New Zeiss Bino—SFL 10x40–Review

robby denning

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8/14/22 update. Final Review is up! 566FF64D-4323-4984-AE50-54FA972D21A9.jpeg
Previous Discussion:

I did their Victory SF 10x32 (and 8x32) review last summer here. (SF = Smart Focus with only about 1.5 turns on the dial but still precise)

Impressive optic, especially when you consider the size.

But they run about $2500

So…if their new SFL (Smart Focus Light) could compete with the SF at $700 less (about $1800 total, available in July 2022), it would be a win for most binocular users. (It’s on their website now HERE

c8a169cd5fb019226506302f80999030.jpg


To note, the SFL is NOT in any “family“ of the Zeiss lines like Victory, Conquest, it’s just got the SF in it’s name because it is Smart Focus.

While these are different classes of binos, but to me a comparison is warranted because if the SFLs in 40mm—at only 1.4 more ozs than the SFs at 32mm—will compete, then saving $700 bucks is saving $700 bucks (we typically pay a lot for small differences in the optics world).

Also, both the SF and SFL models incorporate ED glass, Field Flattener lenses, and ZEISS T-Star coating for 90% light transmission to eye. In addition, SF models also incorporates FL (fluoride) lenses.

I received the 10x40 SFL last week. Some specs that are important to me (comparing to the SF 10x32)

22.6 ozs (vs 21.2 ozs in the SF32)
FOV 345’ @ 1K (vs 390’)
90% Light Transmission (vs 92%)
Tripod adaptable (vs not!)


Everything else will be in their catalog (I’ll link soon)

I spent an evening from pre-sunset to 60 minutes after sunset.

All binos on tripods looking into line of cottonwoods at 200 yards approx

FOV:
While the SF32 is larger by 45’@1K, it’s hard to tell in use. Both binos “immerse” you in the view. Not a deal breaker for the SFLs slightly less FOV

Twilight Performance (my term)
The SFLs absolutely outperformed the SFs. Expected, yes, with a 3.2mm exit pupil vs a 4mm BUT the difference was much more than I’d expect. The SFLs beat the SFs by up to 10 minutes. SFs tapped out at about 45 minutes after sunset but I was approaching 55 minutes with the SFs (this was resolving some tan spots on the trees left by broken branches).

As it was taking so long for the SFs to tap out, I put them against my 7x42 Zeiss Dialyt (6mm exit pupil) and my Swarovski 8x42 EL Range TA (5.3mm exit pupil) and it was a dead-heat-virtual tie among the three. Considering those other binoculars weigh around a half pound more, that is impressive.

To note, that was one evening, so as this review continues, I’ll verify that performance on a USAF Resolving power chart.


The next week, I took the SFs on an overnight shed hunting trip. It wasn’t a lot of glassing but did confirm that the extra 1.4 ozs is not noticeable. As I said in the original review of the SF32s, you don’t know they’re around your neck, and same with these SFLs. The neck straps are identical in both optics.

I’ll continue to update this thread as I gain more experience.

I’ll also give you a peek at Zeiss’ bino adapter. I received it after I did the above test, so no time on it yet.

Hit me with any questions and if you’re in the Idaho Falls area and want to compare the two, let me know.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 
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timberlinehunter

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Awesome! These look like they would be a perfect chest bino. I may have to put an order in for the 8x40 version. I would be curious to see how well the 10x40 are hand holdable. Thats always been my problem with the 10x hence why I am usually an 8x guy.


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robby denning

robby denning

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Awesome! These look like they would be a perfect chest bino. I may have to put an order in for the 8x40 version. I would be curious to see how well the 10x40 are hand holdable. Thats always been my problem with the 10x hence why I am usually an 8x guy.


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If you read that SF32 review I linked in there, I compared 8x to 10x and actually I prefer 8x as a hunting bino (as I'm hiking more) for the reasons you said. But I can't deny that if you can get a 10x steady...they're awesome, especially scouting.
 

timberlinehunter

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Thanks. Thats a great review… but sure would be nice to be able to save some money by going with the 8x40s.


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chizelhead

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Thanks for the review. I'm upgrading optics this year, and I'm very interested in these. The main concern I have at this point is getting a chance to look through them before potentially purchasing. I have a mt hunt in early-ish August and would love to be carrying these. However, time may run out, and I'll need to pull the trigger on something else. Thanks again.
 
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Kenn

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Anxious to see how the resolution compares to the SF's. I have the 8X32 SF's and because I love the open bridge design and the wider field of view I doubt that I would have gone for the SFL. Here's a tripod adaptor I have high hopes for for a different pair of bins, but I haven't tried them yet;

 

Wyobohunter

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I did their SF 10x32 (and 8x32) review last summer here.

Impressive optic, especially when you consider the size.

But they run about $2500

So…if their new SFL could compete with the SF at $700 less (about $1800 total, available in July 2022), it would be a win for most binocular users.

c8a169cd5fb019226506302f80999030.jpg


To note, these are different classes of binos, but to me a comparison is warranted because if the SFLs in 40mm—at only 1.4 more ozs than the SFs at 32mm—will compete, then saving $700 bucks is saving $700 bucks (we typically pay a lot for small differences in the optics world).

I received the 10x40 SFL last week. Some specs that are important to me (comparing to the SF 10x32)

22.6 ozs (vs 21.2 ozs in the SF32)
FOV 345’ @ 1K (vs 390’)
90% Light Transmission (vs 92%)
Tripod adaptable (vs not!)


Everything else will be in their catalog (I’ll link soon)

I spent an evening from pre-sunset to 60 minutes after sunset.

All binos on tripods looking into line of cottonwoods at 200 yards approx

FOV:
While the SF32 is larger by 45’@1K, it’s hard to tell in use. Both binos “immerse” you in the view. Not a deal breaker for the SFLs slightly less FOV

Twilight Performance (my term)
The SFLs absolutely outperformed the SFs. Expected, yes, with a 3.2mm exit pupil vs a 4mm BUT the difference was much more than I’d expect. The SFLs beat the SFs by up to 10 minutes. SFs tapped out at about 45 minutes after sunset but I was approaching 55 minutes with the SFs (this was resolving some tan spots on the trees left by broken branches).

As it was taking so long for the SFs to tap out, I put them against my 7x42 Zeiss Dialyt (6mm exit pupil) and my Swarovski 8x42 EL Range TA (5.3mm exit pupil) and it was a dead-heat-virtual tie among the three. Considering those other binoculars weigh around a half pound more, that is impressive.

To note, that was one evening, so as this review continues, I’ll verify that performance on a USAF Resolving power chart.


The next week, I took the SFs on an overnight shed hunting trip. It wasn’t a lot of glassing but did confirm that the extra 1.4 ozs is not noticeable. As I said in the original review of the SF32s, you don’t know they’re around your neck, and same with these SFLs. The neck straps are identical in both optics.

I’ll continue to update this thread as I gain more experience.

I’ll also give you a peek at Zeiss’ bino adapter. I received it after I did the above test, so no time on it yet.

Hit me with any questions and if you’re in the Idaho Falls area and want to compare the two, let me know.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Those look nice! Do they come in 8x40? I like the weight vs my Conquest 8x40 and I’m sure the optics are noticeably better.

Edit: they do come in 8x40
I can’t afford to keep looking at stuff on this forum 😉
 
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robby denning

robby denning

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Anxious to see how the resolution compares to the SF's. I have the 8X32 SF's and because I love the open bridge design and the wider field of view I doubt that I would have gone for the SFL. Here's a tripod adaptor I have high hopes for for a different pair of bins, but I haven't tried them yet;

I will do that test. Checking out your RRS link. thanks!
 

tdhanses

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B_Reynolds_AK

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Hey Robby, I wanted so much to love the SF 10x32’s. The ergonomics were great. Sharpness was awesome, but I could not put up with the kidney bean blackouts. I ended up with the 8x32’s and they were better in that regard, but not the 10x that I wanted for sheep hunting.

I know that you also noted the blackouts with them. I would really be interested in knowing how the SFL’s compare in that regard.


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Kenn

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Check this one out as well, I have the RRS and it works great but this looks to be slightly less bulky, should know Friday.

I like that one too but I'm thinking that the RRS might be quicker to attach and detach. I'm expecting my 10x42 NL tomorrow and once I'm sure I'm keeping it then I'm going to try one. I like that type of system much better than tapping a stud in them and maybe banging my fingers on it.
 

tdhanses

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I like that one too but I'm thinking that the RRS might be quicker to attach and detach. I'm expecting my 10x42 NL tomorrow and once I'm sure I'm keeping it then I'm going to try one. I like that type of system much better than tapping a stud in them and maybe banging my fingers on it.
I never removed my RRS but it can get in the way at times.
 

Honyock

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Anxious to see how the resolution compares to the SF's. I have the 8X32 SF's and because I love the open bridge design and the wider field of view I doubt that I would have gone for the SFL. Here's a tripod adaptor I have high hopes for for a different pair of bins, but I haven't tried them yet;

Out of curiosity, why did you go with the aluminum Cinch? I've used the polymer Cinch on Zeiss binos for several years and have had zero issues with it.
 

Kenn

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Out of curiosity, why did you go with the aluminum Cinch? I've used the polymer Cinch on Zeiss binos for several years and have had zero issues with it.
I didn't. That just happened to be the one in that link. I can't see any advantage to the more expensive version other than prestige.
 

tdhanses

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I like that one too but I'm thinking that the RRS might be quicker to attach and detach. I'm expecting my 10x42 NL tomorrow and once I'm sure I'm keeping it then I'm going to try one. I like that type of system much better than tapping a stud in them and maybe banging my fingers on it.
So far I like the Aziak, will see what I think over the next year.
 

Lionhound1975

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Is the SFL's balance weighted toward the eyepiece like the SF? I have the SF 8x42 and they are excellent to handhold because the balance is slightly weighted towards the eyepiece. So it feels lighter in hand that it really is.
 

j_2112

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Would love to see the direct comparison to the SF 8x42 (one of the best binoculars money can buy). The SF is so light, so bright, and just perfectly balanced.

I think the question will come down to image quality, (already giving up field of view on the new SFL) and some amazing ergonomics on the SF.

Would a used SF be the best route to go?

Excited to see read more as consumers get their hands on these.
 

j_2112

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Is the SFL's balance weighted toward the eyepiece like the SF? I have the SF 8x42 and they are excellent to handhold because the balance is slightly weighted towards the eyepiece. So it feels lighter in hand that it really is.
SF's cannot be beat when it comes to ergonomics, weight distribution, and focus. Super glad Zeiss is sticking with the "Smart Focus" concept for these. Might be an excellent overall package.

I know of know other Alpha binocular that built a binocular around the focus first, and ergonomics second, while still managing to have excellent optics.
 
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