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Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 Review

A step above the rest, these pair of binoculars were a fan favorite of our testers, you'll just need to fork over some serious cash for this level of quality
zeiss victory sf 10x42 binocular review
Our team really enjoyed the premium level testing experience the Zeis Victory SF offers.
Credit: Abriah Wofford
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Price:  $2,900 List
Manufacturer:   Zeiss
By Benjamin Hickok ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 6, 2022
85
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 16
  • Clarity - 45% 10.0
  • Brightness - 25% 7.6
  • Comfort - 10% 7.0
  • Field of View - 10% 5.0
  • Ease of Adjustment - 5% 8.2
  • Close Focus Range - 5% 9.0

Our Verdict

The Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 is a step above many of the other binoculars we tested, and provides a very distinct difference in clarity and performance from the majority of the binoculars we compared. Although, that premium performance commands a premium price, and at the multi-thousand-dollar price point, a few other comparable high-end models performed a bit better with regards to brightness, field of view, and ease of adjustment. While our test team really enjoyed using the Victory SF, and again it is one of the top models we tested, two other models proved to be slightly better, and were also slightly cheaper making them a better recommendation.
REASONS TO BUY
Superior clarity
Great field of view
Great close focus range
Lockable diopter
REASONS TO AVOID
Poor eye cup construction
Difficult to attain eye relief

Compare to Similar Products

 
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Price $2,900 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Superior clarity, great field of view, great close focus range, lockable diopterIncredible clarity, brightness, comfort, and construction qualityVery clear and bright, easy to adjust, comfortable, high-quality constructionGood clarity and brightness, smooth focus knobInexpensive, good clarity and brightness
Cons Poor eye cup construction, difficult to attain eye reliefProhibitively expensiveA bit heavy for the backcountryMediocre close focus range, mediocre field of viewAverage construction quality, mediocre low-light performance
Bottom Line A step above the rest, these pair of binoculars were a fan favorite of our testers, you'll just need to fork over some serious cash for this level of qualityOne of the best all-around models that we tested, but they also carry a high price tagThis model is our first choice and offers just about the best clarity and brightness you can get from a binocular without a quadruple-digit price tagThese perform well for the price, offering a smooth focus knob and decent brightness and clarityThe most budget-friendly option we've found that offers a good introduction to birdwatching
Rating Categories Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 Swarovski EL 8.5x42 Vortex Viper HD 8x42 Nikon Monarch M5 8x42 Celestron Nature DX...
Clarity (45%)
10.0
10.0
7.5
7.1
5.8
Brightness (25%)
7.6
9.8
9.5
8.6
7.7
Comfort (10%)
7.0
10.0
9.0
8.1
5.6
Field of View (10%)
5.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Ease of Adjustment (5%)
8.2
10.0
5.8
8.0
7.0
Close Focus Range (5%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Specs Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 Swarovski EL 8.5x42 Vortex Viper HD 8x42 Nikon Monarch M5 8x42 Celestron Nature DX...
Glass Type FL HD HD ED Bak-4
Multi - Coating FMC FMC FMC FMC FMC
Magnification 10 8.5 8 8 8
Field of View (at 1000 yards) 360 ft 399 ft 409 ft 335 ft 388 ft
Close Focus 4.9 ft 4.9 ft 6.0 ft 8.2 ft 6.5 ft
Eye Relief 18 mm 20 mm 18 mm 19.5 mm 17.5 mm
Prism Roof Roof Roof Roof Roof
Waterproof/Fog Resistant? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Measured Size (Length x Width) 6.8 x 4.5 in 6.3 x 4.8 in 5.6 x 4.9 in 5.7 x 5.1 in 5.3 x 4.9 in
Measured Weight 29 oz 30 oz 24 oz 22 oz 22 oz
Tripod Adapter No No Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

zeiss victory sf 10x42 binocular review - zeiss victory sf is a really enjoyable pair of binoculars to use.
Zeiss Victory SF is a really enjoyable pair of binoculars to use.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Performance Comparison



Clarity



Our first test metric measured the clarity of each model, in tests viewing signs, and tests viewing birds. The Zeis Victory SF proved to be one of the most impressive models we tested. It offers the user an incredible level of clarity and very distinct sharpness. The slightest color fringing only occurs at the outermost part of what's visible and mostly near the sides, it's also ever so slight compared to nearly every other model. Overall, the clarity of the Zeiss is really remarkable and only attainable with the most premium models of binoculars on the market today.

zeiss victory sf 10x42 binocular review - a level of clarity that can only be found in the most premium models.
A level of clarity that can only be found in the most premium models.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Brightness


For such a premium model that performed so well in terms of clarity, we expected just a little more in our brightness testing. Our testing involved user observation, measured brightness, and exit pupil size.

With an exit pupil size of 4.2mm, the Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 did not let in as much observable or measurable light as other models with similar exit pupil diameters and clarity. In fact, it let in less light than similar models that offer less clarity, and our test team felt a little let down by this, given that it is such a premium product.

Comfort


In our comfort tests and evaluations, the Victory SF earned average marks. It is not any more or less comfortable than many models on the market today. When it came to griping and holding, the Victory is an ergonomic and easy-to-grip binocular, and the included strap, albeit a tiny bit scratchy, will keep you from dropping them should you ever lose your grip. However, the eye cups are a little annoying to rest at the top of an eye socket, whilst trying to compensate for very small eye relief. Overall, these could have been more comfortable, and ergonomic.

zeiss victory sf 10x42 binocular review - the zeiss victory sf is easy to grip, and a thick strap enhances...
The Zeiss Victory SF is easy to grip, and a thick strap enhances comfort, but the eye cups could be a bit better.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Field of View


Our fourth test metric measured the Zeiss Victory SF's field of view, and it could have been larger. In fact, the majority of models tested, even those at a fraction of the price, offered a much greater field of view. We don't rely on manufacturer specifications and measured the field of view to get a fairly average measurement as compared to the rest of the test group. Measuring 302 feet, the Victory SF's field of view was 20 feet less than the average and significantly smaller than Zeiss's specified 360-foot field of view.

Ease of Adjustment


When it came down to our fifth test metric, ease of adjustment, the Zeiss Victory demonstrated it was about as good as it gets, with one weak spot. Focusing and locking the diopter is easy, clean, and smooth. It's about as crisp to operate as one could ever want. However, what was left to be desired was eye relief. The specified 18mm eye relief somehow seemed smaller, and during our testing, we twisted the eyepiece completely off! The adjustment also lacks any sort of tactile, or positive engagement like notches or bumps, so stopping at fixed positions is rather loose.

zeiss victory sf 10x42 binocular review - it's possible to accidentally remove the eye cups while adjusting...
It's possible to accidentally remove the eye cups while adjusting them!
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Close Focus Range


Our last test measured close-range focus, and the Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 was pretty exceptional. There is a very distinct difference between the Zeiss and the average model on the market today, making them a great choice for tasks like identifying butterflies and insects.

zeiss victory sf 10x42 binocular review - our lead tester, jessica, in the field.
Our lead tester, Jessica, in the field.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Should You Buy the Zeiss Victory SF 10x42?


Although the Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 offers one of the most crystal clear viewing experiences, the kind of clarity that is only offered by the most premium models on the market, it falls short in a few of the areas where those equally expensive models excel. While our test team enjoyed testing the Zeiss Victory SF 10x42, we think there are better options to consider in the multi-thousand-dollar price range.

zeiss victory sf 10x42 binocular review - the victory sf 10x42 is an enjoyable pair of binos to use.
The Victory SF 10x42 is an enjoyable pair of binos to use.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

What Other Binoculars Should You Consider?


If you are already considering the Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 then you are already considering a model of binoculars in the multi-thousand-dollar price range, and for a similar premium price better performance can be found in either the Swarovski EL 8.5x42 or the Leica Noctivid 10x42. On the other hand, in a more value-minded approach to optics, the Vortex Viper HD 8x42 offers as good or better performance than the Zeis Victory overall but it does take a minor step back with regard to clarity, and ease of adjustment.

Benjamin Hickok
 
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