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Thread: First focal plane Docter scope

  1. #1

    Default First focal plane Docter scope

    Initial tests of my new Docter Optics 2.5x10x48 30mm rifle scope, (formerly Carl Zeiss Jena, interesting post WWII ocupation story).
    The scope was compared to several quality scopes: Burris, Leupold, Nikon, Zeiss, Swarovski, Seeadler (German), and Bushnell. Unfortunately, I was not able to compare to German made Schmidt and Bender (a favorite), and U.S. made NightForce... mainly because I'm not rich.

    Construction: The Docter scope is built like a tank, very heavy-duty and strong.
    Eye relief / Field of view: similar to all tested quality scopes at night and in daylight.

    Light transmission / twilight factor: The Docter scope was equivalent to the Austrian made Swarovski scope. Docter was superior to all others, especially at night and in low-light conditions. It was brilliant, crystal clear! In fact, at the range it was used to find holes in targets that were shot with rifles using other scopes of equal or greater magnification.

    Harsh weather: All tested scopes were left outdoors in -20 degree F for two hours to cold soak. All scopes continued to function. However, the Docter was superior because the dioper control ring (eye focus piece) and variable ring did not become stiff and difficult to turn as did the other scopes. Its large adjustment rings remained very smooth and could even be operated while wearing gloves.
    When brought inside from the cold, all scopes became unusable for a few minutes due to condensation on both the ocular and objective lenses (lens covers were left off while outside). The Leupold fogged the least.
    The Docter scope came with clear scope covers with two heavy rubber straps connecting the two caps. Because they are see-thru, the scope could easily be used in a hurry in inclement weather with the caps on. The rubber straps maintained their elasticity when frozen. I really liked them.

    Again, I really liked the large easy to use dioper eye piece and variable power control rings. They felt to be very high quality, worked smoothly while frozen, and could be easily used with gloves. Other scope control rings became very stiff to impossible to turn. The Docter scope eye focus on the ocular objective works very well and focuses quickly there is no locking ring to have to deal with. I was delighted to discover that my reading glasses were not required because the focus corrected my small sight imperfection.

    The eye piece has a protective heavy rubber ring that remained soft, even while frozen. It provides the shooter / hunter with two benefits: increased accuracy due to relief from anxiety of being injured while using a rifle with violent recoil, and for shooters who require very little eye relief. Secondly, I liked how the rubber eye piece ring tightly sealed the protective cap (scope cover) preventing snow, moisture, and dust from getting on the ocular lens. Additionally, the rubber ring made removal of the ocular lens cover very quiet, very good for hunters.

    Initial shock test: The test used a Model 70, 300 Winchester Magnum with 200 grain Barnes bullets loaded to near maximum pressure. The recoil was significant and the scope perfectly maintained zero (see attached final target). The temperature was 8 degrees F, and 25 rounds were fired at 100 yards. Windage and elevation adjustments were sure and positive clicks.

    Reticle: Reticle choice is personal preference. Most American hunters and shooters like second focal plane reticles (the reticle always stays the same size regardless of magnification; considered good for long range shots because the reticle takes up a small part of the target).

    The Docter scope that I am testing is a first focal plane, which I prefer for many reasons. The reticle increases and decreases in size as magnification is increased or decreased. As the variable power is adjusted the target size as viewed and reticle size increase. This greatly helps to see the reticle in low-light conditions. As far as the reticle covering more of the target at very long ranges…. I find this argument insignificant because 400 yards is my maximum shot distance, and I think that most game is taken at much closer ranges. Additionally, many scope manufacturers state that a first focal plane scope does not change point of impact with magnification changes as second focal plane scopes are prone to do. The first focal plane offers simple and consistent hold-over calculations at any magnification, along with easy to use range marks.

    Future tests will occur during the next hunting seasons. These tests will include range mark use, humidity / fogging tests during rainy warm weather. Shock tests will be conducted by evaluating the scopes ability to maintain “zero” after miles of harsh, bumpy ATV trails and snowmobile vibration. In both cases, the rifle will be in a Kolpin gun boot mounted to the vehicle.
    Negative findings: the center of the crosshairs were somewhat difficult to see at night, as with all non illuminated reticle scopes. However, it was the best tested. I wish that I had the 56mm scope, or one with illuminated reticle crosshairs.
    Suggestions: The objective lens clear cover is loud to remove; the ocular end is very quiet due to the rubber ring on the eye piece. A piece of a foam or rubber ring inside of the scope cover would make it quiet. This will also seal the weather out.
    Last edited by akrifle; 02-10-2009 at 19:42. Reason: add pic

  2. #2
    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Default

    Great review! Keep it up...

  3. #3
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    Default Zeiss- Jena

    Thanks for the thorough review. In my testing of a number of scopes I've had a hard time finding any difference in scopes at 6x including the Schmidt and Bender and Carl Zeiss. I'd love to take a look through it some time; we can compare to some of mine. Were you comparing at higher power or lower powers - the twilight factor is less at lower powers?

    The first plane scopes are kinda interesting but take some getting used to - I wish the effect was the other way around i.e. thicker crosshairs at lower power.

    Small point but the Zeiss from E. Germany were generally refered to in catalogs selling both like Frankonia as Zeiss-Jena while the W. German scopes were refered to as Zeiss or Carl Zeiss. In my Frankonia catalog from approx. 1980 the Zeiss-Jena scopes were about half the price of the Carl Zeiss scopes.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
    ".. ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" JFK

  4. #4
    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tvfinak View Post
    Small point but the Zeiss from E. Germany were generally refered to in catalogs selling both like Frankonia as Zeiss-Jena while the W. German scopes were refered to as Zeiss or Carl Zeiss. In my Frankonia catalog from approx. 1980 the Zeiss-Jena scopes were about half the price of the Carl Zeiss scopes.
    Excuse my ignorance, but.....two companies or one...both named Zeiss?

  5. #5
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    Default Carl Zeiss or Zeiss-Jena

    Zeiss was orginally in E. Germany in Jena. As East Germany was being taken over by the Commies after WWII many of the Zeiss family and technology was taken to W. Germany and the Zeiss name and reputation continued in the free world generally under the Carl Zeiss name. The Zeiss name was trademarked in the US by the W.German group so the commie stuff could not be legally imported into the U.S. under the Zeiss name. It was sold in much of the rest of the world as Zeiss-Jena.

    The W. German Zeiss had the advantage of modern technology and the free market so the Zeiss-Jena stuff was generally a step or two behind and typical of commie stuff - heavy, functional, but not totally up to date technology wise.

    For marketing and other reason the orginal Zeiss-Jean is now sold as the Docter optics. I don't know if Zeiss reclaimed the Jena company after reunification or who owns it now.

    I suspect Docter optics will have a hard time to ever catch up with Zeiss in reputation and perceived quality. The first plane reticle is an example- most everyone else dumped that design years ago.


    Quote Originally Posted by hunt_ak View Post
    Excuse my ignorance, but.....two companies or one...both named Zeiss?
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
    ".. ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" JFK

  6. #6

    Default Docter Oprics scope feedback

    Thanks for the feedback.
    Let me clear up.... "Zeiss" is now the former West German Zeiss as tvfinak explained. So if you buy a new Zeiss that is what you get. It seems that the fight over who was the real Zeiss is over. The former East German Carl Zeiss-Jena folks no longer use their root Zeiss name. They now belong to the Analytic Jena (leader in high end optics for laboratory, industrial and scientific applications) corporation in Germany and manufacture scopes under the Docter Optics name.

    tvfinak is correct that during the cold war years the West German Zeiss were generally twice the price and thought superior by many. I've had both and the West German was sexier, but both were very good quality. I used to go into the communist side of Berlin and buy the Zeiss Jena Binoculars for pennies on the dollar. They are fantastic. We all used their microscopes in school as kids.

    As far as first focal plane comments..... I like them best. Docter Optics does make both, because most US hunters like second focal plane, while Europeans can hunt at night and find the first focal plane a great advantage. I have read that Zeiss now makes a second focal plane scope that cannot change point of impact with magnification changes. However, it requires a lot of meticulous by-hand adjustments and is very spendy.

    My objective in the test was to find an "Alaska tough" and reliable scope with brilliant glass. To me, the Docter was found vastly superior ......so far. The price ain't too bad either. It said a lot to me when the Docter scope was used to find holes in targets 100 yds away when other quality scope could not. Additionally, I have used $30 Tasco / BSA scopes successfully on junker rifles. I still want to shock test it on the ATV.

  7. #7
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    Default Docter Optics

    Please keep us updated on your quest.

    In my recent exprience I can't find that much difference in the optical quality of the better medium to high end optics I've compared. Part of "better" is personal preference and how good your eyes are matched to the scope. Rifle scopes - like any other highly engineered product - must compromise one factor for another. Weight is a compromise for durability for example. I'm not knowledgeable of all the optical oompromises and the tradeoff - light transmission vs. color rendetion vs. contrast vs. sharpness etc. There is probably a good reference on the web somewhere - if I find it I'll post the link.

    Euopeans certainly certainly have difference ideas from us on scopes. The German claw mounts are great but expensive. Putting the windage adjustment in the mount vs. the scope has some advantages. The rapid diapoter or focus adjustment is kinda neat but requires more sealing.

    In think in most of the U.S. it is illegal to hunt after sundown so having a heavy reticle at high power makes little sense. Having a heavier recticle at low power is more suited to our hunting where we may be after game in brush during twilight and dawn low light conditions.

    I had orginally compared scopes during low light conditions. Now that we have more daylight I'll try it again during the day and see what differences - if any - I can find.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
    ".. ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" JFK

  8. #8
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    Default Docter Optics 1.5 - 6X scope

    I picked up an older Zeiss Jena - now Docter Optics - 1.5 to 6X scope at the gun show yesterday for $30. It was sold by Waffen Frankonia as a house brand hence no name or "Germany" on it so the seller didn't know what he had and priced it way too low (for him).

    Very nice piece of optics - especially for the price! I'll try to get it mounted on a .375 H&H or such and see how it works out. It does have a massive 32mm tube and the Z rail mounts so getting it mounted may be a challenge.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
    ".. ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" JFK

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