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Zeiss Vicotry SF Binos - review

PUBLISHED: 16:55 19 July 2016 | UPDATED: 16:59 19 July 2016

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A test and review of the Victory SF binos from Zeiss (tested by Dom Holtam)

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I first tried the Zeiss Victory SF binocular almost two years ago, but since its launch it seems that Zeiss has been chasing the birding market and that many in the hunting sector aren’t too familiar with this optic.

At the pointy end of premium optics, it is generally a game of marginal gains, but there are a number of interesting evolutions in the Victory SF that really do seem to enhance the user experience.

One thing you notice stright away is the balance of the design. Ergonomically the sensations are spot on – the rounded barrels fit the palm just so, while the slightly grippy rubberised outer has a nice tactility even in the wet. The focus wheel sits naturally right under your index finger.

The 8x42 only weighs 780g but Zeiss has tweaked the optical design of the glass elements and prisms inside to push the centre of balance back towards the eye of the user. This has the effect of making the binocular feel almost weightless when in use – ideal for long periods of observation.

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I field-tested the SF in utterly foul weather and the waterproofing certainly seemed up to snuff. The low light performance when sitting out for deer at both dawn and dusk was also impressive. They don’t claim quite the light transmission of, say, the Victory HT, but 92 per cent courtesy of Ultra FL lenses was more than good enough.

The wide field of view (444ft at 1,000 yards) makes scanning large landscapes a doddle and it offers a significant advantage over its rivals in this department. The design of the eyepiece helps to flatten the image and give a crisp image right to the very edges. Colour rendition is very good and the ability to hunt out detail in high contrast areas (shadows and dark woodland for example) is remarkable.

Complaints? Well although I like the design of the binocular, I am not entirely sold on the grey and black colour scheme. I also felt the operation of the eye cups on my test model wasn’t the slickest. And finally, although the focus wheel is perfectly placed, the gearing is quite fast and the weighting of the wheel is quite light. This can make finding the focal ‘sweet spot’ a bit tricky. Slightly more weight to the focus wheel would help here.

The real complaint, though, is that as a poor journalist the Victory SF is a ‘wish list’ item. Priced at around £2,000 this is right at the top end for a non-rangefinding binocular. But with the build quality and durability of Zeiss products allied to excellent aftersales care, you can be sure that this is an investment for many years of viewing pleasure.

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www.zeiss.co.uk

RRP: around £2,000

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