ZEISS SFL 10x40 Binoculars - a bird guide's view

17 January 2024  |  Admin

Deepak Kumar is a professional birdwatching guide at Asian Adventures, India’s largest and number one birdwatching tour company. Binoculars are of course an essential tool of the trade for any bird guide so they need to be capable of enduring intensive use on a daily basis. Deepak previously used the Kowa BD II XD 10x42 binoculars and they had served him very well over the years.

However it was now time for an upgrade and any replacement not only had to be a big step up in optical quality, they also needed to share the same size/weight balance that the trusty Kowa binoculars had provided. With the help of The Birder’s Store, a suitable replacement was suggested, the Zeiss SFL 10x40. The SFL binocular range is the latest addition to ZEISS’s impressive selection of choice optics.

On paper they fitted the bill; measuring only 144mm in length and weighing just 640g thanks to the lightweight yet rugged magnesium housing. Deepak spends a great deal of time travelling around India so any replacement needed to be robust, lightweight and relatively compact. In essence they needed to be the perfect travel partner, taking up little luggage space, especially useful when taking internal flights.

Another important factor for any travelling birder is weight and thanks to the aforementioned magnesium chassis these binoculars have the feel and strength of metal with the added benefit of less weight. This level of robustness and durability are essential when birding in a variety of environments which for Deepak includes the wetlands around Delhi, the hot deserts of Rajasthan, the cold, high altitude plains of Ladakh and the mountainous terrain of the Himalaya.

Thanks to ZEISS’s proprietary LotuTec® water and grease-repellent lens coatings and the resultant powerful beading effect, the lenses are much easier to keep clean. It is this level of environmental protection that enables Deepak to continue birding even in the harshest of weather conditions, especially useful while birding in the Indian monsoon season!

The Ultra-High-Definition (UHD) concept features a special coating and an improved optical design that ensures the binoculars deliver the highest level of detail and reproduce colours with natural fidelity. This enables Deepak to make accurate identifications while guiding and share his invaluable knowledge of the local wildlife.

Thanks to the sleek design of the SFL binoculars coupled with the SmartFocus concept it's possible to focus quickly and precisely even with gloves on which is especially useful when birding in the cold environment of the Himalaya! The focus wheel is perfectly positioned in the DoubleLink Bridge providing the ultimate in ergonomics and with only 1.4 turns required to focus from infinity down to as close as 1.5 metres it is this level of responsiveness that helps with rapid identifications when birding in dense forest habitat, where views of birds are often brief.

Binoculars with a 10x specification often means sacrificing a wide field of view, but the SFL 10x40 offer a very useful 6.5° translating to 115m at 1000m range. This is particularly useful when scanning over large areas at distance in search of birds such as the spectacular Himalayan Monal that Deepak takes great delight in showing his guests.

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