In our opinion, those looking for a high-end pair of binoculars should be choosing between the Zeiss Victory HT and the Swarovski EL. Both models provide exceptional optical clarity and brightness, but the Victory HT fell slightly short in both in-hand comfort and close focus range. If you're going to be paying full price, we would give the edge to the Swarovski EL. However, if you can find a sale on the Victory HT, that may tip the scales in their favor.
Zeiss Victory HT 10x42 Review
Cons: Very expensive
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Zeiss Victory HT is a superb pair of binoculars, but not the best in its price range. If you can find a great sale, you should snatch these bins up, but if you're paying full price, we would suggest you check out the Swarovski EL instead.
The Zeiss Victory HT earned one of the top overall scores in our testing and was the second-best for the three high-end models we tested. We used seven different tests to calculate those overall scores. You can read about how the Zeiss Victory HT did in each of those tests below.
Like all of the high-end models we tested, the Victory HT earned a perfect score of 10 out of 10 in both our clarity and brightness testing. All three of our high-end models produced exceptionally bright and clear images. If you're going to spend $2500 on a pair of binoculars you can pretty much be guaranteed you'll get first-class image quality, and the Victory HT is no exception. Whether you're searching for warblers in the afternoon or scouting for shorebirds at dawn, the Victory HT will give you a near perfect, bright image.
Ease of Adjustment
The Victory HT again scored a perfect 10 out of 10 in our ease of adjustment testing. Like all of our high-end models, it has a nice, fine-tuned focus knob that allows for fast focusing when trying to see a fast-moving bird. It also has The eyecups screw in and out and have very d stopping points, allowing for easy adjustment and making it easy to make sure they're even. This is very similar to the eyecups on the Swarovski EL and much better than the eyecups on the Leica Notctivid.
One area where the Victory HT separated itself from the rest of the high-end models was its diopter adjustment. It has a small knob behind the main focus knob that adjusts the diopter. This knob is fairly easy to move but is still small and stiff enough that you won't move it accidentally. The Swarovski and Leica models use a main focus knob that can be pulled back to switch over to adjust the diopter. This works well but is more susceptible to accidental adjustment than the diopter knob of the Victory HT.
Field of View and Close Focus Range
The Victory HT is slightly behind its high-end counterparts in terms of field of view. The 10x magnification version provides a 330-foot field of view at 1000 yards, whereas the Swarovski and Leica models provide 336 feet and 376 feet, respectively.
The Victory HT is also one of the lesser of the high-end models when it comes to close focus range. It, like the Leica Noctivid, has a close focus range of 6.2 feet. The Swarovski EL offers a significant improvement with a 4.9-foot close focus range.
Neither of these points are are real knocks against the Victory HT. In practice, we never felt limited by its field of view, and the close focus range only feels prohibitive if a butterfly lands right in front of you and you want to get your bins on it.
This is another area where the Victory HT falls a bit short of the Swarovski EL. Overall the Victory HT is quite comfortable to hold and use, but the thumb indents on the Swarovski just make it feel so much better in your hands. We did prefer the feel of the Victory HT over the Leica Noctivid, which has slightly thicker barrels.
Like all of the high-end models we tested, the Victory HT is superbly constructed. Again, if you're looking at binoculars in this price range, durability and construction quality is not something you have to worry about.
The Zeiss Victory HT is a top-notch binocular that will please even the most serious birders. However, the Swarovski EL has slightly better close focus range and fell better in hand, so if you're spending this much, you may want the consider the EL instead.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata