• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Zeiss Binocular Design: A Personal Overview Part 2 (2 Viewers)

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
From Dialyt to SF, the aesthetics of Zeiss binoculars have evolved with several ‘diversions’ down a variety of different avenues along the way. I thought it would be entertaining to take a stroll down a few of these diversions to compare and contrast various models, and also have a few brief glimpses into the design process. The first decision was which models to leave out, and in deference to the way the market has developed, I have concentrated on roof prism binoculars with rubber armour. I apologise to those whose favourites might lie outside of this and just remark here that I am similarly placed as I really love the old leatherette Dialyts. This overview covers 8 models from the first Conquest to SF32, so here we go…

Conquest
A glance at the first Conquest model quickly reveals a similar overall shape to the Victory FL, with the same, but fewer, heavy rubber bars on the armour and the dioptre adjuster was oved to the bottom of the bridge, echoing its position on Victory Mk1.
Conq 1.png





Terra ED 1st Generation
The first-generation Terra brought with it a break from both the Dialyt-like heavy bars on the armour, and the dimpled-armour of the Design Selection and Victory Mk1 models. It had smooth armour with styling lines including a ‘dip-line’ just above the strap attachment lugs, that has also been shared on several subsequent Zeiss models all the way up to SF. Terra 1.png






Terra ED Gen 1 Styling Buck
You might have heard of full-size models of new cars being sculpted out of clay and then painted and modelled to look exactly like the real vehicle, so that its full 3D external appearance can be assessed. Although this process has been partly replaced by 3D Virtual Reality software, something similar is also sometimes done with binoculars. The photo is of an Terra 1 Buck C.png unfinished model of the 1st Generation Terra ED, taken part of the way through the design process. © KISKA







Terra 2.png The second-generation Terra ED,
is far more sophisticated and uses texture and contrasting colours, as well as feature lines, to great effect.






Terra ED 2nd Generation PocketUses similar areas of texture and contrast as the full-sized models. Terra Pocket.png
Below are design studies generated during the project © KISKA Terra Pock Des Study C.png

Victory HT 8x42
Zeiss’s HT was a radical mixture of both modernity and an echo of past glories. The smooth and elegant optical tubes were joined together by a highly visible twin-bridge. This was the first model since the Dialyt 7x42 to unselfconsciously display the bridges, and the fact that they played a prominent role in the HT’s aesthetics is confirmed by the styling study image produced during the model’s development (see below). Notice too how the strap attachment lugs are artfully integrated into the design with a pronounced curve on their under-side. The HT was a masterclass in aesthetic design. HT.png HT Bridge Study C.png
© KISKA
Conquest HD
Take a look at the styling-lines in the armour, the curve under the strap attachment lugs which integrates the lugs into the overall outline instead of them appearing to be after-thoughts added later, and also the dip in the armour as it passes under the lugs and what have you got? A family resemblance to HT. It has all the graceful poise of that mode Conq HD.png l, and only lacks the prominent bridges and forward placement of the focus wheel.






Victory SF 8x42
SF incorporates several features from HT, namely, the dip of the armour under the neck-strap attachment lugs (which aren’t quite as elegant as HT’s), and the twin bridge, which in this case is more discreetly integrated into the overall design, and is partnered by a third bridge near the objectives. SF ignored the precedents set by previous open-hinged SF42.png binoculars and ploughed its own furrow. HT’s straight-lined classicism was now replaced by a graceful curvaceousness that suggests a more dynamic personality. Launched at first with tasteful mid-grey armour which raised a few eyebrows, it did not take long before SF donned black armour, which although not as eye-catching is just as handsome.




Victory SF42
Styling image presenting the elegant swooping feature lines and outline that were key for expressing SF’s more dynamic nature.
© KISKA
SF 42 Design Study C.png









Victory Pockets
And then, in complete contrast with the ‘busy’ appearance of the other Victory models, here is the Victory Pocket with a smooth, sophisticated appearance that definitely whispers ‘less, is more’. Vic Pocket.png

Victory SF 8x32
Zeiss’s 32mm version of SF does not quite reprise the design of the 42mm because the curves of the optical tubes have been straightened, and this small change to parallel-sided optical tubes gives a hint of the restraint and tasteful sophistication presented by the Victory Pocket (see above). SF32.png

Conclusion

There is a school of thought that form should always give way to function and ergonomics, and no more so than when a product is to be used in the grip of the owner’s hands. Nevertheless, to Homo sapiens vision is a key sense, so aesthetics can be key to acceptance by the market. This article has concentrated on Zeiss, which is the brand I know best, but I am not blind to other brands and will state here that in my opinion Swarovski’s original EL WB is a modern design classic, as is Leica’s BA/BN, in the same way as Fender’s Stratocaster electric guitar, Audi’s TT sports car or indeed Coca-Cola’s original glass bottle.

To this elite group I would personally add Zeiss’s SF 32 which, to my eyes, artfully combines the complexity of three bridges with straight-sided optical tubes to harmonious and elegant effect. Of course, you are free to disagree!

Production Dates Researched by Troubador (corrections gratefully received)
Conquest 1 2005-2012
Conquest HD 2012-current
Terra 1 2015-2016
Terra 2 2017-current
Terra Pockets 2016-current
HT 8x42 2012-2018
SF 42 2015 current
Vic Pockets 2018 current
SF32 2020 current

Lee
 
Last edited:

Gijs van Ginkel

Well-known member
Lee, you did a very good job with these informative posts, my compliments.
Perhaps I can add to your review number 1:
  • the rubber armored Zeiss Dialyt 8x30 BGAT* (produced after from 1970 until after1988) and
  • the small rubber armored compact 8x20 Dialyt, produced before 1988 (the leather armored 8x20 was introduced in 1971 and the rubber armored one between 1975 and 1988 (this is a guess since I only know the ones produced before 1988).
Gijs van Ginkel
 

Pinewood

New York correspondent
United States
Hello,

Thanks for the updates on Zeiss design. Your post was all too new for me. I might buy an 8x32SF when my 8x32FL reaches twenty years of age, in only five years or so.

Stay safe,
Arthur
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Hello,

Thanks for the updates on Zeiss design. Your post was all too new for me. I might buy an 8x32SF when my 8x32FL reaches twenty years of age, in only five years or so.

Stay safe,
Arthur
But in the meantime, Arthur, what do you think of the external appearance of the later models?
And for sure you have a great companion with your FL.
Lee
 

A2GG

Beth
Supporter
United States
The original 30mm Conquest looks like FL 32 and Trinovid HD 32 had a baby.

I like the designs of original Conquest, Conquest HD (especially) and Victory Pocket.

The HT is a unique design. It has a serious and adult appearance.
 
Last edited:

Pinewood

New York correspondent
United States
Hello,

Thanks for the updates on Zeiss design. Your post was all too new for me. I might buy an 8x32SF when my 8x32FL reaches twenty years of age, in only five years or so.

Stay safe,
Arthur
Hello Lee,

I am not very tall, so I always liked pinstripe suits. The new designs, even for the SF8x32 have rather plain barrels, lacking any sense of verticality but do add a sense of dynamics. I was never a fan of open bridges but the detailing on 42mm model makes the best of the AK prisms under the bonnet, allowing the form to follow the function. I do like the oversize ribbed focussing knobs whose appearance is somewhat restrained by the third bridge.

Stay safe,
Arthur
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Hello Lee,

I am not very tall, so I always liked pinstripe suits. The new designs, even for the SF8x32 have rather plain barrels, lacking any sense of verticality but do add a sense of dynamics. I was never a fan of open bridges but the detailing on 42mm model makes the best of the AK prisms under the bonnet, allowing the form to follow the function. I do like the oversize ribbed focussing knobs whose appearance is somewhat restrained by the third bridge.

Stay safe,
Arthur
Sorry to disappoint Arthur but the SF42s have SP prisms...
Lee
 

garymh

Binocular Engineer
Hi Gijs,

The 8x20 BGA Dialyt was manufactured from 1984 until 1994.

It was a lovely little binocular but for some reason they are quite rare - I think people preferred the 8x20 Conquest which folded a lot smaller.


Gary
 

Attachments

  • Zeiss 8x20 BGA.s.JPG
    Zeiss 8x20 BGA.s.JPG
    114.9 KB · Views: 14

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Lee, thanks for the presentation and taking the time. I did not know that the HT 42 ran through 2018.

Andy W.
Hey Andy
HT 42 was in the 2017/18 Zeiss brochure and was discontinued sometime early in 2018. We first got a whiff of this in April 2018 when it was shown as discontinued on the B&H website even though it was still on Zeiss's website. I checked at the time and it was confirmed it was finished.

Lee
 

A2GG

Beth
Supporter
United States
Hi Lee,
I wonder if Zeiss plans to upgrade the Conquest HD at some point in the near future. Do you know if they at least have this in mind for their next upgrade ?
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Hi Lee,
I wonder if Zeiss plans to upgrade the Conquest HD at some point in the near future. Do you know if they at least have this in mind for their next upgrade ?
I have no information on upcoming models or upgrades but if you look at what happened to Terra ED from the 1st to the 2nd generation ( see below) this might be a clue Terra 1.png Terra 2.png

On the other hand Conquest HD has been around for 8 years now so maybe if it gets upgraded it might be more radical than a re-skin.
Lee
 
Last edited:

A2GG

Beth
Supporter
United States
Thanks Lee. It would be nice to see a relatively lighter weight 8x32 Conquest HD ... Plus ! ;)

I like the look of the newer Terra design.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Users who are viewing this thread

Top