Date of Review – April 2020
Price as reviewed – £799.00 (RRP: £850.00)
Zeiss…everyone with an interest in optics from cameras to telescopes to microscopes will have probably heard of them. Zeiss are a German company which has been flexing its optical muscles for decades and is the creator of models like the Dialyt, which are still optically superb.
The previous generation Conquest binocular was very nice to use and could compete with binoculars costing significantly more. Now updated to the “HD” model let’s see if the Zeiss quality remains or if the new model is just a poor substitute to the superb, but pricey, Zeiss Victory HT
While other manufacturers are using the “open hinge” design, Zeiss has stuck with the more traditional design for their Conquest HD. The Conquest HD is very compact but is quite weighty which some people may find a problem. Zeiss has clearly put thought into the design of the Conquest HD. The rubber armouring feels strong, the eyecups are comfortable and little bits of detailing give this binocular a quality appearance with strength to match. Even the Zeiss labelled rainguards have a quality feel and out of the box this is a quality binocular.
The mechanics are what you would expect of Zeiss, silky smooth. Precise focusing is very easy with the Conquest HD thanks to a fantastically smooth and freely rotating focus wheel which also has a quality rubber finish to provide grip when fine focusing. The fine focusing could be a slight criticism of the Conquest HD though as it can be a bit fine which, like the weight, some may find frustrating.
So far then Zeiss have secured their reputation for building binoculars that look and feel good. Being over £1000 cheaper than the Victory HT you do expect a couple of small faults but the weight and slightly critical focusing all come down to the individual user so are not faults that everyone will find, personally neither of these things were an issue but it is worth trying the Conquest HD to find out if you see these as a problem.
This is crunch time now for the Conquest HD. It looks and feels great but what about to use? Has Zeiss pulled off a master stroke and created a binocular costing under £800 that is optically superb?
Short answer….YES! A resounding YES. The image is bright and crisp on first view and as you adjust to it the sharpness, clarity and perfect colour representation come into play, there is no tint at all.
Objects appear to jump out at you. This may only be an 8x binocular but somehow everything appears much bigger, closer to a 10x than an 8x. The field of view is also superb meaning the Conquest HD is useful for a variety of scenarios.
When something is this good, or in some cases bad, it is very hard to describe how good (or bad) that thing is. So the best way to summarise the optics of the Conquest HD is like this….
The Conquest HD, to look through at least, is up there with the top offerings from Swarovski, Leica, Kowa, Minox, Nikon and even Zeiss themselves. There may be the smallest of differences under critical analysis but on day to day use the differences are negligible.
This is a big statement but the Conquest HD is a big performer, it is seriously worth a look if top optics are what you want.
The Zeiss Conquest HD 8×32 has left a lasting impression of superb quality. Optically its biggest rivals are binoculars costing two or three times as much, it really is that good. There will be tiny improvements for the £1000 jump in price but they are going to be so small that it really would be a case of picking hairs.
Overall Zeiss has produced a well built and pleasant binocular to use for £799.00. It may be a tad heavy for some and the focusing may be a little critical but these are down to personal choice rather than a fault that will affect every user.
It really cannot be stressed enough how important it is to try these binoculars out for yourself. Whether you are looking to spend £700 or get a top marque binocular for £1500 it is worth your time trying out the Zeiss Conquest HD 8×32/8×42/10×42.
It may just be the best value binocular available today.