Zeiss Conquest HD 10x56, 15x56 Binoculars
July/Aug 2014 Issue of MuleyCrazy Magazine
by Steve Monk
Zeiss Conquest 10x56, 15x56
Earlier this year while at SHOT Show in Las Vegas, we were first introduced to the 8x56, 10x56 and 15x56 models that Zeiss was adding to their already impressive Conquest HD line. We couldn’t wait to get our hands on them. Zeiss has always made top-of-the-line optics, and we knew these new additions would be no exception. Now that we’ve had them for a while, we are beyond impressed. We knew that they would be good, but saying they are awesome is an understatement. In this article I’ll give you some of the highlights, having used them and compared them side-by-side with many other top-end binoculars.
How good is the glass?
HD Lens System:
Looking through these binoculars, one thing that is instantly noticeable is the very real-looking color. There’s no strange hue, no dingy colors, just a bright and brilliant image that looks very real and true. The top-notch Carl Zeiss T* multi-layer coating gives these binoculars impressive light transmission of more than 90%. The lenses are also coated with the innovative LotuTec coating that allows water to roll right off the lens. This coating also makes for simple and easy cleaning of the lens, as dust will easily wipe off without scratches or damage. The clarity of the glass is what you would expect from Zeiss--absolutely incredible. In fact, the brightness, color, clarity and ability to reduce heat waves is very comparable binoculars that are far more expensive.
For hunters who are serious about hunting big country and increasing their effectiveness in low-light conditions, these binoculars are something you should pay serious attention to. These new 56mm objective lenses are simply incredible and have exceptional light-gathering capabilities. Because prime-time for mule deer hunting is at the crack of dawn and dusk, being able to see deer clearly in extremely low-light conditions is a huge advantage in the field. Thinking back on my earlier years of hunting, I can recall countless times glassing right at dark and spotting what looked like a great buck, but never could tell how big it was. All that I can remember is a big, blurry rack fading into the darkness. Had I been glassing with these binoculars, there would have been no doubt about it.
Along with these large diameter lenses’ ability capture tons of light, they also have a very large field of view. This allows you to see a lot more at once, optimizing your time spent glassing. The lenses are completely clear all the way to the very outside edges, making this large field of view completely useful.
Something that is very important in any pair of binoculars, but especially ones that are designed for long-range, extensive glassing, is the comfort of the eyecups. I love the size and feel of the eyecups on the Conquest HD series. They are also fully adjustable, with a very solid, smooth adjustment that won’t rotate out of place.
While these new binoculars are larger than the standard 10x42, the increased clarity and brightness is well worth it. First, keep in mind that the reason they are heavy is because there is a lot more quality glass inside of them. During a long, brutal hike up a high ridge, you probably wouldn’t even notice the extra weight. But, having the ability to glass in the first few moments of gray light and the last few minutes before dark is something you absolutely will notice. That heart-pounding, out-of-breath, thigh-burning hike will give you a much better return by giving you more opportunity to spot the monster buck you’re after.
In addition to the extra opportunity these larger binoculars will give you, I have found that heavier binoculars are actually easier to hold steady while glassing. This might seem strange or backward, but they are steadier because the extra weight is less affected by the small, little shakes and jitters in our hands. You’ll need some help to keep the 15x56’s steady, but again, Zeiss has you covered.
With 15-power binoculars, a tripod is a must and an adapter is needed to secure them for rock-solid, long-range glassing. As an added bonus to an already exceptional piece of glass, a tripod adapter is included with the 15x56 model. This isn’t some cheap little trinket. This is a precision machined, lightweight, high quality adapter that is very simple and very solid. Consider that a comparable adapter from some of their counterparts retails for $150, and you can see that Zeiss is giving you more than your money’s worth.
The designers have done an awesome job on all 3 of these new models. The ergonomics are great. They are extremely well balanced, allowing focus adjustments so comfortable you hardly even have to think about it. The focusing knob is large and easy to use; not too fast and not too easy.
I am very impressed at how comfortable these binoculars are. When you put your hands around them, these binoculars have a very comfortable and natural feel to them. In addition to the great feel, there is no question that they are extremely robust and well built. The lightweight, aluminum housing is ready take almost anything that rough mule country (and hunters) can throw at them, while keeping the precision elements inside to be perfectly protected. In the event that you push past the limits and something unfortunate does happen, Zeiss has you covered.
What about the warranty?
The golden question. As you’re crawling through the sagebrush, in pursuit of a big old buck, the last thing anyone wants to worry about is their $1000+ investment dragging over the rocks and through the dirt. When substantial money is involved, the question of whether or not the manufacturer will stand behind their product is paramount in peoples’ minds. It is imperative that high-end optics manufacturers understand that these products are used and for more than just observing tweety-birds and will most likely take a beating. Also, that most people only plan on buying high-end optics once, because their bank accounts or marriages (or both) can’t afford it!
As a company that sees the value in the hunting market, it’s no surprise that Zeiss has stepped up to the plate, with a warranty that says - right on the box, “NO FAULT POLICY- If it breaks, we’ll fix it. Period.” This puts to rest any concerns about whether or not they stand behind this new line of Conquest HD products.
Combining their extensive experience and state-of-the-art technology, these two new Zeiss products offer outstanding performance at a very reasonable price.
The Conquest HD 8x56’s have a Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) of $1449, the 10x56 is $1499 and the 15x56 (including the tripod adapter) is $1599. As I stated at the beginning, you would be shocked to see how well they compare to similar binoculars with a much larger price tag. In my opinion, not only has Zeiss hit a home run, but a grand slam with the introduction of these new models.
If you’re in the market for a great pair of binoculars, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better value and these deserve your attention. Give us a call at the MuleyCrazy office and we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.