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Binoculars review

2012-04-13 11:07:44

Carl Zeiss Victory 8x42 T* FL

The Victory T* binoculars belong to the top-of-the-range Carl Zeiss series (mind you we are writing it while the Victory HT series hasn’t hit the shelves yet). It consists of two compact models : the 8x20 and 10x25 and also bigger instruments with the following parameters: 8x32, 10x32, 7x42, 8x42, 10x42, 8x56, 10x56 and 12x56. All of these are roof prism models but the smallest ones, with the 20-32 mm objectives, have the Schmidt-Pechan design and these bigger ones are in the Abbe Koenig lossless configuration based on the principle of the total internal reflection. Starting with the 32 mm objective diameter the producer uses low-dispersion fluorite glass in the objectives.


Optical conctruction of Zeiss Victory 7x42 T* FL binoculars.

The producer emphasizes the fact that all air-to-glass surfaces have been covered by multilayer antireflection T* coatings. The inner elements are additionally covered by LotuTec coatings which make removing dirt and water a breeze. The casing of the binoculars is made of fibre-reinforced plastics; additionally it was padded with high quality rubber. The instrument tested by us here is waterproof up to 4 meters and nitrogen purged. It can work in the temperature range from –30 to +60 degrees Centigrade.

Buyers get objective caps tethered to rubber rings, a rainguard, a neoprene strap, a case made of cordura with another strap. The binoculars come with a 10-year guarantee period.

Carl Zeiss Victory 8x42 T* FLCarl Zeiss Victory 8x42 T* FLCarl Zeiss Victory 8x42 T* FLCarl Zeiss Victory 8x42 T* FL
Manufacturer:
Carl Zeiss
web site
Distribution / Sales:
M.K. Szuster
web site
e-mail
ul. Al. Waszyngtona 38/40
03-910 Warszawa
 
Basic parameters:
Magnification Lens diameter Angular field of view Prisms Eye relief Weight Price
8x 42mm 135/1000(7.7o) BaK-4/roof 16 mm 755g 5750PLN
More information about this product

Results of the review

Real front lens diameter Left:   42.1+/- 0.05mm
Right:  42.1+/- 0.05mm
8/8.0
Real magnification 7.85+/- 0.05x 3/3.0
Transmission 93.9+/- 1.5% 14/15.0
Chromatic aberration Corrected splendidly in the centre, very well on the edge! Almost perfect! 9.3/10.0
Astigmatism Very low. Almost point-like images of stars. 8.8/10.0
Distortion The distance of the first curved line from the field centre compared to the field of vision radius: 34% +\- 5% 3/10.0
Coma Appears in the distance of about 80% from the centre of the field of vision and it is a bit higher than medium on the very edge. 7.9/10.0
Blurring at the edge of the FOV The blur occurs in the distance of 81% +\- 3% from the centre of the field of vision. 6/10.0
Darkening at the edge the FOV Very low. 4.7/5.0
Whiteness of the image The loss of purple and blue light is a bit too high - it causes slight but visible warming up of the image. 3.8/5.0
Collimation Perfect. 5/5.0
Internal reflections
Left: Right:
Carl Zeiss Victory 8x42 T* FL - Internal reflections - Left Carl Zeiss Victory 8x42 T* FL - Internal reflections - Right
Distinct false pupils.
2.5/5.0
Housing Very solid. Great to hold and to look through. Big dimensions because of significant dimensions of the prisms. Rubberized and regulated eyecups with four stops. Produced in Germany. Nothing sticks out. 8/8.0
Focusing A very comfortable central wheel – big and ribbed. It works smoothly and easily. Running thought the whole range takes a turn through 390 degrees. Individual focusing through a click-stop system which is not very ergonomic because pressing it you can sometimes destroy the previous sharpness settings. 4.8/5.0
Tripod There is a possibility of using a brand-name tripod adapter. 2/3.0
Interpupilary distance from 54.9 to 77.3mm 5/6.0
Closest focusing distance 1.75 meters. 2/2.0
Eyepieces FOV Apparent field of view of 60.6 degrees. 7/10.0
Field of view Measured by us amounted to 7.72 +/- 0.04 degrees and was in perfect accordance with the specifications. A huge field for this class of equipment. 7/8.0
Quality of the interior of the barrels Very black and almost perfectly matt. Some specks of dust. 4.6/5.0
Vignetting
Left: Right:
Carl Zeiss Victory 8x42 T* FL - Vignetting - Left Carl Zeiss Victory 8x42 T* FL - Vignetting - Right
OL: 0.33%, OR: 0.00%
7/8.0
Prisms quality High quality BaK-4. 8/8.0
Antireflection coatings Pink-purple everywhere. Low intensity. 5/5.0
Warranty [years] 10 4.5/6.0
Final result 140.9/170
82.9%
Econo result 0pkt.
 

Summary


Pros:
  • high quality casing,
  • very good transmission,
  • good coma correction,
  • splendidly corrected chromatic aberration,
  • almost imperceptible astigmatism,
  • perfect blackening,
  • very low light fall-off on the edge of the field,
  • good whiteness rendering,
  • high quality optical elements and coatings,
  • minimum focus already from 1.75 meters,
  • circular exit pupils,
  • wide interpupilary distance range.

Cons:
  • a bit too high distortion,
  • very intensive false pupils; it shouldn’t have happened in a piece of equipment of this class.


The Zeiss Victory 8x42 T* FL fared in this test very similarly to the 10x42 model - it is enough to glance at the list of pros and cons and at the final score to be sure of it. To tell you the truth I thought a different eyepiece construction than in the 10x42 model would correct the distortion in a much better way but unfortunately it didn’t happen. The distortion is huge and it remains the only serious flaw of the tested Zeiss. Perhaps its constructors decided to follow the example of their counterparts designing the Micro 4/3 system, who have eased up on the distortion correction counting on the software of a body to take care of the problem. Such a tactics allows you to correct other aberrations, axis and off-axis, better. Unluckily in the case of the Zeiss Victory the distortion can’t be corrected by any software so we must put up with it.

So far our review has been rather pessimistic but this tone must change in a sum-up of a pair of binoculars which final score exceeded the level of 140 points – it truly deserves to be called outstanding. Apart from the distortion and false pupils there are no other slip-ups. Everything is so close to perfect or, in fact, perfect. A high build quality, great chromatic aberration and astigmatism correction and high transmission, which graph is presented below, are these features which deserve your particular attention.


To sum up the Zeiss Victory is still a very recommendable device. If you buy it you will get great mechanics and optics produced by a renowned manufacturer for a price significantly lower than that of top-of-the-range Leica, Swarovski or Nikon models. Perhaps you should yield to temptation and buy it before the Victory models disappear from the shelves for good, replaced by a more expensive and newer Victory HT series?