Zeiss Victory FL 8 X 56 T*
Related: binocular, binoculars, field curvature, flare, video
The Zeiss Victory FL 8 X 56 T* binoculars are large and relatively heavy at 1241g (as actually weighed), but surprisingly aren’t much larger in overall dimensions than the Zeiss 10X42 FL or 10X45 RF models.
The FL models use fluorite to eliminate color errors, and indeed these were the free of color fringing, even with the eye slightly off-center.
Image quality is excellent under most conditions, which is to say far better than I had ever experienced before 2010.
I enjoyed looking through the 8X56 binoculars more than any of the other Zeiss models I tested.
The 16mm eye relief definitely helps and the larger exit pupil makes it easier to keep the eyes centered. These two factors contribute to a better viewing experience and these binoculars can really see into very dark corners. I used them at dusk, peering under bushes and tables outdoors— they were brighter than I could see unaided.
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Exit pupil and brightness
I determined that my middle-aged eyes cannot make full use of 56mm objectives. The huge 7.0mm exit pupil enabled by 56mm objectives is wasted on my eyes.
In actual fact, I found that the Swarovski EL 10 X42 binocular (4.2mm exit pupil) enabled me to see nearly as well as the 8X56 Zeiss. My theory is that the superior flare control contributed to that result by maintaining contrast in dimly lit areas. It’s clear that 45-50mm objectives are all my eyes can make use of (pupil size). More youthful binocular users might find 56mm objectives compelling compared to smaller objectives.
See my notes on the Zeiss Victory FL T* 8 X 32 binoculars. The same issue applies, which is a disappointment.
Any flare at all reduces the ability to see into dark areas, the major reason to seek out binoculars with 56mm objectives.
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I was startled to find that at closer distances (around 40-50 feet), the edges of the view showed visible blur. This took me a few minutes to puzzle out, and then the reason became clear: it was field curvature, same as found with many camera lenses.
I found the edge blur very annoying, because at closer range, a full 1/3 of the diameter of the viewing area was visibly blurred, and it was distracting as well. One can focus the binoculars at the edges, and observe blur develop at center, and vice versa!
The field curvature disappears at infinity focus, but there are many interesting subject to be viewed at closer range. I did not investigate whether the field curvature diminished at very close distances.
See my notes on the Victory T* FL 8 X 32 binocular for more on eye relief
These were the most comfortable of the Zeiss binoculars, with their 16mm eye relief.
While the weight is not a plus, I found the larger diameter barrels more comfortable to hold than any of the smaller Zeiss binoculars. I really liked this aspect.