Zeiss VictoryII's vs. Swarovski EL


July 23, 2004, 10:34 AM
Folks, in a bit of a dilemma over a high-end optics purchase. I have used the search function here and read everything on a couple of the birder sites about high-end binocs.
I am going on an Alaskan caribou hunt in September. We went in 2002 and got decent bulls, took a year off to save up and are going back looking for the big one this time. With the exception of a western big game hunt every couple of years as finances allow, 90% of my hunting is done for whitetails in Texas out of blinds and still-hunting. I currently use a pair of Steiner 8X30's. Decent glass, but not adequate for counting points in a shadow at 300 yards. I have read that I should go for better quality glass rather than more magnification for more practicality in the field, so I have narrowed it down to 2 pairs: the Zeiss Victory II 8X40 or the Swarovski EL 8.5 X 42. The Zeiss 'nocs are $1000, the Swaro's $1600, pretty big gap. I have only been able to look through the Swaro's locally, no one has the Zeiss V II's in stock. The Swaros were of course an eye-popping image, but I am not sure if they are worth the additional $600. Since I can't compare side-by-side, I am in a quandary. I am hesitant to buy anything that costs a thousand dollars without looking through them first. What would you folks do? Any opinions would be welcomed. THanks.

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July 23, 2004, 01:50 PM
Of those 2 for this trip I would go Swarovski - I can't say they are worth the difference but I do believe they might be and I am pretty sure they are better - if not much better.

That said I am inclined to disagree with your choice for your stated purpose.

That is I distinguish between

(1) spotting game in general - more practicality in the field

where I am in complete agreement, and where I would go for the Zeiss and save the money and

(2) Looking for the big one this time - counting points in a shadow at 300 yards - trophy hunting isn't practical anyway.

where I would myself save some weight on the rifle if necessary - I have an Ultralight in .270 Winchester in mind, homage to Jack O'Connor (not an elk nor yet a bear rifle but nice), and go up on the binocular - 8X56 Zeiss say or a 10X or some of the new fractionals or rely on a spotting scope I carry myself not the guide.

There is a sacrifice in field of view and also depth of field with really high powers - I've found the depth of field sacrifice surprisingly annoying - but I think it was Jim Carmichael who long ago wrote that the hunter is accustomed to holding steady so the hunter can hold a higher power steady, particularly from a rested position and also will benefit from the higher power.

Lee Woiteshek
July 23, 2004, 02:23 PM
I have the EL's. Just bought them a couple of months ago from Bass Pro. Spend the xtra 600 bucks, its the last glass you'll ever buy. Personally I wouldn't go over the 8.5 in power. Used to have a pair of 10X50 Swarovski's and I couldn't hold them steady. Sold them. I paid 1684.00 to my front door from Bass Pro for the EL's. Swarovski's are a bit like buying a Harley. You will pay retail, and if you think its too much, there is a line of people behind you who are waving cash in their hands to get the product.

July 24, 2004, 03:57 PM
Obviously nothing works for everybody or every time.

For focusing on a stationary object there are tips and tricks. Just as the Weaver stance uses tension so too a leash or lanyard can be tensioned or stepped on and pulled against or grasped tightly in a rested fist. Just as a rifle forend can be held steadier by grabbing the sling at the front swivel and resting the fist against a tree or fence post so too can glasses. A clip, magazine or belt slide of ammunition can be held against the top of the glasses for extra weight hence inertia much like a heavy rib or barrel on a pistol. Haven't checked but I am reasonably sure Jim Carmichael devoted a lot of ink to such things.

Again practice with these or other techniques may help if using higher powers to peer into shadows at 300 yards - which I regard as a somewhat specialized use - not at all what I would use to follow a football game say.

July 26, 2004, 12:04 AM
Rifle has a nice piece from Sept-Oct of last year on binoculars
High Magnification Binoculars (http://www.riflemagazine.com//magazine/article.cfm?tocid=1088&magid=78) John Barsness
To get really steady, grab the bill of your NRA baseball cap along with the binocular

He likes the ability of the shallow depth of field to "fuzz out" most brush and trees, often bringing a particle of deer into sharp focus something I've never really tried. I expect the shallow depth of field will annoy me forever.

I'd love to run into a motivated seller who found his 10X or 12X too powerful and his 329PD kicks too much. Like to meet the guy who wants to get out of a Swarovski because something cheaper was just as good or better. Hasn't happened to me yet

July 27, 2004, 11:07 PM
I located a shop about an hour away that has the Zeiss V II's in stock. I am going to drive up there next week and take a peek. I read the linked article on higher magnification, made me think a little more. A local shop is pushing the Leica Duovids 8-12 zoom binoc as the perfect choice for all situations. They are a little heavy, but should be ok with my harness system. I will check them out as well...I fear I may buy the 8X and then end up getting another higher-magnification pair a year or 2 down the line.

Thanks everyone for your input.

August 2, 2004, 06:29 PM
Well, I ended up going with neither the Swaros nor the Zeiss. I went on a house-hunting trip in San Antonio over the weekend. I found a shop there that had an excellent selection. I compared them all in low light. And I found I did not have a problem holding the 10X steady. The Leica Ultravids and the Swaros seemed to be a tie optically (to my eye), but the Leica's are better constructed and a few hundred dollars cheaper. The Zeiss V II's ARE noticebly brighter, but just not as sharp as the Leica's and the Swaro's. The Swaro's use a little too much plastic to save weight in my opinion.

August 3, 2004, 05:21 PM
I have the Zeiss BTP 10X25 and it's a real nice unit. It's small and lite and it's very well made.

August 6, 2004, 01:29 PM
For the purpose, the best I've ever handled was a 7x50 BGA Zeiss, but the purpose was boating not hunting.

I do find my guns and loads are more general purpose than they once were and my optics more specialized as time goes by.

August 6, 2004, 05:07 PM
My Leica 10X 42 Ultravids should get here next week. They are coming from SWFA's samplelist, Chris was helpful on the phone. I'll report back when I get home from Alaska and inform how they worked after a week of heavy glassing and rough treatment.

In my opinion Zeiss fell asleep at the wheel with binocs, simply because they dominated for so long. Now companies like Leica and Swarovski are using the latest greatest technology and Zeiss is playing catch-up. At every shop I asked why don't they have any Zeiss bino's in stock? They all said it is because they sit on the shelf forever, and they sell 5 pairs of Leicas or Swaros for every pair of Zeiss binoculars they sell.

August 6, 2004, 05:35 PM
Though I'd be inclined to guess that Zeiss, like Bausch & Lomb, is focused on industrial and professional markets or something else and Leica and Swarovski do consumer or prosumer or things for people to look at or through. I grew up reading about Jack O'Connor's Bausch & Lomb and always figured that's what I'd buy - no such thing when I could afford it.

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