Shopping for binoculars is not. 🙁
I think you can agree that it is time-consuming and frustrating!
There are countless models, technical details, and specifications to comb through! There is much research that needs to do!
I wanted to provide a resource for one of my favorite binoculars.
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.
The 9 reasons you should purchase the Zeiss Victory SF (and the one reason you shouldn’t).
Compare Victory SF Prices!
A quick note before we begin: This list is tailored for a Zeiss Victory SF 8×42. An 8x magnification and 42mm objective lens diameter is what I use and recommend for birding and nature observation. 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. Please scroll to the bottom to read about the differences.
- 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)
- Leica Noctivid Review: The 7 BEST Reasons to Purchase Today
- The Leica Noctivid is one of the only binoculars in the same class as the Zeiss Victory SF.
Let’s get started!!!
Do you love paying money for warranties as much as me?
Luckily, I have great news. The warranty is one of the best features of a Zeiss binocular.
First, Zeiss gives a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects that is entirely transferable! This means buying a used binocular is still covered by Zeiss for life.
Incredible! But it get’s even better:
If you buy a new Zeiss binocular, it also includes a 5 Year No Fault Warranty.
This warranty states that Zeiss will repair or replace your binocular if it was damaged during “normal and intended use” without charge. If I accidentally break the Victory while watching birds, they will repair it.
Please note, the 5 Year No Fault Warranty is not transferable, and you need to make sure and register your new purchase within 60 days.
*Zeiss can change the wording or specifics of their warranties at any time and without notice. Before purchasing the Zeiss Victory, please check the current warranty.*
2. Design and Ergonomics
Here’s the deal:
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), which means that the center of gravity is closer to the eye than other binoculars and results in a more balanced weight distribution. After holding, I agree with them. The Victory felt light in my hands and was easy to stabilize while holding and viewing.
The focus wheel was easy for my finger to find and rest comfortably on. The Victory features their 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.
It has a unique look with the 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.
Zeiss call the design of the Victory SF their Ergobalance concept. Unfortunately, they don’t explain what this means!! But I agree that the Victory looks sleek, feels compact and is easy to hold.
3. Can you find better lenses?
Seriously. This is not a rhetorical question.
I’m curious if 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.
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.
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 low 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.
So why does this matter?
It helps to provide the best possible image when looking at birds and nature.
The Zeiss Victory provides an outstanding image that is literally about the best that money can buy! You will struggle to find a better combination of clarity, resolution, sharpness, detail and rich colors without the nagging annoyances of color fringing and color aberration.
Seriously, try these out and put them to the test at sunset or sunrise. You won’t be disappointed.
4. Waterproof, Fog Proof and Durable
Unless you plan on watching your neighbors with your binoculars (please leave this site if that’s the case!!) then it’s likely they are going to be exposed to water, wind, and dirt.
Luckily, the Zeiss Victory is ready for your next adventure.
They are waterproofed to a depth of about 13 feet, and the body is filled with dry, nitrogen gas to prevent molding.
Also, the innovative Zeiss LotuTec® coating is included on the lens and eyepiece. This special coating was designed to let water and dirt roll off the glass surface and prevent fingerprints from sticking. This should mean you have to spend less time cleaning and more time watching nature!
Lastly, the Victory has a nice rubber coating that helps protect the body from the inevitable drop or crash and is made from lightweight but durable magnesium alloy.
And if all of this fails, remember you have a fantastic warranty as back up!!
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 any details about the coatings a company uses is super frustrating!
Here’s the reason:
As you can imagine, competition among optics manufacturers is fierce. Zeiss, Leica, Swarovski, etc spend tons of money in research and development trying to perfect their binocular. One place they spend a lot of time and effort is on the interior coatings.
As each company perfects their 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.
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 guarantee’s “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)
Personally, Field of View is one of the most important features that I review and consider.
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. Field of view is measured as the actual visible area that is viewed when looking through your binocular. As the FOV increases, more of the action and birds are seen.
The Zeiss Victory 8×42 sports an industry leading FOV of 444 feet!
Seriously, I did not 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
If you’re like most bird watchers, the answer is yes!
Personally, I love seeing the 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 the binocular stays in focus. 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. You can sneak as close as 5 feet, and your target bird stays in focus.
Just curious, have you ever used your binoculars to look at butterflies, moths, and frogs? With the Zeiss Victory SF, it’s now possible!
8. Made By Zeiss
While testing and researching dozens of binoculars, I was continually impressed with anything that Zeiss made. To be honest, a big reason that I am a fan of the Victory is that I have become such a fan of Zeiss.
The company has been in business a very LONG time ( the first workshop started in 1846 by Carl Zeiss) and have built an incredible reputation for building products that have the latest technology but are functional in the field. Their products are made and designed in Germany (instead of China).
Before I spend my money on an expensive binocular, I need to trust the manufacturer. From talking to local experts to speaking with representatives from Zeiss, I have been continually impressed with the company and their reputation.
And last but certainly not least…
9. The Best Binocular That Money Can Buy:
Welcome to the exciting conclusion! The end of our journey!
The last and best reason to purchase the Zeiss Victory SF is that you can’t do any better.
Let’s pretend that Bill Gates or Warren Buffett decided to spend a million dollars on bird watching binoculars. So they asked their assistant to find them the best binocular on the market. The assistant might as well just come back with the Zeiss Victory SF (or a small handful of others) and pocket the rest of the money because there is nothing else better.
Other binoculars have a wide field of view. Or close focus. Or fluoride ED lenses. Or a great warranty. Or fabulous coatings. Or sleek design.
But I can’t find another binocular that takes all these features AND combines them into one fantastic binocular that delivers an amazing viewing experience with the brightest and best picture available.
If you can afford the price tag, you won’t be disappointed with the Zeiss Victory.
The birds are waiting!
Why You Shouldn’t Buy the Zeiss Victory SF:
There is no sugar coating this issue.
The best does not come cheap!
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 my 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.
Next Step: Please do 1 of the following 2 things!
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.
- Amazon: Zeiss Victory SF 8×42
- Normally priced around $2,500. I love their customer service, fast shipping, and amazing prices.
- Check Today's Price
- B&H Photo: Zeiss Victory SF (8×42)
- Experts at anything optics, photo or video. Prices are sometimes lower than Amazon, and they may even include a bonus giveaway.
- Support a local business!
- Find a local dealer and purchase in person. It will probably be a bit more expensive, but you will receive the expertise of a local professional.
2. Keep Researching!
Not convinced the Zeiss Victory is the best choice?
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 Best Binoculars for Bird Watching
- This should give some ideas of other binoculars that would be a great choice for bird watching. Includes optics across all different price ranges. (From $125 to $2,500)
At the beginning, I mentioned there was a different Victory model called a Zeiss Victory HT. The HT and SF models are similar but have a few distinct differences. 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, I prefer the SF slightly.
One Last Thing…
I have a serious question for you, and I want honest feedback.
How can I improve this review of the Zeiss Victory?
Please tell the truth. What questions didn’t I answer? What are you still looking for as you search the internet? I want this review to be as useful as possible.
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Thanks again. Happy birding!
p.s. If you end up purchasing a binocular, please use one of the links provided on this page. At no cost to you, the providers may give a small portion of the sale to me. I would really appreciate that as it helps keep this site running and lets me know that this content is valuable! 🙂