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Zeiss 7x42 T* FL / 8X42 T* FL / 10X42 T* FL
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16 42595 Fri November 25, 2016
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Recommended By Average Price Average Rating
94% of reviewers $1,700.00 9.8
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Description: Specifications:
Model: 7x42 8x42 10x42
Magnification 7x 8x 10x
Objective lens mm 42mm 42mm 42mm
Field of View @1000m 150m 135m 110m
Exit Pupil 6mm 5.25mm 4.2mm
Minimum focus 2m 2m 2m
Weight 740g 755g 765g

All models are Nitrogen filled and waterproof.
Eyecups have four click-stop height settings.
Keywords: Zeiss binoculars FLT* 7x42 8x42 10x42



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Andy Bright

Administrator

Registered: August 2002
Location: S.E. England
Posts: 5378
Review Date: Thu July 22, 2004 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Contrast, brightness, weight
Cons: nope, can\'t think of anything at the moment

Testing the 10x42 version.

I can confirm that the FL\'s present a full image to all three spectacle wearers that have used my 10x42\'s so far.... way ahead of the 10x42EL, ahead of the 10x42 Leica Ultravid and someone said marginally better than the Nikon HG\'s. I can\'t begin to comprehend the issues effecting spectacle wearers, so I\'m really not the best person to comment on that.

What I can say is that, to my testers (birders) and myself, the 10x42 FL\'s outperform all the competition in terms of brightness and contrast of image (some achievement when both aspects negate eachother to some extent). Colour neutrality was total, with no colour cast detected by anyone. Sharpness and resolution was as good as anyone had seen in a pair of binos, though it was hard to seperate any of the leading RP binos here.
Everyone mentioned the impressive depth of field.

CA!! o.k., It can still crop up so hasn\'t be eradicated entirely, but the effects are minimal even when trying your very best to find it, one tester couldn\'t find any and he is usually the first to complain about CA My own feeling was that CA was less than that of all other binos I have tried ... including that of the 8X32 Nikon SE\'s (that\'s the only time I\'ll refer to the SE\'s as I\'m just not going to compare across magnifications, others have done that and paid the price). What CA presented itself did not spill over as far and had less of an effect on the subject than other models, this was agreed by all users.

I\'m not going to bother with the meaningless optical performance of the peripheral edge of view, other than to say that the typical edge distortion isn\'t much different to any other bino and doesn\'t have any impact for the real world user.

As for non optical aspects:
There were no major complaints, one tester didn\'t like the feel of the rubber armouring and the grip ridges could\'ve gone up to the eyepieces a bit further (helping grip by the focus wheel) but that was as much as i got in terms of negativity. Everyone liked the large, two finger wide, focus wheel, which had loosened up a bit since i first received the binos. The focus wheel fell easily to the fingers.

The feel of a bino is strictly down to each user, Zeiss seems to have taken the sensible route of not having any thumb recess/stops so no one should have a problem there. The ridged body will be handy for those wearing gloves on cold days.
In fact the whole appearance of the FL\'s seem to conjure up memories of distant Dialyts, certainly an improvement over the previous Victory models.... and someone tell Zeiss we don\'t need any silly triumphant macho names for our binos, FL will do very nicely.

The rapid focussing was liked by all. I must admit that I\'d never lost any sleep over some of the slower focus wheel gearing of my Swaro\' EL\'s, typical birding distances are covered by a 1/4 turn on most binos anyway but I\'m getting the hang of these \'progessive focus\' types, especially handy for tracking birds moving away or towards you. The focus wheel needs only travel from 10 o\'clock to 1 o\'clock to cover almost every situation (5m to miles!)

The novel four position eyecups is a nice touch, I prefer the eye-cup just one click back from full extension. No one had a bad word to say about this feature, all feeling that having variable eyecup settings was a step forward in getting more people a perfect view... even if they have the facial features of a Klingon

Dipotre adjustment (Yawn) was fairly typical, a central click stop but infinite positions +/- 4dpt.

All the rest is pretty much specs that you can read anywhere, weight and all that.

In conclusion, these 10x FL\'s do seem to be top of the 10x pile at the moment but there\'s no huge leap in optical quality from the competitors... high end binos just aren\'t like that, there\'s no quantum leaps to be made... even when CA vanishes altogether it won\'t be a massive progression to most as it\'s just not a problem for most users now.
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Ben O
Registered User

Registered: October 2002
Location: Croydon
Posts: 198
Review Date: Wed November 10, 2004 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Quality of image, weight,
Cons: price, but comparable with competition

The best binocular bar none for this birder. I have purchased the 8x42 FL and tested all serious competitor products thoroughly before parting with my money. Previous binos were the Leica 8x42BN.

Staggeringly sharp, amazingly bright, perfectly neutral colour and a vivid high contrast image that beat all the other binos, even the Leica ultravids. My old Leica BN\'s just don\'t compare, looking dull and flat compared to the FL.

Focus wheel just the right size and friction is spot on for my needs, very smooth with no slack.

Nice grips on the body will be a boon in cold weather wearing thick gloves. Durable looking armour.

Highly recommended if you are looking for the very best image of the bird, but excellence doesn\'t come cheap.
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Leif
Registered Member

Registered: March 2003
Posts: 2959
Review Date: Wed February 23, 2005 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Light, well built, good ergonomics, superb optics
Cons: Not a lot, except price and slight edge softness.

Introduction
The Zeiss FL range is Zeiss\\\'s latest attempt to conquer the premium binocular market. Priced at the top end of the market, it is intended to compete head to head with offerings from Leica, Nikon and Swarovski. The 7x42, 8x42 and 10x42, FL continue the Zeiss tradition of using Abbe-Koenig prisms with higher transmission than the more usual Schmidt-Pechan prisms. Another unusual feature, and the origin of the FL name, is the use of triplet objectives with an element of fluoride glass. Zeiss claims that this significantly reduces colour fringing. The optics are of course fully multi-coated (T*) and the prisms are phase coated (P*).


Build and Design
The Zeiss 8x42 FL has a typical roof prism binocular shape consisting of two parallel optical assemblies connected by a central hinge. The optical assemblies are tapered, being broader at the objective end and, unlike many competing instruments, do not have thumb indents. The binocular is almost entirely covered in black rubber armour with a matt texture: it is high quality and very pleasant to the touch.

The large rubber armoured focus wheel is situated between and slightly in front of the eyepieces. It can be accessed from above, in the normal manner, or held between thumb and forefinger for making fine adjustments. The wheel turns smoothly with no perceptible backlash or stiffness, and is highly geared for a rapid focus. The high gearing might trouble some people, though I found that I soon got used to it, and appreciated the speed with which I could lock on to a bird.

The dioptre adjustment is achieved by pulling out the focus wheel, then turning until the required setting is achieved. Zeiss claim an adjustment range of +/- 4 dioptres. There\\\'s not a lot to say except that it works.

The eye tubes screw in and screw out and have four positions including two intermediate ones. The eye tubes are, like much of the internal structure, made from a composite material. For comfort the ends are covered with rubber. They work well.

It is worth noting that the strap lugs are well placed, since a common criticism of the original Victory range was that the strap lugs dug in to the sides of the hands.

Weighing in at 755g the binocular is one of the lightest in its class.

The binocular is waterproof and filled with nitrogen to prevent internal fogging.

According to Zeiss the internals are made from a combination of metal and a composite described as fibre-reinforced polyamide. Although some people might question the use of plastics (or, as Zeiss might say, advanced polymers), there\\\'s no doubt that it provides strength whilst keeping weight to a minimum. The only negative aspect, in my opinion, is the central hinge covering, which seems to be made from high-density polyethylene, and to my eyes it looks slightly cheap in contrast to the rest of the instrument.

Accessories
The binocular is supplied with a very good neoprene strap, a rain guard for the eyepieces, excellent removable objective caps and a very good holster case with strap. The presence of a strap on the case is a welcome change from the norm.

Optics
The binocular provides a superb image, which in many ways, but not all, surpasses any other binocular I have tried. The field of view is class leading at 135m at a distance of 1km. On axis, sharpness and contrast are excellent and even with my eyeglasses on the image has that \\\"with your own eyes\\\" feel characteristic of the best optics.

On-axis colour fringing is absent. There is a trace of off-axis chromatic aberration in high contrast situations but it is negligible and probably will not even be noticed by many users.

There is a trace of pincushion distortion at the edges of the field, sometimes noticeable when panning, but it is not significant, and I do not notice it in normal use.

There is some off-axis softness which starts to appear at about 60% from the axis, and gradually increases until the edge where the image is mediocre. This is perhaps the only (minor) weakness in the optics. Although re-focussing can recover some sharpness, most of the softness is from aberrations other than field curvature.

Flare is, as with most if not all premium binoculars, extremely well controlled, and was not a problem. Ghosting was not seen. I saw no obvious colour cast, though I am very poor at seeing a colour cast.

Eye relief, which is of particular importance to eyeglass wearers, is generous at 17mm, and I found that I could view the whole field of view while wearing eyeglasses. (Eyeglass wearers should check for themselves, as there are wide variations in eyeglass frames and individual facial features. I have small frames that sit close to my eyes, and I do not have sunken eyes, all of which help with viewing through a binocular.)

Comparison with other instruments
I own a Zeiss 8x42 FL, a Nikon 8x32 SE and a Swarovski 8.5x42 EL and was able to do some side by side comparisons.

The Swarovski 8.5x42 is quite rightly a best seller, with superb ergonomics and build quality, and excellent, but not in my opinion class leading, optics. It has slightly higher resolution than the Zeiss, consistent with the higher magnification and it has slightly better off-axis sharpness. However, it has slightly lower contrast, and in high contrast situations noticeable chromatic aberration, even on axis. In my highly subjective opinion the Zeiss provides an overall image that is one step above the Swarovski, though the Swarovski is nevertheless a fine instrument. Of course some people might disagree with my conclusions.

The Nikon 8x32 SE is in my opinion one of the finest 8x glasses in existence. It has superb sharpness and contrast, roughly on a par with the Zeiss. However, the Nikon also has almost no distortion, almost edge-to-edge sharpness, and an almost completely flat field. There is some chromatic aberration, both on and off axis, in high contrast situations, though it is minor, and can usually be ignored. The Nikon has in many respects slightly better optics than the Zeiss, but it is not waterproof, the image is not as bright in low light, the on-axis image is not quite as good, the folding rubber eye tubes are less convenient and the small focus wheel can be rather stiff in cold weather. Overall the Nikon is a superb instrument and at about half the price of the Zeiss it is a bargain, albeit one that is less rugged and convenient. However, as discussions on Bird Forumhave shown, the SE is surprisingly rugged, and if treated with a little care, should last many years without any problems.

Discussion
Overall I think that Zeiss have done an exceptional job. The use of fluoride glass is a definite innovation in premium birding binoculars and does exactly what Zeiss claim: in my opinion the one problem with most roof prism binoculars is excessive chromatic aberration, and in the FL Zeiss have overcome this issue. I was pleasantly surprised at the high contrast and the excellent sharpness. I was less impressed with the off-axis sharpness, which though very good, does not match that of the best competing instruments. The Zeiss FL has excellent ergonomics and I found little to fault. The armour is good quality, and has a pleasingly soft texture. The eye tubes, with intermediate positions are a welcome innovation. The smooth backlash free focus wheel is extremely well placed, and easy to use. Some might consider the focus too coarse, but the high gearing allows rapid acquisition of fast moving objects, whilst the smoothness and absence of backlash allow for fine adjustment. The binocular is waterproof and I can testify to this fact having on numerous occasions been caught in torrential rain. In many respects Zeiss have borrowed the best features of other instruments, and then added a few of their own (triplet objectives, multi-position eye tubes). I have already heard that one other manufacturer has introduced a roof prism binocular with triplet objectives. I suspect they will not be the last.

Conclusion
If you are looking for a premium waterproof binocular, and have the cash, then I reckon that you should take a look at the Zeiss FL range.

Comment added 28 March 2005:
After using a Zeiss 8x42 FL for 6 months, I remain as impressed as ever with the optics. Compared side by side, colours through my Nikon 8x32 SE seem slightly but noticeably subdued, whilst colours through the FL have more clarity and vibrancy, due no doubt to the better colour correction. Combined with the high contrast the result is an incredibly natural and bright image. The slight distortion is, for me anyway, a non issue. The slight off-axis softening is sometimes noticeable when birding, but is a minor irritation rather than a flaw. It is however more obvious when using the binocular on the night sky, presumably because the eye is more likely to explore the field when viewing stars. In terms of ergonomics, I have become more accustomed to the fast but sensitive focus, and would not go back to a slower version.
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ropaled
Registered User

Registered: February 2005
Location: Leicestershire
Posts: 14
Review Date: Mon February 28, 2005 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Exceed expectations in every way.
Cons: can there be any further improvement or are these the ultimate?

Cannot better other peoples comments which are spot on!! These binos are the biz!!
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Swissboy

Registered User

Registered: December 2003
Location: Sempach, Switzerland
Posts: 3791
Review Date: Sun November 20, 2005 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: great very bright and contrasty views
Cons: a minor irritation to me are the ridges

I can only second what has been posted here. My own model being the 8x42. Two exceptions to a minor degree: There is still a bit of flare under very critical conditions. And, personally, I\'d have preferred much smaller ridges. They give me some irritation in normal use (i.e. without gloves). But then, the ridges on the Leica Trinovids irritated me to the point where I tried to reduce them. An attempt that lead to more instead of less irritation.

Being accustomed to a 8x32, I still need to become really comfortable with the larger size and weight. But that is not the fault of the FLs, as the other x42s would necessitate even more getting accustomed to.

------------------------------
Robert
--PS: That's a Sooty Falcon on the avatar, photo taken near Sharm el Sheik, Egypt. My highest priority raptor at the time.
What's your species on the avatar? I often have no clue
!
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skyshrink
Registered User

Registered: February 2007
Location: Reno
Posts: 2
Review Date: Thu February 22, 2007 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Brightness, sharpness, easy to use with eye glasses
Cons: none I can find

My previous binocs was a pair of the Zeiss 10x40 vintage from the late 80\'s. My wife has used a pair of the Zeiss Classic 7x42\'s so I\'m familiar with the qualities of that fine binocular.

When I decided to upgrade, I followed the advice of a friend and decided to get the 8x42\'s instead of the larger size. I\'ve been continually astonished with the brightness, sharpness and ease of use with my eye glasses. (Previously, I had to remove my glasses before using my binocs for best results.)


Best indication of their quality....I spent last winter on an RV birding caravan in Belize. From time to time, I\'d loan my binocs to some of the bird guides we were using here and there. Universally, their very first comment after taking their first look...\"WOW!\"
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KorHaan

Forum Member

Registered: December 2006
Location: Hilversum, The Netherlands
Posts: 1235
Review Date: Thu April 5, 2007 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: very wide, relaxed panoramic view, brightness
Cons: none

I\'ve got the 7x42 FL\'s for just over a year now, and I\'m as pleased with them now as I was on the day I bought them.

I never experienced a more relaxed view than with this panoramic wonder; I deliberately made my choice on a 7x mag and I was right doing so. Good steady handholding and exceptional sharpness, brightness and resolution they are just a joy on the eyes. I wear specs and could effortlessly see the 150 meter field the bins provide. Just great!

Swapped bins with other birders in the field, all with other high-end binoculars, and they all went \"WOW!\" and \"GREAT\" looking through the FL\'s, and I went \"Not bad\" and \"Nice view\", looking through theirs. That\'s how great they are, as an all round bin they can\'t be bettered IMO.

Low light performance is outstanding, they keep me birding well into dusk and they are excellent for owling.

They are quite big, yet surprisingly lightweight, with a firm grip on the barrels and good balance, for me personally.

They are expensive, but will last a long time so they\'re a good investment.

Greetings, Ronald Sinoo
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Richard189

Wildlife photographer

Registered: June 2008
Location: Lancashire
Posts: 53
Review Date: Wed June 4, 2008 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: FL
Cons: None

great bins for birding very brigt and sharp and do reccomend the product i use the 7x42
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kwikstaart
Registered User

Registered: January 2008
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 106
Review Date: Mon December 15, 2008 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: $1,700.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharpness, brightness, look and feel
Cons: focus knob less smooth

Recently I traded my Nikon HG L 10x2 for this Zeiss Victory FL 10x 2 (LoTutec): it's just a tad sharper, especially further away, brighter and clearer. The Nikon was very good but now I wanted the best: all colour shades are very clear. uptill now I believe this is the best you can get for a "reasonable" price, at least much cheaper than Leica or Swaorvski. The new Nikon EDG is not yet available in Europe. The objective lens covers are nice to use and the Lotutec serves very very well. But: the viewing is what this is all about. One recognizes the "zeiss image" immediatley: razorsharp and very bright, no flare or chr. aberration. The only minors are the focus knob: I wish it was as perfectley smooth as my late Nikon (but perhaps the knob has to be used a lot to let it work better). My second minor is: the neckstrap feels very nice but the cords are way to long! For the rest: this is my binocular for the next 10 years at least!! You really have to try them if you are in for a high end bino!

------------------------------
Have a good twitch today,
Marijn
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JohnJos

Registered User

Registered: August 2007
Location: Haddonfield, NJ
Posts: 677
Review Date: Sat December 20, 2008 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: the perfect view
Cons: none except price

A beautiful instrument; I love everything about it.

------------------------------
~ John
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spyglass
Djoo c it? Wut wuzit?

Registered: December 2004
Location: OKC
Posts: 409
Review Date: Sun October 11, 2009 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Everything (save the diopter adj)
Cons: see above

I have both the 7x42 and 10x56....both give as good a view thru glass (or flouite crystal, if ya wanna get techy) as is available. I've cut my inventory of handhelds to these, 2 SE's, and the new Custom Elite for a compact. I can't improve on any magnification, so I'm finally done purchasing binos.

------------------------------
Reformed optics junky....finally
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xfrostx
Forum Member

Registered: May 2010
Location: London
Posts: 78
Review Date: Sun August 7, 2011 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Price, centre sharpness, lightweight, interesting poly build
Cons: Edge to edge sharpness

I have had a chance to use: 7x42, 8x42, 10x56 and I have to say I am amazed at the results. These bins are one of the best ones out there, maybe with Swarovski SV beating them. Center sharpness is amazing, although at the edges I would say they are worse than ultravids or old Els. Overall I'm giving them 9/10 just because of the ok-ish edge sharpness.
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KorHaan

Forum Member

Registered: December 2006
Location: Hilversum, The Netherlands
Posts: 1235
Review Date: Thu August 11, 2011 Would you recommend the product? No | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 

 
Pros:
Cons: the diopter adjustment

I've sold my 7x42 FL's by the end of 2007.

The diopter adjustment system is flawed by design.
There's only one clickstop, on the "0" position, and any diopter position other than "0" did not hold its position when I changed the IPD by using the hinge.

I've experienced more such bad designs in combined focus wheel/diopter systems, and I prefer a completely separated focusing and diopter design, latter being on the right or left ocular.

Best regards,

Ronald Sinoo
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kwikstaart
Registered User

Registered: January 2008
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 106
Review Date: Thu March 29, 2012 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 

 
Pros:
Cons:

After about 4 years (and not 10 as I hoped ;-)) I traded this one in for a new Nikon EDG (II) 8x42). Please see my review over there. In short: richer colors (Zeiss almost too bright, too white), sahrper, handling, focusknow.

------------------------------
Have a good twitch today,
Marijn
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Buff1ehead

Registered User

Registered: September 2012
Location: San Juan Archipelago
Posts: 17
Review Date: Thu May 2, 2013 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: bright, sharp, amazing FOV
Cons: Had to return for service due to fogging

I took these bins on a multi-week sea kayak expedition in Baja, and they fogged upon my return to the states. I sent them back to Zeiss, and they were refurbished and returned within two weeks in marvelous condition.

I teach natural history courses at the university level, so I used my old Zeiss Night Owl 8x56 bins during the interim when the 7x42s were out for service. Until then I didn't realize how much I'd come to love the 7x42s, especially when inside forested biomes. It wasn't just about the weight; I find the 7x magnification far superior to 8x in terms of depth of field, field of view, and steadiness. I was missing small insectivors in dense cover with the 8x that I'm certain I could have followed with the 7x.

None of the alpha bin manufacturers is currently offering a 7x, and I think this is a mistake. Watching to see who will step up to fill the void.
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