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Iconic Leitz/Leica rivals to Zeiss Dialyt 7x42B/GA T* (P/P*)? (1 Viewer)

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
While confined to the house for a while I've been looking out from the windows watching the antics of young squirrels as well as blackbirds - the blackbirds seem to like holly berries: one wrenches them off while the other flits to and fro not far away in the background on the same tree.

To hand have been a modern Leica Ultravid 7x42 HD Plus but also the old Zeiss Dialyt 7x42 BG/AT*P*. These two are quite different in design, size, and appearance but share that easy open view - the Zeiss a bit wider but I don't notice that much of the time. They both give a view that I appreciate a lot. Which all set me wondering: would it be fair to say the latter was THE birdwatching glass of the 80s/90s/early 00s?

In which case what was the contemporary competition from Leitz/Leica? Not necessarily a 7x42 but what was their 'must have' glass of the time - and it might have changed over that approx. two decade-long period?

Some searches on the internet have not been very informative; there seems a lot more discussion unless I am mistaken about the BG/A T* (P/P*) / ClassiC than on anything else, or at least that is the glass that gets near-universal acclaim.

I'd be interested to hear from forum members, especially in these times with retro Trinovids appearing.

Tom
 
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Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
...Which all set me wondering: would it be fair to say the latter was THE birdwatching glass of the 80s/90s/early 00s?...

I think that in the USA, for most of that period, _the_ birding glass (among elite birders, anyway) was the Zeiss 10x40 BGATP. The Zeiss 7x42 BGATP gained appeal later on, and had gathered much acclaim from warbler watchers by the mid 90s. The Leica 8x42 and 10x42 Trinovid Ultra also gained ground in the very late 80s and beyond, as did the B&L 8x42 and 10x42 Elite (original version). Swarovski came on with 7x42 and 10x40 SLC by the mid 90s. By the early 00s you are transitioning into Zeiss FL, Leica Ultravid, and Swarovski EL emergence. These are my rough recollections, unassisted by digging through my files to recall exactly when various models were introduced.

--AP
 

Pinewood

New York correspondent
United States
Hello Tom,

I have the Leica 7x42 BA and I find it to be inferior to the Zeiss 7x42 BGAT*P. The Zeiss has a wider field ad better edge sharpness. Although the Leica is more compact, the Zeiss has very nice handling and a touch of stereopsis because of the Abbe Kōnig prisms. I would guess that the Zeiss has better control of chromatic aberration because of the longer focal length.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur Pinwood :hi:
 

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
I think that in the USA, for most of that period, _the_ birding glass (among elite birders, anyway) was the Zeiss 10x40 BGATP. The Zeiss 7x42 BGATP gained appeal later on, and had gathered much acclaim from warbler watchers by the mid 90s. The Leica 8x42 and 10x42 Trinovid Ultra also gained ground in the very late 80s and beyond, as did the B&L 8x42 and 10x42 Elite (original version). Swarovski came on with 7x42 and 10x40 SLC by the mid 90s. By the early 00s you are transitioning into Zeiss FL, Leica Ultravid, and Swarovski EL emergence. These are my rough recollections, unassisted by digging through my files to recall exactly when various models were introduced.

--AP

Hi Alexis, based on what you've written I took a look at the 10x40 BG/ATP and the Trinovid Ultras. Got the impression that the 7x42 BG/ATP was in a league above the (earlier?) 10x40. Thank you; what you posted was enough to satisfy my curiosity.

Talking of 'Swarovski came on with 7x42 and 10x42 SLC by the mid 90s', the current updated version of the SLC 10x42, i.e. the HD version, gets a very good review indeed from Roger Vine at Scope Views, which gives a daytime or birder's perspective as well as a stargazer's: http://www.scopeviews.co.uk/Swaro10x42SLCHD.htm

At the moment the Ultravid HD pluses have been great companions and I have found their colour 'production' is very pleasing when for instance you see a bird or other animal on an old tiled roof or old stonework - the colours of the structures really benefit from the reddish brown tones in the sunlight.

I would hazard that the colours are even more saturated in the 8x32 than the brighter 7x42 model, or that's the way I see it.

Don't think I really want to add any older classic pieces but am very happy I got a 7x42 B/GATP early on in well used but good care condition.

All the best,

Tom
 

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
By the early 00s you are transitioning into Zeiss FL, Leica Ultravid, and Swarovski EL emergence.
--AP

I often get the impression that a lot of knowledgeable birders would be happy if this had stayed as the still current range. Certainly the FL offerings are lamented as the last of classic Zeiss (personally I am not having a dig at more recent releases) while the Ultravids and ELs have each had updates to keep them feeling 'latest'. The remaining FLs (x32s) are regularly mentioned as probably still being kept as there isn't that much they need in improvement.

I'm not a knowledgeable birder but have enjoyed making a start whenever out walking or with a moment to spare to observe from close to home.

Tom
 
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SeldomPerched

Well-known member
Hello Tom,

I have the Leica 7x42 BA and I find it to be inferior to the Zeiss 7x42 BGAT*P. The Zeiss has a wider field ad better edge sharpness. Although the Leica is more compact, the Zeiss has very nice handling and a touch of stereopsis because of the Abbe Kōnig prisms. I would guess that the Zeiss has better control of chromatic aberration because of the longer focal length.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur Pinwood :hi:

Hello Arthur,

I'm happy to hear this. I find that Zeiss 7x42 to be a dream to handhold, seemingly lighter than its actual weight. I actually find it more comfortable than most modern designs. I do like the Ultravid in its current form for 7x42 as well. Thank you for the tip off; I was just curious to know what the competition was. I remember seeing picture ads for the BA style of Leicas in the early 90s when I was first looking into getting an M-series rangefinder camera. (I still regularly use that and 35mm having switched FROM digital a few years ago! Very satisfying feel to the pictures indeed.)

An 80 year old non-retired friend of mine at work started a conversation in the dining room a month or two back and talked of binoculars he had used for a physics assignment many years ago. He didn't know I was interested myself and as it happened I had the 7x42 BG/AT*P* with me in my bag. This was a lucky, well-used but cared for eBay purchase since given a Zeiss service by Gary Hawkins in Norfolk, England. I said: 'Guy, have you ever seen this model in your work?', taking the binoculars out of the bag and feeling pretty sure his research pre-dated the release of this 7x42 Dialyt. He took a long look and marvelled at the wide easy view and especially at what for him was unprecedented brightness as well as low chromatic aberration. He then went on a pleasant trip down memory lane mentioning various Leitz and even war-end Zeiss Jena as well as later western sector Zeiss that he and his colleagues had come across in their travels. But I could see he was bowled over by the handling and view through the 7x42. Not a glass I would consider selling and still handsome if we can talk like that about artefacts.

Happy birdwatching to you also,

Tom
 
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Patudo

Well-known member
My memories don't go as far back as Alexis's, but the distinct impression I have is that the binocular which birders of an older vintage associate with the name Dialyt is the 10x40. British Birds magazine did at least two surveys (findable on the internet) in the late 70s and 80s which found the 10x40 Dialyt the most highly regarded by their respondents. The 7x42, though highly praised, was probably just not as useful for all-round birding - I've found this myself when I've taken both models with me, most recently on a visit to Singapore, where although the 7x42 presented an undeniably superior image, I ended up using the 10x40 much more. Though james holdsworth, who knows his Zeisses, rates today's lowly Terra ahead of the P model 10x40 Dialyt in terms of image quality (I have not yet been able to confirm that myself, but don't doubt it), I still find it a very useful glass, especially when travelling, when its compactness is particularly appreciated. The 7x42 - at least the P or P* models - is now much more desired because of its more "contemporary" view, but I like the handling and the compactness of the 10x40 better, and its design does away with the 7x42's external focuser which is its main weak point. (What on earth am I doing criticising binoculars that I own...???) Even so, I could wish that Zeiss had made a 10x42 version of the 7x42, external focuser and all, with the Abbe-Koening prisms.

The 7x42 Dialyt was made over such a long period that it spanned at least two Trinovid eras. The 7x42 Leitz Trinovids were never phase-coated, so not comparable to the P model Dialyts. I haven't had the pleasure of comparing the Leitz 7x42 against the Dialyt 7x42 (non-P), but no doubt someone here has - Hermann? Jring? The 7x42 Leica Trinovids (BA/BN) were phase coated, and in some respects, being fully sealed and having twist-up eyecups, were superior to the old Hensoldt design. Those "brick" series Trinovids are classics in their own right and as Hermann has mentioned, some are still very much in use - I think more so than Dialyts these days. But if I already owned a 7x42 Ultravid, I doubt I'd get one.
 

Pinewood

New York correspondent
United States
Hello Tom,

The 7x42 Zeiss had an ancestor in the Hensoldt 7x42 Nachtglas roof prism binocular. Zeiss acquired a major share and later owned the original Hensoldt firm, which formed the basis of its postwar binocular manufacturing. The Zeiss model had increased the field of view, coated the lenses and eventually phase coating, providing a vast improvement over the Hensoldt design. Zeiss had a 7x45 Design Selection model, called the Night Owl but it was front heavy and returned to 7x42, calling is the 7x42 ClassiC. Mine is a very late model.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur Pinewood
 
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SeldomPerched

Well-known member
Hello Tom,

The 7x42 Zeiss had an ancestor in the Hensoldt 7x42 Nachtglas roof prism binocular. Zeiss acquired a major share and later owned the original Hensoldt firm, which formed the basis of its postwar binocular manufacturing. The Zeiss model had increased the field of view, coated the lenses and eventually phase coating, providing a vast improvement over the Hensoldt design. Zeiss had a 7x45 Design Selection model, called the Night Owl but it was front heavy and returned to 7x42, calling is the 7x42 ClassiC. Mine is a very late model.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur Pinewood

Arthur, very pleased to learn how the 7x45 Night Owl fits into the sequence. I have seen one on a dealer's shelf but didn't think to ask to look through it. I think maybe it looked a bit on the hefty side that day.

All the best,

Tom
 

John Frink

Well-known member
Arthur, very pleased to learn how the 7x45 Night Owl fits into the sequence. I have seen one on a dealer's shelf but didn't think to ask to look through it. I think maybe it looked a bit on the hefty side that day.

I have a 7x45 Night Owl, and it's a very nice bino but a bit bulky, kind of like a 7x42B/GAT on steroids. Heavy, yes, but a fine view nonetheless.

John
 

mak

Well-known member
United Kingdom
IMO the Zeiss 7x42 BGAT is still one of the best. A joy to look through and in many ways still competes optically with some of todays offerings. Transmission, FOV, stray light etc.

The 7x45 Design Selection (Night Owl given as a UK name) was optically good in low light, as the optics were set up predominantly in the blue light spectrum, but due to the flint glass (which enhanced the blue light) the weight was an issue, especially as binoculars started to reduce in weight due to new materials, however some users overcame the weight issue by holding the unit more underneath than to the side. As with many models, the unit sales declined, due to age and the perception of newer models on the market, which meant it was no longer viable (same as the Dialyt 10x40 BGAT). On the web, some 2nd hand 7x42 BGAT models still sell in the region of the full list price (£769) even though it was discontinued in the early 2000’s.
Leica are one of the few manufacturers who today, still produce a 7x binocular (Ultravid HD Plus 7x42 and Trinovid Classic 7x35.
 

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
IMO the Zeiss 7x42 BGAT is still one of the best. A joy to look through and in many ways still competes optically with some of todays offerings. Transmission, FOV, stray light etc.

The 7x45 Design Selection (Night Owl given as a UK name) was optically good in low light, as the optics were set up predominantly in the blue light spectrum, but due to the flint glass (which enhanced the blue light) the weight was an issue, especially as binoculars started to reduce in weight due to new materials, however some users overcame the weight issue by holding the unit more underneath than to the side. As with many models, the unit sales declined, due to age and the perception of newer models on the market, which meant it was no longer viable (same as the Dialyt 10x40 BGAT). On the web, some 2nd hand 7x42 BGAT models still sell in the region of the full list price (£769) even though it was discontinued in the early 2000’s.
Leica are one of the few manufacturers who today, still produce a 7x binocular (Ultravid HD Plus 7x42 and Trinovid Classic 7x35.

Thank you for the info, Makl, especially about the 7x45 Design Selection/Night Owl. I didn't know anything much about them though I have seen them in a shop, used of course.

Nikon still have supplies listed of the 7x42 EDG online (£1979 though!). I can confirm they have somewhere along the line dealt with the loose objective cover problem and that this is an exceptional glass though it doesn't have the wide FOV of the Zeiss AK designs (Dialyt and FL both 150m/1,000m) or even the Leica (140m/1,000m I believe - someone correct me if this latter figure is wrong).

Tom
 

Canip

Well-known member
?....
.....
.....
Nikon still have supplies listed of the 7x42 EDG online .....
..... and that this is an exceptional glass though it doesn't have the wide FOV of the Zeiss AK designs (Dialyt and FL both 150m/1,000m) or even the Leica (140m/1,000m I believe - someone correct me if this latter figure is wrong).

Tom

Yes, the Nikon EDG 7x42 has the same 8 degrees = 140m FOV as the Leica.
Canip
 

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
Yes, the Nikon EDG 7x42 has the same 8 degrees = 140m FOV as the Leica.
Canip

Hi Canip,

yes, of course you are right; I did know that but must have got tired! Actually it's hard to decide which gives me the better view and experience out of those two - UV and EDG - so I just enjoy them both, each at different times a bit like deciding which shirt to put on, if that doesn't sound too much like conspicuous consumption.

Tom
 

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