Originally Posted by Troubador
Just returned from the Bird Fair and can report that the mythical Zeiss HTs do really exist and I have looked through them!
The Fair was really busy and crowded so extended and contemplative viewing and comparing was not possible. I was able to try out a full production 10x42 and a prototype 8x42 with production-specification optics.
The HTs are like FLs but turned up to 12 on the optics and up to 15 on the ergonomics.
Optically (this is for you Brock) they are the Fender Telecaster (thats an electric guitar, possibly the electirc guitar you non-musos) of bins: bright and sharp but capable of yielding the most subtle of nuances. Lets address the question of the high transmission head-on. Checking out a mostly white poster / billboard about 75 metres away my FL 8x42 yielded a characteristically bright image, but through the HTs the white background really was white. Swapping back to my FLs I couldn't believe it but the 'white' was now a subtle shade of the palest grey. Moving to areas in shade I could see more detail with the HTs. I think it is fair to say this benefit will be most beneficial in dull weather or dusk. I find the FLs to be colour-neutral and they are able to register many subtle shades of colour which is useful when I am flower hunting with them. The HTs also reproduced these shade differences accurately so don't worry about the extra brightness washing out the colours.
A bigger step forward is in the area of ergonomics. With the focussing wheel set further down the optical tubes the balance is just perfect. I could hold the 8x42 steady with one hand, something I can't do with the FLs. And no matter how you pick them up the focussing wheel is right there under your fingers. Talking of the focussing wheel the action is delicious, even better than an FL, and is probably due to the wheel being pivoted / supported at both ends instead of just one.
In short the HTs take the FLs further along the same road but with a major improvement in handling.
Was that OK for you Brock?
Other briefs: The new Conquest 32s are brilliant. Tried out the Swaro SW 32s and thought them excellent but not more so than FLs or Ultravid HDs.
Well, it's about time! Thanks for that review, no reflux this time even though I just had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole grain bread.
What you said so far sounds very good, indeed. Zeiss seems to have addressed the "wash out" issue and improved the color fidelity and contrast. Considering they increased the light transmission, that's quite a feat. I wonder how they did that?
The transmission curve would probably tell the story. I saw one on Zeiss's site, but I don't recall if it had any references (that is, where the colors were).
Also good to hear about the ergos. I often have problems holding closed bridge roofs steady, but the high-bar "H" design with the focuser set back farther toward the EPs like the HT appear to be and the way the Pentax 8x36 NV is, gives my fingers more "real estate" to grip.
Could you elaborate on the "deliciousness" of the focuser? Is it faster or slower than the FLs? Some people have complained about the FL's focuser being too loose, that is, not having enough tension and being too fast, that is, turning through the depth of field too fast, which creates an impression of shallow depth.
My other concerns are those already expressed, the distortion level and the edge performance.
Distortion is something that some people can ignore or compensate for with their eyes, but if it's extreme, you will probably detect something "weird going on" when you pan and tilt with the bins.
Too much or too little pincushion can result in a "rolling" effect. Easier to see when there's too much than where there's not enough, because the distortion in your eyes can compensate in the lack of distortion unless you're a "rolling baller" like me. I doubt if that's an issue with the HT. More concerned about them going to far in the other direction.
Edge sharpness is something you should be able comment on with some precision since you have an FL to compare it with. Force your centered eyes to move to the edges while holding the bins still (they will automatically dart to the edges if you look through the bin panning) and compare the two.
Does the HT have the same amount of "fuzziness" at the edges as the FL, less, more?
Can the edges be refocused or not? That will tell you if the "fuzzy edge" is astigmatism or field curvature.
Some field curvature can be a good thing as long as it doesn't drop off steeply, but IMO, astigmatism is always a bad thing and shouldn't be severe at this price point.
Going from a super sharp center to way out of focus edges creates too much disparity for me and is particularly annoying while panning since my eyes dart ahead in the direction I'm panning into the "zone of unknowingness".
Some field curvature at the edges can create better depth perception and 3-D effect, which I like since it makes the view look more natural. Field flatteners are nice for extending the sweet spot, but in my experience, reduce the depth perception.
For example, the 8x30 EII gives me a better impression of depth than the 8x32 SE, not that the SE is "shallow" like some roofs I've tried, but just not quite as 3-D.