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40 GOING ON 30

The Zeiss SFL 30


Usually turning 30 is seen as a big deal as a sign of growing up and getting older but in the case of the new Zeiss SFL 30’s it’s quite the opposite. Sure it’s a big deal but in this case it’s a sign of Zeiss appealing to a new generation of nature watchers. Taking their ever popular 40’s and shrinking them even more to become the perfect companion for all nature lovers.



The SFL 30’s are super lightweight coming in at around 460g which is around 9% lighter than the Swarovski CL companion and 6% shorter. So when you’re heading out for a long hike or you want to take your binoculars with you on that family holiday, they’re going to fit in your pocket to suit your lifestyle. The lightweight and compact nature also allows for much more comfortable prolonged use when sat in a hide or out in the field scanning hedgerows and thick tree canopies.


We’ve established that they’re lightweight and convenient but are they good? It turns out they are, with 90% light transmission, a wide field of view of 142m at 1,000m for the 8x and 120m at 1,000m for the 10x and a large exit pupil lens diameter makes them comfortable on the eye as well as comfortable in the hands. The SFL 30 also boasts an incredible close focus of 1.5m so is perfect for those of us who enjoy butterflies and insects.


At the time of writing this I’m up in a lovely place in Scotland soon to be the home of mum and dad (Yvonne and Paul L). I’d hiked up into the moors at the end of the lane taking with me the SFL 30’s and my brother to stand in as the photographer to get some pictures of the SFL 30’s and get a feel for how they perform. Historically my eyes don’t suit Zeiss glass so I was dubious about how the SFL 30 would fair and how I might write this review in a positive way but I was pleasantly surprised. First thing I noticed was how well they fit in the hand and how light they were. Now there’s no point in being light if they’re poorly balanced but the balance felt spot on, sitting into my hands and allowing my index finger to fall perfectly onto the focus wheel. They really live up to the name of Smart Focus. The ergonomics are almost perfect for my small hands.



Optically I was impressed too, the high light transmission certainly helped to improve the experience of what was a very gloomy day in Scotland. The Field Flattening technology certainly helps to improve the edge to edge sharpness and for me gives a much more immersive experience. The colour rendition was almost perfect too, only being bettered by my 8x32 NL which has been my go to companion for a while now. There is no denying that if you have enjoyed using Zeiss glass in the past you will almost certainly enjoy the new SFL 30.



So what’s my conclusion? I think they’re perfect for someone who wants a travel companion to take with them on holidays both in the UK and abroad as well as those people who want a smaller and lighter binocular for every day nature watching.


The Zeiss SFL 30 are available to pre order HERE


Optics tested

  • Zeiss SFL 8x30

  • Swarovski NL 8x32

  • Zeiss SF 8x32

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