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Old Friday 25th October 2013, 18:46   #1
james holdsworth
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Zeiss 20x60 S - optics

This may well be a pretty short thread, as respondents will be few I'm sure, but I am interested in the optical qualities of this binocular. I have read a lot about the stabilizer, but not much about the optics apart from some anecdotal reports.

So, how would the 20x60 compare to something like the 15x60 BGAT? How does it handle glare, CA, centre-field sharpness etc? Would the binocular be held in high regard based just on optics, even without the stabilization?

I would appreciate some real world views from owners / users - direct comparisons with other models would be great as well.
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Old Friday 25th October 2013, 20:49   #2
edwincjones
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I cannot answer as I have never seen one,
but have long lusted for them from afar

sadly, after carefully considering the
size, wt, cost they are marked of my
wish list

edj
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Old Friday 25th October 2013, 22:03   #3
kbrabble
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I hope someone comes along that currently owns a pair and can give a good review of these. I did spend a couple of days using them back in 2000 while on a trip to Dry Tortugas National Park, and have since wanted to own them. Going from memory, they were noticeably brighter than the 10x40 BGAT*P I was using at the time, and at least as good in other areas. I do remember being impressed by the flare control; it was better than the 10x40. All that being said, the stabilization is what made them special, and it worked amazingly well watching distant shorebirds from the boat. I wish I could give you more, but its been a very long time...
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Old Saturday 26th October 2013, 04:10   #4
NDhunter
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James:

I see one of these just sold on Astromart. They look like quite a binocular!

Lots to handle, and they take a bite out of your billfold.

Also a Ziess 10x56 Nightowl, just got listed, and at a very good price.

Jerry
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Old Saturday 26th October 2013, 10:54   #5
ticl2184
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James

I had a go with these binos a few years ago.
To be honest I wasn't that impressed.
I found them to big, heavy and awkward to use. Optics were average, with a narrow field of view although they were bright. The image stabiliser system was very slow to adapt to movement.
On top of that they are extremely expensive.
If I was to buy a pair of image stabilisation binos, I would go for the Canon 15 or 18 x 50's.

Tim
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Old Saturday 26th October 2013, 12:50   #6
hinnark
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James,

I know a few birders who use the 20x60S instead of a spotting scope because they cannot cope with monocular vision. This pair of binoculars is a classic of its own, with all that craftmenship you perhaps know from Zeiss bins made in the 1980s: the armoring, the solid feel etc, just like the 15x60. The latter has better edge performance and more pincushion distorsion. However, regarding centre-field sharpness the 20x60 is unsurpassed by any other pair of binoculars intended for hendheld-use I've seen so far. Also I've got the impression that the 20x60 has better contrast but this probably depends on date of manufacturing and coatings. Although this one isn't apochromatic I never saw CA as a problem at all in practical use. Same with glare. My only complaint when wearing glasses is its somewhat short ER. The Canon IS 50mm bins have better edge performance but they simply cannot compete in resolution and centerfield sharpness. AFOV is widefield (without my glasses). The 20x60 have more weight and bulk than avarage binoculars, that's for sure. But to be fair we have to compare it to two 20x60 spotting scopes alltogether. When holding it feels surprisingly lightweight in my hands. You have to press the stabilisation button all the time which needs some power in the fingers after longer periods of viewing but the reaction happens immediately.

Steve
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Old Saturday 26th October 2013, 13:11   #7
eddy the eagle
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Only looked through these on one occasion and to be honest I was not impressed too narrow FOV it was like looking down a tube,but never had enough time to fully evaluate these.Ergos seemed OK and the view was sharp......Eddy
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Old Saturday 26th October 2013, 14:42   #8
Hermann
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I've got the mono version (20x60S). I don't have the time right now to write a more detailed assessment but will come back to the thread sometime next week.

Hermann
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Old Monday 28th October 2013, 00:04   #9
John Dracon
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James - having had and used the optics that you mentioned - still have the 15x60 B model - I can share these observations. Both are porros although the stabilized models are truly unique. The cardanic suspension system depends upon mechanical relationships which are extraordinarily complex. When I had the 20x60 S models, the guarantee was only for 5 years, which suggests they wouldn't/won't take much rough handling.

Zeiss claims the 15x60 with T* coating transmits more than 90% of light. Both porros have adequate ER. I felt the stabilized models had one special quality. When (1)mounted on a tripod and (2) with the stabilizing mechanism pressed and held, the resulting image is unlike any of have seen through a spotting scope, i.e., everything is sharply defined like it is cut from crystals.

Evidently, the tripod helps dampens shakes we aren't even conscious about, and the stabilizing system picks those up for those which translates into even better resolution.

Frankly. i was always nervous about using the stabilizing models. Not confident in myself being careful enough. But that shouldn't deter others who want the convenience and the special qualities of the S system. IMO the 15x60 B and 20x60 S models aren't really comparable except that they possess superior optics.

John
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Old Monday 11th November 2013, 18:46   #10
Hermann
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Right, I still don't really have the time, but here we go - some thoughts on the Zeiss 20x60S. I've used the 20x60S quite a bit in the field, and I own a Zeiss 20x60S Mono which is - despite some differences in the stabilizer - very similar to the 20x60S.

I'll use John's excellent post as a starting point:

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Dracon View Post
The cardanic suspension system depends upon mechanical relationships which are extraordinarily complex. When I had the 20x60 S models, the guarantee was only for 5 years, which suggests they wouldn't/won't take much rough handling.
The 20x60S is definitely not as tough as the non-stabilized Zeiss models. However, a friend of mine has had a 20x60S for well over 10 years and had no problem with it at all, despite some heavy use. He had to send it to Zeiss once because the rubber amour started peeling off, but that was it. You'd better not drop it, however, or bang it hard against something. I did that once to my 20x60S Mono. The repair bill was over $ 1000 for a new stabilizer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Dracon View Post
I felt the stabilized models had one special quality. When (1) mounted on a tripod and (2) with the stabilizing mechanism pressed and held, the resulting image is unlike any of have seen through a spotting scope, i.e., everything is sharply defined like it is cut from crystals.

Evidently, the tripod helps dampens shakes we aren't even conscious about, and the stabilizing system picks those up for those which translates into even better resolution.
That's a perfect description. If I use my 20x60S Mono on a tripod, even on a reasonably heavy tripod, the stabilizer still makes a *considerable* difference. The view is nice without the stabilizer, but with the stabilizer engaged it's magic because the stabilizer seems to cut out all those tiny vibrations and/or movements. It's quite incredible and has to be experienced to be believed.

Compared to a modern scope the optics of the 20x60S and the 20x60S Mono are good but not exceptional. I did a few comparisons to my Nikon EDIIIA with a 20x eyepiece, and the Nikon seems slightly brighter and has slightly better contrast. There's some CA, but it's unobtrusive, especially in the image center. But then my Nikon is a cherry (it's the best of three we have in the family), and the difference, while quite obvious in a direct comparison, isn't a showstopper.

Compared to the Zeiss 15x60BGAT (the latest model) the 15x60 is a bit better, with slightly higher contrast and better transmission. However, the 20x60S is a lot more versatile in the field because of the stabilizer. I've still got pretty steady hands, but I can't really use the 15x60S for more than a couple of minutes at a time because 15x is a bit much handheld. No problems with the 20x60S, just push the button and enjoy the image ... :-)

The one problem I have with the 20x60S is that to me it's neither fish nor flesh. The magnification isn't enough to replace a scope in the field, and it's too high for watching passerines. What I'd really like to see is a 10x or 12x Zeiss with a stabilizer, not heavier than, say, 1000gr. That would kill *every* other 10x binocular in the field.

One last thought: Having used the Zeiss with its mechanical stabilizer quite a bit, I find it almost impossible to use one of the stabilized Canons anymore. The Zeiss has such a nice, "quiet" and steady image, that I find the quirks introduced by the electronic stabilizer of the Canons highly distracting. So, if someone's thinking about getting a Canon, don't try out the Zeiss ...

Hermann
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Old Sunday 22nd December 2013, 14:15   #11
arran
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Zeiss 20x60

I have been using these superb bins since 1995.
Of course , they are heavy , but when it comes to get detail ,I let my telescope at home , because of the comfort.
Just use them as prescribed , and they will last!
Also superb service from Zeiss Holland to calibarte the stabilisation mechanism again
Was worth the investment
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