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Using the Zeiss Dialyt 18x45 in the field - impressions (1 Viewer)

John Dracon

John Dracon
For over a month now, I have been using the Dialyt 18x45 on numerous trips. When not travelling, It sits on a tripod in front of my bay window over looking the north fork of the Smith Rivers and its meadows with mountains several miles away. Many comparisons have been made with other spotting scopes, loans from friends, viz., Swarovski, Zeiss, Pentax, and Bausch & Lomb on terrestrial objects, birds, cows, horses, deer, elk, and antelope.

From these comparisons have emerged impressions about the Dialyt. In an earlier post I had called it a hybrid. I would add to that term the word "compromise."

Compared to the old B&Ls, its optics are superior. Compared to the other alphas, meaning 65 mm zoom scopes, the Dialyt has a smaller FOV and its edges are a wee bit softer. In terms of resolution, I find it about the same, particularly at the lower powers. The Dialyt colors are vibrant and natural to my eye.

Ease of use on a tripod is another matter, since a user has to undergo a re-learning process of reaching to the objective end to focus. In this matter, the alphas are superior, something like owning two cars, one an automatic and the other a stick shift. Switching back and forth can create confusion.

If one were to operate outdoors on a tripod under favorable conditions all the time, the Dialyt wouldn't be my choice. But if inherent robustness were important to a user, the Dialyt is the clear winner. I have never seen a spotting scope as well built for rough conditions and rough handling, and even inadvertent abuse than the Dialyt. The more I use it, the more I appreciate those qualities.

It is in the area of what I call impromptu outdoor use, that the Dialyt shines in ways that ordinary spotting scopes cannot contend. Consider using a window mount. Most users have evolved to that. It means sitting awkwardly with the window rolled up just right. Then there is the attachment and removal of the mounted spotting scope. Now the scope and mount takes up room in limited space. Or you have to move your car or pickup to a better angle for viewing.

My experience with window mounts is that they are quick peek in usefulness. And something gets banged mounting and dismounting. The Dialyt was made for quick peeks. And it can be laid on a bare window without marring anything and will provide a steady enough view when needed.

Weather permitting, how does one use a conventional spotting scope outdoors without a tripod? With difficulty at best. Lay it on top of your car roof or hood sometime and try to hold it steady. You can do that with the Dialyt and not scratch anything.

Some recent experiences travelling through Montana have shown me the Dialyt's versatility. On my way to Yellowstone Park last week (180 miles from my home), I was passing by a man-built reservoir called Cottonwood on Highway 89,which was designed to accommodate migratory waterfowl. It rarely goes dry and is a favorite spot for birders who catch both the spring and fall migrations.

It is many miles away from anything in Montana we call a city - 60 miles from Bozeman and 40 miles from White Sulphur Springs. Yet birding groups will come from all over the area for visits. It sports no accommodations whatsoever. Look from the highway or walk through Sage Brush to the shore line.

On this particular day sat a vehicle with turned out to be a small motor home. Highway 89 is rarely busy, with many minutes passing by without seeing another vehicle. I stopped opposite of the motor home to look at the different water fowl, pelicans, a variety of ducks, and a nearby lone swan.

The motor home contained a man and his wife. He walked across the highway to talk to me about the birds, and he turned out to be from Australia, on a year-long trip through the states. He had sold his business in Australia, flown to the states, bought a motor home here and was on his way to Glacier National Park after leaving Yellowstone National Park.

He turned out to be gregarious, and since I have been known to chat a bit, we talked for many minutes while an occasional car would zoom by. After comparing notes on our political systems (uniformly negative I might add) we focused on the swan. He had never seen one before, and the head and neck were a rustic color caused by the iron in the water. I knew it was a tundra swan from previous experience and told him so. Being by itself strongly suggested it had lost its mate - they mate for life.

That launched into a discussion about Montana's other swan, the magnificent trumpeter swan, which I hoped to see in my visit to Yellowstone. The trumpeter is the world's largest waterfowl, with some specimens having wing spans of 10 feet and weighing nearly 40 lbs. That is one big bird!

The gentleman from Australia was debating cancelling his Glacier Park trip due to heavy smoke from numerous wild fires which were blanketing the entire western region. But before he turned his motor home around to head south, I had taken the Dialyt out for a quick peek at the swan.

I showed him the little yellow spot at the end of the bill near the eye that tells the viewer it was a tundra swan, not a trumpeter. I simply laid the Dialyt on the roof, and it was steady enough to see that detail. He was very impressed with the Dialyt's view, since he only had binoculars, but I refrained from telling him that compared to more expensive spotting scopes, the Dialyt was not the best, lest I sound like a know-it-all American who even most Americans detest.

We bid farewell and I went to Yellowstone to visit a few days on Yellowstone Lake to stay on a friend's live aboard boat. All this time I was thinking about my earlier Yellowstone days, when 61 years before (1953) I worked pumping gas at Fishing Bridge. My experience with trumpeter swans came later in the 60s when canoe camping at the bottom of the lake brought me into the nesting areas and I saw them for the first time.

The trumpeter swan was near extinction by 1930, with an estimated 70 pairs left in the world, most located in western Montana. America had caused the passenger pigeon to become extinct (billions of them), and almost the bison or buffalo (around an estimated 60 million), and the trumpeter swan was going, too. But for bird lovers great relief, strict conservation measures stopped the decline, and today, thousands exist in many places.

Seeing trumpeters is always exciting, particularly in their natural habitat.
As I was leaving Yellowstone and travelling along the Yellowstone River just before it reaches the areas of the falls, I spied four large white objects on the river bank. These would be either pelicans or swans, resting about 40 yards away.

There was a pull off with just a few tourists stopping by to look. The swans were on the passenger side of my car. So I stopped, grabbed the Dialyt and a pillow from the back seat, and laid it on the roof. It cradled nicely and was steady enough to get good detail.

The swans were resting, and as they do, their heads and necks were curled around their bodies. Several minutes passed by before one raised its head. It was a trumpeter! Two pairs, obvious mates resting, going to destinations unknown. That was a Dialyt moment.

In conclusion I want to talk about an accessory for the Dialyt I have been playing with. It is called a tree fixing screw made by Swarovski. I'm not a brand loyalist at all. I'm basically a pragmatist. If it works, I'll use it.

The tree fixing screw is not a gimmick. One can screw it into any tree and it becomes a mini monopod. It will work with any spotting scope, but it was made for the Dialyt. For that matter it will attach to any kind of wood with minimum damage. It is extraordinarily well made and thought out. Really useful for back country use. See Swarovski literature for a description. Cost about $80 US plus postage.


John Dracon

John Dracon
First, because I have the time, and second because I become somewhat bored when I have the time, and third because I have become intrigued with the Zeiss Dialyt 18x45x 65 MM spotting scope, I decided to test it against a spotting scope with an impeccable reputation, the Swarovski 65 MM HD with 20x60 zoom on both bird, animal, and terrestrial objects.

The Dialyt cost me (new) $750 (a real bargain price) and my friend's HD over $2000. He had got his bull elk with a bow, and the rut was still on, so he loaned the HD to me for several weeks. The rut had several weeks to go, the Canada geese, ducks, and Sand Hill cranes were still around and it was a good time to makes some comparisons before and after sunset and before and after sunrise, looking directly at the horizon.

I expected the HD to be clearly superior in all aspects. This was not true. Although both the HD and Dialyt were of the same length, the Dialyt was 3 ounces lighter (weighed on a postal scale). The HD snapped into sharp focus faster, and the focus required less effort. The HD focus does not require the longer reach of the Dialyt. The eyepiece comfort favored the HD slightly, but not much.

I assumed the colors would be discernibly different. They appeared to be very close, bright and vibrant. The HD edges were sharper by a small amount and the HD's FOV was slightly wider. The HD contrast was a wee bit better but not its resolution. The Dialyt could be tweaked to match its resolution.

Regarding ruggedness, the Dialyt by design was built for inadvertent bumps and even drops, and its skin (covering) is clearly superior. The objective and ocular lens caps of the Dialyt are unique and highly protective when in place.

But my primary comparison of interest was how did these spotting scopes handle what we call flair or glare? And few situations equal the challenge of looking at an object close to a setting sun or rising sun and the reverse in the evening.

So most of my viewing was done by placing the spotting scopes on tripods with the sun either beginning to rise or to set and looking at animals and birds, with elk and deer in deep shadows and waterfowl on lakes and grain fields. This took some time to do the finding and maneuvering.

I expected the HD to be clearly superior to the Dialyt in these situations, but other than on the edges, it was not. But the Dialyt wasn't superior either. Both scopes seemed to be in a toss-up looking at birds and animals under these conditions. Working the zooms back and forth showed no real difference. Of course another person might see some differences.

If I were to be using a spotting scope under these conditions, i.e., tripod, sunny weather, low humidity, slight wind, (a reasonably controlled environment), and had to make a choice regardless of cost, the HD would be my choice - it is easier to use. But if conditions were poor and inadvertent abuse was a potential factor, the Dialyt would be my choice.

Others with a Dialyt might try to replicate what I did and share there findings with the forum. There is no question the HD is a high quality spotting scope. The Dialyt isn't too shabby, either.



New York correspondent
United States
Hello John,

Thank you for taking the time to compare the two 'scopes.

How old is the Zeiss?

Happy nature observing,
Arthur :hi:


New York correspondent
United States
Arthur - How old the Zeiss? - estimate it was made 2 years ago.


Hello John,

Thank you for answering. I thought that the 18x45 was an older model. I did not realize that Zeiss had a 'scope smaller than their 65mm model.

Happy nature observing,
Arthur :hi:

John Dracon

John Dracon
Arthur - Hermann is correct. The scope I am using is the Dialyt 18x45x65 MM. You will see in my post #2, I include all the numbers. Sorry if I created some confusion. When the Dialyt first came out, I thought it should be a 15x45 zoom rather than an 18x45 zoom - to have a wider field. But of course it didn't.



Gijs van Ginkel

Well-known member
Dear all,
I published a test of travel and backpack telescopes (Reis en Rugzak telescopen) on the WEB-site of House of Outdoor. The Dialyt 18-45x65 is one of the telescopes investigated. It is in Dutch but the graphs and table will be understandable also for those who were not raised with this beautiful language.
Gijs van Ginkel


Well-known member
Dear all,
I published a test of travel and backpack telescopes (Reis en Rugzak telescopen) on the WEB-site of House of Outdoor. The Dialyt 18-45x65 is one of the telescopes investigated. It is in Dutch but the graphs and table will be understandable also for those who were not raised with this beautiful language.
Gijs van Ginkel

Thanks for the reference - that is a very interesting site and you've done some remarkable work.

Best regards,



... winging it ....
Just thought I would follow up on this thread with my own impressions of this scope in case anyone is interested.

I have had mine for about a month now and have been out in the field with it maybe 15 days.

I have it mounted on an outdoorsmans tripod and pan head... Basically a lightweight western hunting style setup. The scope and tripod are light enough for me to hike around with the rig resting on my shoulder without really noticing the weight.

I agree with John; the Dialyt is a great "quick look" scope. I have used it a few different ways with good results.

First, as a quick "rooftop" scope, as described in previous posts. The other day I was driving, thought I saw a kestrel on a power line and pulled off onto a side road with a decent long-distance view towards the bird. I was able to quickly lay the scope on the roof of my truck and confirm the ID where my 8x binoculars left some doubt. I have used the scope this way a few times.

Another way I have used the scope is to get a better view of a perched bird while in the field... A couple weeks ago I was hiking with my son and had the scope over my shoulder. We saw a hawk flying and watched it land in a tree. I was able to quickly set the scope up and get the hawk in the line of view. We took turns watching the bird for several minutes before it flew off. The scope was perfect for this kind of thing because it was easy and quick to set up and get on target.

The primary way I use this scope is to have it set up in front of me while I'm sitting and observing an area with binoculars in hand. I set the scope with the eyepiece at my eye level and am able to quickly switch between binoculars and the scope. This technique has allowed me to get some very detailed views of birds. The scope is quick to get on target and I have really enjoyed using it this way. It has been my scope of choice lately.

The view is as described above... Very sharp detail, a nice 3D view and excellent depth of field. The field of view is limited and that is the biggest downside to this scope. The edge of the view is noticeably but not distractingly softer than the center of the field. The color is very natural. Low light performance has been good and the scope handles challenging lighting conditions well.

I think of this scope as a good, sturdy tool that is a joy to carry compared to bigger scopes and excellent to use from a seated position. It excels as a back-country reference scope for use while sketching, note taking or alternating with binoculars while observing. I wouldn't take it to watch shore birds, pan shorelines or follow hawks from a mountain top, but for hiking and sitting I'm happy to have it.



Well-known member
I really liked reading this thread and seeing John Dracon's name - and was extremely sad to see he passed away in 2016. He was a real gentleman. We had some delightful econversations about binoculars, a very thoughtful man.

John A Roberts

Well-known member
For illustration, see two pages showing the Dialyt Field Spotter (as it was originally described).
They're from a pamphlet dated 04/2010, so at or around the time of it's introduction.

Also see three images from a 2015 eBay listing by ducksjapan.



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