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Review: Zeiss Victory SF 8x32 (2 Viewers)

Patudo

Well-known member
... So I was relieved and very impressed by the binoculars when they arrived. It ticked all the boxes I could think of and yes they were subjective impressions. Then doubts crept in: was it really true they were not as bright as XY and Z, and so on.. ?

...If the thing you eat disagrees with you, you get rid of it after some hours and are soon back to normal; if you don't like something you hear it seems to stick with you a lot longer and you are reminded of it at various times even after you had seemingly forgotten!

Tom

Ah...the sense of insecurity that has launched a thousand binocular purchases! ;)

The funny thing is, though, X, Y and Z (or L, S and Z if you prefer), all have their less-than-perfect points, whether it's performance against glare, issues with quality control and build quality, or specifications that on paper don't match the competition. Maybe that's why some of our esteemed viewership own one from each manufacturer, to use when unhappy with the others' quirks!

For my part, I truly enjoy reading a well-written review, and find the opinions of users with long-term experience of particular binoculars and comparitive experience of competing models particularly valuable. (Comparisons are odious, so the saying goes, but most folks purchasing a binocular will be evaluating it against the competition, so a write-up that evaluates two potential candidates for your dollar in particular areas of performance has that extra dimension that even the best review that sticks strictly to a single binocular does not.) But, ultimately, what I see from a binocular takes place in my eyes and head, not anyone else's. The Nikon EII, for instance, just doesn't work for me. That doesn't invalidate the opinions of the many who love it, but the fact that it works very well for them, unfortunately, does not mean it works likewise for me.

PS. it's entirely possible to reconcile less perceived brightness in previous EDGs with the improvement apparently shown by current EDGs without implying observer bias - it could easily be a small but subtle improvement in coatings. Nikon and Swarovski have both been thought to have improved their coatings (see discussions on Nikon SE serial numbers), and it's entirely possible that something similar might have been done with EDGs. Now for yet more insecurity over whether yours have the latest coatings... o:D
 

NDhunter

Experienced observer
United States
Hi Edmund,

I enjoyed reading this - a bit of local and personal colour! I couldn't work out EDC. Or does EDC = SHE?!

Best wishes,

Tom

I'm thinking he meant EDG, "every day greatview". That is what the Nikon model offers up.

Sorry, I am a bit off topic, this is a Zeiss SF thread, they are quite good also.

Jerry
 

Hermann

Well-known member
But, ultimately, what I see from a binocular takes place in my eyes and head, not anyone else's. The Nikon EII, for instance, just doesn't work for me. That doesn't invalidate the opinions of the many who love it, but the fact that it works very well for them, unfortunately, does not mean it works likewise for me.

Wise words indeed. For me a glaring example is the Swarovision 8x32 - most people love it, I don't. OTOH, I like the Habicht 7x42 a lot, whereas most people don't.

To come back to the SF 8x32: That's a binocular that ticks a lot of boxes for me - on paper form. Huge field of view, not too short for my hands, per Troubador's excellent review no problems with glare (especially veiling glare, one of my pet peeves), good weight distribution. OK, given my personal preferences at the moment, I would have liked to see an SF 7x35 but that's not going to happen. Never ever.

But whether the SF 8x32 works for me or not I'll only know when I can finally handle it. And then I'll know very quickly. I've used so many binoculars over the years that I normally know within 10 minutes or so. Sure, I couldn't write a review after 10 minutes (some people here seem to think they can do that ... 3:)), that takes more like a couple of weeks (or better months) in the field.

Nikon and Swarovski have both been thought to have improved their coatings (see discussions on Nikon SE serial numbers), and it's entirely possible that something similar might have been done with EDGs. Now for yet more insecurity over whether yours have the latest coatings... o:D

Zeiss did that as well in the past, even going back to the times of the venerable Dialyts. And I don't doubt they still do that. Remember the discussions about the "green cast" of the SF? I saw a distinct green cast in two very early SFs I handled, but never in any of the later SFs, including later grey ones. I'm convinced they tweaked the coatings.

Hermann
 

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
Hello Tom,

the problem is there aren't that many 7x42 out there anymore!

The Nikon 7x42 is often compared to the Zeiss 7x42 and yes, the Zeiss is brighter, if only because of AK prisms!
The Nikon is similarly bright as the Leica 7x42 but brightness is only one point among many, especially since I believe that the Zeiss T * FL 7x42 is primarily aimed at hunters or people who watch a lot at dusk.

What I like so much about the Nikon is the very calm insight, absolutely relaxing, plus the wonderful color rendering, which I like even better than in the Zeiss SF, is of course subjective,but color rendering is similar of the pictures old Flemish painters, the colors are very saturated, full and eye-pleasing.

By the way, I previously had the Zeiss 7x42 Victory and sold the Zeiss due to the optical properties of the Nikon's.

I also like to read binoculars reports, but personally I would not let them influence me too much, there have already been reports about glasses that have often been described as top, but which I ultimately couldn't do anything with, binoculars are always subjective!

If you like binoculars, just enjoy it regardless of whether other people don't like it so that's the most important thing!

Enjoy the Nikon, it is an excellent binocular and does not need to hide from any other binoculars.

Means,
Andreas

Great knowledge and advice. Thanks for sharing it, Andreas.

Tom
 

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
Ah...the sense of insecurity that has launched a thousand binocular purchases! ;)

The funny thing is, though, X, Y and Z (or L, S and Z if you prefer), all have their less-than-perfect points, whether it's performance against glare, issues with quality control and build quality, or specifications that on paper don't match the competition. Maybe that's why some of our esteemed viewership own one from each manufacturer, to use when unhappy with the others' quirks!

For my part, I truly enjoy reading a well-written review, and find the opinions of users with long-term experience of particular binoculars and comparitive experience of competing models particularly valuable. (Comparisons are odious, so the saying goes, but most folks purchasing a binocular will be evaluating it against the competition, so a write-up that evaluates two potential candidates for your dollar in particular areas of performance has that extra dimension that even the best review that sticks strictly to a single binocular does not.) But, ultimately, what I see from a binocular takes place in my eyes and head, not anyone else's. The Nikon EII, for instance, just doesn't work for me. That doesn't invalidate the opinions of the many who love it, but the fact that it works very well for them, unfortunately, does not mean it works likewise for me.

PS. it's entirely possible to reconcile less perceived brightness in previous EDGs with the improvement apparently shown by current EDGs without implying observer bias - it could easily be a small but subtle improvement in coatings. Nikon and Swarovski have both been thought to have improved their coatings (see discussions on Nikon SE serial numbers), and it's entirely possible that something similar might have been done with EDGs. Now for yet more insecurity over whether yours have the latest coatings... o:D

Very nice reassurance, Patudo, by putting it all in context. I suspect mine are recent - if not they can't have sold many at all over the years and the view is still excellent. Focusing is so effortless it just happens by magic.

I have had similar near auto focusing from all 21st century Zeisses I have tried, which have all been pre-owned come to think of it apart from a similarly good SF on a loan out to try scheme a couple of years ago.

Tom
 

GLOBETROTTER

Well-known member
Hi Lee.

Thanks a lot for your review, a great job.

I would like to know if the SF 32 are an evolution or a different binocular than the 42mm line.

Looks like they change the optics inside but are sharper, more contrasty, more transparent, are better on glare control ?

Is the view and color more accurate and neutral ?

Thanks.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Hi Lee.

Thanks a lot for your review, a great job.

I would like to know if the SF 32 are an evolution or a different binocular than the 42mm line.

Looks like they change the optics inside but are sharper, more contrasty, more transparent, are better on glare control ?

Is the view and color more accurate and neutral ?

Thanks.

Thank you for your kind words. I think it would be most correct to describe SF32 as a significant evolution. An evolution because the overall shape, balance, handling, colour rendition, sharpness and glare control are all recognisable characteristics it shares with the 42. It is a 'significant' evolution because a new eyepiece is fitted that extends the field of view and at the same time gives a little more eye relief. These are not easy to achieve at the same time. And to my eyes the 32 does have mildly improved contrast compared with the 42.

Lee
 

GLOBETROTTER

Well-known member
Thank you for your kind words. I think it would be most correct to describe SF32 as a significant evolution. An evolution because the overall shape, balance, handling, colour rendition, sharpness and glare control are all recognisable characteristics it shares with the 42. It is a 'significant' evolution because a new eyepiece is fitted that extends the field of view and at the same time gives a little more eye relief. These are not easy to achieve at the same time. And to my eyes the 32 does have mildly improved contrast compared with the 42.

Lee

Thanks to you Lee.

As 5 years have passed since the launch of the SF series, it was expecting something more, perhaps more transparency, sharpness and quality of construction i mean a real improvement.

We will have to wait until August here in Spain until the first units arrive.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Lee, do you think the new eyepiece may work in the 42 ?

John.

Sorry John, I don't know the answer to this, except to say I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that wouldn't be as simple as loading SF32's eyepiece optical data into an optics software and keying in 42mm and waiting for the answer. Don't forget SF32's objective arrangement is different from SF42 so the latter's complete system would need changing. I agree it is an intriguing question.

Lee
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
Thank you for your kind words. I think it would be most correct to describe SF32 as a significant evolution. An evolution because the overall shape, balance, handling, colour rendition, sharpness and glare control are all recognisable characteristics it shares with the 42. It is a 'significant' evolution because a new eyepiece is fitted that extends the field of view and at the same time gives a little more eye relief. These are not easy to achieve at the same time. And to my eyes the 32 does have mildly improved contrast compared with the 42.

Lee

.the FOV for the 10x according to Zeiss is 130meters or 427'. Impressive. The 8x is 155m and 455'...

Impressive. Almost tempted to look at the 10x for the added power as FOV surpasses even the Swaro 8x32EL. Why not? The weight of the 10x is actually less than the 8x too. Same size otherwise. jim
 
Last edited:

tenex

reality-based
.the FOV for the 10x according to Zeiss is 130meters or 427'. Impressive. The 8x is 155m and 455'...

Impressive. Almost tempted to look at the 10x for the added power as FOV surpasses even the Swaro 8x32EL. Why not? The weight of the 10x is actually less than the 8x too. Same size otherwise. jim
Careful... mistakes are made all the time converting FOV in meters to feet. 1m is 3.3 ft, but FOV is meters AT meters, which is dimensionless. In feet AT feet, it would be exactly the same figure. For feet AT yards, which we use for some reason, multiply by 3. So that's 390', not 427. Still impressive, just not incredible. I always ignore the stated figure in feet since it's so often wrong, and just multiply the meter figure by 3.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
I have been using my SF8x32 extensively in a wild, coastal environment for a few weeks and have some observations to report that are additional to those in my original review at the head of this thread.

I have been surprised that there have been some criticisms of the quality of the eyecups and although I complained long and hard about the build-quality of the eyecups originally fitted to SF42, I can find no cause for complaint here. I could agree, that given the amount of extension the eyecups provide, that an extra position, making five, would have been nice, but like Chuck I discovered that the eyecups remain reliably in place when positioned just above the official click-stops, resting on top of it, so to speak. This has given me a bit of fine-tuning and now I have them resting just on top of the fully-down position. This gives me the full field of view and no kidney beans, and after many hours in the field in all conditions, the eyecups have not moved from this position.

The case has been easy to use, comfortably taking the binos and strap/ocular cover, as well as the objective covers when I tried them out. The recent rainy weather proved that the ocular cover is easy to fit and remove quickly, and the ability to attach it at both sides means just sliding it down the straps automatically adjusts it to suit one’s IPD and so fit over the eyecups.

The wide field of view has been a welcome feature while scanning the sea for diving birds and animals re-surfacing from their dive. One can easily do this with the naked eye if the sea is glassy-calm, but once the surface is disrupted by wavelets casting brief shadows and catching brief highlights, looking for small dark shapes among them is far easier with a binocular, especially if it has a wide field of view to allow a larger area to be surveyed. In fact the combination of such a wide field and generous eye relief is a neat achievement. I also noted that when scanning over the huge land- and seascapes that the wide field of view is not only comfortable and realistic but also gave some 3D effect. Now, I have to confess that when this was reported by other members I rather thought it was a little fanciful having never noted any 3D effect from 8x binoculars. However, on several occasions I was struck by the perceptible distance between objects in the foreground and objects further away. It maybe that I have to thank Meopta’s 7x42 MeoStar for educating my vision to notice this but as an example: a Grey Heron flew across the field of view, dipping down slowly towards the coast and as it approached the gap between a nearby hill top and one on the opposite side of the bay I clearly perceived the depth between the two hills and as the Heron glided down between them and through this gap the effect was really quite remarkable. So, my humble apologies to those who have already reported this.

Since glare has been a topic of much recent discussion on Birdforum, I kept a special look-out for it and never encountered any in normal viewing despite the low sun at this time of year. I did try to provoke it by looking directly at a blindingly bright reflection of the low sun off the sea and did see a small crescent of non-image-forming light at the bottom of the field of view. This was not an opaque ‘milky’ effect and the image could still be seen. So glare did not present itself during normal viewing and neither did chromatic aberration, neither in the centre field nor at the edge, and although the astigmatism present in Zeiss’s previous premium 8x32, the Victory FL, attracted some criticism, I couldn’t find any here.

Scanning the sea about 300yds away each day, I regularly saw one, sometimes two, Long-tailed Ducks. Usually it was an immature but occasionally there was an adult female present. These are delightful ducks and I have often wondered how they attracted the name ‘Old Squaw’ in the USA, a name which is no longer in use. Anyway the SFs did a neat job of imaging the differing tones of grey.

There were Great Northern Divers / Common Loons present every day, and in one period of settled weather with good light it was satisfying to see that the winter plumage dark head of one individual wasn’t black or dark grey at all but a beautiful mid-brown. Maybe this was a first winter bird.

We were visited most early mornings and evenings by Brown Hares and the SFs did a fine job of imaging their complex pelt. One wild morning there was no sign of the Hares nearby so I used the wide field of view to quickly scan the neighbouring rough pasture and open moor. Glimpsing something different about one tuft of vegetation, I skidded the binos’ panning to a halt, back-tracked, and there, only just visible above the grass bent over by wind and rain, was a Hare’s back, flattened ears and the top of its head and its eyes. They are truly beautiful and charismatic animals.

Out on the sea we were lucky to watch a female Otter and well-grown youngster cruise slowly across the bay and later, there was a truly extraordinary display provided by the sea and weather conditions. For about 10 minutes, the small wavelets on the surface caught and reflected the colours of the sky overhead that had patches of blue, some white clouds and pink from the low sun, and whole surface of the sea became a dancing kaleidoscope of briefly sparkling pinks, blues and whites. The effect was magical and all the more enjoyable for the SF’s wide field of view capturing so much of it with such sparkling clarity. And then it faded, but it was something I will never forget.

A few days later we were sitting half-hidden in a hollow on a hillside when a female Merlin came down the gully just below us, skimming only inches above the vegetation. It reached the nearby coast and swung round a rock pinnacle and set off back the way it had arrived, only to see us and veer off. As it briefly paused in mid-air I caught it with the SFs just as a huge ocean breaker erupted skywards behind it and momentarily it had a sparkling white background. What a view, and what a lovely little falcon.

Back at our cottage, our constant companions were Jackdaws who perched on the roofs in pairs and kept a close eye on us. From a distance they can looks simply black but close up through the SFs their plumage is more subtle than that, lightening from the dark mantle to a distinguished silver-grey on the back of the head and nape with a dark black face. Their pale eyes and the whole effect gives them an appearance of sophisticated gravitas that is immediately confounded when they swagger around and call with a distinct hint of mischief.

By now you will have understood that I enjoyed the SF 8x32s enormously and the only thing I would personally change would be to up the available eyecup positions from 4 to 5.

Lee IMG_4641.JPG
 

Gijs van Ginkel

Well-known member
Good report Lee,
For those who want to compare technical details of the top quality 8x32 binoculars and the Swarovski NL pure 8x42, see:
houseofoutdoor.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Test-new.Swarovski-NL-pure-8x42-and-Zeiss-Victory-SF-8x32-nov.2020.pdf
I have listed there data from a number of top quality 32 and 42 mm binoculars with technical details, price, transmission data etc.
Gijs van Ginkel
 

xaver

Member
Good report Lee,
For those who want to compare technical details of the top quality 8x32 binoculars and the Swarovski NL pure 8x42, see:
houseofoutdoor.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Test-new.Swarovski-NL-pure-8x42-and-Zeiss-Victory-SF-8x32-nov.2020.pdf
I have listed there data from a number of top quality 32 and 42 mm binoculars with technical details, price, transmission data etc.
Gijs van Ginkel
Thanks Gijs, but the link does not seem to work: "Oops! That page can’t be found."
 

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