ZEISS Victory SF 32 - The Perfect x32 Binocular?

The Victory SF’s have been with us since 2014 and since then I can remember the question ‘When are we going to get a 32 model?’ has been asked. My answer was ‘I very much hope soon’ but it never was, or certainly appeared that way. Over the last 6 months, the answer changed and an air of excitement was coming out of the birding forums and within the birding community.

Could it be that 2020 sees the launch of the SF 32 range? Well yes, the enjoyment with saying they are finally here is 30% relief and 70% excitement. Being in the optics trade for 16 years there can be very little to get excited about when it comes to optics. 

The Victory SF 42 range is close to the perfect optic and not many people disagree with that opinion when they look through them. The good news is the SF 32’s are just as good, if not better.

So with all this excitement, I popped over to the Cambourne Wildlife Trusts Nature Reserve to get my hands on a pair. Something to mention before I go any further, I am an 8x user through and through and have always found a 10x tends not to give me the eye relief as a glasses wearer nor the stable image I want.

Time to Adjust

After going through the top-line specs, and some more refined details, we went straight out to the reserve, wrapped up warm on a windy winter's day. Grabbing a pair of 8x42s to get started and allow myself to get reacquainted with the optics and focusing, I got a pair of 32s in my hand once I was happy my eyes had adjusted to the optics. As a side note, and an important piece of advice, always give yourself time to adjust to a new optic when testing binoculars or scopes. Allowing your eyes to settle can change the image performance so you can make the right choice.

Instantly I got a beautifully bright, sharp, and natural colour image that the SF 42s offer. The field of view was noticeably impressive but something made me think they don’t appear as wide as the 8x42s. The 8x42’s come in at 148m at 1000m whereas the presentation told me the 8x32s are a class-leading 155m at 1000m. But I didn’t have any shake, the image was beautifully stable and the eye relief was just right. Now ZEISS did highlight a number of points in the comparison between the 8x and 10x versions vs other options available. The one specification, in particular, was the field of view and how good the 10x32s are at 130m at 1000m. Considering the alternatives don’t go much over 120m, this figure is impressive. 

8x in Disguise?

Could this be that I am using a pair of 10x32s without the usual issues I have so often experienced with most other options? Now I can’t prove that ZEISS pulled out a good trick labelling 10x32s as 8x32s but it certainly felt like that. Checking the binoculars themselves 3 times, plus asking a member of the group to confirm, I had been using a pair of 10x for the last couple of hours. I was surprised and took the time to process what ZEISS has achieved. Someone did kindly offer a pair of 8x but I didn’t want to swap, I was enjoying the 10’s so much I kept them for the rest of the morning.

In all the years of selling and buying optics, I have always recommended an 8x binocular generally, being the best all-around magnification. Over the last few years, I have noticed 10x becoming more popular as they now offer a better field of view and ergonomics to reduce shake. This is mostly concentrated for the x42 ranges, with 8x still more popular for a 32mm objective binocular. I really do think that what ZEISS have done is a game-changer. A 10x magnification in a 32mm objective binocular that is comfortable, can be used all day without fatigue, steady in hand with incredible optics as a complete package is a first in my book. Well done ZEISS, you have converted a firm 8x32 user. 

Want to find out more?

We are hoping to get a pair of the 10x32s in the hands of our in-house birding experts for a more in-depth review in the coming weeks so watch this space. If you want to find out more about the SF 32s and place a pre-order please visit the product pages using the links below:

ZEISS Victory SF 8x32 - Pre-order here >

ZEISS Victory SF 10x32 - Pre-order here >

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  • By Gareth Cox
  • 6 Mar 2020

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