While the Carl Zeiss Victory HT Binoculars are not yet available in Australia. I somehow managed to borrow a unit from a very kind customer of OpticsCentral. No photos yet as I only had these for an hour or so around the shop. As discussed previously, the biggest upgrade in the Victory HT is the SCHOTT HT Glass.
The Zeiss Victory HT Binoculars is initially available only in 10×42 and 8×42 form. Other variants will be released slowly as they phase the FL out. (Well, the Victory FL’s last known production run was earlier this year so whatever stock that is left is it). Based on information given by the Zeiss Distributors in Australia, they will retail for approximately the same price as the previous FL’s. OpticsCentral estimates that prices will start in Australia for $2499 for the 8×42.
This puts it right into its usual competition of the Leica Ultravid, Swarovski EL and more recently, the Steiner Discovery/Nighthunter XP (aka. Peregrine’s). I can’t comment on the accessories and packaging as I did not see it. However, being Zeiss, expect the packaging to be fairly basic like they have always been. If you like the fancy wow factory of unboxing, buy a Leica.
Body and Build
Based on my knowledge and reading Birdwatching Forums, it is widely accepted that the ergonomics of the outgoing Victory FL was poor. I personally felt that the focus wheel could be smoother and the binoculars was just slightly awkward to hold. First impressions are that the HT’s are luxurious to hold. It is hard to put a word to it but my interpretation is like upgrading from a 10 year old BMW to a brand new one. We took a Victory FL just for comparison and the Zeiss Victory HT Binoculars were in a different class, it instantly made the previous generation feel aged and cheap. The rubber is no longer the soft solid black rubber we’ve been accustomed to but a much more comfortable and expensive feel.
I am glad that the focus wheel is buttery smooth. Zeiss has finally decided to follow suit and consulted a user before designing the binoculars because the focus wheel is where is should be. As opposed to the awkward position of the previous one, having one (or both) hands so far back not only makes it weird, but I can’t seem to hold them as steady when holding them so far towards the back.
This is like Lamborghini deciding to build a faster car even though they already make the fastest. I have a slight bias towards the Zeiss, I personally already find them the pick of the bunch and already pretty good, but the Zeiss Victory HT Binoculars have just taken it to a whole new level.
Images are extremely sharp and bright as expected. We tested it on the Lamp Post against the white sky for chromatic aberration vs the Victory FL’s. Although the Chromatic Aberration of the Victory was already minimal, what we noticed was not only does the Zeiss have less Aberration, the colours did seem to be much more accurate and vivid.
Low light performance is pretty impressive with the higher light transmission. I would love to test these in dusk or poor weather again when I get a pair to keep for a couple of days. I would be surprised if they were the same as a Victory FL.
As I only had a chance to use them within the warehouse. These pictures are taken from an iPhone so please excuse the quality. As you can see, Carl Zeiss has improved their packaging for binoculars drastically. Gone are the awful Blue boxes and here come the Leica looking boxes. One side of the box houses the binoculars in a perfectly cut Carl Zeiss Blue foam and the other side houses all the other bits like the Carrying Case, Instructions, Cleaning Cloths… etc.