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Help Before I Buy Zeiss or Leica

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/07/2004 at 16:49
noddah View Drop Down
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I am going to purchase a pair of binoculars that I am going to use for a lifetime. I wanted some background information from anyone in the know. My primary use for them will be hunting. Though I will also use them on the range for spotting and scanning. (300 to 1000 yards)

 

I own a 85mm Zeiss Spotting Scope and have found this product and other Zeiss Products in the realm of being scary as how good they are. I believe I would like to own another Zeiss product.

 

Anyhow these are my questions:

 

What is the difference between a Zeiss Victory 10x40 and the Zeiss Victory II 10X40 besides price?  (Any opinions form anyone who owns either) Also is the internals of these scopes the same as the Classic Model Zeiss; how do they compare?

 

The Victory FL 10x42 how tough are the lenses? Should I be worried about abuse over a long time? In comparison are they a better product than the Victory and why? Also what are the downsides of this Binocular? Does it come with lanyard type lens covers?

 

I have look through many Leicas to find they are not all made equal.

 

What type of prism is in the Leica Trinovid BN 10x42? How does this compare to the Zeiss above?

 

The new Leica Geovid BRF 10x42 Range Finder what prism system is in these Binoculars? (I already own a Leica Range Finder) Is this product a Range Finder with Binocular… or a ….  serious binocular that just happens to have a range finder? I am more interested in the better glass over range finding so should I steer away from this product?

 

 

Any help or insight would be appreciated before I purchase.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/07/2004 at 21:31
ranburr View Drop Down
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The Victory II has a sharper image and an improvement made to the strap holders.  I have yet to see the FLs but I would think that they would last a lifetime.  The Zeiss Victories use the Abe Koning roof prism which differs from the Classic roofs.  The Leicas are both roof prisms.  I think that the Leicas all have the same glass and coatings.

 

ranburr

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/08/2004 at 03:37
tbone1 View Drop Down
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I will try to help answer a few of your questions.  First of all Zeiss introduced the Victories I believe to replace their Classic series and their Design Selection series, although Zeiss seems to add on lines rather than replace lines.  The Victory series uses AOS glass.  AOS glass basically means lighter weight high quality glass with smaller center thickness.  The Victory series also uses Abbe-Koenig prisms.  I don't know alot about Abbe-Koenig prisms but I believe Zeiss claims they are more efficient because they don't use traditional mirrors.  The difference between the Victory and Victory II is not much.  They improved the strap holders on the side and improved the push pull eyecups.  They also claim to have a new rubber armoring too.  To me, the only thing that I can tell that is different by looking at them is the strap holders which doesn't seem to be different enough to call it a separate binocular.  They are a much improved binocular over the classic line in optical performance, but really more improved in ergonomics and weight reduction.  I personally have not read any article or ever had anyone explain how Abbe-Koenig prisms are actually better, they are just different.  Zeiss claims extremely high light transmission of over 90%.

 

I have not put my hands on the new Zeiss FL binos but I am excited to see them.  I don't have any info to offer other than they use Floride glass.

 

I own several Zeiss products and I own several Leica products and I will try to give my opinion.  I am not going to try to explain the difference in prisms and the technology associated with Trinovid, Geovid, Ultravid, and Duovid, in this email.  Basically the Ultravid is supposed to be Leicas latest bino using a magnesium housing with titanium center hinge(which reduces weight)  and uses a new High Lux prism coating to improve light transmission, resolution and color renditon.  Leica claims that the Ultravid provides nearly 100% light transmission.  All the technology is good to know and many others on this web site know alot more than I.  But to me, the proof is in the actually performance.  If I can't see the improvement in optical performance, then how is it really going to benefit me.

 

Like I said I own several products from both companies binos, spotting scopes, riflescopes, and range finders.  I normally try to do a side by side evaluation in the field to compare performance because manufacturers technology and light transmission claims don't mean alot to me.  I have evalutated the Leica Trinovids 10x42 BN and a Zeiss Classic 10x40 side by side while hunting.  The Leicas to me were a much better binocular in brightness, resolution, clarity and ergonomics.  I have not been able to compare the Victories in the field but I have compared them many times inside and outside hunting stores.  To me though this type of comparison is too informal and not very relevant.  I have had cheap binos and scopes outperform expensive ones in the store only to be the other way around in the field.  I have used Leica Trinovids for several years now and have not found a bino that would outperform them in the field.  I have looked through alot of binos.  I am not saying that they are definately better than the Zeiss Victories.  The only way to know for sure is to do a formal in the field evaluation.  I have read reviews where Leica was the clear winner and other reviews where Zeiss was the winner.  I also believe that the Leica Trinovid is the most robust and durable bino made and I know they will last a lifetime.  I love Zeiss scopes and spotting scopes but I prefer Leica binos.  I believe that they have the best design.  It is possible that I may be wrong.  I hate to say this but you really can't go wrong with either.  If I was choosing a bino today, my first choice would be the Leica Ultravid 10x42 (maybe the Zeiss FL but I haven't seen them) simply because they are lighter in weight.  My next choice would be the Leica Trinovid.  I have personally not been able to see the optical difference in the Ultravids or Trinovids although there may be a difference.  They are both ultra-bright and razor sharp.  I think the improved prism coating is more for marketing purposes than actually performance but the reduced weight would be useful.

 

As far as the Geovids go, they are in a different league than the LRF.  The Geovid is a world class top of the line bino combined with a top of the line range finder (at least the older Geovid was).  I am not a big fan of combination bino/rangefinders but if I was going to buy one this would be it.

 

The Zeiss and Leica both will last you a lifetime and are both top of the line products.  If it were me, I wouldn't put as much stock into the differences in Abbe Koenig prisms vs. High Lux technology and make my decision more based on feel and actual optical performance.  I hope that I have been a help and feel free to post any more questions.  Chris, ranburr, roy finn are experts on technology.  I have learned alot from them and others on this forum.  Good Luck.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/09/2004 at 07:50
Steve Optics View Drop Down
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Hey Noddah,

Ranburr is exactly correct about the difference between the V I  and VII's, Zeiss got many complaints immediately after introducing the VI's as the strap attachment was directly in the way of the users index fingers. They also changed the rubber coating to a less porus material so as to pick up less dirt ect...

The differences between the "Current" Classics and the Victories are the prisms. The current Classics are using AOS glass and have been since 2002.

The V uses Abbe Konig prisms, "which have twice the volume of pechan" and  which allow the light to pass through them with only three bounces rather than the traditional five bounces (which creates more heat ect..) from a normal roof prism (Pechan). Also, the pechan either requires a mirrored surface to get the colors in the image to bend around correctly or a new "Dialetric Coating" which is very new and is currently being used by Zeiss in their new roof prism binos and also by Swarovski (Swarobright).

The new Dialetric coating system can inhance the performance of the Pechan prisms by 2-4%. This helps get the performance up closer to that of a "Porro" Style prism. Porro prisms also require five bounces however are much larger in mass and as a result can achieve 94% total transmission. Pechan prisms with the "Best quality Glass, coatings and Silver Mirror" can only achieve  88% total transmission. With the new Dialetric coating you can ad 2 to 4% to that.

Other than some of the Zeiss binoculars, ALL roof style bino's use Pechan prisms (All Leica's use pechan)

The main differences that seperate Zeiss and Leica from the Swarovskis ect.. come from the type of glass and coating formulas they use. Their are literally hundreds of different glass types, "Original Glass" which is also called "Crown and Flint", ED Glass which was developed a decade or so ago and works much better than C&F but requires a large amount of heavy metals which add a lot of weight to the instrument. Next came Flouride glass which again raised the performance level but is extremely volital, fragile and expensive ! From that came AOS glass which basically is ED glass with the heavy metals removed ! "Side bar" In order for a manufacture to change from one glass to another, they must first discover a coating formula which will work with the newer glass at a more efficient level than their current recipe. (This of course costs money !) Every time you change your Glass ingredient, you must change your Coating recipe as well or you may loose ground !

You see guy's, Its not the amount of "White Light" required to have the best optic, rather how well the optical assembly's Objective and Eye work with the coating formula to allow the spectrum of COLORS to ultimately bend through and arrive into your pupil at as close to the same angle as possible. (This equals Contrast and Resolution !) When your Resolution is compromised, you raise you Chromatic Aberrations !! Which also means you are loosing the true colors within the object being viewed. Which also means you have lowered your Contrast !

This is why as "tbone1" points out, Leica can claim 100% leight transmission (as can several other companies including Zeiss) Problem is, they are referring to "White Light !!" This really does not add up to the better performer.

Again, as tbone1 points out, "In the Store" lesser quality optics can really look great simply because they are lesser quality and the engineers have been instructed to put heavy emphasis on the flourescent lighting within the store.

In simple terms, it is much less costly at the factory to manufacture optical instruments which emphasize gathering whites and bright colors, v/s darker colors and seperation between like but different colors. (less looks better in doors)

 

Now, where was I, Oh yeah, Zeiss has discovered coating formulas which have allowed them to take the heavy metals out of ED glass, AOS,  without loosing and of the performance. Thus allowing the product to be much lighter in weight ! Otherwise, the optical performance between the Leica Ultravid's and the Zeiss Victory !!'s are to close in performance to argue the difference. (Actually as a result of the Abbe Konig's the Zeiss has a wider field of view and a 2% higher level of resolution.

 

I will also tell you FYI, Leica uses ED glass, Swarovski uses C&F glass and the new Zeiss FL's will be using Zeiss's new "Flourite Ions" glass which has all the advantages of ED and Flouride without any of the drawbacks.

 

The Zeiss FL's will without a doubt be the best binocular money can buy !

 

The reason you are so impressed with your 85mm Zeiss spotting scope is because they have been using the new Flourite ions glass in it since the introduction. Leica also uses this in their objective lens APO spotting scope.

 

Lastly, the reason Swarovski is still using C&F glass, C&F is the least expensive to purchase and since the are the leader in advertising dollars (X-10 !) they have to cut back somewhere or have retail oricing in the $2K range.

 

I hope this helps, please feel free to ask follow up questions

 

SO 

 

   

 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/09/2004 at 07:54
Steve Optics View Drop Down
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Hey Noddah,

One last thing, the Victory II's are several hundred dollars less than the Leicas and actually a touch better !

SO

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/09/2004 at 12:12
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For what it's worth, I recently got to play with a pair of Zeiss Victory II's and Leica Ultravid's side by side at Whitaker's in West Louisville, Kentucky.

 

Both were 10x40 configurations and it was an overcast, damp day with drizzles on and off--just about like it is about every time I get a chance to go hunting...  I figured it was ideal conditions to check out the differences.

 

After about thirty minutes spent out back looking at the tree line, birds, out buildings, etc. (Whitakers is an extremely remote gun shop in western Kentucky and sits back against a woods on the outskirts of a small town), I felt that they both had to be about the finest binoculars I'd ever worked with.

 

The Ultravids have a center focus knob that is precise and firm.  The eye cups were exceptionally well made and stayed where I put them.  Other than my Swift Audubons, they seemed to be the most eyeglass friendly binocular I've ever used.  The image was especially sharp at the center--whatever I centered on seemed to be almost cut-out from everything else.  The crispness was exceptional.  The color contrast was fabulous; distinguishing between shades of grey and brown in the shadows was easy to do.  If I could make out the outlines of unfamiliar shapes sitting behind the edges of barnyard doors, I figured getting a good feel for whether a shadow was a deer or a brambles bush in the woods would be similar. 

 

What struck me, though, was how much brighter (and yet at the same time blue tinted) the image was on the Victory II's.  To my eye, the Zeiss were exceptionally better in low light conditions.  Where the Ultravids presented the contrasts between shades of grey well, the Zeiss simply showed in low color what the Ultravids could only reproduce in grey. 

 

When the sky brightened a bit between clouds, I focused both pair on the side of a wood slatted red barn.  The Leicas resolved the grain of the wood in the barn a tad bit better than the Victory II's at a distance of 30 feet.  Both pair provided lines of definition on the slats themselves that were straight and uncurved and when I walked in toward the barn, they both short focused down within two paces of the wall.

 

The Zeiss didn't feel as solidly made as the Leica's--which isn't to say that they were flimsy in any way, they just didn't provide as positive of a response as the Ultravids to my sense of touch when I either turned a knob or clicked an eye cup.  In short, the Zeiss struck me as an optical instrument and the Leica struck me as a hunter's tool.

 

And that's probably the way I'd classify the two--to me, the Zeiss Victory II's would make the better birding binocular.  Their ability to transmit brighter colors from the shadows would enhance my experience.  The Leica's on the other hand would have to qualify as my "dream" hunting binocular.  Solid, refined, sharp, and sturdy--binoculars built to last two lifetimes while providing the best possible optical resolution.

 

Now if I could just find $1,300 to make them mine...

 

Just my two cents.

 

Take the long way home...

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/09/2004 at 14:51
noddah View Drop Down
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I have been reading up and I am leaning towards the Zeiss FL Victory. I however am going to do a road trip to check out the Leicas one last time.

 

Has anyone had any first hand experiences with the Zeiss FL Series Victories? I wish you would share your experiences if you have used or own these.

 

On a side note: Many years ago I was able to play with the Zeiss Classics and Leicas. I know what you are saying about the sturdy nature of the Leicas. Though most guides and folks at the time carried the Zeiss Classics. Looking and scanning for Moose in the tree lines (Dawn & Dusk) was noticeably better with the Zeiss and less fatiguing over a long period of time. I also noticed that the Leica binos were different in performance between models. (For the life of me I wish I was paying attention to which) Also I think you are right about the color / grays with the Leica products.

 

Anyway I am almost done with my research and thanks.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/09/2004 at 19:21
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Steve Optics, awesome info, thanks.  Gremlin, I would probably agree with your assesment, although I have not been able to compare them as formally as you have. 

 

My friend and I compared his Zeiss classics with my Leica trinovids while hunting together and both thought that the Leicas were a good bit better in optical performance including brightness. 

 

I would have to disagree that the Leicas produce eye strain at least not to my eyes.  I have spent many hours day after day staring through a pair of Leicas and have been extremely impressed with how comfortable they are. 

 

The reason that I like the Leica so much is that I have felt that they produced the most vivid colors when compared to the Swarovski (again I haven't formally compared them to the Victory).  The Leica seemed to produce the cleanest tint free image and show more brilliant colors than any bino that I have used.  I have used them hunting for years but have also used them at the zoo and birdwatched a little. 

 

I won't argue which one is brighter (probably very close).  I use a Zeiss VM/V 3-12x56 T* and it is a very bright scope.  I also agree that it seems to show a slight blue tint.  I would have to give the resolution to Leica.  I also feel that the Zeiss scope has some chromatic abberation.  I have never seen any abberation in the Leica bino.  The Leica to me seem to be the most precise and well made bino that I have ever felt.  Like I said you can't go wrong with either but when you are spending that much money, you want the best.  However, I don't think that any one is clearly best.  There are pros and cons for each.

 

The Zeiss FL's should be impressive, but like I said, the proof is in the performance.  I will definately want to see these first hand.  They may better and they may not.  I don't know anyone around me that has them in stock yet.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/09/2004 at 19:55
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You guys may find this interesting.  I am posting a few paragraphs from a book that I read last year called "Pete Dunne on Birdwatching".  It had a few chapters on optics that had some good info.  This is just a small section that I thought you guys may be interested in.

 

Good Glass and the Quality Gradient

 

     "Let me check these out for you, sir,"  I said addressing the imminent owner of a pair of Zeiss 7x42 binoculars.

 

     Bringing the binoculars up to my eyes, I trained them on the eyechart across the wall.  Line 10, at the bottom of the chart, was set in teeny-weeny six point type.  Nevertheless, I expected to read it with ease.  I was wrong.  The letters were blurred beyond recognition.

 

     An hour earlier I'd sold a pair of binoculars that retailed for $700 less than the Zeiss -- and had been able to read the bottom line with ease!

 

     Reaching into the display case, I extracted the display model 7x42 and trained it on the eyechart.  Line 10 was perfectly readable.  I tried the suspect pair again and got the same blurred results.

 

     Really curious now (and having just received a shipment of instruments), I brought out seven different 7x42s and tested them all.  The results were illuminating.

 

     One instrument offered resolution that was clearly superior to all the others.  Another was obviously brighter than the rest.  Three were functionally fine.  One was slightly, but noticeably darker than the pack, and one, the instrument that had initiated the test, was -- generously speaking -- not in the same performance class.

 

     So the point is that that Zeiss's quality control is poor?  No.  Zeiss's quality control is good, as most owners of the 7x42s can attest.  The point is that there is a range of quality and performance inherent in all mass-produced products, including optics.

 

     Since this eye-opening experience, I have discovered many examples of the variation between individual optical instruments -- even noticeable and disconcerting differences between the images offered by different barrels of the same instrument.

 

 

 

 

Not saying I agree or disagree but I thought it would spark some discussion.

    

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/10/2004 at 08:42
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I have heard of people purchasing top end binoculars, and getting ones with lens assembled backwards, with a corresponding poor view.  When I eventually purchase a high end binocular, I will look through several ones before i make a final decision. 

 

Regarding the Leica Trinovids, I have looked at in the stores.  The view seems best in the center, with a slight hazing to the outer edge (this is almost indiscernable).  All the top end binos have some minor color fringing. 

 

The Leicas are built like a german panzer, tough and ready to go.  The Zeiss definately are lighter and probably not as field "tough" as the Leica, but they are consistently brighter in low light (from what I have seen in the stores, and other hunters/birder reviews).  The Zeiss are still tough enuf for hunting and their light weight is a plus when hauling them at 11,000'. 



Edited by Rusty
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/10/2004 at 21:27
Steve Optics View Drop Down
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Rusty,

I would not say it is impossible to get a quality binocular with the lenses backwards, I will say the Objective assemblys, Eye assy's and Prisms are all set in polycarbonate mounts which are molded to accept the lenses in a specific order. But anything could happen !

If you or anybody else feels they have a quality optic that is sub standard to a like model, I reccommend sending it in to be repaired under warranty.

 

tbone1,

The reason you and your buddy found the Trinovids to out perform the Classics was because the Trinovids were introduced in 1990, prior to that the Leicas were called "Leitz" and were exactly like the Classics. The lens and coating quality and designs were mirrored.

 

Leica stepped up with an all new design, ED glass, ect... This actually made them a better optic than the Classic. It wasn't until 2002 that Zeiss changed the Classic in any way. The new Victory's were their new Hot Rod !

 

Now the new FL's will make the decision making much easier. I do have a pair of FL's and they not only have much less Chromatic Aborration then anything else I have ever seen, they have a much more rugged feel than the Victory's did.

 

I am out of town working and it's hard for me to spend much time with this but I want you all to know how much I apprerciate all your comments about optics. You are much sharper than the average users and I just can't seem to get enough info on this topic.

 

Best

SO

   

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/12/2004 at 20:22
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Steve Optics do you think I should consider trading my Zeiss Victory 8X56 T* P* if Zeiss were to introduce a Zeiss FL 8X56? I like the 8X56 for I need the big exit pupil for extreme low light hunting. Thanks for the great info!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/12/2004 at 20:26
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Theoretically the FLs should be better than the Victory line.  I have yet to see the FLs nso I can't give a definitive answer. 

 

ranburr

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/13/2004 at 15:29
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This last weekend I went and tested the Leica Ultravids in 8 & 10 powers next to the Zeiss Victory II also in the 8 & 10 power. Both of these products are fantastic. I was able to look at Air Resolution Targets, Denstiy Strips, Eye Text Charts and look at them in an indoor / outdoor setting. I was also able to look at prisms for color splitting and bending.

 

The Zeiss larger focus knob has a kinda “spongy” feedback. The Leica has more feedback in the focus knob. Though after getting use to the Zeiss (quark) the text and resolution target seemed identical. I do like the fact in the Zeiss the eye cups will lock when extended all the way out where in the Leica the cups will move with little pressure but do not seem to lock.

 

One interesting note I found with the Leica Binos was in the Density Strip whites became whiter sooner. Very light browns pushed white but held. Shadows with Leicas were neutral and dark area seemed contrasted and slightly pumped.  I like the fact the Leica has a larger pupil lens. I however did not see an improvement in pupil increase over the Zeiss.

 

The Zeiss Victory II did not push the whites in the density strip, shadows were also neutral, shadows were also contrasted and slightly pumped; just like the Leica. At this point I was having a hard time with seeing which was a better product for me.

 

The color splitting with prisms was very interesting. The Leica was bending light where you could see the green split from white light in straight lines bend. The Zeiss did not do this.

 

I feel I could be immensely happy with either of these products but I thought the Zeiss was the one. Just out of curiosity does SWFA have the Victory FL line in stock to order?  

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/15/2004 at 07:58
Steve Optics View Drop Down
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Sako 308 .win,

 

I do not see Zeiss introducing the FL's in 56mm until 2006.

Also, the FL glass (Flourite ion) will increase color clarity and distinction as it will do a better job of getting the primary colors to bend at near the same angle as they pass through the instrument and exit into your eye. Ultimately the FL's will get the reputation as having the highest Contrast and Resolution and lowest Chromatic Aberrations available. (Chromatic Aberrations are what Noddah withessed in the Leicas when he stated their was a "green split")(side bar, Leica is actually an excellent product and the Aberrations would increase as you compare most the other brands)  Zeiss has less of that than the others as a result of the Coating formula,  Glass formula and lens assembly's being a little more compatable to each other.

 

So yes, a pair of FL's in 56mm would actually be better in contrast but not actually "Brighter" than your current 56's.

Do you have "Night Owls" or Victory 8x56's ??

 

Best

SO  

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/19/2004 at 16:48
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Steve Optics, I have the Victory 8X56's. Thanks for your input!
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