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8.5x42 EL

Manufacturer
Swarovski

Reviews summary

4
 
67%
0
 
0%
0
 
0%
0
 
0%
2
 
33%
Overall rating
3.67 star(s) 6 ratings
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • Digibinning
Cons
I want to admit, that the 8,5 is my favourit in the field, especially for fast observations (raptors in the sky).
The binocular performs nice with my Powershot cameras for digibinning (digibinox). Its somethimes easier to get nice pictures.
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
Cons
the caps covering objective lens are broken, I have written to Swarovksi many times but they dont reply. As I am from India we have no official service center here. can any one please guide me further?
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • quality and erogonomics
Cons
  • cost is the only one
it is like holding a fine gem
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • Quality Optics, Fantastic Customer Service
Cons
  • None
I bought mine used in mint condition from Ebay. Had them for a little over 2 years now, fantastic optics, very robust, and excellent design for use when wearing gloves. Customer after market care and service is absolutely spot on after having the binoculars back for a slight repair, came back serviced and with new lens covers, and eyecup rubbers, other manufacturers please follow Swarovski\'s lead.
Recommended
Yes
Price
1400$
Pros
  • Superb performance in the field
Cons
  • High price
The previous review is right on target. The only thing that I can add is that these bins perform superbly in wet weather. A blustery day spent observing waterfowl on the Atlantic Coast will send the much cheaper Nikons to the shop and the observer home - both in short order. The Swars grow on you and seem as good at the end of a long day as they were at the beginning. Only time (5 years or so) will tell if the investment was truly justified.
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • Innovative design, beautifully made, excellent optics, robust, waterproof and nitrogen filled, screw in screw out eye tubes.
Cons
  • Expensive! Some people do not like the slow/sensitive focus. A trace of chromatic aberration.
Introduction
When these binoculars were introduced a few years ago they took the birding world by storm due to the combination of innovative design and superb optics. Indeed for many years they sold as fast as Swarovski could make them.

Mechanics and design
What makes these binoculars unusual is the twin bridge design, that allows the user to wrap their hands round each optical assembly. Try it for yourself, but I find it makes for an exceptionally comfortable grip.

The binoculars are relatively light at about 800g, although they are not the lightest in their class: this prize belongs to the Zeiss Victory 8x40.

They are made from a lightweight alloy with a synthetic rubber sleeve on each tube. Both the alloy and the rubber appear to be manufactured and finished to a very high standard. The rubber gives the surface a pleasant feel, and from used examples that I have seen it is very durable.

Swarovski guarantee that the binoculars are water and immersion proof. I have no doubt that they would survive being dropped in a puddle or a shallow stream without leaking.

The focus wheel is located between the eyepieces. It is rubber coated, large, easily accessible, and rotates smoothly, though it is not quite as silky smooth as I would like. (My previous experience with binoculars suggests that it will loosen up with use.) The focus wheel requires a relatively large number of turns - 2.5 - to go from infinity to close focus. I find the focus pleasingly sensitive but some users do consider it too fine and hence slow. As always, try before you buy.

The diopter adjustment is built into the focus wheel. Focus the left hand optics on an object, pull out the focus wheel, and turn until the object is also in focus in the right hand optics. Then push in the focus wheel to lock the diopter offset. It is simple and effective.

The metal eye tubes screw in and screw out and I find they can be set at any intermediate height without them slipping. The ends of the eye tubes are fitted with synthetic rubber for comfort.

Optics
The optics are first rate, with excellent field of view, depth of field, sharpness, brightness and contrast.

According to the Better View Desired web site these binoculars are sharper than any 8x full sized binocular, which no doubt is in part due to the slightly greater magnification.

The image quality is excellent across the entire field of view. Sharpness drops off very slightly as you move away from the centre, and then becomes slightly soft at the field edges, though you will not notice this unless you look through the binoculars in a very unnatural way!

As with any quality instrument, the resolution is excellent even in low light.

The field is remarkably flat with almost no field curvature or distortion at the edges.

Brightness is excellent, even when used in gloomy woods, or at dusk, when the naked eye is struggling to discern distant objects.

The contrast is excellent although I felt that it was a shade less than through the Nikon 8x32 SE and, according to user reports, the Leica 8x42 Ultravid.

I could not detect any obvious colour cast. (I tend not to notice colour casts, but others seem to consider them to be relatively neutral.)

Flare resistance is remarkable and I did not notice any internal reflections or ghosting. In low light I had no problem peering into the gloom in dark trees beneath a bright but fading sky. Evidently the internal baffles and coatings are doing an exceptional job.

There is, as with most if not all roof prism binoculars, a trace of chromatic aberration, visible in high contrast situations. When watching a coot on a lake I noticed faint colour fringes around the bird. For comparison many other expensive binoculars - such as the Nikon 8x42 HG, Leica 8x32 BN - show much more chromatic aberration. As I keep saying, try them for yourself and see what you think.

(A few months after writing the above I decided to look into the chromatic aberration. I found that eye placement is critical: if the eyes are accurately aligned with the optical axes of the binoculars, then much of the chromatic aberration disappears. It is in any case a minor issue.)

Bits and Pieces
The binoculars are supplied with a hard plastic rain guard for the eyepieces. It does the job, but would be better made from a more flexible plastic.

The binoculars are also supplied with rubber objective covers that attach to the objectives and pop open for viewing. They are very effective and help protect the optics when the binoculars are being carried around outside of the case. (Note: invite your friends round to watch you fitting them. They will laugh their heads off as you struggle to fit tight fitting rubber loops over the ends of the binoculars.)

The binoculars are also supplied with a good quality neoprene strap embossed in large letters with the Swarovski name, and a cordura (woven Nylon) case.

Conclusion
In my opinion, if you want a pair of top of the range waterproof full sized binoculars, then you should take these binoculars for a test drive. I must admit that though they are competitively priced, they are still horribly expensive. If you want slightly better optical quality for significantly less money, and do not require waterproofing, then take a look at the Nikon 8x32 SE. Similarly if you want a 10x binocular with superb optics that will not give your bank manager a heart attack, then take a look at the Nikon 10x42 SE.
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