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Zeiss New Product Development and How SF Binoculars Were Created

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Old Wednesday 13th February 2019, 07:00   #26
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Hi Lee,

thanks for a great interview - it shows that a great product is not only designed by ingenious engineers but also needs a product manager thinking of, writing down and getting approved the correct specifications.

Unfortunately Dr. Konrad Seil, the optical mastermind behind the Zeiss SF and Swaro EL will not design more optics in this world since he passed away on Mar 3rd 2012.

Joachim
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Thanks for your post. And double thanks for mentioning Konnie Seil's passing. I know Gerry Dobler will not mind me mentioning that he misses Konnie deeply which is why he insisted that he (and others) was mentioned in the article. Gerry knew Konnie from his time at Swarovski when they worked together on the EL and developed a 'once in a lifetime' relationship and way of working together. When Konnie went freelance and became available just when Richard Schmidt gave the call to Gerry to create something radical for birders, it seemed like it was 'meant' to be, that they should work together again, with pretty much exactly the same remit as was given to them when they collaborated on the original Swarovski EL.

Lee
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Old Sunday 17th February 2019, 18:40   #27
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What I don't understand with Zeiss is that they seem to consider Binoculars "consumer" products only today. So they focus on birders. That's okay, we are right here at Birdforum.
But wouldn't it be better to just bring the classic top "instrument" flavor back to them, this scientific, military, seafarer hunter and such "pro" appeal? Make them just "eternal" top instruments -the best there can be- and not so fancy changing the designs every other year. It would be okay to upgrade coatings and glass types and keep or just slightly modify the design. I would prefer more classic looks again.
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Old Monday 18th February 2019, 06:56   #28
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Originally Posted by Sebzwo View Post
What I don't understand with Zeiss is that they seem to consider Binoculars "consumer" products only today. So they focus on birders. That's okay, we are right here at Birdforum.
But wouldn't it be better to just bring the classic top "instrument" flavor back to them, this scientific, military, seafarer hunter and such "pro" appeal? Make them just "eternal" top instruments -the best there can be- and not so fancy changing the designs every other year. It would be okay to upgrade coatings and glass types and keep or just slightly modify the design. I would prefer more classic looks again.
Sebzwo

If I understand your post correctly it seems that you feel that Zeiss focus only on birders and design binoculars as changeable 'fashion' items for them and that you would prefer a more traditional approach that provides consistent quality and appearance.

I think you are forgetting the HT binos that were designed with hunters in mind as were the new rangefinder binos introduced quite recently. So I don't think it is really true that Zeiss have only focused on birders.

And I have always thought that HTs are a more traditional 'classic' design but clearly they can't have been selling enough because the 42mm models have been discontinued, although the 54mm models are still with us.

I am wondering if you saw the SF change from grey armour to black as simply a fashionable colour change. My take on that is that the market did not react well to the grey colour (there were occasional complaints that it stained) and so Zeiss returned to a more traditional and conservative black, which I would have thought would be more in keeping with your tastes.

So, going back in history, when Richard Schmidt asked Dobler to design a new kind of bino for birders it was because Zeiss already had a bino for hunters, the more traditional-looking HT, and he wanted to cater to both kinds of bino users.

Is there a Zeiss bino from the past that has a style that you would prefer to the SF or HT?

Lee

Last edited by Troubador : Monday 18th February 2019 at 11:12.
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Old Wednesday 20th February 2019, 22:26   #29
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Hi Lee,

I read your fascinating result of more discussions with Gerold Dobler today* Thanks for this! I just wrote in a german speaking Bino Forum:

"Reinhard, take a look at the Zeiss 8x32 FL. I had the 8x42 SF at home with 6 other 8x42 glasses for a comparison review and was already thinking about buying such a SF, because I liked it so much, compared to the others. Then all 8x42 were gone again and I looked "inevitably" through my "ancient" 8x32 FL ... And I thought to myself: Maybe I should buy another one, in case it will be discontinued. I stick with it, 8x32 FL and 10x32 FL are great."

In my opinion the FL series is/was fascinating. Both SF glasses, available so far, are terrific. And don't forget the wonderful Harpia scope! Last Sunday a very experienced guy (he was at Galapapos islands, in South America, etc, for long years) compared the Harpia 95 with the ATX 95. He finally decided for the Harpia. Scope highlight of the day: a bittern over a distance of about 1000 meters at Ammersee.

*My wife and me and many, many others worked voluntary, but very hard for a referendum for protection of the biodiversity here in Bavaria. Now I have time to read forums again.
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Old Thursday 21st February 2019, 06:17   #30
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Thanks OhWeh! I too, have an FL 8x32 and it is a great bino.

Lee
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Old Thursday 21st February 2019, 07:12   #31
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Sebzwo, post 27,
Zeiss used to focus for a long time on the hunting market with regard to binocular production and design. With Dobler certainly more focus came on birders. However a fairly large part of the production is not made anymore in Germany: the Conquests in Japan, the Terras in China, the 25 mm Victory Pockets in Japan. And as far as I know the company had a considerable loss in sales in 2018, so things are not going to well for Zeiss in my opinion despite the excellent SF and excellent HT range finders and the Harpia telescope.
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Old Friday 22nd February 2019, 16:25   #32
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What I miss at Zeiss are more classic models. Like the Dialyt (updated) or maybe even the old "Jahrhundertglas" (century bin) 10x50 Porro or some 8x60 and such. Maybe even exots like Nikon did once with their Mikron oldtimer reedition. Maybe the legendary, revolving Admiral Togo for starters?

Not so long ago I looked for binos for myself. While I like Zeiss I could not find anything that fitted me. Some conquest HD is very nice but I don't buy japanese binoculars branded as "Zeiss". I'd buy Kamakura right away or maybe Fuji or Nikon etc.

For me I ended up with some Docter (Jena/actually built at Eisfeld) Nobilem 10x50 and some Carl Zeiss Jena (Eisfeld) EDF 7x40. Both very nice and both have some sort of history to tell and are great bins to use and keep.

For the future people would certainly like some connection from their mobile phone to the binocular, to take some picture of what they have seen and to share it. If the bino itself remains usable without power all the time that would be okay even to me. Birders are a good market for sure. But where is the new "mountain walking" binocular, "the" perfect maritime one, the sports stadium one, the "light one" for ladies, the maxed out light for wildlife at night observation etc. if consumers are the target of today?

I like the HT for using their Abbe-König lens system. The small FL have Schmidt-Pechan lenses. This is why I'd bring back the 7x42 FL (AK).

Last edited by Sebzwo : Saturday 23rd February 2019 at 15:14.
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Old Monday 25th February 2019, 04:29   #33
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What I miss at Zeiss are more classic models. Like the Dialyt (updated) or maybe even the old "Jahrhundertglas" (century bin) 10x50 Porro or some 8x60 and such.
Yes, this is the other direction one could go, back to the past... I had my father's 10x50 (presumably early 1960s) for a while before I finally got seduced by roof prisms, and would love to see how much it could be improved with better oculars and coatings today. But it wouldn't be inexpensive, and how many would really buy it? Leica actually announced updated versions of their classic Trinovids some time ago, but those still haven't appeared. One can imagine the internal debate.

Are those Nobilems still made? I never got a chance to try one.
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Old Monday 25th February 2019, 21:42   #34
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Yes, this is the other direction one could go, back to the past... I had my father's 10x50 (presumably early 1960s) for a while before I finally got seduced by roof prisms, and would love to see how much it could be improved with better oculars and coatings today. But it wouldn't be inexpensive, and how many would really buy it? Leica actually announced updated versions of their classic Trinovids some time ago, but those still haven't appeared. One can imagine the internal debate.

Are those Nobilems still made? I never got a chance to try one.
Docter is no longer making binoculars, since a couple of years ago.

I had the Nobilem 15x60 which is a very good porro prism binocular.
I am not sure if anyone else is going to carry this one on.

Jerry
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Old Saturday 9th March 2019, 19:02   #35
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I just acquired a 10x42 sf recently and it is indeed a very special binocular. The balance and focus wheel position cannot be overlooked. I originally wanted the Zeiss ht because I had one last year and sold it. I have missed the transparent view of the Zeiss ht but I can say the Zeiss sf has that same transparency and also a much better field of view. Thanks for such a wonderful binocular to all that were involved.

Rob
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Old Thursday 28th March 2019, 20:22   #36
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Quality issues

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Originally Posted by Gijs van Ginkel View Post
………….. And as far as I know the company had a considerable loss in sales in 2018, so things are not going to well for Zeiss in my opinion despite the excellent SF and excellent HT range finders and the Harpia telescope.
Gijs van Ginkel
I think there might well be another reason that Zeiss is not doing so well economically. It's quality issues. Not in the optics parts, but in the rest of their products. Just some examples: It started out with the Victory 10x40 with an armouring that began to look worn after a rather short time. I know of several cases of dirt inclusions in the optical path, also after repairs. And my FL 8x42, which I actually cherish for its optics, keeps having problems with the focus becoming too loose. I love the butter smooth movement, and it is critical to maintain that without having the focus moving on its own. Particularly when conditions are warm/hot. Yet, it should be possible to adjust it such that it lasts. A particularly sad thing on my FL 8x42 is the armouring. It began to develop a blister at the place where I place my left thumb. Zeiss was good in doing the repairs under warranty and within just about two weeks. Meanwhile, the replaced armouring became loose on the top, a thing that I think would be unknown for the major competitors. But most of all, when I checked whether I could fix the problem myself, I realized that there were simple sticky tapes that held the armouring to the body. And the glue on those tapes had become semi liquid. So definitely no way to fix the issue myself. It eludes me how a top company can use an aging glue on their product. The original replacement was done in 2011, so barely 8 years before the job needs to be redone. Meanwhile, my binoculars have been at Zeiss for almost 5 weeks, and it took them about four weeks just to tell me that the repairs would no longer be on warranty. It's clear that under such conditions, one looks at the competition for potential replacements.
It had been mentioned earlier that Zeiss seems to lack a corporate style. I think they want to show that they have a completely different product when they come up with a new model. However, any new model is prone to have some issues at the onset. Leica had it with the focus on the Ultravids, and Swarovski had some issues with the early ELs. But in both cases, the companies worked on improvements without coming up with a completely changed model. And in both cases, the issues have strengthened the quality in the long run. Zeiss, however, is prone to run into issues with each new design, leaving the impression of a questionable quality standard.
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Old Friday 29th March 2019, 10:25   #37
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Swissboy, all top brands have armour coming loose on their top models: I've seen many ultravid, EL with loose rubber or bulbs.

there are some models / brands that have this problem less, however. I wonder if it has anything to do with the way the rubber is shaped and placed on the binocular, e.g. if there is a smaller number of rubber parts, it's better. It will also have something to do with the glue, and the way you treat them: if they are in the basking sun, heat will do it's work.

It's true that the FL design is not the best in order not to have loose rubber armour: the objectives each have a separate piece of rubber separate from the main body rubber. E.g. a Trinovid has one big piece of rubber that seems to be designed to fit like a glove and probably is holding just by the pressure of the rubber on the body.

So to resume: Zeiss could have done a better job designing the rubber armour and the glue / adhesive for the FL. I reckon this is already better in e.g. the HT model (the design, that is). But Zeiss has no exclusivity among the top brands for experiencing loose rubber. It seems though that even if you treat your FL well (not in the sun, not too much moist), the rubber will loosen sooner or later. I have already send them in for this and I can still push on the rubber a bit where my thumbs are. I leave it like that for now as I don't feel they will fix it better than it is now.
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Old Friday 29th March 2019, 13:03   #38
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Swissboy, all top brands have armour coming loose on their top models: I've seen many ultravid, EL with loose rubber or bulbs.
This is correct and it should be remembered that rubber armour is not meant to be permanently attached, it is necessary for it to be removeable at any time in order that repairs and service can take place.

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Old Friday 29th March 2019, 17:38   #39
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re-attaching rubber armor

To re-attach rubber armor, first remove residues with ethanol, then use VHB adhesive transfer film.

Here is the type that I use: https://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/company-...3241823&rt=rud

In my opinion, this is among the greatest products and technologies of all time.

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Old Friday 29th March 2019, 18:39   #40
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A tiny dab of gorilla glue [or the like] has / will secure[d] loose armour on my old Elite for years and years.

To me, loose armour is just a fact, when dealing with massive temps swings, wet / dry and years of wear and tear. The rubber is bound to stretch and shrink and loosen here and there. Chronically poor focus mechanisms, though, seem to be treated here as ever more trivial for some reason.
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Old Friday 5th April 2019, 20:16   #41
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Really awesome post. A fascinating insight into the process of bringing a legendary binocular to the market.
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Old Wednesday 10th April 2019, 13:33   #42
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Originally Posted by Troubador View Post
Is there a Zeiss bino from the past that has a style that you would prefer to the SF or HT?
The 10x50, the 8x50 and especially the 8x30B - the old porro range, with modern coatings and glass types ...

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Old Saturday 13th April 2019, 11:12   #43
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Hi,

Having hada the FL and HT '42 binoculars, the ONLY thing I don't like (and don't understand why Zeiss
couldn't take care addecuately when designed the HT if it were aimed to hunters), is the veiling claire control...!!!
Otherwise, the HT 42 would be THE PERFECT binocular to me!
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Old Saturday 13th April 2019, 19:09   #44
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Sorry for my writing! I did it from my cel phone....
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Old Tuesday 16th April 2019, 02:00   #45
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Hi,

Having hada the FL and HT '42 binoculars, the ONLY thing I don't like (and don't understand why Zeiss
couldn't take care addecuately when designed the HT if it were aimed to hunters), is the veiling claire control...!!!
Otherwise, the HT 42 would be THE PERFECT binocular to me!
The ergos. of the FL were superior to the HT. I thought the HT was quite
different and hard to hold, I only handled one once, and I could not figure
out what finger to use to focus. That was awkward, not good.

And I do know how to handle a binocular.

Jerry
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Old Tuesday 16th April 2019, 02:13   #46
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Hi,

Having hada the FL and HT '42 binoculars, the ONLY thing I don't like (and don't understand why Zeiss
couldn't take care addecuately when designed the HT if it were aimed to hunters), is the veiling claire control...!!!
Otherwise, the HT 42 would be THE PERFECT binocular to me!
Thanks for mentioning, for the 20th time. This is how the urban legend is formed - repetition, repetition, repetition.

99% of us HT users do not have your problem - maybe it's just you or maybe your unit is flawed? My HT is the best at dealing with stray light of any bino in my collection....there are more than enough user reviews that echo that to assume your experience is an outlier and not typical.
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Last edited by james holdsworth : Tuesday 16th April 2019 at 02:17.
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Old Tuesday 16th April 2019, 08:18   #47
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The ergos. of the FL were superior to the HT. I thought the HT was quite
different and hard to hold, I only handled one once, and I could not figure
out what finger to use to focus. That was awkward, not good.

And I do know how to handle a binocular.

Jerry
Wow Jerry, and I thought the HT handling was at least as big an improvement as the optics compared with FL.

Lee
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Old Tuesday 16th April 2019, 10:01   #48
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I too, disliked the HT handling, having been used to a smaller 8x32 FL. But when I tested the SF of a friend in Shetland ( x10 ) it suited me well. Also, being a dedicated x8 user, the image in at dusk watching a hunting otter was impressive. I ended up with a black x8 SF.......no regrets.
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Old Tuesday 16th April 2019, 17:16   #49
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Hi,

James, it is not my "impression" this veiling glare (not stray light or internal reflections) issue in the HT. As much as I like mines, the veiling glare IS a big issue in difficult light conditions. Period! Compared, side by side, with A Leica Noctivid the difference is OUTSTANDING!!!! Even, side by side with my Habicht 10x40 W GA, this Swarovski is better on this. I said many times, this is the ONLY negative observation I make about the Zeiss HT 42s. The ergonomic is, to me, PERFECT. Having had the FL 10x42 the improvement is very big!

Best!

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Old Saturday 20th April 2019, 23:57   #50
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Late to the game but I have enjoyed this topic.
Thanks, Lee.
Wish the SF was made in higher powers.
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