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Adventures with the Zeiss Victory HT and FL

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#1 Erik Bakker

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 02:43 PM

A few weeks ago, I finally got a call from my dealer that the first pair of Zeiss Victory HT's had arrived in his shop: the 8x42 HT's I had ordered months ago. All excited, I found my way to the dealer within a few hours. On opening the box and taking the magnificent HT's out, I found out that it was a pair of 10x42 HT's. Oops. The dealer agreed to let me take them home for some testing under the stars. If I liked them, I could buy them. If not, I could return them and wait for the 8x42 HT.

Incidentally, I just bought a pair of Zeiss FL 10x32 a week ago from the same dealer. An incredibly sharp pair with a very wide AFOV and TFOV. And just so tiny and comfortable to hold. So I took those 10x32 FL's and the 10x42 HT's out for a first daytime test. Here is what I found:

The new HT's are beautifully made binos. And the views bright, with an electrifying touch to the image. They are also a bit longish. The adjustable eyecups are the same as in the FL's, with a bit less resistance when resting in the stops. Focussing is light and responsive. Ergonomics are good. The AFOV and TFOV are less wide than in the 10x32 Victory. Amazingly, the 10x32 are a bit sharper during the day. Not quite as bright, but sharper. Difficult small details reveal themselves in the tiny 10x32's first. Hmmm.

Under the stars, the HT's are brighter, but the FL's images are tighter, more apo-with-nagler like stars. The viewing experience wider and more immersive. Edge of field correction better. And at 10x, the 32 FL's easily fit in both the Belt and Sword of Orion, while the 42 HT's can't quite manage that.
I also tested the sharpness on a solid tripod with my Zeiss 3x12 mono to magnify the image to 30 times. Starimages where noticeably tighter in the 10x32, with perfect tight pinpoint stars. In the 10x42 HT stars were not quite as tight and didn't quite have the nice intra- and extra-focal images the 10x32 showed.

Long story short, I decided not to buy the 10x42 HT's. However, I did find I really enjoyed the brightness of the 42 mm bino's and set out to find a bino that would team up with the 10x32 FL's and have better brightness and a wider TFOV.

Since I already tested 8x32 FL's and 8x42 FL's with the same AFOV and TFOV as the still unavailable 8x42 HT's and found those FOV's still on the small side for my taste, I decide to take a different approach. I'll share that below, but first a picture of the Zeiss 10x42 HT's and 10x32 FL's.

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#2 Erik Bakker

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 02:47 PM

Objectives of the 10x42 HT and 10x32 FL:

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#3 Rich V.

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 03:07 PM

I really like the new looks of the HT over the 42mm FLs; those A-K prisms still make a tall binocular, though.

Interesting that you found the FLs focused stars a bit tighter than the HTs; I wonder what that's about? I'm looking forward to your impressions of the 8x42s.

Rich

#4 Erik Bakker

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 03:11 PM

Now about the different approach I decide to take to find a suitable companion to the 10x32 FL's:

After considering and testing a 12x56 Zeiss Victory, a 10x56 Zeiss Victory FL and a Swaro 12x50 EL and 15x56 SLC binos, I decided that I would leave the higher magnifications to my tripod mounted Nikon 18x70"s. I discovered that I was looking for another pair of hand-held binoculars to enjoy the heavens. A pair optimized for wider-field views and superb brightness.

In the past I already tried the legendary Zeiss 7x42 Dialyts. A fine pair indeed, but out of production. And I wanted to buy new, since the used "mint" ones for sale turned out to be not so mint when examined in person.

So I gave the Zeiss 7x42 Victory FL's a try. I found their brightness and contrast during the end of daylight staggering, loved the easy wide views and decided to take the plunge. What can I say? Wonderful bino's. Very comfortable to hold and view, And the views are just so wide and bright. Did I say bright? Yes bright! And very sharp too.

With the new HT's entering the markets, Zeiss just removed the 42mm Victory FL's from their website. So I am very happy that I was still able to buy a pair brand new, unlike the Dialyts that were gone to early for me. The combination of lightweight, low 7x magnification, wide AFOV, staggering brightness, sharpness and contrast are perhaps soon no longer available new when Zeiss stops production of the 7x42 Victory FL's.

Included is a picture of my new Victory FL's: the 7x42 FL and 10x32 FL.

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#5 Erik Bakker

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 03:14 PM

And for an indication of size.

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#6 Erik Bakker

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 03:20 PM

Rich,

I will give the 8x42 HT's a try when they arrive, but chances are that they will not do as well in my stable as the 7x42 FL's. I like the ergonomics of the FL's better. They are a bit shorter hence better balanced, warmer to hold in the cold and their bigger TFOV is just wonderful. I also found the HT's image a bit surreal. Electrifying but also a bit "artificial", like light-emitting. Hard to describe but noticeable in real life. Especially low daylight dusk/dawn conditions. Not under the stars. No more nebulosity was visible because of this.

One more pic of the 10x32 FL and 10x42 HT's.

When comparing with the 32's, you can see that the 10x42 HT's are longer than the 7x42 FL's. The 7x are also the shortest of the 42 FL's.

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#7 teelgul

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 03:46 PM

congrats .thats a great pair Erik. are all the Zeiss models still made in Germany?
regards
vaidya

#8 Erik Bakker

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 04:09 PM

The Victory FL's and HT's have "Made in Germany" on them.

#9 Sgt

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 06:22 PM

Interesting, thanks for posting your impressions. I wonder if zeiss are releasing a 7x42 HT. I read on birdforum they are replacing the 56mm and 32mm with something apparently.

#10 plyscope

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 06:38 PM

Thank you for your impressions and pictures Erik. :)

#11 Pinewood

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 07:30 PM

Hello Erik,

For bird watching, I like to carry the 7x42 Dialyt and the 10x32 FL. The 7x42 is a bit outclassed by newer binoculars but it is still a delight to use. I find that the 10x32 has a too narrow FOV to allow me to follow birds in flight, but the binocular does help to identify distant birds. I have tried the Leica Trinovid 10x42BN and the Zeiss Dialyt 10X40B but found them too unstable. Although, the 10x32 is not easy to hold steady, it seemed to be the best of the three.

Clear skies,
Arthur Pinewood

#12 ronharper

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 12:42 AM

Erik,
Thanks for your reports.

The tiniest star images that I have seen are presented by my 8x30 FMTR Fujinon. Notably tiny images are also presented by an atrocious, ruby coated, miscollimated, plastic bodied Meade 8x26 which I would throw off a bridge, except it would pollute the environment. I attributed these facts to the physics of the small exit pupil, which required less focusing exactness from my aging eyes. As a double star fan, thus began my flight towards larger binoculars having small exit pupils.

Your boosted star test, however, showed that your impression of sharper stars with the 10x32 than the 10x42 was not simply an exit pupil/eye interaction effect, but a difference in the optical precision of the two instruments.

I have found something similar. My 10x56 FL gives me the sharpest star images I have experienced among several medium to large binoculars, despite its rather large exit pupils. It beats an 8x42 FL, an 8x42 Leica I once owned, and 10x50 and 12x50 Leicas in this way, all of which have smaller exit pupils than it does. I was happy with all of these, until I experienced the 10x56.

So, I realized quite the hard way, one should not be too quick to blame one's eyes, nor too slow to blame an expensive binocular, and that the quest for perfection should never be abandoned, even when satisfaction of a sort has been achieved. I think there is enough sample variation even at the highest quality standard to be seen in unboosted, but critical, observing.

There's nothing about high transmission glass to make me think that with the HT, star images should be improved, nor anything to make me think that Zeiss's quality standards, long high yet still imperfect, have been raised. I think the 10x42 HT you looked at must not have been a very red hot one.

I am happy for you and your 7x42. I've been thinking about a 7x42 myself.
Ron

#13 Erik Bakker

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 03:00 AM

Thanks Ron.

In the bigger exit pupils, my eyes are the most likely case of perceived imperfect star images. But like you I found there is quite a bit of variation in star sharpness between different binos with the same size exit pupil. And the FL 8x42 I tried were not as sharp as some others in the 8x range. Might be a sample-sample thing. Or a characteristic of the given model, don't know.

I explored the road to bigger binos with small exit pupils too. A magnificent journey indeed with many vistas to behold. As the binos and their images grew bigger and brighter, my arms ran out of power :rainbow:. And as soon as I mounted the 50-70mm binos on my Gitzo with fluid head and compared them with my Nikon 18x70, I could't take my eyes of the images in the Nikon. Eventually I understood that for my current likings, tripod means 18x70.

For hand-held observing, the 10x56 FL's delivered stunning images in their own right, I just couldn't hold their 1250 grams still for as long as I wanted. I loved the 6mm class exit pupil though. So I stepped down one size while maintaining that 6mm pupil. At 740 grams, the 7x42 FL's feel half the weight of their bigger brothers. Ad to that their low 7x magnification, large 6mm exit pupil, huge TFOV and superb optics and you have a very bright and easy glass. They compliment the 10x32 FL's well.






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