Review by Brian J Small
The 8x32 binocular market is a very competitive market, no more so than at the ?top? end ? where the very best from Leica, Swarovski, Zeiss and Nikon offer top qualtiy optics at a high price. For all of these makes, there can be little doubt that, when compared with cheaper models, they out-perform in every respect; if you are an active birder the investment in a really good pair of binoculars is well worth the money ? if like me you use them everyday they offer fantastic value for the sheer enjoyment you get from them! Over the past six months, I have been using a new pair of Zeiss 8x32FLs kindly loaned by Zeiss UK, having previously used their 10x42FLs and 8x42FLs.
Having used larger 8x42 or 10x42s prior to receiving them, what I like about the 8x32FLs is the compact size and lighter weight - wearing binos all day whilst leading trips has made me appreciate the latter aspect in particular. What I did not want, of course, was a compromise in image quality and ?light gathering?, and from the outset I can say that I have not been disappointed. In the hand they feel comfortable, with the classic Zeiss ridges (rubber-armoured) giving good grip; the large focusing wheel is well-placed; the eye-pieces screw out offering a couple of ?click? positions ? though I found that for my eyes the best was just inside the outer setting (would it be possible to offer variable settings?). The eye-pieces fit neatly and comfortably into my eye-sockets.
The sharpness of the image is all important, and I found the resolution of the 8x32s to be, as you would expect, excellent. The flourite glass used in the lenses allow for terrific light transmission, and the image is sharp, with good contrast. A series of initial tests using small writing at varying distances proved the optics to be a step up from an old pair of Leica 8x32s. In the field, I have enjoyed using them enormously, and the plumage detail visible is crisply presented. Like so many optics I use, I have found them to have a slightly yellow colour cast, but this is minimal and does not affect the assessment of plumage colour.
I have used the Zeiss 8x32FLs in varying conditions, from the heat of the Gambia and India to the cold of northern Norway, and they have been brilliant. I have enjoyed the close-focusing whilst watching dragon- and butterflies (down to two metres), but also most recently Pine Grosbeaks and Siberian Tits in Finland. What might improve them? I have mentioned variable eye-piece positions, and the slight yellow cast (it may be my eyes), but actually there is little to change. I would be more than happy to use these for the next few years and can thoroughly recommend them.
You may also be interested in the following optics review by Brian:
Leica 8x32BR Binoculars
Leica 8x42 BR Binoculars
Leica 10x25 Ultravid Binoculars
Leica APO Televid
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