Introduction

In this article, I will compare two of the best binoculars in the world currently available (2018), both of German production, Leica Noctivid 10×42 and Zeiss Victory SF 10×42. Both brands, Leica and Zeiss are premium manufacturers of high-quality optical devices.
Noctivid series of binoculars was introduced in 2016, as a result of several decades of experience, innovative technologies and excellent optical and mechanical systems. Noctivid is known for being the most premium series of binoculars that Leica has ever produced.
This model of Zeiss Victory SF, also introduced in 2016, is an improved version of the original Victory SF binoculars. The first edition was in dark grey color and had several minor problems. However, when improving the binoculars, their excellent optical properties and price remained the same. The same as the Leica’s Noctivid, Victory SF is considered the most premium series of binoculars made by Zeiss.

Leica Noctivid 10x42 and Zeiss Victory SF 10x42

Leica Noctivid 10×42 and Zeiss Victory SF 10×42

Size & Weight

 Leica Noctivid 10x42Zeiss Victory SF 10x42
Weight:860 g780 g
Width:124 mm125 mm
Length:150 mm173 mm
Max interpupillary distance:75 mm76 mm

I got to make a review of a green edition Leica Nocitivid that is coated in beautiful, olive green rubber. They weigh more than the Victory SF but they are smaller and thinner. The rubber they are made of is non-slippery and durable. On the right barrel, there is a small red Leica logo. Both binoculars have an open bridge design. Victory SF has a triple-bridge link for comfortable handling. Its barrels are very long, narrow and coated in solid, matte black rubber.
The Victory SF binoculars are better balanced, while Noctivid is heavier on the front (on the objective lens side).

Leica Noctivid 10x42

Leica Noctivid 10×42

Zeiss Victory SF 10x42

Zeiss Victory SF 10×42

 

Optical Properties

 Leica Noctivid 10x42Zeiss Victory SF 10x42
Prism type:Roof -Schmidt/PechanRoof -Schmidt/Pechan
Lens Diameter:42 mm42 mm
Magnification:10x10x
Variable Magnification:NoNo
Coatings:Fully multi-coatedFully multi-coated
Close focus:1.9 m 1.5 m
Field of View:112 m /1000 m120 m / 1000 m

10×42 binoculars are meant for more serious and specific observations since 10x magnification provides more details. It is the most appropriate for long-distance observations/ shooting, hunting in the mountains and stalk hunting, especially for scanning smaller animals and other objects. The shaking effect on 10x magnification binoculars is more noticeable than on lower magnifications, but still within normal limits. For hunting and use in low light conditions, 8×42 configuration is a much better choice. Both binoculars are available in this configuration too.
The binoculars mentioned above, have a Roof (Schmidt/Pechan) prism type and fully-multicoated lenses for maximum light transmittance.
Noctivid has phase-corrected prisms and 12 glass elements integrated into their binoculars. They have used the high-quality SCHOTT optical glass and anti-reflective coatings of the highest level, which provide exceptional brightness, sharpness, and true-to-life, neutral colors and image. They have their prisms coated with HighLux- System (HLS) for superb light reflectivity across all spectrums. AquaDura® coating, which was invented by Leica, serves for the crystal clear image in all weather conditions, as it repels water and dirt from the lenses. An additional High Durable Coating (HDC® Plus) protects the binoculars from scratching. Their mirror coatings provide 91% light transmittance (and 92% on the 8×42 model).
Zeiss has also used fluoride SCHOTT glass for their new Victory SF. Extra-low dispersion (ED) lenses eliminate chromatic aberration and distortion and on the other side increase contrast and color fidelity. Prisms are coated with P* (by Zeiss) phase-correction coatings that reduce light loss. Their anti-reflection T* coatings provide brightness and clarity of the image. The LotuTec coating protects the objective and ocular lenses of the binoculars from scratches and makes them water, dirt, and grease- repellent (it makes the drops simply drip off). Their specialty is also the ErgoBalance system, which provides stable (steady) images when holding the binoculars in hands.

Leica Noctivid 10x42 (above) and Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 (below)

Leica Noctivid 10×42 (above) and Zeiss Victory SF 10×42 (below)

Leica Noctivid 10x42 (left) and Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 (right)

Leica Noctivid 10×42 (left) and Zeiss Victory SF 10×42 (right)

Focus Properties

 Leica Noctivid 10x42Zeiss Victory SF 10x42
Focusing System:CentralCentral
Central Wheel Grasp:9/108/10
Central Wheel Rotation:8/108/10
Diopter Setting:CentralCentral
Central Wheel Diameter:27 mm30 mm
Central Wheel Length:23 mm20 mm
Total Revolution: 720°640°
Bridge Length (open bridge + the central wheel)45-60-15 mm63-70-13 mm

The focusing system on these two binoculars in central and so is the diopter setting. As mentioned before, the central wheel has been improved on the new Victory SF model which has a smoother rotation now. The focusing wheel on Noctivid is self-lubricated which is the result of a combination of materials used for this purpose. The wheel does not need any oil and works at all temperatures (all wheels that are lubricated with oil have the problem with rotating at extremely low temperatures). Its structure is precisely the way you want the central wheel to be- it has an excellent grip with vertical bars all over the surface, the right size, and position. The rotation is, however, a bit too fast, which may be disturbing due to the possible rapid change in focus settings. I have evaluated its grip with a 9/10 and its rotation with an 8/10. The diopter setting is placed on the front side of the focusing wheel and is fixed by grasping the outer part of it and pulling it out. Inside, there are dashes and a dot with which the diopter can be precisely adjusted. Victory SF’s diopter setting is slightly different; it is not attached to the central wheel, but it is only a thin, coin-shaped ring, which we also pull out to adjust the diopter. Its central wheel is bigger with a poorer grip than on a Noctivid, however, it has a better index finger placement, especially when holding the binoculars in one hand. It is made of rubber with carved-out lines for a better grip. The rotation is, like on Noctivid, fast and smooth. Victory SF’s central wheel has a Smart Focus System (it means you will get an optimal focus in fewer turns). I have evaluated its grasp and rotation both with an 8/10.

Leica Noctivid 10x42 and Zeiss Victory SF 10x42

Leica Noctivid 10×42 and Zeiss Victory SF 10×42

Leica Noctivid 10x42 (above) and Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 (below)

Leica Noctivid 10×42 (above) and Zeiss Victory SF 10×42 (below)

Eyepiece Properties

 Leica Noctivid 10x42Zeiss Victory SF 10x42
Eyepiece type:MultipositionedMultipositioned
Number of Click-stops:43
Eye relief:19 nmm18 mm
Exit pupil:4.2 mm4.2 mm
Firmness:9/108/10
Quality:9/108/10
Suitable for Eye Glass Wearers:YesYes
External Diameter:40 mm38 mm
Internal Diameter:26 mm25 mm

Both binoculars have a multi-positioned eyepiece type with quality-made eyecups which work with the turn and slide mechanism and offer a different number of click-stops. For the proper adjustment of the eye relief, Noctivid offers 4 click-stops and Victory SF offers 3. I prefer the rotation and click-stops on the latter since it moves very smooth and has exactly the same frequency between them. Soft locks hold the eyecups perfectly in place. The material they are made of is thin rubber in combination with plastic threads, which is also a bit thin and flimsy. Although click-stops are excellent, the overall appearance of eyecups is somewhat obsolete, and rotation is a bit unstable, quick, and too soft. I have evaluated both, the firmness and quality of the Victory SF’s eyecups with a good 8/10.
Noctivid’s eyecups are very beautifully made, of a matted rubber, soft enough that feels comfortable when pressed to the face. The difference between the eyecups of these two binoculars is that those on the Victory SF have a fine defined and consequently less comfortable edge on the outside, which is not rounded, like on Noctivid. As for the click-stops and rotation, they are not as precise as on the Victory RF, also the positions they stop at are not well defined and balanced. Nevertheless, their quality and appearance convinced me to evaluate them ( firmness and quality) with a 9/10.

Leica Noctivid 10x42 (above) and Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 (below) Eyepieces

Leica Noctivid 10×42 (above) and Zeiss Victory SF 10×42 (below) Eyepieces

General Properties

 Leica Noctivid 10x42Zeiss Victory SF 10x42
Housing Material:Plastic/ Rubber/ Metal detailsPlastic/ Rubber/ Metal details
Chassis:MagnesiumMagnesium
Armoring:RubberRubber
Quality of Armoring:10/109/10
Quality of Covers:10/109/10
Build in Rangefinder:NoNo
Waterproof:YesYes
Submersible:Yes Yes
Filled With:NitrogenNitrogen
Number of Colors:2 (Green, Black)1 (previous series in Grey)
Tripod Adaptable:YesYes
Made in:GermanyGermany
Introduced in:20172016
Warranty period: 10 years10 years
MRSP Price:2680.00 EUR2600.00 EUR

When designing the Noctivid binoculars, Leica was especially precise about their details, ergonomics and has created a visually beautiful optical device. The appearance of the armoring is very simple and minimalistic, but wonderful. Also, the materials used for it are all top quality which fit nicely with each other. As with quite a few models so far, Leica almost never disappoints with the appearance of its products and it is the same with the Noctivid series. Its objective covers fit the barrels perfectly and are already attached to the binoculars. I have evaluated the quality of armoring and covers with a 10/10.
Zeiss decided to go black on black with its renewed Victory SF binoculars. Almost all of their binoculars have a fairly similar look that tends to be as simple as possible. The barrels of the Victory SF are slim and long, coated in high-quality, long-lasting rubber. Due to its color and surface, spots and stains can be quickly seen on it. Because of the good ergonomics but a bit plain look, I have evaluated its armoring with a 9/10. I gave the same evaluation to its objective lens covers. Victory SF covers are not already attached to the binoculars but can be fixed on them with a strap and a clip mechanism.
Both binoculars are filled with Nitrogen gas and are O-ring sealed for maximum water and fog resistance, so the binoculars can easily be used in extreme weather conditions too.
Both are made in Germany and have a 10-year warranty period. In both cases, the binoculars can be attached to the tripod.

Leica Noctivid 10x42 and Zeiss Victory SF 10x42

Leica Noctivid 10×42 and Zeiss Victory SF 10×42

Leica Noctivid 10x42 and Zeiss Victory SF 10x42

Leica Noctivid 10×42 and Zeiss Victory SF 10×42

Group Test

How we made a test

We made a test with a group of 6 people with very diverse knowledge about sports optics. Some had previous experiences with binoculars and other almost none. We compared central and edge sharpness, glare, real FOV, eye-box and overall impression. Everyone in the test group tested binoculars individually without being influenced by other people. We also covered down any brand signs on binoculars, so no one was influenced by knowing which company manufactured which.

 Leica Noctivid 10x42Zeiss Victory SF 10x42
Central sharpness:0/66/6
Edge sharpness:3/63/6
Glare:0/66/6
Real FOV:0/66/6
Eye-box:3/63/6
Overall impression:0/66/6

When testing the binoculars we have ended up with very different results. Leica is known to be among the more if not the most popular brands of optical devices, especially for those who are more closely involved in observations (bird watchers, explorers, etc. ). Nevertheless, in this comparison, Victory SF got better evaluations and was an absolute winner in four categories. Also, all six people who had made the test would rather buy Victory SF. Results for the Edge sharpness and Eye-box ended up in a tie. In Central sharpness, Glare, Real FOV and Overall impression categories, Zeiss Victory SF won with 6:0.

Conclusion

As many times up to now, it turned out that the appearance is not everything. It is true that the Leica binoculars are made superbly and are perfect in almost every detail, but as far as the optical performance is concerned, Zeiss still beats all the competition. Their high-priced binoculars were and are (in my opinion), truly, the best binoculars available on the market.
Both binoculars are packed in large boxes. Leica Noctivid comes with a green bag/purse (unfortunately without any strap for carrying included), a neck-strap and a cleaning cloth. In the bag, there are also covers for the eyepiece.
Victory SF come with a hard case, made especially for the binoculars. Inside the case/bag, we can also find the strap for the bag, neck-strap for the binoculars and covers for the objective part (2 pieces) and the eyepieces.

Leica Noctivid 10x42 Kit

Leica Noctivid 10×42 Kit

Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 Kit

Zeiss Victory SF 10×42 Kit

Disclaimer

This test wasn’t financed and is unbiased. As a wildlife enthusiast interested in sports optics I made this tests because I would like to see how binoculars perform and if they meet the advertised expectations. With this test, I also hope that it will help people choose the right binoculars for their personal use. I am not in any way connected with the manufacturers of sports optics and I’m not personally in favor of particular brand.
In the end, I would like to thank Optics-trade.eu to lend me these binoculars for this test. I also thank them for letting me use their videos.

 

 

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Written by heuxbf

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