Rangefinding binoculars have come a long way in recent years, and in this Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 review we are going to see if the Zeiss Victory Rangefinding binoculars truly are elite. We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to test these Zeiss Victory RF binoculars side by side with many of the other options on the market, giving us an excellent feel for exactly how they performed in the field.
Love optics? Here at Backwoods Pursuit we certainly do! Make sure to check out our MONSTER 26 BINOCULAR REVIEW, as well as our massive 19 SPOTTING SCOPE REVIEW. For both of those reviews, we lined up the optics and tested them side by side!
The Specs: Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 Review:
As mentioned above, rangefinding binoculars have come a long way in design, but the Zeiss Victory RF rangefinding binoculars take this to a whole different level. They aren’t nearly as bulky as most others on the market today and even keep the weight to a minimum. The Zeiss Victory RF are such a slim design, you really don’t even know you are holding a pair of rangefinding binoculars. Here are the specs for the Zeiss Victory RF Rangefinder binoculars:
The Eyecups: Zeiss Victory RF Rangefinder Binoculars
I found the eye cups on the Zeiss Victory RF Rangefinder binoculars to be extremely comfortable, and I found absolutely zero play in their adjustment. The eye cups lock firmly into place for all 4 positions and stay there until moved. If I were to change one small thing on the eye cups, I’d make the rubber a little thinner on the edges to allow them to nestle into your eye sockets a little bit better. I’m being nit-picky here, but I’ve found that eye cups with a firm, thinner edge are my preference over a softer, more pliable and wider edge like these ones.
Tripod Adaptability: Zeiss Victory RF Review
There are a few options when it comes to mounting the Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 rangefinding binoculars on a tripod. While it’s a bummer that they don’t have a standard threading for a stud, you can use a clamp style adapter like the Aziak Equipment Bino Clamp or the Really Right Stuff Cinch. My favorite method, however, is to pick up an Outdoorsmans Bino Adapter and then snag the Victory RF Stud that Outdoorsmans makes. This goes over the battery compartment (replaces the battery cap) and allows you to use the Outdoorsmans Bino Adapter. I’ve found this to be the most stable and is my preferred, option. It is, however, the most expensive.
Putting the battery in the place where the adapter threads are typically makes a lot of sense for a rangefinding binocular design, but the tradeoff unfortunately is that you lose the ability to use a lot of best adapters on the market today. Thankfully though, Outdoorsmans came up with a stud specifically for the Victory RF which is a great option.
Check Our Video Review of these 4 Great Tripod Adapters
Focus Mechanism: Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 Review
Throughout this Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 review, the focus mechanism never ceases to be anything short of amazing. I can honestly say that, even with the enormous number of binoculars we had the privilege of testing over the years, the focus mechanism of the Zeiss Victory RF and the Zeiss Victory SF binoculars has been our absolute favorite. It is silky smooth with zero play and maintains that silky smoothness from one end of the range to the other.
The mechanism doesn’t require so much pressure to roll the wheel that you are moved off target, but there is enough to minimize the focus wheel from moving in your bino harness. The rubberized wheel gives you the perfect amount of grip while using it, and the position is intuitive and natural. In short, if I could pick one focus mechanism for every pair of binoculars, it would be the ones featured on the Zeiss Victory line of binoculars. It’s that good!
Diopter & Focus Adjustments: Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 Rangefinding Binoculars
If there was one thing about the Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 binoculars that I really wished was different, it would be that the focus and diopter adjustments would lock into place. I know it’s a small thing, but when you are investing in a pair of rangefinding binoculars in this price category, I would expect to get a locking diopter and focus mechanism.
With that being said, while testing them in the field using my Marsupial Gear bino harness, they did not move on me so it didn’t end up being an issue. They take a substantial and deliberate effort to move, so it’s unlikely that they will unintentionally move on you. You’d be wise to memorize the locations, though, in the event they did move on you. The adjustment under the right eye cup adjusts the display focus while the adjustment wheel under the left eye cup is the diopter adjustment.
how to Adjust the Focus and Diopter: Zeiss victory RF 10×42 Rangefinder Binoculars
I found that it worked best to go through setting up the focus and diopter settings by using these steps:
- Put both the diopter and display focus on zero and use the main focus wheel to get as good of a picture as you can.
- Cover your left eye or the left barrel, turn the rangefinder on, and use display focus (below the right eye cup) to bring the display into perfect focus.
- With your left eye still covered, let the rangefinder turn off and bring the image into perfect focus using the main focus wheel.
- Now cover your right eye, and use the diopter focus (below the left eye cup) to bring the left eye into focus.
Going through these steps should provide you with a well-focused image in both eyes. Rangefinding binoculars can be a bit more tricky to get the diopter and display focus set just right vs standard binoculars as you have an extra step in adjusting the display focus. If you do these steps in the wrong order you’ll find yourself fighting to get the crisp, clear image you could be getting because the display focus also affects the image focus of the right eye.
Feel/Rubber Armor: Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 Rangefinder Binoculars Review
The Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 rangefinding binoculars feature a fantastic rubber armor that has a great in-hand feel and really feel well-built and durable. It just feels like quality all the way around and doesn’t add unnecessary bulk.
Field of View: Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 Rangefinding Binoculars Review
Another area we tested for in this Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 review was the field of view. While the Victory RF doesn’t quite boast the massive field of view of its cousin, the Victory SF 10×42 binoculars does (360ft @1000yds), the Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 still gives you a generous 345 feet at 1000 yards.
Color and Clarity: Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 Rangefinding Binoculars Review
Image clarity is a one of the most important things to consider in binoculars. So how did the Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 binoculars perform in this area? The short answer is INCREDIBLY! I’m sure you aren’t surprised by that considering how good Zeiss optics typically are, but when dropping this kind of coin on the Victory RF binos you want to be sure. So just how good are they?
I did note that the Victory RF 10×42 didn’t produce quite as sharp of an image as their cousin, the non-rangefidning Victory SF, but it was extremely close. Given all that is required to utilize the lenses for the rangefinding functionality, that is quite remarkable. Again, every pair of rangefinding binoculars we tested weren’t quite as good as their non-rangefinding cousins in each of their respective brands, but incredibly the Zeiss Victory RF vs the Victory SF were nearly indistinguishable, however, we did notice a small difference.
Unlike some (if not most) rangefinding binoculars on the market, you don’t get lenses with an abnormal tint to them. Of the rangefinding binoculars we tested very few didn’t have a blue, green or emerald tint to them, but the Zeiss Victory RF rangefinder binoculars provide a nice crisp, clear image free of unusual color tints.
It’s not uncommon for rangefinding binoculars to leave a bit to be desired in the clarity department, but these Zeiss Victory RF Rangefinder binoculars were right there among the best of the best with the Swarovski EL Range TA Range and the Leica Geovid.
Edge to Edge Clarity: Zeiss Victory Rangefinder Binoculars Review
One of the primary features of a really good pair of rangefinding binoculars is how their edge-to-edge clarity is. As you’d hope, the Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 are excellent here compared to other rangefinding binoculars. Now it’s worth noting that pretty much ALL rangefinding binoculars suffer a bit in edge-to-edge clarity vs standard binoculars. You simply can’t expect a them to have quite the edge-to-edge clarity as a non rangefinding binocular (at least in our extensive testing). That wasn’t just with Zeiss, it was across the board.
With that said, you don’t give up very much edge-to-edge clarity with the Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 vs its cousin the Zeiss Victory SF (non-rangefinding binocular). Sure the Victory RF isn’t quite as good in edge-to-edge clarity and starts losing its crisp picture on the outer 15% of the image vs the Victory SF’s stellar performance of retaining edge to edge clarity until the outer 5%-7% of the field of view.
Low Light Performance: Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 Rangefinder Binoculars Review
One area that is often a short fall of rangefinding binoculars is their low light performance. Many have various color tints to the glass, which usually ends up hindering low light performance. However, with the Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 there is no odd color tint, and their low light performance is top notch. The Zeiss Victory RF are able to maintain their ability to resolve the image well past legal shooting light, and nearly take the top spot in low light performance in our low light testing. Are they the best low light performance of all the rangefinding binoculars we tested? Not quite, but very close. They definitely in the top tier of all rangefinding binoculars on the market, though.
Now, if you really want that extra low light performance, you have to option to step up to the Zeiss Victory RF 10×54 binoculars, that is if you want to pack the extra weight. The larger objective lens allows for more light transmission and better low light performance, but comes with a weight penalty.
Eye Strain: Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 Rangefinder Binoculars Review
Another one of the tell tale signs of a quality pair of binoculars is being free of any eye strain when using them for long periods of time. That is precisely what you get with the Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 rangefinding binoculars. Your eyes relax into the eye cups, and they provide you with a very comfortable and enjoyable viewing experience.
Rangefinder Performance: Zeiss Victory RF Rangefinder Binoculars Review
Having tested a lot of different rangefinders, the advertised max range is often a stretch at best, and it’s likely you won’t quite get the performance in the field that the specs say. However, with the Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 rangefinder binoculars, they way out-performed their specs consistently. For instance, the specs say that the max reflective range is 2500 yards, but I was able to regularly get a range out to 3500 off hand while ranging an open hillside (not even a reflective target). This was in a good lighting condition early in the morning, but still that’s very impressive!
Keep in mind that harsh lighting conditions like bluebird days after a snow fall will reduce the rangefinders effective ranging ability, so you won’t always get this kind of performance, but it’s nice to know the Zeiss Victory RF rangefinder binoculars will do everything and more that is advertised. Of all the rangefinding binoculars I’ve tested, only one has returned a range further than these Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 binoculars, and that was the Sig Kilo 10K ABS (ranged out to 4600yds off hand). However, the optics of these Zeiss Victory RF 10x42s are far superior.
ONE PRESS UNIQUE RANGING
One thing that I found to be very unique about these Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 rangefinding binoculars is that they designed the range button to function the opposite of most of the other rangefinders and rangefinding binoculars that I’ve tested. The unit turns on when you the range button down, but it ranges when you RELEASE the button. Unlike most rangefinders, you push and hold the button to turn the unit on and acquire your target, and then upon releasing the button, it gives you the range.
This was odd at first, however, I quickly got used to it and found that it is easier to stay on the target you are ranging this way rather than getting a range with the push of a button.
The Zeiss Victory RF rangefinding binoculars also offer a scan feature for those times when you want to easily go from one object to the next. I found them to return only about one range per second, which was a little disappointing compared to others we tested that spit out up to 4 or 5 ranges per second. However, the ability to scan quickly is a much lower priority for me, so it really wasn’t a big issue. I also found that it took the Victory RF nearly 3 seconds of holding down the range button to transition to the scan mode. This is certainly longer than most and is less than ideal.
RANGEFINDER RETICLE AND DISPLAY
The Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 rangefinding binoculars give you one of the most pleasant and crisp displays you are going to find. It is simple and uncluttered, and can also be customized with the information that you select to be displayed. You’ve got 7 different variations to choose from. With all of these options, you see the line of sight range first, followed by a number of options:
- Range Only
- Range + Angle
- Range + Equivalent Horizontal Distance (angel compensated range)
- Range + Hold over in either centimeter or inches
- Range + Hold over in MOA
- Range + Hold over in MIL
- Range + Click correction
In addition to the options above, you can also build up to three more of your own custom displays with up to three data points displayed one after the other by clicking the “Add Configuration” button. Basically this would enable you do something like “Range”, “Hold over in MOA”, then “Click Correction”, or any other combination you desire. The only thing I wish was an option would be to not see the line of sight range first thing every time.
This ability to customize what you see is a fantastic feature of the Zeiss Victory rangefinder. However, I do wish there was the option to see only the Equivalent Horizontal Distance (angle compensated range) and nothing else for the archery hunters out there. When I’m archery hunting, I primarily just want to see the angel compensated range and nothing else. The fact that the angle compensated range appears about 1 second after the line of sight range isn’t ideal for the archery application, but it’s manageable.
With that said, I love the clean display of the Victory RF rangefinder and that the reticle is very fine. It’s not bulky like some I’ve tested which can make ranging at long range more difficult when the reticle covers the target you are trying to range.
You’ve also got a whopping 11 brightness intensity setting to choose from, and each of those intensity levels auto adjusts the brightness of the reticle relative to the how bright it is outside. Another big win here for the Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 rangefinding binoculars!
RANGEFINDER MODES AND BALLISTICS iNTEGRATION
The menu is simple to navigate, intuitive, and easy to connect to the Zeiss App. One of the things I love is how simple the Zeiss App is to use. You have the ability to adjust the Victory RF’s settings through the app, then sync the app to the Victory RF’s, or the Victory RF’s to the app. That’s a pretty sweet feature! We’ll get more into using the app below, along with setting up the Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 rangefinding binoculars.
The Zeiss Victory RF rangefinding binoculars give you all of the display options above, along with these that can be customized either on the device or through the app:
- Ballistic profiles (custom or standard profiles)
- Results display (options above)
- Display brightness
- Target mode (best or last)
- Button orientation (right or left handed)
- Usage date (previous ranges taken)
As I’m sure you’ve figured out, the Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 also features an onboard ballistics calculator, so it will give you the precise hold over or number of clicks for that range for your specific gun and load. It utilizes sensors that provide compensated data for the angle, pressure, and temperature to give you an incredibly precise equivalent horizontal range and ballistic data to help you make a precise shot.
You’ve got the ability to use one of nine ballistic curves that are built in to the unit, or you can build a customized load with your load data. This especially comes in handy if you hand load your own cartridges. Check out the videos below for a walk through on how to set up the Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 rangefinding binoculars as well as how to set up the ballistic profiles for your specific load.
How to Set up the Zeiss Victory RF Rangefinder Binoculars: Part 1 – Initial Setup
How to Set up the Zeiss Victory RF Rangefinder Binoculars: Part 2 – Ballistics Setup & the App
What I liked: Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 Rangefinder Binoculars Review
Of all the rangefinder binoculars I’ve tried so far, the Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 feel the most like a regular pair of binoculars. They aren’t extra bulky with odd protrusions for a battery compartment or other abnormal features. You literally don’t know you have a pair of rangefinding binoculars in your hands.
I love the location of the buttons as well. They are out of the way, but easily accessible when needed. I also really like the way they operate with the range coming upon the release of the button rather than the push of the button.
Not a lot more to say here. The smoothness and fluidity of the Victory RF rangefinder binoculars is second to none!
I love the adaptive display. It is super crisp, offers a fine reticle, and a very uncluttered display that can be customized to your liking. You know you are going to get extremely accurate yardages and ballistic readings due to the onboard sensors, which is critical in long range shooting.
As you’d expect, the Zeiss Victory RF 10x42s give you a phenomenal image with highly contrasted colors and great low light performance. Rangefinding binoculars often suffer greatly in image clarity, but not the Zeiss Victory RF! While the edge-to-edge clarity isn’t quite as good as its cousin the Victory SF, it’s still among the best of rangefinder binoculars with only the Swarovski EL Range TA barely edging them out.
The Zeiss Victory RF 10x42s WAY out-perform their specs in the ranging department. While the specs state the max ranging ability is 2500 yards, I was able to easily get out to 2700 yards, and even got out to 3500 yards off hand with regularity. That’s some serious performance!
What I Didn’t like: Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 Rangefinder Binoculars Review
While this list is relatively short, there are a few things that I felt could be better about the Zeiss Victory RF 10×42. While I’m being nit-picky here, these are things I feel are worth noting:
SLOW SCAN SPEED
I was very surprised at how slow the scan speed was on the Zeiss Victory RF 10×42. While it still accomplishes what you need in a scan feature, it only spits out one range per second when scanning. Additionally, it takes a full 3 seconds of holding down the range button to get to scan mode. This is a bit on the long side if you want to scan a few spots as an animal is moving and time is of the essence.
EDGE TO EDGE CLARITY
One of the few areas I was a little disappointed in the Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 was the edge-to-edge clarity. While still very very good, you begin to lose clarity on the outer 15% or so of the field of view. Again, it’s not bad at all, but not as good as I was hoping for.
ANGLE COMPENSATED RANGE DISPLAY
As many display options as the Zeiss Victory RF rangefinding binoculars has, it doesn’t give you the option to display ONLY the angle compensated range. Having the angle compensated range come one second after the line of sight range isn’t ideal for archery hunting. This is the display I (and a lot of archery hunters) prefer when archery hunting, so it would be a fantastic addition to have that option.
Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 Rangefinder Review Conclusion
The Zeiss Victory RF rangefinding binoculars are flat out some of the best you can buy. Their performance, clarity, crazy smooth focus, ballistic solution integration, customizable display options and thoughtful design are all top notch. This is a pair of rangefinding binoculars that does not give up much in optical performance like so many rangefinding binoculars do. No odd color tint to the glass, no sub-par image clarity issues, and outstanding ranging capabilities.
While there are a few things I wish were a bit better, the Zeiss Victory RF rangefinder binoculars are absolutely amazing! You won’t be disappointed if you save your pennies for a pair of these elite rangefinder binoculars!
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