Binocular recommendations - Leica v Zeiss v Swarovski


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I think that if you bought a 7x/8x/8.5x42, such as the Leica Ultravid HD+ or Noctivid, Swarovski SLC or EL, or Zeiss SF, you would never need another ‘all purpose’ binocular in your lifetime.

If you really want 10x magnification, then I recommend the Swarovski EL 10x50.

You could add a hand-held rangefinder if you need one or a more specialised binocular such as a 56mm or a rangefinder such as a Leica Geovid HD-B later.

A combination of the above is what works for me:
- All purpose binocular for nature, horse racing, hiking, etc.
- the same all purpose binocular plus hand-held rangefinder for hill stalking.
- 8x56 Leica Geovid HD-B for low ground and woodland stalking.


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One thing to bear in mind is the weight of the rangefinding binoculars, they weigh over a kilo. I am very happy with my Swarovski 8.5x42 EL's and for the woodland and wood edge stalking I do find them to be magnificent. I too would second(third or fourth) the recommendation to have a look at Macleod's of Tain, they are really good to deal with and are as good, or better, on price than most you will find.


Heym SR20

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Just find a good pair of Zeiss 7x42 BGAT* . To many they best designed, balanced bins and optically magnificent. No chance of them making this level quality these days. And they go for £400 plus or minus £100 depending who and condition.


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They are all good. My old eyes seem to notice a shade of colour difference between Leica and Zeiss . The Leicas seem to have a tinge of Green and Red, and the Zeiss seem to have a tinge of Blue to my eyes. I prefer the Green/Red of the leicas. So try them out out doors in natural light, and see which you prefer.


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I'd recommend 8x for woodland and 10x if lots of open ground.

All are good glass, see what your eyes make of each of them.

Would also add Vortex Razors to the list, great glass, significantly cheaper, lifetime warranty and also in green :)


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I’ve had quite a few different pairs started off with second hand Swarovski 7x42 after a number of years a new pair progressed to Leica10x42 HDB rangefinder and now have the new ZEISS 10x54 also rangefinder. The glass in all of them is fantastic. The 10 x 52 let so much light in meanly mornings and late evenings are fantastic as a range finder the reliable after having both leica and ZEISS. The most reliable would be the Leica sadly the new ZEISS has thrown up really odd distances were it should be about 150 meter coming up with stupid figures like 1340. What I will throw in the pot is my little bit of advice if you don’t carry and use sticks then don’t buy a magnification above 8 as it’s very hard to hold a magnification steady enough for any length of time. I tend to set my vari power scope to the same power as the binocular so that I have the same magnification. Finally every time there is a launch of a new bino from the big three there maybe a slight improvement in the glass but it’s very hard for the average man to be able to tell the difference.


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I use Swarovski EL 10x32 for the hill, and CL8x30 for stalking in the woods. The latter were purchased from R Macleod at what is, frankly, a bargain price of £430. If Gregor still has some pairs left, they are an awful lot of bino for the money.


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All three brands make great optics, I am a Swaro guy and have the EL ranges in 10X before that I had the standard EL,s I bought them second hand on EBay and they were great but wanted to move to the rangefinders. I did try the PH,s Leica’s in the range model in Africa and we both agreed the Swaros seem brighter. Given you are new in you will have your binos for life and the range option is usefu I have taken mine to Africa and Scotland and they definately help, everyone is ok out to 150 yards but once you get over 200 you can easily misjudge distance the further out you go the greater the variation. Now and then on new or different ground they are useful to give you an accurate reading then you decide are you happy to take that on or do you need to get closer.


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Agree with all that has been said, most important thing is go and try some and see what suits you and your eyes. I have a pair of 10x42 Geovids and they have given years of faultless performance. Bomb proof, completely waterproof if they get muddy just wash them in the sink. Battery last for years.

Buy once cry once.



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The Zeiss 8 x 45 RF are the ones that worked best for my hands & eyes. There's a secondhand pair on sale on this site.


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Some great advice from this thread with some putting much experience and knowledge into it, I really could not add much other than what I use myself, the Zeiss victory HT 8X42 (which I nearly sold at one time and glad I didn't) are my main hunting glass I love them perfect binocular both ergonomically and with a spectacular bright image, my back up pair are Zeiss bgats with the t* coatings in 7x42 and for their age one of the very best ever hunting glass I would feel more than happy if they where all I had.



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My old Leica 8x42 are not light, look like they have been dragged up and down a field for the past 19 years which they have been through stalking every week but are as crisp and clear as the day I bought them 19 years ago and mechanical 100% functional. What more can I say other than I look forward to them being with me when I hang up my rifle for the last time.


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I’ll put a spanner in the works then!

Although I have Swarovski SL 8x56, EL Range 10x42 and a few pairs of perfectly serviceable ex-military Steiner and Hensoldt kicking around, I’m now invariably using a pair of Swaro CL 8x25 B pocket binos in conjunction with a Quantum XQ38 thermal spotter.

Depending on the time of day, one or the other can usually go in the pocket or bag resulting in minimal weight around the neck.


I had exactly the same dilemma earlier this year (first world problems). I found a shop where I could try them all side by side in 8x (8.5 in Swaro) and 10x. I had been using 12x42, which is great in good light in Scotland but harder in the winter fog, and I went for 8x42 Zeiss Victory SF in the end. I found them the most comfortable to use and with excellent low light performance. I found the Leica gave me black areas at the edges where I couldn't make use of the large eyepiece lenses. the Swaro is very good and the colours are a bit "warmer" but I didn't find them quite as sharp when looking into deep shade. They are all very good and about the same price so it comes down to personal preference.


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I have the Zeiss Conquest HDs in 10x42 and they are brilliant. I honestly cant recommend them enough and the low light performance is superb, especially given their relative good value.

I dont think you need range finders unless you are regularly taking long shots and you have a ballistic turret or reticle TBH... Most shots will be sub 200y and if you know what 200y looks like and you know your MPBR then you dont need the range finder binos IMO.

Rangefinders are useful for mapping out a kill zone if you're up a high seat I think but you can buy a separate range finder for about £150. The Zeiss Conquests are about £800 so thats £950 - or £2500 to have it all integrated. Thats a lot to spend unless you know you're going to get the use from it.

I would go 10x mag which for me seems like a great balance between effectiveness in woodland stalking and on the open hill. I have used mine in both topographies and again they were brilliant.


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I think the other thing to consider is what you will use them for, if at all, outside of stalking.
I live in the Dales, and really enjoy going for a walk somewhere high, and just sitting and scanning and watching nature go about it’s business. I find for this that a wider field of view makes things more pleasurable, some of the best optics can make you feel like you just have better eyes! I’ve recently plumped for a pair of very decent bins on that basis, having looked and looked at different sets, in different light, to make up my mind. I’m hoping I won’t ever have to buy another pair. It might be worth investigating some of the bird reserves, some have optics days where you can go a try different pairs side by side, and it’s helpful because you are usually somewhere with long distance views and wildlife to look at. But try not to be too blinded by the brands and marketing, there’s some excellent stuff out there and aside from resale value, the difference between the top price optics and the next tier down can be closer than the price would suggest. Good luck.


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I started off looking at Swarovski EL’s and SLC’s. In the end I went for Vortex Vipers in 8x42 and I’m made up with them. I tried a friends EL’s in direct comparison to the Vipers and I struggled to see any real difference, certainly not £1400 worth! Having said that my eyesight is definitely not what it used to be.....
As long as you get a good quality product that does what you want then save money where you can, so you can buy more kit!


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All manufacturers you mention have good products. However I use Swarovski el range 10x42 and find these perfect in every way. I also have Swarovski scopes on all rifles. I recently had an issue with the bins in that they went out of focus and was something internal. An email to Austria and the very next day they were collected and I am now being lent a set of el range finders by the Swarovski rep at no charge. No payment needed for postage and no proof of purchase needed either. There customer service is first class and I can honestly say I would never look at another optik company other than Swarovski ever it’s worth it for the back up service alone

I have heard horror stories with regards to Zeiss and Leica but have never used either and a very good friend of mine who takes clients to Africa a lot has a really bad experience with some Leica geovids while out there as they fell apart after two day use (new pair) these were given to him as a gift and now he’s trying to get them sorted this end by Leica and having a terrible time.

This as always is just my opinion but you will never regret your Swarovski purchase. Expensive yes but buy once cry once and they will last you a life time
Good luck
Maybe your friend should contact me re his Leica and I can look into this.


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I used Swaro 10x42 EL's for 15 years and they were fantastic. Got them 2nd hand from Gregor. About 3 years ago I really wanted a set of RF bins having resisted the temptation for some time. Back to Gregor and he gave me a great deal on a set of Leica HD-B's which are the only RF bins I know of with ballistic calculator built in.

A good friend bought a set of the Swaro 10x42 RF around the same time and we have spent a few evenings in a double high seat swapping bins as the light disappeared to compare them. Neither of us could detect and difference in light gathering ability at all. Both perfectly equal. Colour of image is slightly different between the two, the Leica having a bit more contrast, but it really makes no practical difference.

I'm sure the Zeiss are great too but I steered away from them on the grounds of hearing some pretty indifferent customer service reports on them. That might have changed by now.

Have been hearing very good reports on the Khales over the past 12 months and they are significantly cheeper, but have not handled or tested them so am not qualified to comment.