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Choice: SLC 10x56 or NL Pure 12x42 (1 Viewer)

I'm looking to buy my first binoculars. I did a lot of research and I'm torn between the SLC 10x56 and NL Pure 12x42. This might sound a bit strange, but my intended usage is very broad:

  • looking at general interest subjects from my apartment (I have a very wide, unobstructed view)
  • go out and observe birds
  • dive into the woods and look at whatever takes my interest
  • watch commercial airplanes when they're flying at 30.000+ ft (I like to spot Airbus A380's for some reason)
  • star gazing, because deep space is probably the most amazing place of all

At the one hand I'd be better off with the NL Pures for the extra magnification, on the other hand the larger exit pupil of the SLC would be beneficial for the star gazing and other dawn/dusk observing. (I did not find a comparison between these two in regard to low-light situations, I just assume the SLC is better for that use case?)

Any thoughts, advice, considerations, ...? Thank you.
 

KC Foggin

Registered User
Supporter
United States
I'm just going to jump in here and wish you a warm welcome to you from those of us on staff here at BirdForum (y)
We're glad you found us and please join in wherever you like ;)
 

Richard D

what was that...
Supporter
United Kingdom
Yes in low light situations the 10x56 will allow more light in
Both are fairly weighty
Are you confident you can handhold 12x magnification bins without shake (I can't for long), or are you thinking of always using a tripod?
 
Yes in low light situations the 10x56 will allow more light in
Both are fairly weighty
Are you confident you can handhold 12x magnification bins without shake (I can't for long), or are you thinking of always using a tripod?

I've handled 10x before and that was no issue, and I've read good things about the forehead rest on the 12x. I'll use a tripod when I have to (but won't always carry it with me).

Weight is a consideration: 1200g SLC vs 840g NL Pure is quite a difference, especially for general non-tripod use.

Basically it comes down to how important the low-light performance is to me. It's a difficult consideration since I don't know what I'll end up liking the most. I guess most people slowly get into this hobby and find out their preference, but I just want to jump in and get me one pair of binoculars that I'll use for the rest of my life and be done with it.
 
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dries1

Member
Ok how about throwing the the EL 10X50 into the mix to confuse you ever further o_O. It is a great all around binocular, so you loose 2X, but have the low light capability in a easy to handle glass.
 

kestrel1

Well-known member
Hello,
quite a broad range of application, yet universal formats are considered 8x42 or 10x42.
The 12x are not that good for diving in forest, while 56s are not good for dynamic observation sites.
Choosing one binocular is allways about compromise.
In my case I use 7x42 for deep forest, 8x42 as general one, 12x for static observation on open field.
Yet still lacking the x32 for bike tours...
 

E_S

Active member
United States
You listed a number of possible usage scenarios, which suggests to me that you would be better off with something like 10x42 NL. Both of the binoculars you listed (10x56 SLC and 12x42 NL) are somewhat specialist instruments, better suited to one overarching task (low light observation for 10x56 SLC and western-style long-range hunting/observation for 12x42 NL). Not that the binoculars your listed are bad -- they are amazing, and 12x42 NL is a bestseller for Swarovski right now -- but neither one of them comes to mind as the choice of a first pair of binoculars. Disclaimer: happy owner of a 10x42 NL.
 
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@dries1 You make a valid point and I have considered it, but since the price is so close to the NL Pure I prefer the newer technology. If Swarovski dropped the price on those x50 EL's they would be a no-brainer indeed.

@kestrel1 @E_S I've read that the wider FOV of the NL Pure 12x makes them handle like other 10x's. So I figured this would give me extra detail at no cost?

I appreciate all the comments, makes me question my current idea's and can only lead to the best choice possible.
 

forent

Well-known member
Honestly, even worlds best 12x42 is the opposite of a general-purpose binocular. Especially bino newbies overrate vastly the benefit of a very high magnification. Been there, done that. Even if you think your hands are steady enough - by all practical experience, they are not. Stick with 10x for your first binocular., a 10x42 could be just right. (Generally I would recommend 8x but I suppose that deviates too far from your preferences.)
 
Honestly, even worlds best 12x42 is the opposite of a general-purpose binocular. Especially bino newbies overrate vastly the benefit of a very high magnification. Been there, done that. Even if you think your hands are steady enough - by all practical experience, they are not. Stick with 10x for your first binocular., a 10x42 could be just right. (Generally I would recommend 8x but I suppose that deviates too far from your preferences.)

I have used my dad's 10x42 (25 year old SLC) for a few weeks and it was fine handheld except for star gazing. After a while I wished it had a bit more magnification, so that's why I'm considering the 12x. Is it that much difference?
 

tenex

reality-based
I agree with E_S above, at least to the extent that you should also consider more general-purpose models like the 10x42 NL, or perhaps 10x50 EL, for the wide variety of uses you've listed. 10x has long been most popular overall, an ideal combination of magnification and handholdability. Of course the SLC 56 is lovely too, and if you have a chance you should try it.

As to 12x: for some purposes it may be just right, but not for all, especially birding. If after using 10x for a while you still feel a real need for more magnification, 12x probably won't suffice, so you could consider adding the 15x SLC. (I have the 10x and 15x SLC myself... though I do still use a smaller model for hiking. And the NL with its wide FOV has only recently become available, offering an interesting alternative.)
 

rodneyAB

Well-known member
United States
I've been practicing the use of the NL12x42 for the past 6 months or so. I'm getting better in it's use. Handholdable with the headrest. I find it dims as the light fades. I like the 12x magnification, but it's not so much more amazing than my 10x42EL. If I had only the NL12x42 I'd gradually learn to use it to it's fullest, and would not be concerned with what I'd miss by not having other units (8x, 10x), however, I do enjoy switching off from the NL12, fortunately it is not my one and only unit.
 

CharleyBird

Well-known member
England
I'm looking to buy my first binoculars. I did a lot of research and I'm torn between the SLC 10x56 and NL Pure 12x42. This might sound a bit strange, but my intended usage is very broad:

  • looking at general interest subjects from my apartment (I have a very wide, unobstructed view)
  • go out and observe birds
  • dive into the woods and look at whatever takes my interest
  • watch commercial airplanes when they're flying at 30.000+ ft (I like to spot Airbus A380's for some reason)
  • star gazing, because deep space is probably the most amazing place of all

At the one hand I'd be better off with the NL Pures for the extra magnification, on the other hand the larger exit pupil of the SLC would be beneficial for the star gazing and other dawn/dusk observing. (I did not find a comparison between these two in regard to low-light situations, I just assume the SLC is better for that use case?)

Any thoughts, advice, considerations, ...? Thank you.

Interesting starting choices.

If I were buying my first binoculars now I'd know I'd probably need two pairs:

I'd try a Swarovski 8x42NL as the first choice. Ought to work well for most things, and probably the best birding binoculars currently available.

Then try the 12x42NL as the second instrument to go with the 8x, for longer distance and astronomy.

The Swarovski haptics may or may not work for me, but they'd be my starting points.

(The reality is I probably have too many, as listed in my account here)
 

forent

Well-known member
I have used my dad's 10x42 (25 year old SLC) for a few weeks and it was fine handheld except for star gazing. After a while I wished it had a bit more magnification, so that's why I'm considering the 12x. Is it that much difference?
I dare to say: yes, it is. Actually, for >>90% of all users shake sets the boundaries of usable magnification when handheld to 10x, often even less: The image might be larger at higher magnifications but also dimmer and especially less detailed due to your own tremor. Not by accident only a very tiny minority of even experienced adopters use handheld binoculars above 10x magnification fruitfully. Nonetheless, a 12/15/16x bino might be a great addition to a more versatile 7/8/10x instrument for special occasions.

But hey, your mileage may vary, maybe you in person are the human Gitzo tripod, so go for it if you want to. Your money, your choice. But by all means try before you buy.
 
Alright, summarized:
  • SLC 56mm will be better in the dark, but not so good for dynamic observation + weighty
  • NL Pure 10x is more suitable than 12x for general purpose
  • 10x is the usual boundary for handheld use
  • x50 EL is a viable alternative
  • get 2 pairs and get the best of both worlds -> I like this idea, but a tack too expensive I'm afraid

I'll let this sink in for a while. Thank you everyone for your insightful perspectives.
 

BoldenEagle

Well-known member
Finland
I have SLC 10x56 but I have never tried NL 12x42.

Just some thoughts maybe to consider:

SLC has exit pupil of 5.6mm vs NL's 3.5mm --> viewing comfort is likely to be better with SLC (but you should nevertheless try yourself).

SLC is brighter not just at dark but also in daylight since it has very high transmission of 93% vs NL's 91% (it's not a big difference and may be irrelevant but still SLC has very bright image in every situation).

SLC has the minimum focusing distance of 3.9m vs NL's 2.6m so it's not very suitable to watch for example insects or other very close targets.

SLC has eye relief about 20mm vs NL's 18mm so if you wear glasses, this might be important.

SLC 10x56 is a heavy behemoth, optically really good binocular, but overall I guess it can't match the well corrected wide fov of NL's and if you are comfortable with 12x magnification, in normal daylight you will see smaller details with NL 12x42. Still I would recommend no more than 10x magnification anyway, if you are not using tripod/monopod most of the time.

Regards, Juhani
 
I'll be borrowing my dad's 10x42 SLC for a while and see where that gets me. If I feel I lack low-light usability I'll get the 10x56 SLC, if I feel I miss magnification I'll get the NL Pure 12x.

And if I don't feel I'm missing anything I'll try and keep it :D
 

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