Are you considering the Zeiss Victory Binocular?
While watching birds and observing nature is fantastic, shopping for binoculars is not. 🙁 I think you’ll agree that it’s time-consuming and frustrating!
There are countless models, technical details, and specifications to comb through, making researching the best model for you a chore. The Zeiss Victory SF has a reputation as an amazing optic. So I did all the research, read brochures, spoke with Zeiss, and even tested a Victory myself to create this review.
A quick note before we begin: This list is tailored for a Zeiss Victory SF 8×42, but most of this list is still applicable no matter what size Victory SF you select and prefer. Also, there is a Zeiss Victory HT model available that is similar to the SF. Scroll to the bottom to read about the differences and find other resources to help you pick the right binocular.
Do you love paying money for warranties as much as me?
I hope the sarcasm came through in that sentence! I hate paying for warranties and wish that companies would just stand behind their engineering and product design.
Luckily, I have great news. The warranty is one of the best features of a Zeiss binocular.
- If you buy a new Zeiss binocular, the warranty gets even better. New Binoculars come with a 5-Year No Fault Warranty. This warranty states that Zeiss will repair or replace your binocular if it’s damaged during “normal and intended use” without charge. So if I accidentally break the Conquest HD while watching birds, they will repair it, even if the damage was my dumb fault!
Zeiss may change their warranties at any time without notice. Please check the current warranty policy at the time of your purchase.
2. Design and Ergonomics
Finding a binocular that’s comfortable for you can be difficult because it’s more about personal preference than superior specifications. The Zeiss Victory SF not only delivers impressive images, but it’s also comfortable and easy to hold:
- Zeiss has placed the lens system closer to the ocular end (the end closest to the eye). This means that the center of gravity is closer to the eye than other binoculars and results in a more balanced weight distribution. After holding it, I love this design. The Victory felt light in my hands and was easy to stabilize while holding and viewing.
- Smart Focus System: This means it requires you to turn the focusing knob only 1.8 times from minimum to maximum, as opposed to 2.5 times with most optics. Additionally, the focus wheel was easy for my finger to find and rest comfortably on.
- Double-hinged, open bridge design: This provides extra room and more surface area to grip the coated barrels. It’s reasonably lightweight with its magnesium alloy housing.
Personally, the Victory fits very well in my hands. It has a secure grip, and my index finger sat directly over the focusing wheel.
3. Can you find better lenses?
In my opinion, the answer to this question is no.
It goes without saying that the most important feature of a binocular is the glass that you look through. It can make all the difference when trying to find your target bird in the dark forest brush or when the sun is setting. These are the moments that a high-end binocular needs to be worth its weight in gold!
The Zeiss Victory SF delivers.
I don’t think any binocular on the market can compare to the quality of the SCHOTT Ultra-FL extra-low dispersion (ED) fluoride (FL) lenses in the Zeiss Victory SF.
First, it combines different glass materials to correct the problem of color fringing and chromatic aberration. Among these materials is the highest quality Extra Low Dispersion (ED) glass that also contains fluoride.
As you will read in any of my reviews, ED glass is a must for any birding binocular, but there are many models at much lower price ranges that use ED glass. Flouride is what makes the Zeiss Victory lenses unique.
A glass that contains fluoride is considered almost flawless. The problem is that it’s fairly complex to integrate into a binocular and needs a lot of sophistication. This comes at a high cost, which is why you can only find fluoride lenses on the most expensive optics.
The Zeiss Victory SF includes MULTIPLE fluoride lenses made from the highest quality SCHOTT glass. This craftsmanship and dedication to quality mean you get the best possible image when looking at birds and nature.
4. Waterproof, Fog Proof and Durable
If you’re using your binoculars to their full potential, it’s likely they are going to be exposed to water, wind, and dirt. Luckily, the Zeiss Conquest HD is ready for your next adventure.
- They are waterproofed to a depth of about 13 feet, and the body is filled with nitrogen gas to prevent mold and moisture buildup.
- In addition, the lens and eyepiece are coated with the innovative Zeiss LotuTec® coating. This special coating was designed to let water and dirt roll off the glass surface and prevent fingerprints from sticking. This means you can spend less time cleaning and more time watching nature!
- Lastly, the Conquest HD has a thick rubber coating that helps protect the aluminum body from the inevitable drop onto a rock or similar accident.
And if all of this fails, remember you have a fantastic warranty as a backup!!
The coatings on the interior lenses of a binocular are vitally important to the quality of the image that reaches your eye.
But there’s a catch: Trying to figure out details about the coatings a company uses is super frustrating! As you can imagine, competition among optics manufacturers is fierce. Zeiss, Leica, Swarovski, and other optics companies spend tons of money in research and development trying to perfect their binocular. As each company perfects its coating process, the last thing they want is for another company to jump in and steal all of their secrets. Each manufacturer is very careful about what they release, and normally we just get a general overview of their coatings.
Why are coatings so important?
As light enters the binocular and moves toward your eye, some of the light gets lost on the journey which can negatively affect the final image. Coatings are used and applied to ensure that as much of the precious light as possible reaches your eye.
Zeiss has spent years and countless hours perfecting their coatings. Many of the specifics are lacking, which means that Zeiss relies on the performance of the binocular to do the talking.
Below is a brief description of each coating that is applied to the Zeiss Victory SF:
- Carl Zeiss T* multi-layer coating: This is the Zeiss signature coating that is continually being improved and perfected. Their “anti-reflection” coating guarantees “brilliant, high-contrast images” in challenging light environments like sunrise or sunset.
- Phase Correction Coating: This is applied to the compact Schmidt-Pechan Prisms. Having the Zeiss “P coating” coating helps limit light loss from happening and ensures better clarity and sharpness.
6. Field of View (FOV)
The field of View is one of the most important features that I review and consider for binoculars.
Why does it matter?
Unfortunately, I have this problem where birds don’t realize I need them to stay still so I can watch them! They tend to fly, flap, and flutter around, and it can be hard to follow them through the binocular.
Having a wide FOV helps solve this problem. More area is visible, and I find it much easier to track my subject.
The Zeiss Victory 8×42 sports an industry leading FOV of 444 feet! Seriously, I didn’t mistype that last sentence. You might as well get a bag of popcorn with your new widescreen view.
To see more technical details about the Zeiss Victory SF 8×42, check out the Zeiss website. They also offer a 10×42 model that is also a fantastic optic if that size is your preference.
7. Close Focusing Distance
Do you like to get as close as possible to the birds you’re observing? Most bird watchers do! I love seeing their vibrant feather colors, field marks, or even the small caterpillar hanging out of the bird’s mouth!
Close focusing distance measures how close you can get and still have an optimal focus on the image. So the smaller the number, the better!
The Zeiss Victory SF 8×42 comes in at a Close Focus of 5 feet (1.5m), which is once again the best in its class. That means you can be as close as 5 feet, and the subject stays sharp and clear. With a Close Focus like that, you may even get into looking at butterflies, moths, and frogs!
8. Made By Zeiss
While testing and researching dozens of binoculars, I’m continually impressed with anything that Zeiss makes. A big reason that I am a fan of the Victory SF Binocular is that I have become such a fan of Zeiss.
The company has been in business for a very long time (the first workshop was started in 1846 by Carl Zeiss) and has a fantastic reputation for building products that have the latest technology but are functional in the field.
But when it comes to spending my money on an expensive binocular, trusting the manufacturer is extremely important. From talking to local experts to speaking with representatives from Zeiss, I have been continually impressed with the company, and their reputation is justified.
9. The Best Binoculars That Money Can Buy:!
The last and best reason to purchase the Zeiss Victory SF is that you just can’t purchase any better binocular.
Other binoculars might have a combination of some of these important features:
But I can’t find another binocular that combines ALL these features into one binocular and delivers an amazing viewing experience with the brightest and best picture available.
Put simply, if you can afford the price tag, you won’t be disappointed with the Zeiss Victory.
One Reason NOT to Buy the Zeiss Victory SF:
There is no sugarcoating this issue: the best binocular money can buy costs A LOT of money! Usually priced around $2,500, the Zeiss Victory can cause some fights with your spouse if it’s purchased without a lot of thought and consideration.
If you are not in a financial position to spend more on binoculars that a mortgage payment, this is probably not the optic for you.
- If you are a beginner birder and shopping for your first binocular, I’d recommend skipping the Victory and only spending a few hundred dollars on the Nikon Monarch 5. Give it a few months to make sure that you will use them enough to justify the purchase. You can always upgrade later!
- If you mostly use your binoculars during the middle of the day in the bright sunshine, the Zeiss Victory may not be worth the cost. With the top of the line binoculars like the Victory or Leica Noctivid, you will notice the most significant difference in challenging light situations.
1. Buy the Zeiss Victory SF from one of these three places:
Are you convinced the Victory will transform you into the next John James Audubon? If so, I have done a lot of research to find the best places to purchase.
- Support a local business!
2. Keep Researching!
Not convinced the Zeiss Victory SF is the best choice? Check out the Zeiss Victory HT and additional ]information below.
- Differences between the Victory SF and Victory HT
- The HT is designed to let a little more light through. Therefore, you can expect slightly brighter images.
- The SF, on the other hand, has a wider Field of View and a better Close Focus. They are both excellent optics, but I prefer the SF.
I completely understand. Buying binoculars is a big decision, and it’s best to take your time and do your research! I recommend checking out the following resources as your next step:
- The 8 Best Binoculars for Bird Watching
- This article provides some ideas of other binoculars that would be a great choice for bird watching. It includes optics across all different price ranges. (From $125 to $2,600)
Do you have the Zeiss Victory SF Binoculars?
Tell us about your experience in the comments!