Binoculars review

Carl Zeiss Victory SF 8x42

Carl Zeiss Victory SF 8x42
15 March 2021
In 2013 you might think Zeiss showed everything there was to show when it came to the 42 mm class. After all they did release fully-fledged successors of the Conquest and Victory FL series, and also added the Terra ED series, aimed at less advanced users. Still it was hardly over; in June 2014 we were shown other 8x42 and 10x42 models, this time belonging to the Victory SF series which was supposed to be positioned even higher than Victory HT.

One glance at the parameters allow you to say that indeed the Victory SF 8x42 offers you more than its Victory HT series equivalent. The field of view increased by over 0.6 of a degree and now reaches a very good value of 8.4 degrees. What's more the eye relief distance increased to 18 mm, making observations even more comfortable; the minimum focusing distance decreased to 1.5 meters, another good piece of news.

When it comes to optics there have been a lot of changes. The number of elements in the objective lens decreased from four to three (2+1 system) but a completely new type of glass, called low disperison Ultra-FL, was introduced as well. What's interesting, the prisms are set in the roof Schmidt-Pechan system, they are phase correction coated and feature a reflective surface composed of multi-layer dielectric coatings (over 70 layers). The construction of the eyepiece is really impressive, as it consists of as much as 7 elements, guaranteeing not only a wide field of view, but also one that is flat and perfectly corrected from edge to edge.

You should also mention Schott HT (High Transmisson) glass and the fact that all air-to-glass surfaces are covered by anti-reflection multi coatings T*. All these features are supposed to ensure the highest transmission of the whole optical system (about 92%) and perfect colour rendition. Additionally, the outer elements are protected by LotuTec coatings that prevent dirt and humiditiy from adhering to the surface and make the glass far easier to clean.

The casing of the binoculars, made of magnesium composites, is exactly as sturdy and weather-sealed as the casings of the Victory HT series instruments. Still, the appearance has changed a lot because here you deal with an open hinge type of construction.

The best ergonomy possible is one of Zeiss's priorities. You might start with the position of the central focusing wheel. In the case of the rivals and the Victory HT series the wheel is positioned closer to the eyepieces; in the case of the Victory SF series it is lined up perfectly with your index finger so you don't have to angle it away in order to reach it.

The producers also redesigned the balance point of the binoculars. The eyepiece system is complex enough to weigh more than the objective – as a result the balance point is closer to your eyes. It ensures a better stabilization, so important if you have to hold the binoculars for a longer time.

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

  • Lornetka Carl Zeiss Victory SF 8x42
  • Lornetka Carl Zeiss Victory SF 8x42
  • Lornetka Carl Zeiss Victory SF 8x42
  • Lornetka Carl Zeiss Victory SF 8x42
Manufacturer data


Carl Zeiss
web site

Distribution / Sales:

M.K. Szuster
web site

Magnification Lens diameter Angular field of view Prisms Eye relief Weight Price
8 42 148/1000(8.4o) BaK-4/roof 18 mm 780 g 10700 PLN
Results of the review
Real front lens diameter Left:   41.81+/- 0.05 mm
Right:  41.8+/- 0.05 mm
7 / 8.0 pkt
Real magnification 8.05+/- 0.05x 3/3.0
Transmission 91.2+/- 1% 19/25.0
Chromatic aberration Practiccally zero in the centre, near medium on the edges. 8/10.0
Astigmatism Excellent correction of that aberration. Practically point-like images of stars. 9/10.0
Distortion Distance between the first curved line and the field centre compared to the field of view radius: 46% ± 5% 5/10.0
Coma Starts in a distance of about 80% of the field of view radius and is a bit lower than medium level on the very edge. 8.7/10.0
Blurring at the edge of the FOV Blur occurs in a distance of 93% ±3% from the field of view centre. 9/10.0
Darkening at the edge the FOV Negligible. 4.7/5.0
Whiteness of the image Noticeable loss of blue and purple light. Slight yellow-green hue. 3.9/5.0
Collimation Perfect. 5/5.0
Internal reflections
Left: Right:
Carl Zeiss Victory SF 8x42 - Internal reflections - Left Carl Zeiss Victory SF 8x42 - Internal reflections - Right
Areas near the exit pupils are nicely blackened. You can notice weak spikes and ghosting when you look at bright lampposts at night.
Housing Long open-hinge type. Covered by rubber armour that is matt and sticks to your hands very well, without sticking out anywhere else. Rubberized eyecups with four detention stops. Everything looks very solid. Made in Germany. 8/8.0
Focusing Big, comfortable central wheel that is positioned right under your index finger. It moves smoothly with light but completely acceptable resistance. Its working range amounts to as much as 640-650 degrees. Individual focusing done through a click-stop button on a separate, smaller wheel on the other side of the bridge. Nothing moves outside. 5/5.0
Tripod Lack of any exit. Optionally you can buy a tripod collar. 2/3.0
Interpupilary distance from 55.5 to 76.4mm 5/6.0
Closest focusing distance 1.55 meters. 2/2.0
Eyepieces FOV Apparent field of view of 67.2 degrees according to simplified formula and 60.9 degrees according to tangent formula. 14.5/20.0
Field of view Measured by us amounted to 8.35 ± 0.04 degrees and it was slightly narrower than stated in official specifications. A wide field for this class of equipment. 7.5/8.0
Quality of the interior of the barrels Tubes are dark and matt but not exactly black. You can spot a focusing element mechanism. Bottom near the prisms is dark and matt. Very clean. 4.2/5.0
Left: Right:
Carl Zeiss Victory SF 8x42 - Vignetting - Left Carl Zeiss Victory SF 8x42 - Vignetting - Right
OL: 0.91%, OR: 0.67%
Prisms quality High quality BaK-4. 8/8.0
Antireflection coatings Pink on objectives and prisms, pink-orange-yellow on eyepieces. Low intensity. 5/5.0
Warranty [years] 10 4.5/6.0
Final result
160 / 190 pkt
Econo result 0pkt.


  • high quality, solid casing,
  • wide field of view,
  • high transmission,
  • proper correction of chromatic aberration,
  • negligible astigmatism,
  • low coma,
  • sharp images almost till the very edge of that very wide field of view,
  • circular pupils against a dark background,
  • high quality BaK-4 prisms,
  • good antireflection coatings,
  • low brightness loss on the edge of the field,
  • clean, sensibly darkened interiors of the tubes,
  • sharp images already from 1.55 metres.
  • transmission graph could have been flatter.

After testing the Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 earlier, we thought that distinct reflections, visible behind the diaphragm, were its most serious flaw. It was an effect that such a top-notch piece of equipment at such a price point simply shouldn't have featured at all.

In the meantime Zeiss did a quick facelift of their Victory SF series and all problems connected to unwanted reflections were removed. Anyway the 8x42 model is completely free of that flaw and, what's important, it fared much better than its newer and smaller 8x32 brother when it comes to the performance against bright light.

Zeiss Victory SF 8x32, Zeiss Victory SF 8x42 and Zeiss Victory HT 8x54.

The final result is such that the Ziess Victory 8x42 is a pair of binoculars practically without any flaws. It can compete with the EL Swarovison 8.5x42 on equal terms but it doesn't mean there are no differences between them.

For one thing, their transmission graphs differ significantly. The Zeiss fares better in the centre of the visible spectrum but its graph is not as flat as that of the Swarovski. As a result the rival of the tested binoculars renders colours better and its images seem to be clearer and crisper. The Swarovski also corrects distortion better and its inner tubes are blackened more thoroughly.

What are the assets of the Zeiss then? It corrects better chromatic aberration, its apparent field of view is wider and the areas near exit pupils darker. You should also mention the fact that the minimum focusing distance of the newest version of the EL Swarovison (introduced in 2020) is longer so also in this category the Zeiss prevails.

The Zeiss might have one problem, though – their flagship pair of binoculars has to face the no-longer-flagship model of the rival. After the launch of the Swarovski NL Pure, the EL Swarovision series occupies actually a lower segment and, it seems, currently Zeiss can offer no equivalent of the NL Pure in their line-up. I admit I am very curious what their next move will be...