Zeiss Victory FL 8 X 32 T*
The FL models use fluorite to eliminate color errors, and indeed these were the “cleanest” of the bunch in totally eliminating any color fringing, even with the eye slightly off-center.
Image quality is outstanding under most conditions, which is to say far better than I had ever experienced before.
But when comparing to the best of the best, some distinctions emerged.
When sunlight strafed the front element of the Zeiss Victory FL 8X32 binoculars (and other models), I was astounded to observe veiling flare, drastically reducing the image quality. Yet there was no issue at all when viewing dark trees against a very bright cloudy sky.
I tested this repeatedly, using the Leica Geovid 8X42 and Fujinon 7X50 as controls — neither of that pair showed any sign of flare. This is puzzling, because Zeiss optics are renowned for high quality lens coatings (I shoot Zeiss lenses on Canon and Nikon constantly). I have no explanation for the sub-par performance, except perhaps some internal parts which are inadequately blackened (not the optics themselves).
This not only an issue confined to sunlight! At dusk I also observed that a bright sky above threw veiling flare into the lower area of the binocular when looking at dimly-lit subjects at ground level. I consider this behavior totally unacceptable, and I certainly did not expect it from Zeiss.
With 15.5mm eye relief, using the Zeiss Victory FL 8X32 binoculars means keeping my eyeballs jammed into the eyepieces “just so”. It’s not bad, it’s just that it’s easier and more pleasant looking through the Leica Geovids or Fujinons, with their 18mm and 23mm eye relief, respectively. The slightest angling of the Victory 8X32 cuts the eye off from the image; the eye must stay in exactly the right position. That’s an effort when viewing for more than a minute or so.
The Zeiss Victory FL 7X42 and 8 X 42 and 8X56mm binoculars still have a paltry 16mm eye relief, so it’s not the case that getting a larger binocular fixes the eye relief shortcoming.
For some context on eye relief with other 8X32 binoculars—
- Leica’s Ultravid 8X32 binoculars has a skimpy 13.3mm eye relief.
- Nikon’s 8X32 EDG binoculars have 18.5mm eye relief (!)
- Swarovsky’s 8X32 WB EL have 15mm eye relief (the 8X42 model has 20mm).
- In general, most 8X32 binoculars offer poor eye relief, the Nikon EDG being the notable exception.
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The main reason (and it could be a big one) to go with the Zeiss Victory FL would be the drastically smaller size and lower weight of the Zeiss Victory FL 8X32 compared to an 8X42 binocular.