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Swarovski SLC 56 WB vs Zeiss Victory FL 56

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#51 ianatcn

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 03:37 PM

Ian
I greatly appreciate your response to the comparison of the Zeiss 15X60 BGAT and the new Swarovski 15X56. I was honestly hoping that the Swarovski wouldn't trump the Zeiss 15X60 BGAT but it appears it does. I would love to have the opportunity to do a side by side comparison, but it is so hard when one lives in the rural Midwest to get a chance to look through the new premium binoculars. In most cases it has come down to qtrusting reviews and taking the plunge and buying them. Thanks again


Thank you kcolter, I do hope you get a chance to try them out. They are a significant investment for anyone. I am surprised that Swarovski make no attempt to market them to astronomers. Their website is designed for hunters and ornithology. Although they triumphantly proclaim what an excellent low light binocular they are they make no attempt to extend their use after dark. Maybe a smaller market than the other two but none the less an important one.

Hopefully when they start to appear in the USA in March more reviews will become available. Until then I will continue to post my observations. I would suggest it would be worth finding a dealer within convenient travelling distance and taking a day out to try a pair. Even if you don't intend to buy them it will be a great experience seeing how far binocular technology has progressed.
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#52 ronharper

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 12:43 AM

Maybe because I do "have a horse in the race", but I think that's the best binocular review I've read in years.

I like to grip one barrel of any binocular out near the objective for best steadiness anyway, which pretty much mitigates my 10x56 FL's front heaviness. The very wide hand expanse required for that obviates the slight fatness that my focusing hand has to contend with. So for me it seems the SLC would hardly be more comfortable. I could bend over much further backwards than that rationalizing my choice!

But I have yet to look through an 8x56. Nope, a 10 will never be as quick and easy as an 8, but it do improve with practice. And for all the weight and bulk I'm toting, I want some "juice"!

Thank you Erik, for your careful and also vivid report. Wasn't that FUN? Give us more like that!

Ron
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#53 Traveler

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 02:54 AM

Prima (Great) review Erik: a big thanks! Did you bought these binoculairs from a nearby dealer, if i may ask?

#54 Erik Bakker

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 04:51 AM

It was a lot of fun Ron!

Your horse in the race is a stunner, making optimum use of the 56mm of aperture. And true, if used to look up at the stars, the 56mm Zeiss don't feel that front heavy.

What I find with both the SLC an FL 10x56 models, is that the true field of view is just one tick to small for my taste (belt, sword, you know) if I had only one binocular. And if I am already narrowing the true field and can't fit some of the finer sights in the heavens in one field, I'd rather have a bit more magnification than 10x. But that is just me.

If Zeiss were able to bring out a new 56 FL bino with similar or even better quality than their current 56 FL's and equip those with the wonderful 69 degree AFOV eyepieces of my little 10x32 FL (or the 12.8mm and 16.7mm Victory FL eyepieces for their spotting scopes), that would leave even the new SLC's in the dust, except the SLC 15x56's that already have this wonderfully large AFOV.

My recommendation to Zeiss is to introduce a New Victory FL 56 series with eyepieces of a design similar to those magical 69 degree AFOV eyepieces for their Victory FL spotting scopes. These have superb viewing characteristics and a very well corrected field. Make them in Germany to at least the same standards as the current Victory FL's, make sure they are all factory adjusted to the same feel in their mechanics and increase their price by say a reasonable US $ 300 for this improved product. I would buy one unseen if made to those specifications. And to round the new series off, please make them available in a higher magnification model too, say a 14x56 FL. That would capitalize on the brightness the FL's are justly famed for, show more of the sky and make them a little bit steadier than a 15x.


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#55 Erik Bakker

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 04:55 AM

Prima (Great) review Erik: a big thanks! Did you bought these binoculairs from a nearby dealer, if i may ask?


All binoculars for this comparison were kindly supplied by my local dealer. Great people, great service and great collection of high-end binoculars.

#56 ianatcn

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 08:49 AM

Good request to Zeiss Eric. Certainly we shouldn't write them off in the sports optics field. They have been market leaders and innovators for over 100 years and have the skills and resources to produce just what you want. Let's hope someone from Zeiss is following this thread :)
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#57 Henry Link

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 10:17 AM

Ekik,

Thanks very much for the excellent comparison. I think my questions about color bias and off-axis sharpness have been answered.

I agree with your assessment of astigmatism as the dominant off-axis aberration in the FL series. In a sense field curvature is almost irrelevant because the tangential and sagittal foci diverge from the plane of the center focus in opposite directions. The mid-point between them (the least astigmatic focus) is pretty close to the plane of center focus. Unfortunately, Zeiss seems to think that is the right way to do it.

I've been happy with the ergonomics of the 8x56 FL, perhaps because I've adopted the same left hand forward, right hand back on the focuser as Ron.

For some reason Swarovski has apparently decided not to sell the 8x56 and 10x56 SLC in the US. I've even heard that they won't be available as special order items like the Habicht Porros.

Are you acquainted with the Dutch optics dealer Jan van Daalen? Judging from his posts on Birdforum he seems to share your low opinion of Zeiss current management.

Henry

#58 Erik Bakker

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 10:24 AM

Hi Henry,

Yes I know Jan, I bought a bino from him a few years ago. And no, I am not familiar with his opinion on current Zeiss management.

Since you are happy with your 8x56 FL, and it is indeed an incredible binocular, you will likely just keep it and enjoy it as is. Perhaps you would enjoy an SLC 15x56 as an addition to your collection.
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#59 ryderc1

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 10:42 AM

For some reason Swarovski has apparently decided not to sell the 8x56 and 10x56 SLC in the US. I've even heard that they won't be available as special order items like the Habicht Porro (quote)


Someone I spoke with at Swarovski US last week thought that some sort of patent issues is why the 8x56 and 10x56 will not be sold in the US. He also said the introduction of the 15x56 was postponed from February to April due to a focuser issue that was uncovered just before introduction here.

#60 smart

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 12:47 PM

I find it amazing that the manufacturer of a relatively simple product like a binocular can have a hard time perfecting an important part like the focusing system. How do car makers put out a complex product that is improved each year? Yes, they do often have recalls on automobiles, but we're talking about a product that is 100x more complex than a binocular.

#61 NDfarmer

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 06:39 PM

Prima (Great) review Erik: a big thanks! Did you bought these binoculairs from a nearby dealer, if i may ask?


All binoculars for this comparison were kindly supplied by my local dealer. Great people, great service and great collection of high-end binoculars.


Erik:

Again, another well done with your review. I enjoyed
every bit.

Zeiss has just introduced the new Conquest 56mm models,
and it would be fun to see your take on these.

You maybe mentioned this above, but I thought I would just
add on to the discussion.

#62 Henry Link

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 08:49 AM

For some reason Swarovski has apparently decided not to sell the 8x56 and 10x56 SLC in the US. I've even heard that they won't be available as special order items like the Habicht Porro (quote)


Someone I spoke with at Swarovski US last week thought that some sort of patent issues is why the 8x56 and 10x56 will not be sold in the US. He also said the introduction of the 15x56 was postponed from February to April due to a focuser issue that was uncovered just before introduction here.


I wonder whose (Zeiss?) and which patent or patents are involved, and why it/they don't also apply to the 15x56.

#63 RichD

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 10:30 AM

Nice review, thanks.

I think alot of folk here will perhaps lean toward the Swaro as it is now well known that it's edge sharpness is as good as it gets. That can be important to alot of astro observers.

I personally find it interesting that of the real top tier makers of high end roofs, it's really only Swaro that are offering a bino that provides the very well corrected edges that astro observers love. Mostly, binos made for birding (as roofs are) normally have a softer edge. Birders historically have been much less demanding of edge performance in binos and more interested in lack of stray light and false colour.

I wonder why only swaro have gone in this direction?

#64 Erik Bakker

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 10:55 AM

Don't know Rich.

But there is an advantage to field the curvature the Zeiss FL has in daytime observing: if you observe your object in focus in the middle of the field and the surrounding objects are nearer to you, you have more of the scene in focus.

Suppose you observe deer far away from you and put them in the middle of the field, not only will most of the horizon look sharp, but also most of the foreground. Same thing happens with a bird on a branche with closer surroundings, this can add to the 3-D effect of the whole scene observed.

In a flat-field binocular, you see the distant object in the center sharp, as well as the whole of the horizon to edge of the field. But the foreground scenery is less sharp because it is out of focus.

On the night sky, the field curvature works to advantage when observing say the moon a little above a tree line. Not only is the moon sharp, but so are the trees. A beautiful sight indeed.

So field curvature is not all negative. I can see some positive sides too. And these work very well in the 8x56 models.
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#65 FrankKD

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 01:45 PM

I personally find it interesting that of the real top tier makers of high end roofs, it's really only Swaro that are offering a bino that provides the very well corrected edges that astro observers love. Mostly, binos made for birding (as roofs are) normally have a softer edge. Birders historically have been much less demanding of edge performance in binos and more interested in lack of stray light and false colour.

I wonder why only swaro have gone in this direction?


You don't consider the Nikon EDG series a high end roof?

One might also consider the Meopta Meostar HD series as well. Though neither is quite as sharp as the Swaro on the edges both are very close in my experience.

#66 kcolter

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 07:57 AM

Eric
I will ask one of those "apples to oranges" comparison questions. On a clear, transparent night that tugs at you to get out and observe, are you more likely to be found behind the Nikon 18X70 or the new Swarovski 15X56?

#67 Henry Link

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 09:22 AM

Don't know Rich.

But there is an advantage to field the curvature the Zeiss FL has in daytime observing: if you observe your object in focus in the middle of the field and the surrounding objects are nearer to you, you have more of the scene in focus.

Suppose you observe deer far away from you and put them in the middle of the field, not only will most of the horizon look sharp, but also most of the foreground. Same thing happens with a bird on a branche with closer surroundings, this can add to the 3-D effect of the whole scene observed.

In a flat-field binocular, you see the distant object in the center sharp, as well as the whole of the horizon to edge of the field. But the foreground scenery is less sharp because it is out of focus.

On the night sky, the field curvature works to advantage when observing say the moon a little above a tree line. Not only is the moon sharp, but so are the trees. A beautiful sight indeed.

So field curvature is not all negative. I can see some positive sides too. And these work very well in the 8x56 models.


Erik,

I think these "benefits" work only for binoculars where field curvature is combined with low astigmatism. The problem with the FLs is that they don't have low astigmatism, only the sagittal focus curves in a positive direction away from the focal plane of the field center as you move your gaze toward the field edge. The tangential focus curves in the opposite negative direction, so no really good focus is possible at the field edge for objects closer than the plane of center focus. I made some photos that illustrate this, which I posted on Birdforum here:

http://www.birdforum...41&postcount=59

You can easily demonstrate this to yourself with a similar piece of gridded paper. Using one eye, focus the lines in the field center at about 6-7 m. Now move the lines to the bottom of the field. You'll find that stepping forward a bit will bring the vertical lines (sagittal focus) into sharp focus near the field bottom, but at the same time the horizontal lines (tangential focus) become more blurred. Stepping back will bring the horizontal lines into focus, but cause the vertical lines to blur.

Henry
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#68 Erik Bakker

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 05:42 PM

Eric
I will ask one of those "apples to oranges" comparison questions. On a clear, transparent night that tugs at you to get out and observe, are you more likely to be found behind the Nikon 18X70 or the new Swarovski 15X56?


On a solid tripod: Nikon 18x70

Hand-held: new Swaro SLC 15x56

Ultimate view of the heavens: Nikon 18x70 by far!
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#69 Erik Bakker

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 05:44 PM

Agreed Henry,

In the FL series this works best in the FL 7x42.

#70 medinabrit

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 06:32 PM

Got to agree with you Erik.Swaro 15 x 56 was my favorite sky watching bino until I got the Nikon 18 X 70.I still prefer the Swaro for wild life & seaside viewing for its center focusing though.

#71 Gordon Rayner

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 12:55 AM

Do you see roof edge spikes radiating from bright point targets, in the subjects of this thread?

#72 Erik Bakker

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 02:26 AM

No spikes Gordon. Round pointy stars with the 3x booster.
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#73 Stellarfire

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 03:11 AM

The brand new Zeiss Victory HT 10x54 will be a new rival of the Swaro SLC 56 WB and successor of the now discontinued Zeiss Victory FL 56.
See also the other newly started thread here Has Zeiss Officially Withdrawn 10x56 FL?.
As soon as the Zeiss HT 54 becomes available at the dealers, a comparo would be very interesting.

Stephan

#74 Erik Bakker

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 06:00 PM

I just got myself a brand-new pair of Zeiss FL 10x56"s. Tried but couldn't resist their unsurpassed center of field image quality, comfortable views and last but not least their incredible Made in Germany craftsmanship bow.gif


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#75 JustaBoy

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 06:11 PM

Oh, You Lucky Dog, You!

Do some looking for the rest of us too, ok?

:whee:


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