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Binoculars review

Carl Zeiss Victory SF 10x42

Carl Zeiss Victory SF 10x42
23 July 2016
Optyczne.pl 
In 2013 it seemed that Zeiss showed everything there was to show in the 42 mm class. They’ve launched fully-fledged successors of the Conquest and Victory FL series along the Terra ED, aimed at less advanced customers. Still those who thought Zeiss would rest on their laurels were wrong. In June 2014 they presented next 8x42 and 10x42 models, this time being a part of a series called Victory SF which was supposed to be placed even higher than the Victory HT.


One glance at the parameters and you know that the Victory SF 10x42 model indeed offers you noticeably more than its Victory HT equivalent. The field of view increased by half a degree, reaching an excellent value of 6.8 degrees. What’s more, the eye relief distance got bigger as well, amounting to 18 mm and making the observations even more comfortable. Finally the minimum focusing distance decreased to 1.5 meters.


There are a lot of changes when it comes to the optics too. The number of elements in the objective lens decreased from four to three (so now it is a 2+1 set) but the producer used a completely new type of low dispersion Ultra FL glass. What’s interesting, you still get the roof Schmidt-Pechan prisms; they are phase-correction coated and come with the multicoated reflective surface made of dielectric coatings (over 70 layers). The construction of the eyepiece itself is very impressive – it consists of as many as 7 elements which are supposed to guarantee not only a wide field of view but also flattened, perfectly corrected edges.


Of course you shouldn’t forget about the Schott HT (High Transmission) glass and antireflection multicoatings T* covering all air-to-glass surfaces. These features are supposed to ensure a really high transmission of the optical system (on a level of 92%) and vivid, real-life colours rendering. Additionally the outer lenses are covered by LotuTec coatings which not only protect them against dirt and moisture but also make them easier to clean.


When it comes to airtightness and durability of the housing made of magnesium composites its properties are exactly the same as those of the housing of the Victory HT. The appearance, though, changed diametrically because now you deal with an open hinge construction.

It is also clear Zeiss tried to ensure the best ergonomics possible. Let’s start with the position of the central focusing wheel. In the case of its rivals and the Victory HT series it is situated near the eyepieces but in the Victory SF model you can find it right under your index finger. You don’t have to bend that finger at a strange angle in order to turn the wheel and set the focus.


The producer also made sure the pair of binoculars was balanced properly. The optical system of the eyepiece is complicated enough to weigh more than the objective lens. As a result the centre of gravity is situated near your eyes, providing a better stabilization of the whole instrument during observations.


Buyers get joined caps for objectives and eyepieces, a stylish, hard case and a comfortable strap. The binoculars come with a 10-year warranty period.

Pictures
  • Lornetka Carl Zeiss Victory SF 10x42
  • Lornetka Carl Zeiss Victory SF 10x42
  • Lornetka Carl Zeiss Victory SF 10x42
  • Lornetka Carl Zeiss Victory SF 10x42
Manufacturer data

Manufacturer:

Carl Zeiss
web site

Distribution / Sales:

M.K. Szuster
web site

Magnification Lens diameter Angular field of view Prisms Eye relief Weight Price
10 42 120/1000(6.8o) BaK-4/roof 18 mm 780 g 10900 PLN
Results of the review
Real front lens diameter Left:   41.8+/- 0.05 mm
Right:  41.8+/- 0.05 mm
7 / 8.0 pkt
Real magnification 9.98+/- 0.1x 3/3.0
Transmission 93.7+/- 1% 14/15.0
Chromatic aberration Low in the centre and on the edge. 8.7/10.0
Astigmatism Imperceptible. 9.5/10.0
Distortion The distance of the first curved line from the field centre compared to the field of view radius: 98% ± 3% 10/10.0
Coma Starts in a distance of about 80% of the field of view radius and is between low and medium values on the very edge. 8.5/10.0
Blurring at the edge of the FOV Blur occurs in a distance of 96% ± 3% from the field of vision centre and is really slight on the very edge. 9.5/10.0
Darkening at the edge the FOV Practically lack of any brightness loss. 5/5.0
Whiteness of the image Noticeable loss of blue and purple light. Slight yellow-green hue. 3.7/5.0
Collimation Perfect. 5/5.0
Internal reflections
Left: Right:
Carl Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 - Internal reflections - Left Carl Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 - Internal reflections - Right
Area near exit pupils beautifully blackened. Loss of point for distinct reflections behind the eyepiece's diaphragm.
3.3/5.0
Housing Long open-hinge type. Matt rubber armour, sticking well to your hands but not fitting the tubes particularly well. When you touch the binoculars you can hear ‘squelching’ of the rubber. It is a surprising slip-up at this price-point… Rubber-covered, comfortable eyepieces with smooth regulation. 7/8.0
Focusing Big, comfortable central wheel positioned right below your finger. It moves smoothly with slight friction. The working range amounts to as much as 650 degrees. Individual focusing through a click-stop system on a separate, small wheel on the other hand of the bridge. Nothing moves outside. 4.9/5.0
Tripod No. Optional tripod adapter. 2/3.0
Interpupilary distance from 54.2 to 76.3mm 5/6.0
Closest focusing distance 1.50 meters. 2/2.0
Eyepieces FOV Apparent field of view of 67.9 degrees. 8/10.0
Field of view Measured by us amounted to 6.80 ± 0.04 degrees and it was in perfect accordance with the specifications. A very wide field for this class of equipment. 8/8.0
Quality of the interior of the barrels Dark and matt tubes and bottom. The binoculars don’t have any distinct baffles inside tubes but one ring right outside the objective system shines noticeably. It is possible that ring is the source of reflections visible behind the diaphragm of the eyepiece. Quite clean interior with some specks of dust. 3.6/5.0
Vignetting
Left: Right:
Carl Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 - Vignetting - Left Carl Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 - Vignetting - Right
OL: 0.69%, OR: 0.93%
6/8.0
Prisms quality High quality BaK-4. 8/8.0
Antireflection coatings Pink on objectives and prisms, pink-orange on eyepieces. Low intensity. 5/5.0
Warranty [years] 10 4.5/6.0
Final result
88.9%
151.2 / 170 pkt
Econo result 0pkt.

Summary


Pros:
  • solid, high quality housing,
  • wide field of view – one of the widest in its class,
  • high transmission,
  • low chromatic aberration both in the centre and on the edge,
  • perfect distortion correction,
  • negligible astigmatism,
  • low coma,
  • sharp image almost to the very edge of that wide field of view,
  • circular exit pupils on dark background,
  • high quality prisms made of BaK-4 glass,
  • good antireflection coatings,
  • sharp image already from 1.5 metres.

Cons:
  • distinct reflections visible beyond the eyepiece's diaphragm


The Zeiss Victory SF is the proof that it is possible to produce a pair of binoculars with a very wide field of view which is also perfectly corrected. If not for that strange slip-up with reflections beyond the eyepiece's diaphragm, most likely caused by a shiny ring inside tubes which aren’t baffled properly by apertures, you would get an instrument optically perfect, an ideal.

There’s one more surprise: the using of Schmidt-Pechan prisms. So far top-of-the-range Zeiss binoculars featured more efficient Abbe-Koenig systems. The change might stem from the preferences of the chief constructor of that set of binoculars who used to work for Leica and Swarovski Optik and tend to design binoculars with Schmidt-Pechan prisms.

The transmission of the binoculars looks really well, reaching about 93% in the middle of the visible spectrum.


Still the overall image is worse than that of the Victory HT model because its loss of blue light was significantly smaller. It might be caused by Abbe-Koenig prisms which don’t demand any reflective coating but also by simpler optical system – in the Victory HT you deal with one element less in the optical axis.

The only binoculars which can compete with the Victory SF on the market are the Swarovski EL Swarovision and the Nikon EDG. The Zeiss’s field of view is wider than their fields but the slip-up with the reflections behind the eyepiece's diaphragm simply shouldn’t have happened in a case of a top-of-the-range instrument. Still if you are not bothered by it the Zeiss is certainly recommendable in practically every other aspect.