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Swift 820ED 8.5x44 Audubon Porro ED Binoculars
Reviews Views Date of last review
1 31208 Fri September 6, 2013
Recommended By Average Price Average Rating
100% of reviewers None indicated 10.0

Description: First off, let’s be honest. What most birders are primarily concerned with when they buy binoculars is the quality of the view they get when they put them up to their eyes. This concern was, I’m sure, the motivation for the creation of the (essentially) now-defunct web site “Better View Desired.” (Steve Ingraham, where are you when we need you?)

I recently purchased (April, 2013) a pair of the current version of the Swift Audubon 8.5x44 ED porro-prism binoculars (mod. 820ED). In 33 years of birding, I have owned many binoculars (none of the German “alphas”, though) and have never been as impressed with the view as I have been with these. As soon as you put these to your eyes it feels as though you are “within” the view, not just looking through something at something. The oculars are large and easy to acquire as you put them up to your eyes. The view is very bright and sharp. I wear glasses and had no problem with attaining the full field of view. The eye relief was just fine for glasses.

With the great satisfaction I felt with the view provided by these binoculars, I wondered what all the hoopla is with the German binoculars that cost 3-6 times as much. On the basis of objective testing, were the “alphas” worth it?

In an attempt to eliminate subjectivity as far as possible, I turned to the binocular tests at

For comparison to the Swifts, I chose the “king of porros” (the Nikon SE 10x42; the 8x model had not been tested), the “best of the best” (the Swarovision EL 8.5x42-roof) and a very highly rated bino that’s not one of the Germans (Kowa Genesis 8.5x44- roof).

I culled from’s test criteria, only those parameters that dealt with the optics of the binoculars (e.g., transmission, astigmatism, distortion) and then calculated a score for each bino (out of a max. of 88 points) and a “Dollars per Score Point” rating (based on the lowest price I could presently find on Amazon for each bino). You can see the all the details of the tests at But, as you can see from my summary, below, the Swifts compare very favorably in all optical categories to the other, much more expensive, binoculars. And as far as value goes they far exceed the others.

Swift 820ED 8.5x44 Porro: 61.5/88 Points (70%) Price: $435/$7.07 per Point

Nikon SE 10x42 Porro: 78.1/88 Points (88%) Price: $819/$10.48 per Point

Swarovski EL 8.5x42 Swarovision Roof: 80/88 Points (91%) Price: $2,459/$30.73 per Point

Kowa Genesis 8.5x44 Roof: 71.4/88 Points (81%) Price: $1,385/$19.39 per Point

These binoculars fit well in my average-sized male hands, feeling not much different than a full-sized roof-prism bino. I’ve heard complaints about the twist-up eye cups and I don’t see the problem. They are firm rubber and they twist up easily, staying in place by means of several “click” positions (detents).

I’ve also read complaints about specks or other flotsam on the interior optical surfaces. I see none of this in my pair.

The only notable negative I have found is the ocular lens covers are not one piece, nor attachable to the strap. An aftermarket rain cover from Eagle Optics is recommended.

These are great binoculars with a great view at a great price.
Keywords: Swift 8.5x44 ED Porro Binoculars

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Registered User

Registered: August 2013
Location: Las Vegas
Posts: 85
Review Date: Fri September 6, 2013 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Value
Cons: none

Your review is spot on.
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