x25. I haven't looked through any of the modern offerings but an 8x25 might be a bit more versatile. Today, my most used bins are my Zeiss 8x32 Conquest HDs. Push all the right buttons for me. Unlike most here, I don't chase the latest and greatest as at my age, I'm just thankful I don't need glasses for other than reading. That said, my eyes aren't what they were a dozen years ago, much less 25-30.
 
Many years ago I was looking for 10x compact bins from the big 3. Primary use was hiking and SAR work in the Idaho back country. I ended up with, what was for me, the clear winner - Zeiss Victory 10x25. I haven't looked through any of the modern offerings but an 8x25 might be a bit more versatile. Today, my most used bins are my Zeiss 8x32 Conquest HDs. Push all the right buttons for me. Unlike most here, I don't chase the latest and greatest as at my age, I'm just thankful I don't need glasses for other than reading. That said, my eyes aren't what they were a dozen years ago, much less 25-30.
I'm a huge fan of the Zeiss Victory 10x25 and optically about equal to the Swaros as far as I'm concerned. Not really much to complain about with them outside of the limitations of the compact format.
 
...for me, the clear winner - Zeiss Victory 10x25. I haven't looked through any of the modern offerings but an 8x25 might be a bit more versatile...
I'm a huge fan of the Zeiss Victory 10x25 and...
Readers of this thread should be careful to note that there are two "Zeiss 10x25 Victory" models--the much older Compact model and the still current Pocket model. To which do these comments refer? They are similar in many respects but are nevertheless quite different in handling and optically. I don't know if I have seen a detailed comparative review. I don't pay much attention to 10x pocket roofs, so I've not done so myself (but I do own the 8x20 and 8x25 counterparts). If memory serves, CSG uses the old Compact model. The oldest production of that model did not have dielectric prism coatings and were not as good as later units of the same model. The Pocket is a step up from that.

--AP
 
Since you've got both the 8x25 and 10x25 Zeiss maybe you could tell him a bit about the differences between the two as you see them?
To get started, I have regularly used the Zeiss VP 8x25 for 6+ years. Everything about it works well for me. Plenty of eye relief when used with glasses to immediately get the full FOV. Without glasses it works equally well with eye cups fully up or down. The single hinge and off set position of the focus knob are a real plus for me as well. Everything about it adds up to effortless use for me. Don't underestimate the low light performance of the 8x version. I've had several memorable owling sessions with them.

I recently got the VP 10x25. While the overall image quality is really impressive with the relatively wide FOV and especially AFOV for a 25 mm, eye relief is a bit short for my use with glasses. This may be one reason they are more demanding in terms of eye placement than other 2.5 EP models including other 10x25's.

Mike
 
Readers of this thread should be careful to note that there are two "Zeiss 10x25 Victory" models--the much older Compact model and the still current Pocket model. To which do these comments refer? They are similar in many respects but are nevertheless quite different in handling and optically. I don't know if I have seen a detailed comparative review. I don't pay much attention to 10x pocket roofs, so I've not done so myself (but I do own the 8x20 and 8x25 counterparts). If memory serves, CSG uses the old Compact model. The oldest production of that model did not have dielectric prism coatings and were not as good as later units of the same model. The Pocket is a step up from that.

--AP
Yes. Mine are the earlier Victory 10x25 BT. I've compared them to the new ones and the difference are too subtle to my eyes to upgrade. I seem to recall mine do have dielectric prisms. Point is, "step up" chasing of alpha bins becomes similar to the insanity of the high end audiophile world. in my opinion, especially for older people or those without golden eyes.

Edited to add that mine are marked 10x25B T*. Serial number is 27354** if that helps date them or answer the question as to whether or not they have dielectric prisms. I have long forgotten what the "T*" designation represents as to coatings or?
 
Last edited:
To get started, I have regularly used the Zeiss VP 8x25 for 6+ years. Everything about it works well for me. Plenty of eye relief when used with glasses to immediately get the full FOV. Without glasses it works equally well with eye cups fully up or down. The single hinge and off set position of the focus knob are a real plus for me as well. Everything about it adds up to effortless use for me. Don't underestimate the low light performance of the 8x version. I've had several memorable owling sessions with them.

I recently got the VP 10x25. While the overall image quality is really impressive with the relatively wide FOV and especially AFOV for a 25 mm, eye relief is a bit short for my use with glasses. This may be one reason they are more demanding in terms of eye placement than other 2.5 EP models including other 10x25's.

Mike

Hi Mike,

I once tried the VP 10x25 and it was a "floater" for me. With the eyecups fully extended I had to hold it a bit away from my eyes to get see the whol FOV. Since you say the eyerelief is different between the 8x25 and the 10x25, do you think the VP 8x25 will suite me better? When you use them without glasses, do you have to hold the 8x25 and 10x25 on exact the same place? (against your eyesockets or against your eyebrows?)
 
Hi Mike,

I once tried the VP 10x25 and it was a "floater" for me. With the eyecups fully extended I had to hold it a bit away from my eyes to get see the whol FOV. Since you say the eyerelief is different between the 8x25 and the 10x25, do you think the VP 8x25 will suite me better? When you use them without glasses, do you have to hold the 8x25 and 10x25 on exact the same place? (against your eyesockets or against your eyebrows?)

Reinier,

Without glasses I get the full FOV with both and can either put them in my eye sockets with the cups extended or rest them against the underside of my brow with cups down. No need to hover with either and I can hold both in the same position. The only issue I have with the 10x is there is a slight loss of FOV when used with close fitting glasses and in comparing them again just now, it seems that what I initially thought was difficultly with eye placement of the 10x is actually me struggling to get the full FOV with glasses as a result of less ER in the 10x.

Based on my experience the 8x may work better for you since it has more ER, listed at 16.5 mm FWIW. The ER for the 10x is often listed as 16.5 as well but it's very likely less as would be expected.

Mike
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Back
Top