My new Zeiss Conquest 3-9x40mm MC with the RZ-600 reticle.


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1858
May 30, 2009, 10:53 PM
I just received a new Zeiss Conquest 3-9x40mm MC with the RZ-600 reticle. This is my first Zeiss scope and so I have some observations that members here may or may not find interesting. Some background, I have six Leupold Mark 4 scopes, four of which I use on a regular basis out to 600 yards in F-Class "tactical" matches. I also have an older Leupold Vari-X IIc and a new Swarovski Laser Guide range finder. I've owned and sold a Leupold Vari-X III, a Leupold EER VARI-X and a couple of Tasco scopes that I bought a long time ago. The most expensive scope I've looked through for more than just a few seconds is an IOR but I've never looked through, handled or even seen a Nightforce, S&B, PR or US Optics. I have shot a 458 SOCOM (five rounds) with a Super Sniper attached to it. That scope has the dubious distinction of being the worst scope I've ever looked through. As I mentioned in another thread, it wasn't mine so I didn't check if it was focused correctly or if the objective and ocular lenses were clean. Anyway, just some background on my optical experience or lack thereof.

Before I get started, most of my comments re the Zeiss will be comparing it to the Mark 4 line since that's what I know.

As for the Zeiss, the first thing you see is the box that the scope comes in. The box and packaging alone probably save Zeiss hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. No fancy cloth, no Butler Creek lens caps, a cheap looking user manual, no foam padding ... just a simple box with some paper in it.

The scope itself gives a very good overall first impression with a HUGE ocular bell ... looks cool if you ask me. The bell is WAY longer than the Mark 4 line and that just adds to the European look/feel of the scope. The paint finish is superb and personally I prefer it to the Mark 4. The Mark 4 paint looks/feels very thin and too smooth to stand up to much abuse ... this is pure conjecture on my part. However, I do like the look/feel (slightly rough) of the Zeiss paint better.

http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/optics/zeiss/zeiss_conquest_zoom.jpg

Now from some surprises. The caps over the windage/elevation adjustments are plastic. Not a huge deal but surprising nonetheless. I haven't decided if that's going to annoy me yet. The elevation, windage and power adjustments on the Conquest are all BACKWARDS compared to the Mark 4 line!! Mark 4s are absolutely intuitive in terms of elevation/windage adjustments. With the Mark 4s you screw the adjustments out (counterclockwise) to move the POI up/right, screw the adjustments in (clockwise) to move the POI down/left .. not so with the Zeiss and so it leaves me wondering if their reticle is upside down inside the scope!! This isn't a deal breaker for a hunting scope where the elevation/windage is set and left but if I were looking for a tactical scope, then I wouldn't buy a Zeiss (assuming their tactical scopes have the same backward arrangement).

http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/optics/zeiss/zeiss_conquest_adjustments.jpg

The next thing I noticed is that the power adjustment ring stops before it gets to 3 ... not a big deal but a little annoying. I must say, I prefer the Zeiss power adjustment ring and markings compared to the Mark 4 line. The ring is easier to grab and turn and the markings make power selection more positive. The large ring adds size and it's largely responsible for the oversized appearance of the ocular bell but I like it. One other difference compared to the Mark 4 line is that the Zeiss power ring rotates in the opposite direction to increase the magnification i.e. left on the Zeiss, right on the Mark 4.

http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/optics/zeiss/zeiss_conquest_zoom_3x.jpg

OK ... now for some visual comparisons. I picked a tree about 50 yards away, cleaned the windows in my office (can't open them) and tried to get some photos so as to make a fair comparison. I used a Nikon D80 with a Nikon 18-200mm VR lens. I used the camera in manual mode with bracketing (+0.3 step, F/5.6, 1/50 sec, ISO-100) and selected the middle exposure for each image posted. I took photos through the Leupold Vari-X IIc, one of my Mark 4s (3.5-10x40mm), the Zeiss and my Swarovski Laser Guide (virtually impossible). The Vari-X II is a 6-18x40mm with an AO objective so I figured I'll take photos on 6x or as close to it as possible to make a fair comparison. The Swarovski is an 8x and I couldn't even get close to a full field of view due the non-existent eye relief ... it's a monocular but just like binoculars the eye relief is very, very short.

Now for some photos .... first, the Leupold Vari-X IIc ... (larger file (http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/optics/zeiss/leupold_vari-x_ii.jpg))

http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/optics/zeiss/leupold_vari-x_ii_small.jpg

next the Mark 4 ... (larger file (http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/optics/zeiss/leupold_mark_4.jpg))

http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/optics/zeiss/leupold_mark_4_small.jpg

then the Zeiss .... (larger file (http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/optics/zeiss/zeiss_conquest.jpg))

http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/optics/zeiss/zeiss_conquest_small.jpg

and finally the Swarovski (as best I could).

http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/optics/zeiss/swarovski.jpg

After spending about an hour comparing all four optics and looking at these photos, one thing is glaringly obvious, Leupold, Zeiss and Swarovski scopes/optics have different ideas about color representation. I will say without a doubt (based on my limited experience and limited number of scopes) that Leupold Mark 4 and Zeiss Conquest scopes are equally capable of producing sharp images at any point in the field of view (not true of the Vari-X IIc) but the Mark 4s provide a more natural color palette. If you don't believe me, look at the color of the vegetation in the upper right hand corner of the images. You'll notice that the view through the Mark 4 is closer in color to the unmagnified vegetation compared to the Zeiss. It's up to the individual as to what they prefer as one is not necessarily better than the other, just different. Zeiss and Swarovski are very similar in terms of color representation which isn't a big surprise since they're both from the same neck of the woods.

This whole color issue reminds me of comparing Ray-Ban sunglasses to Serengeti to Maui Jim etc. Personal preference or what you're used to can make a big difference as to your perception of the glass quality but quality sunglasses all do what they're supposed to do ... they just do it in a different way.

:)

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Roadwild17
May 30, 2009, 11:16 PM
Thanks for the post, Im intersted in a zeiss.

1858
May 30, 2009, 11:27 PM
Bear in mind that all the images through the optics shown above are worst case scenarios. Putting your eye up to a scope outdoors will result in MUCH, MUCH clearer images compared to all of the degradation that I show looking through a glass window, plus the camera lens UV filter, camera lens itself, compression of the image etc.

I will say, the Conquest is a very, very nice scope for $575 and I think I'll like it even more once it's on my Alaskan Ti and dropping sheep at 350 yards.

:)

MTMilitiaman
May 31, 2009, 06:02 AM
Could you please explain the reticle to us? It looks similar to the Leupold B&C reticle, but I was wondering how wide a range of loads can it be adjusted for and such?

1858
May 31, 2009, 07:34 AM
Could you please explain the reticle to us? It looks similar to the Leupold B&C reticle, but I was wondering how wide a range of loads can it be adjusted for and such?

Sure ... here are some images explaining the various features of the reticle.

http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/optics/zeiss/rz-600_3.jpg

http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/optics/zeiss/rz-600_2.jpg

http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/optics/zeiss/rz-600_1.jpg

http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/optics/zeiss/rz-600_4.jpg

http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/optics/zeiss/rz-600_5.jpg

http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/optics/zeiss/rz-600_6.jpg



The reticle can be calibrated using the free utility on the Zeiss web page HERE (http://www.zeiss.com/c1256bcf0020be5f/Contents-Frame/46cbcef61def2b88852574f700589d31). You input your specific load data and conditions in the first step. In this example I'm using a Hornady 150gr InterLock SST in a .300WSM.

http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/optics/zeiss/rz-600_calibration_1.jpg

Next, you select the maximum magnification that you wish to use (I chose 9x), and the calculator tells you what power to set the scope to and what distance each horizontal holdover line equates to. In this example, 8.9x gives the following ...

301 yards at line 3
398 yards at line 4
501 yards at line 5
600 yards at line 6

http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/optics/zeiss/rz-600_calibration_2.jpg

The reticle can be calibrated for an infinite number of calibers and loads since the power can be varied so that the horizontal stadia equate to easy to use/remember holdover distances.

:)

dakotasin
May 31, 2009, 10:36 AM
i've got a few zeiss and a lot of leupolds... the thing that drives me nuts about the zeiss is the plastic, oddly marked turrets. other than that, i think highly of the zeiss, and in certain applications it looks better than leupold, which is tough to do imo. for instance, in applications where you have a lot of drop at the stock, high bolt handles, or an unusually high mounted scope, the zeiss will improve the looks of the rifle (think pre-64 winchesters and sported mausers). the classic lines of the leupold look better on other applications (rem 700's)...

i am looking forward to your thoughts of the rapid-z reticle. i haven't used one, so don't have an opinion of it.

at any rate, one of the points you bring up about color representation is where you get into some of the heated zeiss vs leupold discussions. as someone who is severely colorblind, i notice it if i look for it, but it doesn't jump at me. to someone who is not colorblind, it is probably a big deal...?

anyway, hope the scope does its thing for ya!

Boris Barowski
May 31, 2009, 11:47 AM
2 more days and my Zeiss arrives too :)
a Zeiss 4.5-14x50, with just a normal Z-plex reticle tho

I'll only shoot at fixed, known distances at my range, so just a Zplex should do

1858
May 31, 2009, 07:51 PM
i am looking forward to your thoughts of the rapid-z reticle. i haven't used one, so don't have an opinion of it.

I'll only shoot at fixed, known distances at my range, so just a Zplex should do

I chose the RZ-600 reticle since this scope will be used for hunting at ranges out to 400 yards (.300WSM) and possibly beyond. I wanted accurate holdover stadia for shots at longer ranges since it's not practical to mess around with the elevation/windage adjustments in the field.

I compared the calibrated holdover values (IPHY) generated by Zeiss for the RZ-600 reticle, a 9x scope and the conditions shown to ballistic data generated by ExBal (Nightforce software) for the same load (shown in parentheses).

Line 3: 2.09 = -6.29 in. @ 301 yards .... (-6.30 in. @ 300 yards)
Line 4: 4.45 = -17.66 in. @ 397 yards .... (-18.3in. @ 400 yards)
Line 5: 7.33 = -36.65 in. @ 500 yards .... (-37.2 in. @ 500 yards)
Line 6: 10.47 = -62.82 in. @ 600 yards .... (-64.1 in. @ 600 yards)

You can see how close the Zeiss holdover values are to "actual" bullet drop values with the scope at 8.9x, which for all intents and purposes is 9x. It couldn't get any easier. A different MV may put the optimized magnification at 8.7x, 8.8x or some other value, but it's going to be close to 9x.

On a side note, when I showed my wife the photos comparing the color reproduction between the Zeiss and the Mark 4 and mentioned that I thought the Mark 4 was more accurate, she said (talking of hunting), "you're gonna shoot it, not paint it!!" She always gets right to the point. :)

:)

Maverick223
June 14, 2009, 11:23 PM
BUMP for tasty Zeiss goodness. :) ...and a good review 1858!

dakotasin
June 15, 2009, 09:08 AM
have you actually shot it to verify the holdover points yet?

i shot my monarch's holdovers this weekend and they were incredibly far off...

1858
June 15, 2009, 02:54 PM
have you actually shot it to verify the holdover points yet?

I haven't even assembled any 150gr SST loads for the .300WSM yet but that's my next project. Once I get "the load" figured out, I'll run the Zeiss calibration utility and then test the rifle/scope/load at 200, 300 and 600 yards. I'll report back.

:)

dakotasin
June 15, 2009, 07:46 PM
looking forward to it!

sscoyote
June 16, 2009, 01:01 AM
I love the RR's and RZ's. They're both designed by the guys from rapidreticle.com. I had the 22 Long Rifle Rapid Reticle on an AR-15 for awhile and just loved it. I just recently got a 3-9x 32mm RR600 that's probably the same subtensions as the RZ-600.

1858
June 16, 2009, 01:23 AM
sscoyote, thanks for the tip ... I'd never heard of Pride Fowler, Inc. until I read your post. I also had no idea that they designed the RZ reticles used by Zeiss. The Zeiss ones are slightly different though with much lighter, almost dotted lines left/right/up/down of center.

http://rapidreticle.com/index.htm

The PFI scopes are all front focal plane models too ... very cool!

Thanks for the education.
:)

Maverick223
June 16, 2009, 01:31 AM
I really like their RR800 reticle, it is similar to PR's Gen. 2 XR reticle. :)

Savage99
June 16, 2009, 10:52 AM
To all,

I buy my Zeiss Conquest scopes from Cameraland. Their 'demo' ones are as new in the box and the prices are the best. After buying ten Leupolds all my scopes now are Zeiss.

http://www.cameralandny.com/demos-zeiss.html

Evergreen
June 16, 2009, 09:15 PM
Good review. I am in the market for a good scope. I was checking out IOR Valdala's at some different places. It sounds like Zeiss is an ideal hunting scope, but how would you assess it as a range scope for hitting paper?

I, myself am in the market for a tactial scope ranging from $800-$1300, but would like to find something in the bottom of this range. One prob I saw with the Z-800 reticle of the Zeiss Conquest 4.5-14 is that it seems to be gauged for hunting application rather than target shooting, since it lacks the target turrets. Any thoughts about this?

The one scope that caught my eye for around $1150 was the IOR Valdala 4-14 x50 with the illuminated MP8 dot reticle. It really looks kinda robust and aimed for target/tactical shooting from the specs on par with Mark 4, but I am not sure of the quality of the scopes. I am hearing mixed reviews. I also see another model called the Spartan, but it seems the Tactical MP8 model does most of what it does for less, minus the BDC knob.

In the honest opinion of the OP or others here, would the IOR Valdala 4-14x50 with illumination be a better target scope than a Zeiss or Leupold Mark 4? I called IOR and can say the sales/tech people there are like 1/10th as friendly and helpful as they are at Leupold or Zeiss, but I cannot jump to any conclusion on the quality of the product or whether they will fix problems, back up their claimed warranty. The guy at IOR claimed that the Leupold's are cheap scopes made in China and that is why they have such a great warranty. Not sure if is claim holds water or not.

Anyone have feelings about IOR scopes? Would the Zeiss Conquest suffice for a good tactical scope if you are able to switch out the hunting turrets and put on the target turrets? The Rapid-Z 800 reticle does appear to be sort of busy, but perhaps once you adapt to it, it would prove to be very useful.

Maverick223
June 16, 2009, 09:38 PM
Zeiss for Tactical/Target, IOR for Target?Pretty much...Zeiss does have some target scopes though. For the most part I see the Zeiss (along with Swaro and Kahles) as a hunting scope. Neither make a good FFP (first focal plane) scope, Zeiss doesn't make it and apparently the one IOR that is has reliability issues. The Hensoldt does have excellent FFP scopes...but...prepare to pay at least $3,500.00USD (and up to $15k :eek:) to try one out. :)

1858
June 16, 2009, 10:19 PM
I called IOR and can say the sales/tech people there are like 1/10th as friendly and helpful as they are at Leupold or Zeiss, but I cannot jump to any conclusion on the quality of the product or whether they will fix problems, back up their claimed warranty. The guy at IOR claimed that the Leupold's are cheap scopes made in China and that is why they have such a great warranty. Not sure if is claim holds water or not.

That comment from the IOR idiot would put me off buying IOR right away!! I've looked through an IOR scope at the range and was impressed with the glass and the reticle but not much else. If you have a good product that you're confident is better than the competition, you don't need to make up BS about your competitors. If you do, then you start to loose credibility.

As for Zeiss, I like their RZ reticles but have you considered sscoyote's suggestion of a PFI? If you decide on a Zeiss, the 4.5-14x50 AO MC with the RZ-1000 reticle and target turrets could be a good choice, particularly on a .308 or similar.

Zeiss 4.5-14x50 AO MC (http://www.zeiss.com/c1256bcf0020be5f/Contents-Frame/ca204e4aa6dc6a3385256e40005ae3e8)

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the world of optics is just as weighed down with internet BS as every other firearms related subject. The truth is, unless you buy a number of different scopes from different manufactures with different reticles and other features, and use them under a variety of conditions, you're not going to have any frame of reference. You'll learn to use what you have and will most likely be happy with that. Maybe at some point you'll get to try a top-of-the-line scope and then you won't be so happy ... or maybe not. After spending five minutes with the IOR, I happily went right back to my Mark 4s. I like the Zeiss Conquest that I bought, enough in fact that I plan on ordering another for a new hunting rifle, but it doesn't make me think more or less of the Leupolds that I have. The Mark 4s excel at what they were designed to do, as will the Zeiss. If I were putting together another tactical/match rifle, I'd probably use the Mark 4 3.5-10x40mm Ill. TMR M3 that's currently wasted on an AR. If I wanted something different, I'd choose a FFP scope of some form with MOA/MOA or Mil/Mil reticle/adjustments. That'd rule out a Mark 4 of course but that's ok.

:)

Evergreen
June 16, 2009, 11:19 PM
That comment from the IOR idiot would put me off buying IOR right away!! I've looked through an IOR scope at the range and was impressed with the glass and the reticle but not much else. If you have a good product that you're confident is better than the competition, you don't need to make up BS about your competitors. If you do, then you start to loose credibility.

Well, the guy at Liberty Optics made the same claim. A few people now have told me Leupold doesn't write where the parts of the scopes are made on purpose, because they want to conceal the info. Whether it is true or not, I am not entitled to say, since I don't know. Whoever puts it together, comes second to the quality of parts and with Leupold's warranty, I am sure you won't have to worry about having a junk scope.


As for Zeiss, I like their RZ reticles but have you considered sscoyote's suggestion of a PFI? If you decide on a Zeiss, the 4.5-14x50 AO MC with the RZ-1000 reticle and target turrets could be a good choice, particularly on a .308 or similar.

Zeiss 4.5-14x50 AO MC


Sounds like good suggestion. What advantages do they have being FFP? How do they compare with Leupold and Zeiss? The one problem with these which will make me pass probably is the lack of magnification, they only go from 3-9x and I am looking more for up to 14.

There is a few reasons why I fear purchasing a Zeiss. The RZ-1000 is very busy reticle and I am reading its primary use is for shooting beyond 500 yards. I am primarily doing shorter range stuff under 400 yards, maybe 800 yards max, but more seldom. The RZ-800 reticle looks good, but it seems it was designed for hunting, since it only comes with hunting turrets. Yeah 4.5-14 is more in the area of the mag range I am searching for.

Maverick223
June 16, 2009, 11:34 PM
Well, the guy at Liberty Optics made the same claim.That's interesting...cause he sells em'.

Maverick223
June 16, 2009, 11:37 PM
What advantages do they have being FFP?Allows a ballistic reticle to stay the same at all levels of magnification, but the reticle size grows with magnification rather than staying fine like a SFP reticle. :)

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