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Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 binoculars review

These Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 binoculars are exquisitely constructed and should provide years of service

Zeiss Victory SF 10x42
(Image: © Zeiss)

Our Verdict

The price places these binoculars at the premium end of the market – but then the build quality and performance does likewise. Manually adjustable to perfectly match the distance between your own eyes, with twistable eyecups to provide comfortable viewing whether you’re wearing spectacles or not, this is a jack of all trades though master-of-many option for bird watchers and nature lovers, for whom a 10x magnification is plenty and feature set and product weight is commendably balanced.

For

  • Crystal clear performance
  • Wide field of view
  • Sturdy and comfortable to hold
  • Water resistant and anti fogging

Against

  • Expensive for casual use
  • Quite heavy at 790g

The Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 binoculars Zeiss come from a company renowned throughout the industry for its top-notch optics, which are used in a wide variety of products, including digital cameras, camera lenses and even spectacles. 

Here Zeiss has brought its reputation to a pair of luxury prism binoculars in the Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 – where the 10x refers to the magnification factor and the 42 to the size of the objective lens in use (42mm).

What we’re paying for with this black liveried product, however, is the clarity provided by its world beating glass – helping to resolve sufficient detail to be able to let the observer get closer to their visual quarry than the animal in question would otherwise allow.

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective diameter: 42mm
Field of view at 1000m: 120m
Field of view at 1000yds: 360ft
Closest focusing distance: 1.5m / 5ft
Eye relief: 18mm
Weight: 790g / 27.8oz
Dimensions: 174x127mm

Key features

(Image credit: Zeiss)

Primarily aimed at those who want to get close to wildlife without scaring it away, the Victory SF from Zeiss provides a wide field of view of between 120 and 150 metres, in practice giving sufficient overview for us to accurately track birds flitting between trees, to give one example, without actually losing them from view. Added versatility is offered via a close focus range of 1.5 metres, so if wanted (or you were particularly strange), you could zoom into the back of the head of the person walking in front of you. 

The binoculars come supplied with a shoulder strap, attractive pouch style hard carry case – also provided with its own strap – plus a lens cleaning cloth, as well as rubber caps for both the eyepieces and the lenses. So that we didn’t accidentally mislay these fittings when out and about, we threaded the shoulder strap through these too, with eyelets handily provided to allow us to do so.

Build and handling

(Image credit: Zeiss)

Of a size and weight that will fit in a roomy winter jacket pocket without too much discomfort, the Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 binos feel good in the hand thanks to a rubberised exterior that prevents slippage. Build quality is excellent and we immediately get the impression that, if looked after by the user, years of service will be the result.

The binoculars are adjustable to match the spacing of the user’s eyes – achievable by gently bending the two lens barrels downwards, or upwards as the case may be. Optimum eye spacing is achieved when a circular image is seen when viewing through the binoculars with both eyes.

The length of the eye relief is manually adjustable – the eyecups fully extendable if viewing without spectacles, or left in the retracted position if you are wearing glasses – while a dioptric adjustment wheel is provided between the eyepieces as an additional aid to focus for spectacle wearers. Though we were blessed with fair weather when trying these out, the fact that the binoculars are water resistant and nitrogen filled to prevent fogging provides extra reassurance and faith in what is a not inconsiderable investment.

Performance

We took the binoculars to nearby Richmond Park and climbed to the highest point, giving views towards Central London in one direction and towards Heathrow in the other. Even when viewing objects on the horizon, the view delivered through the Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 is crystal clear and relatively judder free, thanks to a fairly balanced design and high quality optics.

Focusing is intuitive and simplicity itself, via a large and obvious ridged focus wheel located between the eyepieces, just forward of the dioptric adjustment wheel. The fact that the focus wheel is ridged means that we could easily and intuitively find it without having to take our attention away from the eyepieces – which enabled ultra fast adjustment. The lens barrels are also broad enough to comfortably curl fingers and thumb around for a firm grip.

This particular Zeiss option weighs 790g, so we found that, for comfort, attaching the provided strap was better than carrying them around loose in a jacket pocket, and avoided them feeling like a dead weight when transporting.

Verdict

(Image credit: Zeiss)

Zeiss is world renowned for the quality of its optics so it’s no surprise we’re going to be paying top dollar here for the privilege. Build quality is equally excellent and while the Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 binoculars feel sturdy when held, the weight isn’t such that you’ll think too hard about taking them out and about with you.

On top of this, an ergonomic rubberized surface makes for hand comfort when holding the binos for a prolonged period and seeking out wildlife. Razor sharp viewing quality even at distance is such that, when you also factor in weather resistant, anti fogging features, it becomes clear that this pair of binoculars will repay their sizable investment in being probably the one and only most of us will ever need.

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