In the last few years, speculations about the introduction of compact binoculars in the Zeiss' SF series have circulated all over the web. The reason for that was the obsolescence of the Victory FL compact binoculars. Even though their optical quality is indisputable, the exterior of the binoculars is outdated. Now, in 2020, Zeiss finally unveiled the compact newcomers – Victory SF 8x32 and Victory SF 10x32.
Victory SF series is well-known among optics enthusiasts, birders especially. The 8x42 and 10x42 models, launched in 2016, soon became very popular. Their wide field of view, unique open-bridge construction, quality housing, and high-contrast images have enthused many high-end optics users over the years. The newly introduced compact duo will surely attract attention as well, especially of those who prefer compact binoculars over bigger ones.
Two models have been introduced, featuring the most popular magnifications:
Those who prefer a wider field of view will surely go for the 8x magnification model, whereas the 10x magnification model will attract the ones who opt for a detailed image. Furthermore, shaking of hands is less noticeable on the 8x32. Since the binoculars are lightweight, you shouldn’t have too many problems maintaining a steady image, even with prolonged use. There will be a 50 € price difference between the two, with 10x32 being the more expensive one. A price of around 2200 € is expected.
Zeiss Victory SF compact – a lightweight companion with various benefits
What’s with all the hype about compact binoculars for birding? Zeiss presented us with some facts as to why a lightweight binocular is an excellent choice for ornithology enthusiasts. Many birders are willing to hike to the perfect scenic viewpoint. When hiking is in question, every additional gram is best avoided. Furthermore, most observations of birds are carried out during the day, reducing the importance of the exit pupil. Those who have smaller hands will be fond of the compact models, women and children especially. At 600 grams, the compact SF’s are around 200 grams lighter than their bigger brothers.
The SF series packs a number of advanced features. We can’t go past the two famous coatings of theirs, T* and Lotutec. The T* coating increases the light transmission rate and provides a crystal-clear image high in contrast. Lotutec is applied to the exterior of the lenses, ensuring that water droplets and other particles slide right off the surface. Thanks to Zeiss’ FieldFlattener technology, excellent edge sharpness is assured, while the SCHOTT HT glass aids in providing both a brighter and more detailed image. The lenses contain fluoride which reduces colour fringing and adds to the sharpness of the image.
The 42-mm Victory SF binoculars are known for their great ergonomics, and the compact models are no different. The open bridge construction allows for single-handed use and helps cut down the weight. The focusing knob is positioned close to the centre of the binoculars, making it simple for the user to reach it, regardless of the fingers’ size. With 1.6 turns from close focus to infinity, the users are able to focus the observed object quickly and precisely. Zeiss calls this the SmartFocus concept.
The magnesium housing is durable and robust. The surface is covered with black rubber which adds to the aesthetic, elegant look. You can use the device in temperatures as low as –30 °C. All Victory SF binoculars are waterproof and filled with dry nitrogen to prevent internal fogging at low temperatures.
With most optical parts placed towards the eyepiece, Zeiss achieved a perfect balance in weight, naming the concept ErgoBalance. You’ll be able to use the binoculars for extended periods of time without experiencing arm fatigue.
We were taken aback when we learned of these devices’ field of view. The 8x magnification model boasts 155 meters of the field of view at 1000 m, while the 10x magnification model offers 130 meters. We have yet to test these binoculars, but if these numbers are true, Zeiss did an outstanding job.
The 8x32 and 10x32 Victory SF binoculars are supplied with a soft case – Zeiss said that their customers often complain about the bulkiness of the hard case that comes with the 42-mm objective lens models. In the future, a soft case will be supplied with the 42-mm models also.
While the Victory SF series is nearly perfect in all aspects, there have been some complaints about the eyecups. A few months ago, Zeiss improved the eyecups on Victory SF binoculars. The compact versions will be sold with upgraded eyecups, which we look forward too.
The binoculars are covered by a 10-year warranty period.
If you are looking for lightweight, compact binoculars of indisputable optical quality, give the compact Victory SF models a try – you won’t regret it. Currently, these are among the most advanced compact binoculars on the market. The delivery will start in May 2020.