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Zeiss Victory FLs with General Review

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/17/2004 at 23:54
noddah View Drop Down
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Shopping for optics and where to purchase is difficult. I present this to folks who care and are trying to make decisions.

 

 

So I purchased the Zeiss Victory FL 10x42 from SWFA. Since I found no real reviews on these binos I thought I would give a review of the binos, tests, comments and SWFA.

 

I called SWFA and asked if they had a unopened Zeiss FL 10x42 I could purchase. I was told they did and I bought the binos and had them shipped two day air. I have bought 4 items privously from SWFA to have 2 of the 4 items pre opened before I got them. (Because I own many high priced optics such as: Schmidt & Bender, Zeiss, Leica, etc.) It is understandable and I have seen distributors and dealers open items up to play and see them. I however found again the Zeiss Victor FL I purchased was an opened item. I am kinda weary of this situation. The Zeiss Victory FL 10x42 came in great condition so I probably will let the open item slide; also they come with a lifetime warrant. (Also Transferable)

 

To the review:

 

I took the Zeiss 10x42 FLs, Swaro SLC 8x30, a Leupold Gold Ring 10-20x40 (54480), Zeiss 20-60 85mmFL, and a Schmidt & Bender 3-12 Rifle Scope for comparison. I took these all out for an outdoor comarison on an Air Force Resolution Target and Density Strip before at and after dusk.

 

First let me say the Swaro SLC are my historic binos and I have always liked them and they are a good product and have served me well. I have had to send them back to Swaro once because I had water fill one side of the binos on an Alaskan Hunt. Swaro however fixed them and got them right back to me so no harm no foul. Anyhow the resolution was sharp the detail in the shadows is good but not pumped much to reveal much detail. They are however crisp and in the highlights there is a dimished resolution. I was able to watch dragon flys on a lake near by and there was not much detail in the wings but color was good.

 

The next is the Zeiss 20-60 85mmFL Spotting Scope. What can I say about this product but wow! Those dragon flys on the water are scary with this scope. I could see every aspect of the veins in the wings; the eyes at 20-60x give you the willies. I do a lot of long range target shooting and this is an awesome scope for picking out holes (308) in paper out to 100- almost  not quite 300 yards. Also the ability to capture diminished light in an almost moonless (1/3) night is awesome. If you can’t see it with this scope you never will. I could see every aspect of the resolution target out to 75 – 100 yards. I have even read the SKU #s off of hanging plants from someones backyard at 50 & 70 yards. (Text approx 1/4”) (No I didn’t look into the house) The only downside to this scope is when the temperture gets above approx 100 degrees you can see the heat waves (mirages) traveling in all directions from objects. In this case you need to get the scope as far from the ground as possible and put the magnification down. (This however is with all optics to one degree or another; but the real sensitive ones can real show it in 3D)  On a side note: I have witnessed Schmidt & Bender Scopes present the same sensitivities to heat mirage where you could see individual waves. The first time I saw this I though my eyes were tricking me.

 

Hunting I have used Zeiss, Leica, and Swaros Binos to look at game and objects that when I put my rifle up I could no longer see in the rifle scope. I have had this happen with tasco, bushnel and even Leupold Scopes. Buying scopes such as the Schmidt & Bender I have never had this issue. The Schmidt & Bender has an extemely crisp image with no problems viewing the resolution target nor density strip in almost any light. I have been in approximately non moonlight nights with this scope and been able to make things out almost to 75 – 100 yards in detail. It is a scary good product. The only downside to this product is if you need to send it back to the factory they might keep it for up to 6 months. Though Schmidt & Bender will ask no questions and fix almost any problem for no cost and they even will rebuild their old scopes with their new lenses and any reticle within reason.

 

The Leupold Gold Ring 10-20x40 is a “Jack of all Traits Master of None.” It is a small spotting scope and for the approximate $300 it is a good product. I however was getting a headache trying to strain to see the resolution target in comparing it to the rest. It is also a product which I hope to use in the field as a fair weather spotter in mid day and at longer 20x ranges. Its main strength is size / weight. On the resolution target it was at least two element groups worse than the next one (Swaros) and from the density strip was loosing out up to 30 to 45 min. before the sun went down.

 

Now to the FLs

The first thing you notice with the Zeiss Victory FL 10x42s is the build. They feel good in the hand and there focus knob is not as “mushy” like the “normal” Zeiss Victory IIs. There still is a very minor play though in the focus knob but it is not an issue. They have eye cups which have stages where they can be set. (The Zeiss Victory IIs go all the way out where they lock or they are all the way in. The Leica Ultravids can be set at different points in there travel but do not seem to lock at all) In looking through the FLs the first thing that slaps you is the presented detail of objects. The detail in those Dragon Fly Wings were completely visable; color was flawless. The resolution target was a joke and all element were easy to view. One thing I did notice thought was my greed to force focusing. Not because the focus was bad but because I could really notice that I could get more out of these binos. Also you start focusing in and out to different ranges like a game and it is fun! These are hands down the fastest focusing binos I have ever used. Comparing them to the Zeiss FL Spotting Scope they compliment them but the binos are not as bright in the pitch night. (I know 42mm vs. 82mm) Though you’d be surprised how bright they are and the detail in areas which you believed were pitch black show up with information to now be viewed. I would like to have the Zeiss Victory (non FL) 50mm flavor of binos to compare. If you have the need and means I highly suggest. If and when I have more experiences with the FLs I will post; if anyone wishes.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/18/2004 at 00:16
ranburr View Drop Down
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Do you have the ability to do a direct comparison of Leica Ultravids to the Zeiss FLs?  I would be very interested in how these compared in a 10x42 side by side show down.  I think these two are stepping well out in front of the competition.  I can't wait to see what Swarovski is going to do to challenge.  Thanks for the info.

 

ranburr

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/18/2004 at 08:50
tbone1 View Drop Down
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Ranburr, every now and then I read posts on a forum very similar to this one except it is on a birdwatching website but the forum style is similar to this one.  I found a lot of buzz about the new FLs, people posting there opinions after viewing them.  Reviews are also mixed.  Several of the posts were raving about the FLs, several others were raving about the Ultravids.  I did read one very detailed post from a guy who compared the ELs, Ultravids, and FLs.  He was very dissapointed with the FLs.  I think that this is one where there probably is no clear winner.  I think each person needs to view them for themselves because what may look better to one person may not look better to another.  I am also interested in both the FLs and the Ultravids and I am considering trading in my trinovids.  However I must be able to see the difference for myself.  I do love the fact that the FLs have Floride glass and I love the new High-Lux prism coating and reduced weight of the Ultravids.  I am just curious if I will be able to see real difference in the field.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/18/2004 at 08:51
noddah View Drop Down
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I can easily get a hold of a pair of Leica Trinovid 8x32 / 10x42 because I have buddies that have those. The Trinovid is also a really good bino but not in the same league. (The Trinovid is the glass I found out I was comparing in the field and was different in performance from the Leica Ultravids in my other post.)

 

The Ultravids I saw I had to travel to do my first comparison. So it maybe a while before a side by side with the FLs & Ultravids. I know that SWFA shoud have some input since I know mine were pre-opened for play.     I do agree though that the FLs are going to have to be answered by the other guys. (ie. Swaro & Leica)

 

I still think though the Leica Ultravids is easily in the top 3 or 4 of best glass out there. (besides for the one test I saw) They are so good I was having a tough time in seeing which was top dog. (Ultravid / Victory II Comparison)

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/18/2004 at 09:02
tbone1 View Drop Down
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Thanks for all the info.  I am going to try to do some evalutations for myself and may end up trading mine in.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/21/2004 at 02:11
tbone1 View Drop Down
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I guess we all are a little biased one way or another or at least have our preferences.  I obviously am no different.  After all this talk about the new Fls, Victory's, Ultravids, I have to admit I have been more than curious as to how good they all are.  I considered trading in my trinovids when the Victorys, Duovids and ELs came out and again when the Ultravids came out but in the past I never saw enough improvement to justify it.  I did some more evaluations today and tried to give everyone a fair chance.

 

When I first looked into premium binos, I really wanted Swarovski.  They were all I heard of in hunting circles, probably due to their great marketing.  After many in store and in the field evaluations I chose the Leica Trinovids over their SLCs because to me they were slightly sharper.  Although not by much and honestly would have been happy with either.  Since then I have done many more in the field evaluations between the several different SLCs and Trinovids and confirmed my original opinion.  To me they just seem to produce a slightly sharper, cleaner, clearer image.  Brightness to me was very close.  When the ELs came out, I found them to be a little sharper than the SLCs, maybe equal to the trinovids.  However I always thought they were overpriced.  The ELs were a fine bino but not worth $1700.00.  Since then I have considered Swarovski many times when it came to scopes, spotting scopes and another set of binos and I never chose them because I never felt that they were the best available (although they were at the top), but they are always the most expensive.  I guess you can say that I have been little biased against Swarovski simply because I have felt that all of their products are priced about $200 more than they are worth.

 

Zeiss on the other hand, has always represented value to me.  Top of the line optics (in many cases superior to Swarovski) for a great price.  When their Victory series bino came out it didn't impress me that much in stores so I never really gave it a fair evaluation.  I just always assumed that my Leica were better since they impressed me every time I looked through them and I had never found another bino that looked better.  After what I have learned in this forum, I really started thinking that maybe there is a better bino available and maybe I was being biased and close minded.

 

Let me say that I have appreciated everyones opinions here and I too can't get enough of this forum.  I have learned alot in these recent posts and really decided to give Zeiss Victorys a thorough look as well as the FLs when I can get my hands on a pair.  Steve Optics gave some great info about the Victorys design and made a very good argument for why they and the FLs should be superior.  Not to mention every elses evaluations and assessments.  So I decided to try to erase my own bias a give all three companies a fair chance if I decide to upgrade.

 

Today I went to a store that I buy alot of my hunting clothes from and they carry Swarovski and Zeiss.  I know the owner and he let me borrow a pair of Zeiss Victory 10x40, Swarovski SLC 10x42, and Swarovski EL 10x42 for about an hour from 4:45-5:45pm.  I never really ran low enough on light to evaluate brightness but I have to say that I was amazed and dissapointed with what I discovered.  After what I have read about the Victories I was excited to see how well they would perform and I was not very impressed.  Of the three I was most impressed with the Swarovski EL.  Right when I put them up to my eye I immediately was amazed.  Unsurpassed sharpness and clarity that the other two could not match.  I loved the feel and weight of the bino but the image quality was as good as I have seen.  Probably at least equal to the Trinovids, although I could not compare them side by side.  I got the same "WOW" feeling when I looked through them as I did my Trinovids.  I compared them side by side with the Zeiss Victory and they were not even close.  The EL's were much sharper.  I kept playing with the focus back and forth, adjusting the right diopter, making sure it was set for my eyes and I just could not produce the same crisp image.  In fact the SLCs were noticably sharper than the Victories but just a hair behind the ELs.  In fact there wasn't a whole lot that I did like about the Victory.  I wasn't crazy about the feel, the eyecups, or the focus wheel.  I didn't like the SLCs focus wheel either, it had the same awkward feel as every SLC that I have tried, too much tension turning to the left and too smooth turning to the right.  The ELs however had the same controlled feel as my trinovids have.  All in all I have to say that I am really confused.  I can't see how anyone would argue if they had been with me today.  It was that much of a noticable difference in image quality.  I didn't need a resolution chart or anything else to see it, it was extemely apparent a first glance.  So much so that I am considering that possibly the pair of Victory that I compared was a lemon.  I don't know.  I am just wondering how other people could see them so differently as I saw them today.  All in all, I was very impressed with the Swarovski ELs although I still wouldn't pay what they are asking for them.  Their prices make me dislike the company and they seem to keep going up.  I would have loved to have seen the Zeiss outperform them (at $1000) but it just didn't happen.  I own several Zeiss VM/V scopes (as well as Schmidt & Bender) and I purchased them over the similar Swarovski models because I liked them better.  I know this is going to stir up some arguement but this is how I saw it today.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/21/2004 at 11:58
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Tbone, were the Zeiss binos the Victory or the Victory II model?  The Victory IIs are sharper. 

I thought that the Victory IIs had a very good view.  That being said, I had the opportunity to purchase a NIB pair of these for $850 and I passed.  I simply do not like the feel of the body or the controls on this bino.  They have a cheapie feel to them and I got the impression that they would not be in one piece after years of hard hunting.  I think that the Leica is a little shaper and built much tougher and they would still be around my neck out in the woods in 20 yrs.  I like SLCs, in fact they are sharper to my eyes then the Leicas, but I do not think they are as tough as Leica.  Not that they won't last a lifetime of hard use, but the Leicas are just built like a tank.  As someone has already stated I think that the Victory series were made with the birder and general sports enthusiast in mind.  I also think that the Leicas and Swarovskis are better suited to hunting.  For me the question would be do I want the slightly sharper Swaro image or the toughness of the Leica.  If you are someone that sees better out of the Leicas, then you have the best of all worlds.

 

ranburr  

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Ranburr, they were the Victory I not the Victory II.  I know they improved the body and eyecups on the Victory II.  What did they do to improve the optics.  I am going this afternoon to another store that carries the Leica Ultravids and Victory IIs and I am taking my trinovids to compare, I just don't know the man well enough to use them for any length of time as I did yesterday.  As far as the SLCs vs. Trinovids, to me they are close enough in performance to argue.  There is not much difference and I have to look at specific things to notice much.  The pair of SLCs that I picked up yesterday were very impressive just a hair behind the ELs and I would have been very satisfied with them.  The Victorys however were not. 

 

Do you believe that there is not only a difference between brands but also a difference between individual pair.  For example one pair of SLCs being slightly sharper than another pair that is identical to it and maybe the other is slightly brighter.  The more pair that I look through the more it seems that there is a slight variation.  For example my Trinovids seem slightly sharper than my roomates SLCs and his brothers as well.  But the pair of SLCs that I looked through yesterday seemed more  impressive than other SLCs that I have looked through.  It is just to hard to say without having them side by side, but it just seems that some are slighty better than others regardless of the brand.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/21/2004 at 13:38
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Tbone, I think that there are always slight variations in the same models.  I have seen this numerous times.  I know that the Q.C. standard are in place for the brands that we are discussing.  About all I can figure out is that minor things like what technician does final assembly, exposure to ambiant light, temperature fluctuations, static control procedures, etc.  These are just best guesses on my part.  I am sure that they all meet spec. before leaving the factory.  Some probably exceed the spec. while others merely meet it.  I know that Zeiss improved the image quality on the Victory IIs, what they did I do not know.  But it does exist.

 

ranburr 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/22/2004 at 03:32
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Round 2.  This afternoon I was able to compare the Leica Ultravid 10x42 to another pair of Zeiss Victory 10x40 and I took my Trinovids to compare as well.  I was able to spend about an hour with these outside as well and got very similar results as I did yesterday.  The Ultravids were simply amazing.  This was the first time that I had ever gotten to spend more than five minutes with the Ultravids.  They were quite possibly the best bino that I have ever looked through.  Optically they were so razor sharp that they may have impressed me more than the ELs did.  Compared to the Victory it wasn't even close although this pair of Victory was a little better than the pair I looked through yesterday.  I spent some time trying to figure out what it was I didn't like about the image of the Victory.  It wasn't the brightness and the resolution was fine.  Basically to me the image was slightly cloudy or hazy.  It was very noticable at first glance when comparing the Ultravids beside them.  The Ultravids were noticably more brilliant and I didn't want to put them down.  I compared my Trinovids to the Ultravids and It was difficult to tell alot of difference.  The Ultravids seemed to be a hair more brilliant and possibly a little brighter.  The focus wheel was perfectly responsive and they were very comfortable and light.  So far the Ultravids and ELs are the best that I have seen.  Unfortunately I haven't found a pair of Victory II.  I am assuming that they are better than the Victory I, but they would need to be alot better to compete with the Ultravids.  I also picked up the newest Zeiss catalog with the FLs in it and I noticed that they don't have the Victory or Victory II (40mm) anymore.  I thought that the FLs were going to compliment the Victorys but it looks like they are actually replacing them.  I don't know this to be true but it is my gut feeling that the Victory never performed well as Zeiss had hoped and they have created a much better design with the FLs.  Otherwise why not just put Floride glass in the Victory bino.  I could be way off on that one but it's just my felling after looking at them.  Anyway I am still considering upgrading to either the Ultravids or the FLs.  I can't wait to see them.

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