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Swarovski EL 8.5x42 or Zeiss FL 8 x 42

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/29/2007 at 08:07
ND2000 View Drop Down
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I went to the local Cabelas over the weekend and tried out both of these binoculars in low-light conditions, as well as the Leica Ultravids 8 x 42. I put those down immediately because they felt so awkward in my hands and seemed heavier than the other two.  These binoculars will be used strictly for hunting and here is what I found:

 

I thought the Zeiss FLs provided a slightly better overall view (slightly brighter, contrast/sharpness equally good, more color neutral), but the comfort of the Swarovskis was outstanding.  In fact, they are so well balanced they actually feel lighter to me than the Zeiss, despite technically they are a couple of ounces heavier.

 

I am curious if anyone else has compared these binoculars side-by-side and what their conclusions were, and what they ultimately ended up purchasing.  At this point, I think I'm leaning towards the Swarovskis because of the comfort/fit factor, but I'm hesitant to spend the $$$ knowing that I like the overall view of another pair better...

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/29/2007 at 08:34
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I've compared these two at least a dozen times. I had an EL and my wife had a FL. You are correct. The Zeiss is slightly brighter and sharper, because it does not have the color fringing of the EL, but this nice image is only at the center of the field of view. The EL has a wider "sweet spot", area free of distortions and line bending. I found the EL much more pleasing and more relaxing to look through. You cannot go wrong with either of them.

Edited by anweis
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/29/2007 at 08:51
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ND2000 are you sure you had Leica Ultrivoids in your hands and not Leica Trivoids?  Ultrivoids are as light a binocular as Zeiss?  I have been looking at all three of these Leica, Swarovski and Zeiss.  All three are pretty close and I would have to put them in this order.

 

1.) Swarovski/Leica  These are really close as far as optic quality and coatings.  Swarovski is known for the best customer service of any of the big three.  If you ever go to trade in or sell them outright these two will bring you the best return on your money.

 

2.) Zeiss - I thought the Zeiss has kind of a cheap feel to the outer schell and are not that easy to deal with if you have warrenty work from what I have heard from other people.

 

This is just want I have seen/learned from the message board and other optic sites/optic users.  I am in the same boat trying to make a big decision on a pair of binoculars to last me the next 20yrs.  Just my two cents....bird_hunter66

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/29/2007 at 09:03
ND2000 View Drop Down
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Birdhunter -

 

Yep, I'm sure I had the Ultravids.  Again, it was just a "feel" I had holding them in my hands.  I also would agree with you on the "cheap feel" of the Zeiss.  Good luck with your decision as well.

 

ND2000

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/29/2007 at 10:31
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ND2000 its hard to beat Swarovski.  You can get the SLCs for a little less money then the ELs and there almost as bright as the EL's for alot less $$.  Good luck and let us know what you purchase. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/09/2007 at 08:56
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Okay, I'm heading out to the field this weekend with both pairs in hand.  Wish me luck!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/10/2007 at 20:03
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The zeiss WILL be the absolute brightest but overall i like the ultravis
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/11/2007 at 19:18
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Spent about 5 hours in the field (early morning, mid-day and evening) with both pairs over the weekend and I will be getting the Swarovski's.  Both are certainly truly outstanding, but there were three factors that tipped the scale: a) comfort and overall feel is better for my hands/eyes, b) sharpness of the image throughout the full FOV, although the center image is slightly sharper in the Zeiss, and c) I preferred the slower focus wheel.

 

Anyway, thanks much to anweis and birdhunter for their comments.  Can't wait to use these on an actual hunt this spring!

 

 

 

 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/12/2007 at 06:47
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Though I do not think you could have made a "bad choice" in this case I do appreciate the fact you chose the Swaros. Though I do prefer the sharpest possible image I can get I do not like to sacrifice a wide "sweet spot" of image in focus for it. I tend to find myself preferring the bins that offer the widest sweet spot available.

 

Good luck with the new bins.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/12/2007 at 06:58
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Thanks for the review, ND, good one.

I, too, believe comfort and the size of the "sweet spot" are most important in a binocular. I have always found the glass on Zeiss binos to be great from edged to edge. I have also found the ergonomics of the Swaros to be better than Zeiss. When hunting I use binos far more than my rifle scope. Comfort is very important, both in how the glasses handles and in no eye strain from poor glass. It sounds like you made a great choice.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/12/2007 at 07:54
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ND2000, I went to our local Gander Mountain this weekend and I looked at the Swarovski SLC, EL and Leica Ultrivoids.  I loved all three but I could tell that the ELs and the Ultrivoids did have the best glass.  SLCs weren't far behind and for the $$ they are a good buy.  I too liked the EL's they just felt good in my hands.  I also liked the Ultrivoids as well and would probably buy either one that I could get the best buy on. I didn't get a chance to try out the Zeiss as they didn't have any in stock at the time but I did ask the salesman at the counter about which brand they sold more of and he said by far it was Swarovski.  I also have a friend that ownes a gun shop and he told me the same thing that Swarovski's sell more  binoculars by far over either the Leica's or Zeiss.  I guess I had better jump on the band wagon as well and get myself a pair of Swarovski's.  Let me know when you get a pair and where you buy them from.  I am looking for a deal on a pair.  Thanks bird_hunter66

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/13/2007 at 20:11
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I think swarovski sells the most because they have the best marketing department. Zeiss doesnt advertise very well and leica hardly advertises at all. All those hunting shows are sponsored by swarovski. Swarovski adds in all the gun and hunting rags.
bottom line is they all have their strong points but swarovski understands the US market.
I have looked thru them all and i love the ultravids. One i think i have noticed is that on some of these shows where swarovski doesnt advertise or sponsor, i dont see the guys wearing swarovski's.

I have watched craig bolddington using leica ultravids on a show that advertises trijicon scopes.
My dad was hunting in colorado this year and his guide's EL's fogged up do bad they were not useable and he had to use the zeiss classica my dad had..... nothing is perfect

swarovski is great but their are not magically better. the leica's are brighter and smaller with great edge to edge resolution. the FL's are the brightest but do have a small sweet spot

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/14/2007 at 01:03
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I could write an essay about all the times I have tested these 3 binos.  For once I'll spare you my opinion of the optics and just say that they are all 3 superb, and extremely close in optical performance.  If I could give someone advice, I would advise them not to make the decision based too much on the optics but rather the ergonomics and build quality.

 

Althought the optics are similar, the ergonomics are very different and everyone is going to be different on what they prefer and what fits them better.

 

In the 32mm, I prefer the Zeiss Fls because they are the perfect size.  They are closer in size to the Leica Trinovids, but the Ultravids are almost too small for my hands.  The Swaros are a tad long for a 32mm but are not bad.

 

In the 42mm, to me the Ultravids are the better choice.  Both the Ziess and Swarovski are much longer and bulkier than the Ultravids.  Set them next to each other on the counter and the difference is significant.

 

In the 50mm, the Ultravids win this one too.  They are almost the size of the Ziess and Swaro 42mm.  The Zeiss 56 are pretty big.

 

Theres also the difference in corporate philosophy that I consider.  I prefer Leica in this regard.  Take for example the focus wheel.  I have heard many birders (who are Swarovski loyalists) complain that the focus wheel on Leica is not as silky smooth as the Swaro.  I personally love the Ultravid and Trinovid focus wheels but I have read posts where some birders don't like it and some birders do.  When Swaro built the ELs in my opinion, they placed a big emphasis on optics to appeal to birders and hunters and didn't spend alot of time trying to develop a rugged bino.  For example Swaro wants a silky smooth focus wheel so they apply grease to it.  Leica on the other hand (although don't market nearly as well) spent a great deal of time designing every aspect of the Ultravide to provide superior functioning, extreme durabilty, as well as top of the line optics.  Like most Leica products they are built like a tank.  They took a different approach and decided that they would prefer a bino to be able to function around the globe in any environment, weather, or conditions a birder or hunter might face, whether bird watching in the jungles of South America or on a Polar Bear hunt in the artic.  They decided to use german engineering to make the all metal gears of the focus wheel so precise that it wouldn't require grease, only a slight lubricant.  The difference is if your ever go on a Polar Bear hunt your binos will function perfectly, but with the Swaro there is a fair chance that the grease will freeze and render them useless in the extreme cold.

 

I also don't personally trust the independent barrels of the ELs staying in alignment for the life of the binos if they see some hard use.  I believe leica places more money in R&D and top quality components and less in marketing.  This is just my opinion though. 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/14/2007 at 03:38
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TBONE 1 AGREE!
LEICA USES A TITANIUM TO BRIDGE THE 2 BARRELS AND ALSO HAS A NO FAULT REPAIR/REPLACE WARRANTY. IT DOESNT MATTER HOW YOU BREAK THEM, THEY FIX THEM OR REPLACE THEM.

The size of the ultravids is what amazes me. WHen hunting, i dont want a large set of bino;s hanging from my neck all day. Weight wise they are similar but the leica's are much more compact.

Sometimes I wish i could be the marketing director for Leica or Zeiss. In Europe, these brands are much more popular than they are in the USA. Swarovski has dominated marketing over here.

The new Z6 scopes come with a 10 year warranty! WHat a joke! The kicker is you can still buy an AV or PH and get limited lifetime and those models are cheaper! You have to pay more and get less warranty with the Z6!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/14/2007 at 19:07
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The warrranty on Swarovski Z6 is enough to keep me from considering even looking at one much less buying one with only a 10 year warranty offered. I suspect Swarovski will change there warranty on the Z6 because they are going to catch alot of strife about it. If Swarovski is confident in the build quality of the Z6 there is no reason the Z6's should not have a full lifetime warranty for the price Swarovski is asking, heck even Bushnell ofers a full lifetime warranty on there Elite 4200 which is a fine scope IMO. Alot of people that buy highend optics are pretty wealthy though and do not research the product before they lay the cash down.

Edited by Narrow Gap
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/14/2007 at 20:30
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i just bought a diavari that would have been a Z6 if they werent outrageously priced and had that BS warranty
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