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My thoughts on Zeiss 8x56 T*FL (1 Viewer)


Retired Somewhere
United Kingdom
So, having had good binoculars for 30 years or so, I decided to get some new alpha glass and finally treat myself to the best.

I've had, Trinovids, Ultravids, Swaros, and nikon over the years, but never owned Zeiss. The Ultravids and Swaros were both pocket bins.
I also recently purchased Swaro 8x25 CL as my pocket set, very impressive!
Anyway, off to Ace optics to look at my favourites, mainly the Ultravid 8x42HD+, and also some EL's as I've always loved them, whenever I looked through them.
Now.... they also had some lovely second hand stuff, but me having a touch of OCD, and being a particular sort of chap, I have never entertained the idea of second hand.
They showed me what can only be described as MINT, AS NEW condition Zeiss 8x56 T*FL which I immediately thought.... 'way too big!!'
Unfortunately I looked through them, and as many on here have said, had that WOW moment.
I put them back, but kept going back to them. Long story short, I bought them, over anything else, after a little bit of haggling!!
The only slight issue for me was the slightly dirty case, a used strap, and one tiny mark on the eyepiece plastic rainguard.
Using the saving I had negotiated, I sourced from Zeiss, a new rainguard, new case and the upgraded detachable cushioned strap. Lovely!
I then sent them to East Coast Optics, for an alignment check, and service.
What I now own is an 'as new' pair of 8x56 bins, and they really are perfect.

But what do I think....
Firstly the size. This has become a complete non issue after a few weeks use, I am totally used to the size now, and don't consider them 'way too big' as in the shop.
The weight has had a dramatic effect on stability, and being 8x, has meant the steadiest image I have ever achieved using bins. I've never experienced large bins before.
The build quality is astonishing, objective covers that squeeze the air out, and stay put, yet flip off in an instant when needed. The general feel of these is utter quality. I feel Zeiss built these with no expense spared, and I am aware how pricey they were even 10 years ago.
The view, with 7mm exits is just a breeze, and whilst being over 50, my eyes probably won't match that, it makes for an incredibly easy, bright experience.
The centre field, probably 70% or so is the best I have ever seen, and although the edges aren't particularly sharp, this is something that has never bothered me, I always centre bins on my target. It's also why I am able to put Ultravid HD+'s up there as one of my all time favourites. Flat field and edge sharpness are not top of my requirements.
Evening use, right past dusk is a revelation, as is looking to the sky on a clear night with these 8x56's.
There is Zero CA even looking for it, I guess due to the AK Prisms. And they are just so bright, sparkling almost.

In short, I am astonished at the view these 10yr old design binoculars produce, and I am starting to see why they get the praise they do. As one guy on here said, he considers them to be the High Water mark of Zeiss design and couldn't bear to part with them, and another reviewer said they were the only bins to hit all of his criteria for optical performance.
I am starting to see why.

My ONLY issue is that my wife will never use them at 1200g, she looked through them, had the WOW moment, gave them back and has not touched them since!!
This weight had me thinking of selling, but I simply wouldn't know what to buy, and I won't find another pair in this condition. I also can no longer justify the Ultravid HD+ bins I always wanted, and still do lol!!
My viewing is mainly across the fields from my house, so I will up the gym work, and live with it.

Anyway, that's just my thoughts on these 'old' bins.

I would also like to mention, that the service given by East Coast Optics was superb, and more to the point, even though these were 2nd hand, it was all covered by ZEISS, including the postage. Astonishing warranty, and customer service. Thank you ZEISS. It has Instilled confidence in a new Zeiss customer!!
They occasionally seem to get bad press on here, so I thought it worth mentioning.

Best regards
I have a Zeiss reprint from the November 2006 issue of a German magazine which concetrates on that other activity with binoculars that shall not be mentioned here ;). They tested thirteen 8x50 and 8x56 binoculars and rated them as recommended, well recommended, particularly recommended and in the sole case of the 8x56 T*FL as exceptionally well recommended.
As an 8x56 Swarovski SLC owner I can sympathise with your findings and although there are many excellent 42 mm binoculars available, an 8x56 has some qualities that none of them can match.

Hello Rg548,

very nice report!

Just keep the FL 8x56, if you sell it you will regret it.
I use the SLC 8x56 just like John, I can understand the enthusiasm for this format.

The 56s with their AK prisms have a magical picture, something special that SLC immediately gave me a "wow" effect.
The lens caps on the FL are the best I know, they just work without any frills, there is no need for innovations here.
I still own the FL 10x56, optically the FL are still one of the top binoculars, if you own such a glass you don't really need any more.

I agree on the value of bigger binoculars for stability and image quality with weight not being so much of an issue (to me).

Yesterday's alphas are very good value for money sort of the sweet spot. Combined with accepting sizes that are today considered to be oversized by many you clearly get the most bang for the buck and quality built to last.
I've not had the pleasure of using the 8x56 FL, but having tried the 8x56 SLC I cannot but add my voice to the praises of Conndomat and Tringa. For whatever reason - huge exit pupil, excellent optical design, whatever - this big unit gives one of the most wonderful, pleasing views I have ever had the pleasure to experience looking through any binocular, so good that it stands comparison to Nikon's amazing 10x50 WX. If sheer beauty of image is your only criterion, this, or something like it (like the FL) has to be at, or at the very least close to, the top of your list. Unfortunately, for my own birding, for those situations I can accept the weight and bulk of a x56, I need more magnification than 8x - so this class of binocular will, like McLarens or models, something I'd never turn down the opportunity to (most gratefully) test-drive, but could not afford the indulgence of owning.
Unfortunately, for my own birding, for those situations I can accept the weight and bulk of a x56, I need more magnification than 8x...
Have you tried a 10x56 and found it lacking this magic quality, and if so can you explain further? (I'm impressed by mine, but have never compared to an 8 which are hard to find.)
HI, unfortunately I haven't tried a 10x with large objectives. These are the largest bins I have ever tried, let alone owned. The closest I had was 10x42 Nikon se. I just bought them due to that lovely image, and accepted the size and weight.
I'm no expert, but I should imagine the 10x will have shallower depth of field??, I'm sure someone technical will jump in soon.
I have moved away from 10's as my opinion is that I can see more with the steadier image of 8's, unless you can brace yourself, which isn't always an option.
I understand the benefits of 10's, but 8's work better all round for me.
Im sure the 10x56's will be amazing too, Zeiss weren't messing around when they made these T*FL's
Have you tried a 10x56 and found it lacking this magic quality, and if so can you explain further? (I'm impressed by mine, but have never compared to an 8 which are hard to find.)

My brother owns a 10x56 SLC, and I've had the pleasure of using it on numerous occasions. It is an outstanding binocular in its own right, superbly sharp and on a sunny day almost too bright against white cloud, and 10x magnification is more useful for my birding than 8x. But, if judged purely from the point of view of the beauty of the image it presents, excellent though the 10x56 is, it's surpassed by the 8x56 (at least to me).

I can't explain quite why that is so, nor indeed can I guarantee you'll feel the same as how we see things is such an individual thing. I don't think it's purely down to the 7mm exit pupil, as the 7x50s I've looked through, while very pleasant in their own right, were not quite comparable. I guess it's a happy synthesis of the detail provided by 8x magnification, the extra-large exit pupil and the stability afforded by such a large binocular.
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