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Informal Review of the Zeiss RF 10x42

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Old Wednesday 3rd October 2018, 04:53   #1
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Informal Review of the Zeiss RF 10x42

So I don't hunt, but in the Alaska mountains find quite a bit of use for ranging for distances. I've been using a Zeiss RF 10x42 pictured below until my 10x54 arrives. I carried my Noctivid 8x42 for optical comparisons which I'm wearing in the second picture, but have also used the latest and greatest ranging bins from Swaro and Leica.

First and foremost, there is no compromise optically. Not quite the light transmission as a normal pair of HT's, but the new RF HT resolves with a vengeance. That is very good news because in the ranging market, in 2017 one had to choose between the gorgeous optics of the Swarovski's but with limited electronics; or, get the great electronics of the HD B 3000 Leica but with underwhelming and dark optics. Now you can have both alpha class optics and cutting edge electronics in the Zeiss.

The Zeiss range reading distance and seeing the results is quickest of the latest from Swaro and Leica, with Leica coming in a close second. I did not get to use these on a rifle range unfortunately - but then I didn't buy these to hunt, but I am interested in the ballistic calculators as I went to precision rifle school in another life.

The big and only thing I did not like of the Zeiss was that unlike at least one other company's RF offering, you can not display the temperature even though the unit reads the temperature for ballistic calculations. The yardage and incline/decline is there; but no temperature, and you can't use the menu to get at it (I confirmed this with a U.S. Zeiss representative who had to make a call himself to confirm). I would very much like a temp display in Alaska. Hopefully, Zeiss can address that in a firmware update.

Another big plus for Zeiss is they don't look like modified binoculars like the Swaro's. In order to house the electronics on the Swaro's the engineer designers made the unit appear clumsy, like it had lake-landing skids attached on the bottom. The Zeiss looks just about identical to a pair of HT's unless you know the two flush buttons on the barrel aren't normal. And of course neither the Zeiss or Swaro have the ghastly Perger-Porro Prism configuration of the other wise excellent Leica ranging binoculars.

Here's my ranking by topic.

Optics: With the RF units, a tie between the Zeiss and Swarovski. Neither is as bright as their non electronic counterparts but still transmit plenty of light and are Alpha class as stand-alone optics. Last is certainly the Leica for being too muddy. Entering non RF strictly optical binocular images to the fray, and the Noctivids had arguably the best or most pleasing image over the RF's, but the Noctivid did not resolve any better than the Zeiss RF to my amateur eye. However, when I compared the Noctivids to a standard Zeiss HT when I purchased the Noctivids, the HT just edged out the Leica on image to me. Finally, when looking through the big end of the barrels at a white card with the Noctivids and the Zeiss RF's, the Noctivids give a whiter image than the RF Ziess, although I would expect the HT to win over the Noctivid had I tested it. These differences are slight and nuanced, and in daylight, I think most folks who own Alpha glass would be hard pressed not to be completely satisfied with the Zeiss RF on it's optical chops alone. The electronics in that sense are just an added bonus.

Electronics: 1. Zeiss - faster results, and no data card to fool with to load data (Zeiss transfers data with bluetooth and it works). The Leica and Zeiss have much better maximum range than the Swaro's. Unless it was just due to the surrounding light or an adjustment, the Zeiss were the easiest to read the data, and there were many brightness settings. Maybe I could have dialed the other two in better.

Mechanical: Zeiss had the best focuser of the three and felt solid and controlled at every place of manipulation. Zeiss' battery is also very easy to change. This Zeiss RF however is not the focusing equal of this particular Noctivid.

For the moment, harkening back to the old FL's, the Zeiss are once again the best RF bino solution you can buy.

The 10X54's: Nice to have access to the 10x42's, but looking forward to my own pair of 10x54's. I am buying the 10x54's for easier eye placement over the 10x42's, although it probably won't benefit me in low-light as I'm 58 and am not sure my eyes can dilate to the point where the 54's give me anything extra. I used 7X50 Zeiss Marines in law enforcement, and they were remarkable, and apparently indestructible. My first two years of LE I had a pair of Steiners that literally came apart from use. The Zeiss 7x50's are scuffed here and there, took years of nose dives off the dashboard during acceleration, but optically aren't a bit different from the day they were purchased as far as I can tell. Third picture is the trusty Marines.
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Leica NTV 8X42; UVHD+ 8x42; Zeiss Marines

Last edited by dwever : Wednesday 3rd October 2018 at 15:35.
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Old Wednesday 3rd October 2018, 14:46   #2
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Hi dwever,

Thank you! Very interesting review! You are one of the first to actually use the HT Rf in the field! To me, the quality of construction and ergonomics of the original HT (I have one 10x42) are second to none. Period.
But, comparing my HT with a Noctivid 10x42 las year, I couldn´t see any significant difference in the general view or resultant resolution between them, BUT (a big BUT...) the OUTSTANDING veiling glare control of the Noctivid. That reflected in a very clean and contrasty view in ALL condition I could see then. To me, its biggest virtue and something I didn´t see in another binocular, until now. Rather unique... Can you say anything about that, in your experience?

Thank you, again!


Last edited by PHA : Wednesday 3rd October 2018 at 14:51.
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Old Wednesday 3rd October 2018, 22:04   #3
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Originally Posted by dwever View Post
And of course neither the Zeiss or Swaro have the ghastly Perger-Porro Prism configuration of the other wise excellent Leica ranging binoculars.
As a recent convert to AK prisms, I would expect Pergers to perform just as well. Is the dimness you speak of somehow the result of how Leica fit the ranging electronics into the optical path? I wish they had a plain Perger bino to examine.
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