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Zeiss Conquest HD vs Swarovski Companion CL — Review

Compact 30-32mm Binoculars

Hands-on comparison

by Michael and Diane Porter
March, 2017

A high-quality 32mm-sized binocular in the $1000 price range seems hard to find. The Zeiss Conquest HD is one, and its nearest competitor would the slightly smaller Swarovski CL Companion in 8x30 and 10x30.

We did a careful side-by-side comparison, and here is what we found.

Zeiss & Swaro Compacts
Zeiss Conquest HD 32mm Swarovski CL Companion 30mm

Great Travel Binoculars

They can be slipped into a cargo pocket or concealed beneath a jacket. Very nice. When you're traveling in a foreign country, you want your binoculars quickly available but not necessarily always on display.

Weight and size

Although both are compact and quite a manageable weight, Swarovski has the clear advantage in this respect. It is shorter and weighs less than the Zeiss.

Manufacturer
and model

Length of
binocular
Weight of
binocular
Swarovski CL Companion 4.7 inches 17.6 oz.
Zeiss Conquest HD 4.9 inches 22.2 oz.

Optical quality

Both have excellent optical quality. Both are bright, sharp, and quite free from chromatic aberration, as you would expect in a $1000 binocular. We would have to call them equal.

They're both better than most binoculars, and it's doubtful if you would ever find a situation in which you can't identify a bird with one of these but you could have done so with a different binocular. They're as good as binoculars need to be, and better.

Field of view

In the 8-power comparison, the Zeiss view is 13% wider.

Manufacturer
and model

Field of view
at 1000 yards

Zeiss Conquest HD 8x32 420
Swarovski CL Companion 8x30 372

In the 10-power comparison, the Zeiss advantage is even greater, or 18% wider.

Manufacturer
and model

Field of view
at 1000 yards

Zeiss Conquest HD 10x32 354
Swarovski CL Companion 10x30 300

Our experience looking through them is that the wider field of view of the Zeiss gives a much more immersive experience, more as if you are right there in the scene.

Close focus

The Zeiss models focus closer, with a minimum focus distance of 4.9 feet, compared to 9.8 feet for the Swarovskis. This probably does not make a big difference most of the time. However, if you get lucky and a bird approaches you closely, or if you're watching humminbirds at feeders, the Zeiss Conquest's almost-arm-length close focus capability can be a real joy to experience.

Ergonomics

On the samples we tried, the Zeiss Conquest has a noticeably smoother focus knob. They turn smoothly, with the same degree of resistance at all parts of the action. There is no slack anywhere, which is to say that turning the focus knob always results in a slight adjustment in the point of focus.

The Swarovski Companion is also quite accurate, but you feel a slight inconsistency in the resistence, so that in some parts of its range it's easier to turn and in other parts harder. This was not so significant that it would ever make you miss a bird, but the pleasure of focusing is noticeably greater with the Zeiss Conquest.

Eye relief

Zeiss 16mm. Swarovski's 15mm. The small difference will not matter at all if you don't wear glasses, and most glasses wearers seem to be able to use the Swarovski without any problem.

For the Conquest, there is an ususual problem for people who do not wear glasses. You might need to change out the eyecups for a special, longer pair. Zeiss engineered their eyecups a little too short for some non glasses wearers, requiring users to hold the binoculars slightly away from their eyes. To remedy the problem, Zeiss made alternative, longer eyecups. It is easy to remove the original eyecups and replace them with the longer ones. You may have to request the special eyecups from Zeiss or the dealer you purchase from. (If you get your Zeiss Conquest from Birdwatching Dot  Com, we have some of the alternate eyecups on hand and will be happy to send them to you at no additional cost with your purchase.)

Warranty

Both companies offer a lifetime warranty against manufacturer's defects. In addition, Zeiss includes a non-transferable 5-year no-fault policy that covers accidental damage. Swarovski does not offer any warranty against damage, but they have a longstanding reputation for being very generous about fixing damage if when technically not required to do so. Both companies are known to take good care of customers.

Price

The 32mm Zeiss Conquest HDs cost less than the Swarovski Companion CLs. You can check on current prices for the Zeiss Conquests here and for the Swarovski CL Companions here.

Other sizes

Swarovski makes the CL Companion line only with 30mm objective lenses — the 8x30 and 10x30 discussed here. Zeiss makes the Conquest HD in both 42mm versions and in the 32mm versions considered here.


Birdwatching Dot Com

Please call us toll free 800-779-7256 for advice on choosing binoculars or other birding products.
FAX 641-472-7256
Email: dporter@lisco.com
Birdwatching Dot Com Store
2197 236th Blvd.
Fairfield, IA 52556

Copyright 2017Michael and Diane Porter and Birdwatching Dot Com