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Old Wednesday 22nd July 2015, 23:28   #1
John Dracon
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: White Sulphur Springs, Montana
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Revisitng the Zeiss Dialyt 18x45x65 spotting scope

Back in March of 2010, John Russell started a thread about a new Zeiss spotting scope, the Dialyt 18x45x65. It was a funky looking scope, reminiscent of the Zeiss Dialyt 7x42 and Dialyt 8x56 binoculars. Those had the heavy black rubber armoring with ribs running length wise down the barrels, representing as tough a covering one would find on an optical instrument. This scope has this in spades.

I posted on the thread wondering why the lower end of the zoom wasn't 15 rather than 18. Hermann's posts I thought got into the meat and potatoes about the scope. Most of the posts pointed out that this wasn't a premier bird spotting scope but rather a hunter's scope, at best, even though it could pinch hit looking at birds.

I saw several in sporting stores in Montana, noting that the retail price hovered around $1500, considerably less than what Zeiss spotters were selling for then.

Then a while back while cruising past the optics section of a major sporting goods store (for Montana) I noticed the Dialyt in a glass case, with a substantially reduced price. Why the reduction? Seems like last fall a hunter had made the purchase and returned it the next day. It had all the papers and box and was in new condition, virtually unused. Ownership transferable.

So I started haggling with the clerk, and eventually the manager, and the bottom line turned out to be even less. So I snapped it up, and I'm not a bit sorry.

This Dialyt spotting scope is a hybrid. The optics are excellent for a zoom. The FOV is 120-69, somewhat less than a scope costing several thousand dollars more. Nitrogen filled and really waterproof down to over 10 feet. Close focus is 32.8 feet, compared to 13 feet of the DiaScope 65 T FL and 16 feet for the DiaScope 85 T FL.

I have difficulty imagining a birder without binoculars using the above scopes where birds are close by.

The Dialyt weighs 42 oz, 3 oz more than the DiaScope 65, and 10 oz less than the DiaScope 85.

It is in ruggedness that the Dialyt is the clear winner. I shudder to think of either DiaScopes falling off a tripod on concrete, or anything outdoors. I believe the Dialyt would survive that. Ruggedness is important to older people who are prone to drop things, partially because the skin on the finger tips grows thinner and everything is slippery.

The Dialyt can be hand held for quick peeks. I might look like Captain Horatio Hornblower looking at a French Man O' War with left hand extending out and right hand resting on my nose, but it is steadier than it appears.

Improvisation goes along with the Dialyt in the field. One person used a light rope with a noose fashioned on one end. The noose went around the body, and the other end around a tree, and both tightened up to become a makeshift monopod. No damage will be done to the rubber covering doing this.

The Dialyt goes with me everywhere I go now to look at birds, either riding on a seat or slung over my shoulder via the strap which attaches the objective cup and the ocular cup. These cups or covers are superior to anything designed for protection with other spotting scopes and stay attached.

The end of the Dialyt extends past the objective lens by approximately .75 inches. (there is no sliding sun shade) It does have standard threads for filters - M 67 x 0.75).

The Dialyt has the standard foot for 3/8" and 1/4" threads for mounting on tripods. All in all it is a compromise for birding, but under certain circumstances it can be very useful. I don't hunt anymore, but I enjoy looking at wild animals, and wherever they are found, birds will be found.

One feature that some will criticize is the Dialyt lacks the eye cups of modern binoculars. Instead it has the rubber turn down cups. I find these absolutely satisfactory. They are the screw on kind and interchange with the older Dialyts which I find a very nice and intelligent touch by Zeiss. The eye relief allows a full FOV with eye glass wearers through the zoom's full range.

Call it a retro spotting scope, marginally appropriate for birding, etc. The Dialyt does have its strong points, and a dedicated birder may find some use for it. I certainly have.

John

Last edited by John Dracon : Thursday 23rd July 2015 at 15:00.
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Old Saturday 1st August 2015, 08:45   #2
Hermann
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A very nice review. Makes me want to look at the Zeiss again as it's one of those now very rare "robust" scopes. And there are sometimes situations when a really tough, longish scope is more useful than one of the more modern short scopes. For instance, I've started birding a bit in wooded, hilly areas, and while I don't usually need a scope all that often in that kind of terrain, it's sometimes essential to get an ID. The Zeiss may do the trick there because it's long enough to lean on a tree, something you can't really do all that easily with a short scope. And carrying a tripod or a monopod all day for those few situations isn't very convenient.

I haven't been able to use the Zeiss extensively in the field, so I'm wondering about the optical quality. You say "The optics are excellent for a zoom" - but how good are they compared to a decent compact 65mm scope, say a Zeiss Diascope or a Swarovski, with a zoom? What about colour fringing at different magnifications, for instance? When I tried it I thought the optics were good but not really as good as the modern compact scopes.

And how easy is it to focus with the objective? That's actually one of the reasons why I didn't look at the Dialyt more closely, I would have preferred a focuser at the eyepiece end, so to speak.

Thanks again for your review!

Hermann

Last edited by Hermann : Saturday 1st August 2015 at 08:57.
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Old Saturday 1st August 2015, 13:57   #3
John Dracon
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Herman - I'll try to give you my impressions as objectively as I can. First, this is a spotting scope that "grows" on me the more I use it. Second, remember, I'm an 80 old man with more experience than brains, whose eyes are hardly that of a teenager, but still are corrected to 20/20. So you must read my comments within that context.

Regarding what we call "robust", I have never seen a spotting scope this robust and still portable. But then I haven't seen them all. Who ever designed this instrument, knew what he/they were doing. Its features such as front focusing really do have important functions as my comments will try to reveal. There is a new learning process which goes along with this scope. But once you understand it, you will see how important ergonomics come into play.

The armor is beyond the thin coverings of modern spotting scopes. Massive is what I call it. The longitudinal prominent ribs are perfect for handling. One's fingers won't slip off this scope while handling it. You won't worry about pressing this against the rough bark of a tree to steady it. Routine bumps will become no worry. The cups which slide over both ends will give the optics complete protection, and because they are attached to the carrying strap, they are never lost, or like screw-in caps rolling around the floor or ground. Once you learn the system for removal and reattachment, it is easy.

What are the optics like? I didn't have either the Swarovski or Diascope for a comparison. I used my Pentax PF 65 ED with the SMC XM 20 eyepiece instead. The Dialyt's edges soften a little, while the Pentax stay sharp. But then few spotting scopes will surpass the Pentax in this category. The Pentax has a larger FOV (at approximately 19 power) as compared to the Dialyt at 18 power. The Dialyt's colors are what I call "wonderful", rich and bright. At dusk or dawn I find them more appealing than the Pentax, which I find more "washed out". The Dialyt zoom does not keep the sharp focus throughout the entire range. After about 30 power, the focus needs to we tweaked a little bit. But that is easily adjusted to give optimum resolution.

Of course the Dialyt can be used on a solid tripod, or even a bipod, which I have found most useful outdoors, but its most useful features are its portability and outdoor use. Rain? No worry? Being scraped or bumped? No worry. Used for a quick peek? Perfect. Being able to zoom and focus while hand held? No worry. Ergonomics for hand-held use? Excellent.

The focus at the objective end is where ergonomics come into play. This scope with out caps on measures 15.5 inches. While holding by hand, the thumb and the forefinger are around the eyepiece turret where the zooming takes place. The design is such that part of the thumb can rest along side the nose while the other hand extends to the end where that hand easily focuses the scope. What may appear to be awkward is actually ergonomically sound with elbows resting on the sides. The view of course has some motion but it is far superior to any other scope you might try to use hand held. Sitting on the ground enhances steadiness, but resting against a tree is even better.

Of course on a tripod this becomes just another spotting scope. But for the person who wants to ramble around the woods or mountains, this is an instrument that is useful.

It weighs a little over two pounds eleven ounces. With the wide carrying strap over the shoulder, is carries nicely. Its versatility is what appeals to me. I carry it with me all the time in my vehicles. For a quick peek, you will find it superior.

John

Last edited by John Dracon : Saturday 1st August 2015 at 14:00.
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Old Monday 3rd August 2015, 06:16   #4
John Dracon
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One of the things I failed to mention in my posts relates to sighting with it. While reviewing several older posts, there is reference to little raises around the rubber cover which the writer assumes is used for sighting. These are not. Since the whole end must be rotated counter and counter clockwise to act as the diopter, in lieu of a focus wheel, the little "tits" are never lined up focusing in and out. Instead, Zeiss has thought this out. The cover has the heavy longitudinal ribs, and one is lined up and down the center of the body, easy visible to the user. Unless one actually has one in hand, that is not obvious. The orientation on a tripod maintains this, and when handling, the hoisting automatically keeps the orientation. I predict once a user tries this scope out, their first impressions will be modified.
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Old Tuesday 4th August 2015, 05:39   #5
John Dracon
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I need to add to post #4 about the sighting of objects. Zeiss info suggests that the rubber covered housing having raised edges (every 90 degrees) at the front and back can be used for target acquisition, bird or beast.
That is misleading in practice. The raised edges in the front are like the rear sight of pistol and in the back like the front sight of a pistol(actually a reversal of what you see with a pistol), and those raised edges will only be aligned with the center of the field at a specific point of best resolution because the full range from closest focus to past infinity is two (2) complete turns. Clear as mud, huh?

Those edges are very nice for turning the focus in and out. Instead, as I mention in post #4, a long and broad longitudinal rib is centered on the body for easy eye reference, either on a tripod or being hand held. and which ever hand is used for focusing does the job while the target stays in the middle of the field. It seems awkward in my description but in practice it really isn't.

John
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