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Individual High-end Optics Reviews

Testing the Best 8x42 Binoculars on the Market!

by Michael and Diane Porter, excerpted from the May/June 2012 issue of Bird Watcher's Digest

Zeiss Victory FL T* 8x42

The Zeiss Victory FL got the top overall score and tied for the top resolution score. With its wide field of view (405 feet) and outstanding optics, it creates a breathtaking experience of being immersed in the image.

Zeiss attributes the bright, clear image and its great contrast and color in part to the special FL glass containing fluoride ions. A thin lens design, employing air-spaced elements, contributes to the excellent resolution and the light weight. Of the top five scorers, the FL weighs the least, at 26.6 ounces.

It's a comfortable and universal ergonomic design. The barrels curve outward, gracefully fitting the shape of the palm of the hand. Ridges run lengthwise, with no thumb indentations to restrict where you put your thumbs. You can grip wherever feels natural to you.

The smooth-turning focus knob is wide enough to turn with two fingers or with gloves. Its fast focus goes from lock to lock in just 1.1 turns. You can focus from 20 to 100 feet without lifting your finger from the knob. Close focus or infinity requires only one repositioning of your finger. The diopter adjustment mechanism, on the focus knob, has both a scale and a lock. The action is smooth and precise, with a detent at the center setting.

Twist-up eyecups provide four extension adjustments, with detents. Although Zeiss claims only 16mm of eye relief, the FLs worked great with all of the judges' eyeglasses. The interpupillary distance of 54 to 74mm offers the narrowest setting in our survey, helpful for people with close-set eyes.

LotuTec coatings on the exterior surfaces of the lenses repel water and dirt and allow easy cleaning.

Warranty: Zeiss limited lifetime transferable warranty.

Caveat: None.

Next review (2/12): Swarovski EL Swarovision 8.5x42 »

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