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Swift Audubon 8.5x44mm ED
Reviews Views Date of last review
7 33236 Sat October 10, 2009
Recommended By Average Price Average Rating
86% of reviewers $392.00 8.0

Description: 820 Swift Audubon®

Designed based on specifications gleaned from a Swift survey of the world’s leading ornithologists, the Swift Audubon binoculars have become famous worldwide for superior performance and dependability. The 820 Swift Audubon has been rated “best buy” by Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Better View Desired, and the English publication, British Birds. They are equipped with a 5-lens ocular system, BaK4 prisms, fully multi-coated optics and pop and lock eyecups adding comfort for eyeglass wearers. The Swift Audubon produces crisp, high definition images to the outer edges of the wide field and close focuses to under 10 ft. The rubber-coated body is made of magnesium to reduce weight and is sealed to make the binoculars waterproof. Padded hard case and comfortable broad woven neck strap included.
Keywords: Porro prism ED glass Swift Audubon waterproof

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Registered User

Registered: August 2005
Location: Manchester
Posts: 695
Review Date: Thu July 6, 2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: $250.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Superb brightness and clarity. ED glass.
Cons: Weight and bulk.

After an unfortunate accident with a pair of Swift Ultralites 10x50 back in April 06 I decided it was time to upgrade. (In case you\'re wondering it involved a concrete car park). Faced with the number of different models available the choice was overwhelming. Whilst the roof prisms appear to be increasingly fashionable after testing many models out at Leighton Moss earlier in Feb 06 I realized that my days as a trendsetter were over. Apart from the top of the range Swarovskii and Leica\'s in general I wasn\'t impressed with the performance of the roof prisms. The performance of many of the mid price models was actually bordering on being appalling. Therefore after the Ultralites failed the bouncebackability test I decided to stick with the porro prism design. In general my experience of Optics is fairly limited models owned include 1980\'s East German Zeiss, a truly appalling Chinon 8 x 42 and the Swift Ultralites. As far as Scopes are concerned the only one I\'ve owned is the 65mm Leica APO Televid which I\'d rate as being excellent but not quite outstanding.

The choice of good quality porro prisms available is surprisingly limited. After a bit of research I\'d narrowed it down to the Nikon SE or the Swift Audubons. Unfortunately I couldn\'t find a local dealer who stocked both so based upon my generally good experience with the Ultralites and the ED glass used on the latest Audubons I went for the Swift Audubon 8.5 x 44. I\'ve now been using the Audubons for approximately 10 weeks and I\'m extremely impressed. In most field situations due to their astonishing clarity and brightness they comfortably outperform any other optics I\'ve ever experienced including the Leica scope. The field of view and depth of field is excellent and enables rapid recognition of birds in flight especially the little brown jobs that appear from nowhere and are gone before you have chance to focus. Fine focusing brings about superb centrefield resolution and whilst other reviews have mentioned about this dropping off towards the edges with such a wide field of view being available I\'ve yet to notice it. Their only slight drawback is their sheer size and weight especially in comparison to the Ultralites.

Over the course of Winter 2005/6 I enjoyed several visits up to Parkgate at dusk watching the Hen Harriers coming in to roost. Based upon the time the failing light led other birdwatchers to give up and call it a day the Ultralites performed extremely well and enabled low flying Harriers, Merlin and Short eared Owls to be picked out over the marshland at a considerable distance. After 10 weeks in every situation the Audubons have comfortably outperformed the Ultralites and the difference the ED glass makes is astonishing. Whilst they don\'t carry the same kudos as the Swarovskii, Leica or Zeiss roof prisms if you\'re comfortable with the Audubons size and weight in most situations they will match the performance of the top roof prisms and in failing light more than likely outperform the non ED models.

Whilst porro prisms aren\'t for everybody if you\'re seriously thinking about upgrading or replacing your binoculars go for a pair with ED glass. Unless your main interest is watching stationary birds the extra clarity, brightness and superb colour rendition of ED glass is far more useful than the ability to resolve the finest detail. I have no absolutely no hesitation in highly recommending the Audubons. As for the bouncebackability test I\'ll leave that for somebody else.

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Review Date: Fri March 16, 2007 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: $380.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Great Optics, Brightness and field of view
Cons: Diaopter adjustment moves too easily and eye cups are atrocious

I\'d love to find comparable optics with easy to adjust eye cups and a diopter adjustment that doesn\'t change unless you really crank on it hard.
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Registered User

Registered: August 2007
Location: Kentucky, USA
Posts: 429
Review Date: Sun August 12, 2007 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 

Pros: Brightness, sharpness, color rendition, feel of armor
Cons: Eye cups, diopter, size

Like many before me, I love the views through the Swift Audubon EDs. However, the negative aspects of the eye cups and diopter have bothered me since I have purchased the pair.

At last, I think I have figured how to live with the eye cups. Yes, the twist up eye cups do move on you. Locking positions would have been better. Now what I do is adjust the twist up distance as I look through them, first one eye, then the other. It really is not so bad, since I find I want different twist up differences depending upon which angle I am holding the binoculars--as well as whether the binoculars rest upon the bones of my brow or the eye sockets of my face.

So there you have it. I have learned to live with one of the negatives of these amazing binoculars.

As for the diopter that moves--it must be the binocular elf playing tricks on me. I have found the way to live with it is to memorize my diopter setting and check it frequently. A little pain, but doable.

Kentucky, USA
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Registered User

Registered: November 2003
Location: Michigan
Posts: 88
Review Date: Wed January 30, 2008 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Wide FOV, brightness, clarity, comfort
Cons: Right eye diopter

I bought this when it first came out and really love my ED's. I have Swarovski 10x42's but because they are 10s and roof's and expensive I hardly ever use them. I recently dropped the ED's off the car roof and am trying to decided whether to buy another pair (where oh where do you get these for less than 400?) or try a roof - only because roofs are supposed to be more durable and I seem to be fairly rough on equipment. My right eye (wear glasses) is significantly worse than my left so I do tend to dink with the right diopter a lot anyway.
Really, porro's are wonderful though. Love the fit in my hand, love the fit to my face and love that I can hold them in a stance with my arms in. I don't really like roof's, they are just to skinny.
For the price the glass and the FOV in the Swift Audubon's can't be beat.
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Registered User

Registered: April 2005
Location: Luxembourg
Posts: 35
Review Date: Tue September 30, 2008 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: $459.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Absolute color fidelity, big field of view, small frame around the picture given
Cons: ocular lens' bridge is little bit floppy, rather big weight

I have looked exclusively for a porro-prism desing binocular because of the roof design is not confortable to my face ,it is my fault. Before purchasing the Swift Aubudon 820 ED, I have used a Swarovski Habicht 7x42 porro bino during long years. I was satisfied with it because of its good optical quality, but years comes and I needed better magnification and wider FOV. I have tried out a Swift Audubon 804 modell and I realized that this kind of bino will be my next toy.

Personal explanation againts roofs that I hate the very small deep of field of view that they produce – it is a big disadvantage, (at least for me). After checking some top-end roof binos (the big three modells) and thinking about the new pricing of them, I have decided to invest in the new Audubon ED. Its price is far more lower than the top end roof prism binoculars but the optical quality produced is the same. And the optical snobbery is not for me.

But to buy a good quality porro bino is little bit difficult nowadays. Only the Nikon (SE), Swift (Audubon), Minox, Optholyt (Alpin) and Swarovski (Habicht) produce more or less medium priced, top quality porros under 50 mm objective lens. And looking the technical datas, Swift is the winner!

I was surprised how really well reproduces this binocular the colors. For my, it is the best binocular in the field of color-fidelity that I have ever seen (as good as a Zeiss Victory, I compared them side by side). Yellowish or blueish cast is all but existing. No color fringing, the false shining of blue light does not exist.

Very good deep of field of view (like a 7x42 porro bino). The FOV is excellent big (144 m/1000m, bigger than in the case of my other top-end porro 7x42 bino or cheaper 7x50 porro), the distortion at the edges of the view is acceptable.

The easy of view is a crucial point for me. The huge ocular lens surface, the big exit pupil offer very good and easy viewing through the bino.

It has a very big "sweet point", only the outer edge of the view has some fuzzy feeling (like the Zeiss scopes, that disturbe many birdwathers, except keen Zeiss users, like me. I wear glasses but I have not realized any problem with the eye relief, the 16mm is enough (modell 2007). No problem with inner mirroring, only in very bad backlight coditions.

The visualization of the view to the observer's eye is very close, so to watch, observe or follow birds at short distance is easy and very confortable, the binocular's picture has no a wide black frame (tunel vision) like others binos (and to some high-end, too). The design is more comfortable and smaller than in the previous version (Swift 804). Excellent rubber armouring for the waterproofness. Very good close focus point, circa 2 meters! It is a very handy tool.

And why I have to keep back point from the maximum 10?

1. Heavy. It has 890 gramms with neckstrap. OK, weight is not problem for me, but many observer prefer less weight.

2. Awful mechanism for ocular lens bridge. It is balancing countinously between the left and right, loosy, and the intentioned "self balancing" mechanism means "self-adjusment" every minute. Aaaaahhhhgr!

3. Not so good eye cup and diopter adjustment system. At the right ocular, adjusting the diopter means that the eye cup will turn too. I wear glasses and I cannot use the eye cup locking mechanism in the lower position, so for me adjusting diopter correction means tom adjust the eyecup too. How I hate it!

4. Bad quality of cleaning cloth.

But they are relatively small faults. I can accept them and wathing the price and the overall excellent optical performance, I think that it is (one of) the best mid-priced birding binocular with ED-lenses.
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Registered: February 2009
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 15
Review Date: Sun May 10, 2009 Would you recommend the product? No | Price you paid?: $479.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Optics optics optics! Feel.
Cons: The flimsy plastic eyepiece bridge

Optics are more than great, but the mechanical finish on the eyepiece side is a laugh.

Plastic flexing bridge that doesnt hold (or reach for that matter) focus. Eyecups that ar so large I couldn't get them into my sockets.

Eyecups that dont hold position.

If Swift incorperates a new designed eyepiece side (mechanically) I would purchase these again in a blink!
But the ones that are in production now, I send these back within one day!

An astronomer wandered into bird-land
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Djoo c it? Wut wuzit?

Registered: December 2004
Location: OKC
Posts: 409
Review Date: Sat October 10, 2009 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Resolution, brightness, fov, handling
Cons: eye relief, popups (as opposed to twistups)

As far as the view thru this glass, it is on a par with anything out there. I also have 2 Zeiss FL's, all 3 Nikon SE's, a big Canon IS and a couple of Bushnell Customs, and the 820 (mine isn't even the ED version) gives every bit as satisfying an image as any of the megabuck binos. There is some grousing about size & wt, but that actually makes the bino easier to hold (and hold still). It's physically no bigger than the 10x42SE (weighs about 5oz more, but no biggie).

Swift advertised er at's a theoretical figure, based on measurements of the various focal lengths of the optics complements, not a true usable measurement. 12-13 mm is more like it.....not quite enuf for eyeglass use to see the full 8.2* possible (you can get maybe 7-7.5 if you have close-fitting specs). And the popup (actually very stiff pullup) good. Now mine is almost 8yrs old, they may have made running changes and improved them. Mine has very snug diopter problem, and I did notice the anodizing on the hinges start to peel off at about 4 yrs. On my example, they are made of aluminum, not plastic. I just peeled off the rest of it and applied some AluminumBlack with a Q-tip and it looks fine.

In short, I've owned over 75 binos since I got my first good one for my 13th birthday.....some really good, others complete toads. I've kept the best, the Audubon's in very exclusive company.

Reformed optics junky....finally
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