Swarovski EL 8x32 – Long term test
As I said in my review of the Zeiss 8x32FLs (below), the top-end binocular market is very competitive. Having now tested three of the best (Leica, Zeiss and Swarovski), I should re-iterate that when compared with cheaper models, they really out-perform in every respect. For active birders the investment is well worth the money – if like me you use them every day they offer fantastic value for the sheer enjoyment you get from them!
Swarovski have kindly lent me a pair of EL 8x32 and I have had a good chance to compare them with the Zeiss FLs, with a mate coming round and spending some time putting them through their paces.
For most people, optically, it would be very hard to separate the two, with both being excellent. The Swarovskis reviewed here are really lovely to use, with the image crisp and bright from edge to edge, and I particularly like the crisp sharp edge to the image (lacking in the Zeiss). The sharpness of the image is all important, and I found the resolution of the 8x32s to be, as you would expect, excellent. There is good contrast, though the image was not quite as strong as in the pair of Zeiss I had - this can be a good or not quite so good thing.
A series of tests using small writing at varying distances proved the optics to be super There is no noticeable fall off of image quality at the very edge, where the black outer circle is crisp. In the field, I have enjoyed using them enormously, and the plumage detail visible is crisply presented. As I said, like so many optics I use, I have found them to have a very slight yellow colour cast, but this is minimal and does not affect the assessment of plumage colour – Zeiss is much the same.
Ergonomically, the Swarovskis are very comfortable to use, we debated this a lot,with my mate prefering the Swarovskis in feel, but I was happy with either - though I would also say they are very comfortable and not too small as I found the Leicas. The focusing wheel is smooth and well-placed, though I have noticed a little play in it developing over the last couple of months...The depth of field is good, the angle of view is slightly wider than with the Zeiss; the colour is almost spot on, though again perhaps very slightly yellow; focusing is precise. In the hand they feel comfortable, with thumb notches giving good grip; the focusing wheel is well-placed; the eye-pieces screw out smoothly offering one optimal position. The eye-pieces fit neatly and comfortably into my eye-sockets - they really extremely comforatble to use.
I like the Swarovski EL 8x32s very much indeed, in fact I prefer them to their 8x42s, which have very long binocular barrels; these somehow feel exactly the right size for me, and the light-gathering is supreme. Choosing binoculars is a personal thing, but I would be more than happy to use these for the next few years and can thoroughly recommend them.
Coming soon, Small Zeiss telescope review