In mid-2022, Zeiss produced a lightweight version of their SmartFocus (SF) binoculars. They called them the Zeiss SFL 8×40 binoculars and the Zeiss SFL 10×40 binoculars. In case you haven’t deciphered the acronym yet, SFL stands for SmartFocus Lightweight – a name more functional than creative.
These binoculars are similar to, but significantly less expensive than, the Zeiss Victory SF models that debuted about six years earlier. I won’t be comparing in detail the SFL models to the Victory SFs, except to say that the SFLs are smaller and obviously lighter in weight than their predecessors.
And that’s why Zeiss created the SFL 8×40 and SFL 10×40 binoculars. They give you everything you want in the Victory SFs but take up less space, require less power to hold, and take less of your cash.
If you’re in a hurry and just want to see the pricing and availability of the Zeiss SFL binoculars at Amazon, click the link just below. (Both the 8×40 and 10×40 models are currently offered on the same page.)
If you’d like a few more details and opinions, you can keep scrolling and reading below.
Why You Should Consider Getting the Zeiss SFL 8×40 Binoculars
As of this writing, the Zeiss SFL binoculars are so new that there aren’t many good reviews available from those who have actually tried to put them through their paces. Honestly, I don’t have the funds or ability to do so myself either.
However, here is one reviewer who compares (sort of) the SFL models with the Victory SF 8×32 binoculars.
You can see, just by looking at the numbers, that it makes more sense to get the 8×40 than the 8×32 because the 40mm objective lens will let in more light, which is always a good thing. If you want more power; that is, magnification, you’ll go with the SFL 10×40. Both SFL models are currently the same price and both are significantly cheaper than the Victory SF 8×32.
If you’re planning on using a pair of binoculars for an extended period of time – for an afternoon or birding, for example – you want glasses that won’t weigh you down or get in the way. The size and weight of the Zeiss SFL binos provide you with that convenience without sacrificing on quality, power, or clarity.
Features of the Zeiss SFL Binoculars
You may be wondering how Zeiss was able to produce these SFL binoculars. Quoting the Zeiss website:
“The lens diameter has been reduced by 2 mm, making it possible to use thinner lens elements at closer spacing and thus reduce the binoculars’ weight by up to 20% and their volume by up to 13% compared to the ZEISS Victory SF models. As a result, the SFL binoculars are up to 30% lighter than comparable products from competitors.”
Fewer materials results in lower costs.
Ultra-High-Definition (UHD) lenses give true color and sharp detail. You should expect no less at this price point.
It only takes 1.4 turns of the central focus wheel to go from the close focus limit to infinity. You won’t be spinning the wheel endlessly to get your target from a blur to sharply in focus.
Zeiss promises 90% light transmission overall. This is another feature that you really ought to expect in binos of this quality and at this price point.
Zeiss proprietary T* coating is applied thusly:
“ZEISS T* coating is a guarantee of the brilliant, high-contrast images which you will experience above all in adverse light conditions and in the twilight. Behind it, however, there is no specific formula for building up the layers. Instead, it is a technology that is constantly adjusted to suit new glass materials and requirements, which varies from lens to lens.”
Their LotuTec coating makes these SFL binoculars good for all weather conditions. You won’t have to hurry inside if it starts to rain.
Specifications of the Zeiss SFL Binoculars
The information in the table below comes directly from the Zeiss website. You’ll see that these models are identical, except for magnification, exit pupil, and field of view (FOV).
|Model||SFL 8×40||SFL 10×40|
|Exit Pupil (mm)||5.0||4.0|
|FOV @ 1000 yds. (ft.)||420||345|
|Close Focus (ft.)||4.9||4.9|
|Exit Pupil (mm)||18||18|
|Pupil Distance (mm)||52-74||52-74|
|Water Resistance (mbar)||400||400|
|Width @ ID of 65mm (in.)||4.5||4.5|
Somehow Zeiss manages to make both the 8×40 and the 10×40 the same size and weight, even though the 10×40 is more powerful. I realize this is possible, but it feels like there should be some noticeable physical difference. That said, it’s nice to know that, if you need the greater magnification, you can get it without adding bulk to your binoculars.
If you’re looking for something else in a Zeiss binocular – like rangefinders, check here.