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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Upgrade from Nikon 8x30 EII to Zeiss Victory 7x42 FL? (1 Viewer)


Czech Republic
Do you think that such an upgrade is worth it for my purposes of dusk/down (or full moon nights) animal observation? I want to combine bino observation with thermal monocular, which reveals animals that could be afterwards better identified by bino. Now I have a very wide Nikon 8x30 EII (155m FOV) but only 3.75 exit pupil; thus upgrading to Zeiss 7x42 FL (FOV 150m) with high transmissivity (95%) looks logical for me. The relatively low weight of FL (750 g) compared to traditionally heavier hunters binos with the same exit pupil 6-7 mm (but more than 1.1 kg) suits for longer low-light walks.

According to reviews Zeiss FL shows maybe a faster fall of sharpness after 50% of the field, but this does not matter so much to me (I prefer to see the context), and slightly lower magnification (7x to 8x) is also not a big issue. Reported high DOF sharpness from 10m to infinity of Zeiss and faster focusing (+waterproof over Nikon) also attract me together with the warmer plastic body for colder nights.

I also want to use bino for astro-purposes, here Nikon is probably better because pinpoint stars nearly to the edges, so I need to compare both and later decide if Zeiss suits also for astro sufficiently (or I need to keep both which I try to avoid :) ).

I have no experience with high exit pupil binos and nearly 60 years old, so maybe my expectations for super light amplification by Zeiss during moon nights are too high?

What is your experiences and suggestions?

Cheers, Petr
Althought they are very different binoculars, to me they fall in the same family: very comfortable, wide field, great depth of field... so it seems only logical to improve some of the areas where the EII is lacking: low light performance, exit pupil and, along the way, waterproofness, ruggedness, etc.

Both are some of my all time favourite binoculars, probably both on my top 3. I think you would improve in the dusk/dawn department, where the FL are just amazing for their aperture. Having said that, I don't know if I'd want the 7x42 FL for astronomy. As you said, there is quite a lot of curvature so you don't get a lot of "clean and usable" field for astro usage. The E II could be better in this respect. And then there's another unexpected trick up the sleeve of the EII: small exit pupil. This could be helpful in reducing astigmatism and also, depending on which kind of skies you have, it could also improve contrast if you live in a light polluted area, where the 7x42 FL could offer a more "veiled" image. So not so sure about the 7x42 FL for astro. Roger Vine did a review focused mainly on astronomical use:

I think the 8x30 EII and 7x42 FL make for a really great couple. However, if you already have the 8x30 EII which is a wide field binocular with a great depth of field, maybe a 10x42 could offer a wider scope of possibilities, giving you more variety. For the money you would spend on a 7x42 FL there are very nice 10x42 with field flatteners, which could be very good for astro and improve on low light over the 8x30 EII. For example, the Opticron Aurora has gained a lot of praise, and it's a flat field 6,6º 10x42 at only 715 g. However, if I was to choose a complement for the EII based on your parameters I would go for a 10x50. There are several light 10x50 around 800 g, nearly the weight of the 7x42 FL which would be great for your intended purposes.
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Thanks yarrellii for the useful suggestions of nice 10x binos. I covered 12x magnification by Canon 12x36 IS, which helps keep views steady. I had previously troubles to keep 10x mag without shaking, which is also related to smaller FOV and now I am going for something more relaxing, lower mag. and light amplification supercapable especially in low light. I am also attracted by Canon IS 10x42 which a lot of people reported as great bino, but higher weight and price is a problem. For higher astro and remote birds magnifications I use Oberwerk 20x70 which is satisfactory in many aspects.

Thanks, Petr

@PedroP It seems that we have a very similar taste in binoculars, because the 12x36 IS III are my most used pair :D They're my go to everyday, while the EII and 7x42 FL rank among my very favourites. In fact, I think the IS 12x36 is far inferior, but the reach and resolution are simply unbeatable.
So it seems you are covered in the long reach department, then something like the FL 7x42 could be worth it. I think it is the binocular that has given me a most pleasurable experience, with an image more real than reality itself, unreally bright, sharp and deep. However, it's getting more difficult and expensive to find one. Over the last years I've bought it 3 times, but prices now seem to have sky rocketed and units are well kept in their owner's drawers.
I think you have a good idea, both are very good binoculars, and so keep both if you can.
Agree, they would complement each other well! Absolutely the 7x42's, or any 42, will give a huge boost to astronomy and low-light viewing over the 30's. The E2 are small & compact which are good for birding & carrying on a neck strap.

How are you going to find the Zeiss? They went extinct a long time ago
Yes, that's true, but one of the collectors needs the budget for some new hobbies and has to sell bino, which circulates among birders and hunters, and now is the chance to buy it - I hope I will test it and buy bino soon and let you know my impression when will be with me :).

Cheers Petr
Hello Pedro,

The Zeiss 7x42 should be an excellent binocular for locating planets in the twilight, as it has a higher twilight factor. . For bird watching, the low magnification might suit you, while the wide field would be great for forests. I have had both binoculars.

Stay safe,
Greetings. I don’t know what I can add to this discussion particularly that I didn’t try the Nikon 8x30 EII. But I think I should report here that it is the Zeiss 7x42 FL binoculars I regret selling the most — substituting it later with Leica 7x42 HD+ didn’t diminish the Zeiss’ attributes in my memory one bit. The Zeiss 7x42 FL is bound to give you a beautiful “all-weather” stable and bright view service and experience that are very difficult to match. Enjoy in good health.
Thanks to everybody for the experience and suggestions which helped me for the decision to buy it. Now I am starting side by side comparison with my Nikon 8x30 E II and here are my initial thoughts after day and little night testing:

  • as expected, slightly wider and sharper nearly entire FOV + slightly more colour saturation
  • for me easier, wider hold of the body because of the wider grip
  • nice 3D effect because of porro design ideal for landscapes
  • easier lens fogging in cold
  • less comfortable eyecups (but not border me)

  • I did not see the remarkable loss of information by lover magnification (7x vs 8x)
  • little lighter overall impression from the picture during day
  • looks very slightly sharper in the centre than E II
  • during low light, show much more details in dark
  • despite a less comfortable grip, the picture looks less shaky due to the lower magnification
  • focus is faster compared to Nikon

  • more blurry edges (but it does bother me)
  • slightly narrower FOV
  • more reflections against lights at night
  • less comfortable narrower grip compared to Nikon EII (but still better than in my previous Nikon M7 8x42) because wider barrels of Zeiss + its collateral projections help firm grip
  • focus knob is for me more comfortably placed in Nikon (I hold the Zeiss at the end of barrels to get a steadier view) - maybe I need more practice to adapt to the knob's different position.

I still not tested Zeiss in the night skies (I live on the large city edge), where I expect Nikon's better performance on stars; thus, now looks to me that each bino has its own field of application. Zeiss FL, especially low light, is used for animal observations and cold foggy days (e.g. in the forest), while Nikon EII shines in sunny landscapes during the day and in night skies. Unfortunately, I must probably keep both of them :( :).

Regards and thanks, Petr
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Today's low light test during dusk showed the great capabilities of Zeiss FL, which are unique for dark conditions - I am pleased to have it. I also plan to get infrared night vision (probably NightFox Whisker bino), so I will later put here my impression from a low-light comparison of both instruments.
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