AllOutdoor Review: SIG ZULU6 16x42mm Image Stabilized Binoculars
Doug E 06.25.21
Last November, SIG Sauer announced their new Image Stabilized Binoculars in two sizes and magnification levels which I immediately requested the 16x42mm version. Six months later, I had them in hand. Optical Image Stabilization technology has been around since the late 1980’s beginning with photography in mind; however, that technology has a place for helping people see more detail outside of photography and videography such as military, law enforcement, and especially outdoorsy people such as ourselves. Let’s take a closer look at SIG’s Zulu6 16x42mm Optical Image Stabilized Binoculars.
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SIG SAUER ZULU6 BINOCS: INITIAL IMPRESSIONS
This was my first foray into Image Stabilized optics, but I was greatly looking forward to it. The heavy-duty cardboard box that the SIG Zulu6 binocs come in was sleek and stylish, which is kind of a precursor indication that you’re about to hold something really nice, even though I don’t really keep stuff in the original boxes. Inside the fancy box, was a set of instructions, and a soft protective case with a belt loop, inside of which were the actual Zulu6 binoculars. Since I was the one that had requested to review the Zulu6 binocs, I expected a different look than that of traditional looking binoculars, and I wasn’t disappointed when I lifted them out of the box. The SIG Zulu6 binocs actually look more akin something you’d see in a sci-fi film, but I’m a geek anyway so I thought they looked pretty cool.
I first adjusted the diopter ring to my eyes, then adjusted the focus on various objects, and I was quite pleased with the results. The two eyepieces are separate from the main tubes which are in one housing, and the eyepieces are designed to work together, so when one is moved in or out, the other eyepiece does the same, symmetrically speaking.
The image is crisp and clear, but due to the higher magnification of the 16 power, it was easy to see how much vibration I was inputting into the system. Just standing in place wasn’t horrible without image stabilization, but it was slightly noticeable. The SIG Zulu6 comes with a AA battery included, which is blocked from activation by a plastic barrier inside the battery compartment. The compartment door has a hinged tab for easy removal and replacement. I was eager to check out the image stabilization, so once the battery was engaged inside, I flipped the switch on the top of the binoculars to “on.” I was instantly in awe of how big of a difference there was between the “off” and “on” functions.
SIG ZULU6 IMAGE STABILIZED BINOCULARS: IN THE FIELD
Cutting right to the chase so to speak, I took the SIG Zulu6 binoculars on a family trip to town (which makes me sounds pretty hick-ish, but that’s fine with me) to see how the image stabilizer works while really moving. The results were stunning to say the least, and this is really where optical image stabilization shines. In the “off” position, the Zulu6 binocs were usable, but getting any sort of detail like license plates, or just enjoying wildlife were pretty difficult at speed. Switching them “on” instantly calms the image to where you can see every detail, whether it’s reading that license plate or seeing every spot on a fawn. The video below is an example of how it looks switching it off and on. I apologize for the picture moving around, holding the camera up to the eyepiece was a bit hard while trying to use the switch at the same time.
The unconventional housing style, coupled with the battery compartment placement makes holding the SIG Zulu6 bincos a bit awkward at first, but the more I used them I found what worked for me. The 16x42mm model is a bit bulky to keep on a belt in the case, but keeping them in a pack, or using the provided strap around your neck and shoulder keeps them out of the way until needed.
The video below shows the internal mechanism at work while the electronics are switched on. The arrows point to the moving lenses that adjust for the movement you put into it.
SIG’s Zulu6 Image Stabilized are a great option for outdoorsy adventurers, especially if you’re wanting to spot things while on the move, such as while on the road or on the water or even while walking a trail (as long as you pay attention to what you’re doing). The MSRP may seem a bit steep at $769, which it is compared to non-image stabilized binoculars, but if you do a search for other brands of stabilized binocs, the SIG Zulu6’s price turns out to be a much easier option for your wallet. Image stabilization technology has kind of eliminated the need to mount binoculars on a tripod, but a mounting point would make the Zulu6 a little more versatile for a hands free option; however, for now an adaptor or make shift option would have to do for users that still want to mount them. Overall though, the SIG Zulu6 is a great model that worked great and did everything it was built to do, and I can certainly recommend it if it’s within your budget. You can find the product page for the Zulu6 binocs page HERE, or visit SIG’s website for more of their products.
If you’ve already grabbed a pair of the SIG Zulu6 image stabilized binoculars, which model did you get, and what are your thoughts on it so far? If you’ve used another brand of stabilized optics, how do you employ them?