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NL 8x32s... they're PURE class!

Updated: Oct 31, 2021

"They raise the bar to the next level"

If you're in the market for new, top of the range optics the classic route is to choose between the "Big Three": Leica, Swarovski and Zeiss. But then becomes the difficult decision in whether you go for 8x or 10x magnification, where 8x work better in scrub, woodland areas but 10x are more suited for open areas such as wetlands.

Recently tested the 8x32 NLs out and where better than Spurn Bird Observatory to do so, me personally I've always used 10x42 binoculars so the first difference I noticed was how light these felt (640g) they are definitely binoculars that you could use all day and not end up with neck ache by the evening which also means there isn't a need to use a chest harness with these either.

The 8x32s have a minimum focusing distance of just 2 metres which was extremely useful for identifying dragonflies (mainly Common Darters) that were around some of the ditches at Spurn but also when birds were dropping out the sky during periodic rain showers the focus wheel with it's easy grip allowed for quick focusing of birds in the bottom of nearby bushes (mainly Brambling and Redwings). But also with a field of view of 8.5° this allowed to see a greater area through the binoculars which compared with the older model of 8x32 ELs which have a field of view of just 8°.

Haven't even touched on the one feature of the new NLs that personally make them stand out against the rest of the market in this department... the grip. As you grasp any pair of NLs there is a noticeable difference in their shape, they're very comfy but also seem very natural which is where they stand out to me just as if all binoculars should be moulded this way. This is most noticeable where your thumbs would sit underneath the binoculars.

During this test I could only find three faults with the 8x32 NLs.

  1. The eyepiece cover is quite stiff, despite giving great protection can be fiddly to put on and take off which wouldn't be ideal if you got caught out in a rain shower. And when you take the cover off, it twists the eyepiece cups so therefore altering your preferred setup.

  2. The front objective covers can easily tear-off, this did happen whilst testing them but luckily managed to find it afterwards. Something more robust could easily rectify this issue.

  3. This is more of a personal issue but I have slightly larger hands (hence using 10x42s myself) so these were slightly too small for my hands but would be ideal for someone with smaller hands than mine.

Quote from Sam Goddard who also tested these 8x32 NLs out with me at Spurn.

"Fantastic pair of bins. Really bright, really clear, great field of view. Just those niggly little extras that could make it better. Compact, lightweight and perfect accompaniment to a big scope".

Now to the big question that you're now thinking about... PRICE!

The NL range as a whole has only been on the market for just over a year (June 2020) so their price hasn't dropped but they are £1,980 and now Swarovski have discontinued the older generation being the 8x32 ELs. So compare the price of the NLs against their main rivals Leica Ultravid 8x32s are £1,399 and Zeiss SF 8x32s are £1,849. So therefore the NLs are the more expensive out of the "Big Three".

Courtesy of Josh Fusiara, taken whilst watching wader flocks of Dunlin and Grey Plover fly round during high tide at Spurn.

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