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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

First impressions: SLC 10x42 HD has arrived (1 Viewer)

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
10X is what I am used to...have had a pair of 10's for years so I almost feel lost if I go out with my old 7 x 42's... You will find that you naturally adjust to the 10's just as you can to the 8's. I do love the SLC.... as Tom stated, the old Zeiss HT's are exceptionally bright and for cloudy days, birds perched in trees against harsh light, ....rainy days etc...the HT's are the best pair of bins I have found. But I am going to pick up either a pair of SLC's or the Mavens, as they fit better for sunnier climates. Good luck with yours...sounds like you made a great purchase. I will most likely get another '10x' as well... jim
 

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
10X is what I am used to...have had a pair of 10's for years so I almost feel lost if I go out with my old 7 x 42's... You will find that you naturally adjust to the 10's just as you can to the 8's. I do love the SLC.... as Tom stated, the old Zeiss HT's are exceptionally bright and for cloudy days, birds perched in trees against harsh light, ....rainy days etc...the HT's are the best pair of bins I have found. But I am going to pick up either a pair of SLC's or the Mavens, as they fit better for sunnier climates. Good luck with yours...sounds like you made a great purchase. I will most likely get another '10x' as well... jim

Thanks, Jim; it's always enjoyable to compare ideas with someone who has experience with things I am starting to try out. Some slightly unusual birds - or perhaps I just didn't notice them before I got interested - have been visiting the garden. The annoyance is they look their best when they take off to get away in a hurry and they are usually too quick for me to get a proper sighting and picture in my head to look up in the guide! Maybe those 155m FOV SFs that Lee has reviewed would come in handy for that! But as with you the 10x size is growing on me.

Tom
 

Sollas

Well-known member
This thread is a direct continuation of the one I started a day or two ago at https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=388597 . In that thread all who contributed gave me useful thoughts about the SLC 10x42 HD, based on which I decided to take a stab in the dark and order one, necessarily unseen owing to current travel and distancing provisions. I knew it would be different from the 10s in the EL series. That was an intentional choice both on grounds of cost and for other reasons mentioned further down.

Over twelve hours now since its delivery and less than 24 hours since the order was placed, I have had time to give my new SLC 10x42 HD a mini-field trial outdoors, where not only the prolonged spell of summery weather but also being currently free of the pressures of work has allowed a more relaxed evaluation. This is not an objective review; it's more a celebration of a new pair of binoculars. Sometimes you take the risk of buying something unseen and you are just lucky that things meet or surpass your expectations and everything goes according to your hopes.

The risks were certainly there. The reason for the purchase was to have a pair of 10x magnification binoculars that would be light, compact, and portable. The other 10 I have is the 10x50 EL SV Field Pro, excellent glass but, though quite light for its format, not exactly compact or a doddle to hold still. I'm fine with that bin for short spells or from a position where I can anchor my arms for a steady hold, but for a long walk or (currently) for close up spotting in the garden, it's not the 'go to' choice. I was not sure how well these smaller Swarovskis would help me against the 10x magnification shakes. Add to that there could be any number of other ergonomic factors not apparent from a review or photo or spec sheet that might turn you off a design you haven't picked up and handled before.

The first pleasant surprise on opening the box was a cosmetic one. The SLC had a good practical no nonsense look that was a lot more attractive than any photos had suggested. The item looked 'fit as a butcher's dog': solid, no looseness in the armouring, firm to grip with an excellent texture. The central hinge covers that extend to the barrels at each side are well-designed, whereas in pictures they look as though they could nip your fingers when focusing. To me the design does not look dated; instead it looks tough, simple, and functional and a suitable tool for troublefree handling. It looks and probably is as compact as a Leica Ultravid and I actually think at the time of writing that for its similar size it handles a fraction better than an Ultravid, itself a pretty and well-regarded industrial design. That's my judgement anyway, because if the thumb indentations on the SLC aren't in exactly the right place for both my hands it is much less of a problem than when the Leica's thumb ridges are in the wrong place. You can slide past a dip but you have to climb over a ridge.

I think sometimes I get too hung up about dioptre setting. This is something that Swarovski makes painless. Unlike Zeiss and Leica and possibly Nikon the dioptre clickstops seem to be correctly zeroed against the index line at the factory. This meant that knowing already how my 10x50 EL SV is set up (3 clicks from zero, moving in the minus direction), all I had to do was notch down to the same position on the new SLC. A few deliberate adjustments outdoors going slightly too far on either side to test my setting confirmed that the same three clicks to minus was indeed the proper correction. Incidentally, this was set up and checked against the print of a magazine at about 50 yards, and then tried out against indoor objects with fine detail - ceramics with colourful scenes and fine detail - to see if the setting held up at close range, about a foot out from minimum focus distance. It did and the detail looked lovely. Correctly adjusted it was clear from the 'focus snap' that this example of the SLC was manufactured to tight parameters.

Sometimes a small extension of the eyecups works best for me. Sometimes what works best is to move them all the way out then screw back down just one notch. Interestingly, working without glasses as I prefer to do when in a familiar setting and my eyesight doesn't need to be all that great to find things, I can use these SLCs with the eyecups fully retracted or just halfway out to the first detent (a few eighths of an inch, I'd guess). That was as far as I could go before starting to get a 'looking down a barrel' effect. Unlike the ELs the eyecups only have click stops at each end and one intermediate setting. Without glasses therefore I was using the space between intermediate and screwed in against the barrel. The resistance is sufficient for the eyecups to stay there even without a detent or notch at that point in their travel. At this stage it is worth saying that the eyecup action and quality are impressive: no hint of likely future deforming of the rubber end coverings: the whole assembly is firm and metal is used as in the EL series for a durable, high end finish.

With all now ready it was time to set about some viewing. When using a new pair of binos it helps to allow myself a bit of settling in time to get acclimatized. It was good that I had pretty much forgotten this was a 10x instrument; it was just an exciting new purchase and I wanted to enjoy the view. Only after a few minutes did I remember that 10x was 'supposed' to be shakier to use than 7 or 8x and by then I had proved to myself that with this glass I could hold a steady image. A big imagined hurdle not to mention purchase gamble overcome!

How did the image look compared with what I've been used to from other glass? A bit different: for a few minutes I wasn't sure of it and knew I had to be patient. Patience brought its reward. Initially an apparent lack of depth of field compared to other 42s I have used was off-putting. Within half an hour it was just part of the signature of this SLC. It started to add something instead of detract. What it added was, in camera terms, a sense of bokeh: an attractive fall-off in sharpness behind the focused object or plane. Somehow this looked different and better than what I see with 32s, which don't quite give me the same viewing satisfaction despite being good glass. But I digress.

When Swarovski is mentioned it isn't usually long till 'flat field' comes up in conversation. I have nothing against flat field and sometimes it gives an advantage in viewing, especially for stargazing (I don't do it) or when a viewing position doesn't allow much room to turn the binoculars, e.g. from a small window. However I never understand why some critics see lack of flat field as a design fault. It's a different design philosophy or emphasis, with good and possibly bad points depending on your priorities for binocular performance. The SLCs are not flat field of course and - am I allowed to say this? - seem to have a more three-dimensional image quality and a large sweet spot in the centre. Any outer field aberrations do not have the effect on me of spoiling the overall view.

** Next day addendum: looking through the SLC again today I realize that even out towards the edges the image is very useable. I would say that performance holds up better in the outer 20% or so than in the 7x42 T*FL, itself a respected design. **

Focuser: no shortcomings in consistency or ease of operation, but see the sentence after next. It moves positively without any play when changing direction and it moves evenly and smoothly. Not like an EDG - but probably not much else is as easy to focus as an EDG, from my own experience with just one Nikon bin and from the comments of reviewers and Birdforum members. The first time I tried to follow some birds flying directly overhead today with the SLC, the amount of turn needed was too much for me to keep up and I lost them. This could just be unfamiliarity and a question of getting used to it; then again it could be a minus point. I don't really have the experience to decide. It doesn't matter to me - yet. When not in a hurry I quite like a bit more turn as it helps find the correct focus point - another thing that I have had trouble with on some 32 size bins.

Today as said was a beautiful day so perhaps this was bound to make the viewing experience a generally positive one. How to describe the image and ease of view, apart from the depth of field comments made earlier? This is where I find it hard to sum things up as there are so many technical aspects that go to make up image character. What I can safely say is I am not too concerned to compare macro & micro-contrast, resolution, and so on. Instead I accept that the image is the sum of all its component parts and how that is arrived at doesn't affect my enjoyment of the view. It was a bright day today and so I saw an extremely bright image, though I read that the transmission is down a little bit on the EL series. Fine detail, in leaves for instance, was clearly rendered on the plane of focus, both close up and observable at a distance. Colour - I'll call it natural rather than neutral. Aren't they the same? By definition I think so, at least in this context, but the difference is that 'natural' reflects the joy of the SLC's view today whereas 'neutral' is just neutral, a zero and unemotional figure of neither joy nor coolness, a clinical absence of bias. So I'll stick with natural. To be honest now, that means I am not certain how the colour representation may in fact vary from strictly neutral or exact representation. Testing the SLC at close range with indoor objects: red apples in a bowl, ceramic bowls and plates and mugs with varying colours and designs - the beauty of the maker's art and use of colour was handled in a bright and saturated yet natural-looking rendition. To me there was no sense of any colour coming over as weak because it was affected by a bias towards another colour. Whenever I think of colour bias I cannot help thinking of the 'green ham' allusion that caught my imagination in others' discussion of another alpha product. None of the fruit or foodstuffs I viewed today looked off!

To sum up, and leaving aside the accessory rainguard, the band-attached objective covers, a pre-Field Pro type of strap that looks effective but which I haven't worked out or tried to attach yet, and the modern Swarovski green twin zip carry case, this is still a lot of writing so far to arrive at a simple conclusion ...

... The conclusion is that this is a sturdy no nonsense binocular, easy and well-balanced with minimum shake, compact and short for its class, and giving a well-defined, rounded image that I personally find very pleasing. It is somehow different from the offerings of other alpha marques I have used as well as from the parallel Swarovski EL family of binoculars. I look forward to giving it a lot of regular use and am interested yet to see what views it gives in duller or wet conditions. It would presumably make a good choice for a travel binocular if you are confident you can hold a 10x magnification binocular steady on the go. It just has that nice compact size and handling that I like.

A final point. The fact that the SLC was despatched so promptly by the dealer and that the initial telephone service was so helpful got the whole experience off to a favourable and memorable start. I hope that this account adds some information and colour to the more technical information you may have already read about the Swarovski 10x42 SLC HD binocular. It has already been great fun using the SLC and its magnification to search out some loud but very small birds in large tall trees.

Tom

Hi Tom,

I've just read your review with great interest.

I currently use the Zeiss HT 8x42 as my general go- to's. I'm now contemplating a pair of x10's and its probably between the Habicht 10x40wga and the SLC10x42.

Just wondering if you ever considered the Habicht's? I really like the classic look of them and they get fantastic reviews with regard to brightness and general view.

I remember looking through the SLC 8x42's when purchasing the HT's and they had a surprisingly easy, bright and relaxed view.

Would be interested to know your views.

Regards
Sollas
 

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
Enjoyed your post SeldomPerched! There are few better things in life than getting familiar, detail by detail, with the great qualities of a really good binocular, which the SLC series indisputably are. The SLCs I have used mirror your impressions re build quality almost to the letter - giving a impression of real integrity and substance in all the mechanicals, from eyecups to diopter, that is very impressive. The SLCs' design concept, and Swarovski choosing to offer them alongside the EL series, are really interesting from point of view of manufacturer strategy. It would be most interesting to know whether Zeiss was thinking along similar lines during the period it offered both HT and SF models.

I've tried the 10x50 SV FP, which I found most impressive, and my first thought on reading your other post was that if I had one, I'd be pretty unlikely to bother trying any other 10x binoculars, except possibly the Zeiss SF. That being said, I own both 10x50 and 10x40 (not Swarovski) myself, and although I love the 5mm exit pupil of the 10x50, the smaller format has real advantages in portability. 10x mag and 40mm objective is a combination with some excellent qualities. It's easy to see why 10x40/42 have been amongst of the most popular formats for decades. It's also great that you have the 10x50 SV as a first-class benchmark to compare your new SLC with - because binoculars at this level are so good that side by side comparison is needed to underline what can be very fine distinctions.

It would be really interesting to read your thoughts, over the coming weeks and months (it's absolutely true that the full picture of a binocular's optical performance can only be gained by using it over a wide variety of conditions and situations), the following compared with your 10x50:

- Ease of eye placement, particularly in difficult conditions (low light and other situations that baffle the eye - haze, glare etc) and over long viewing sessions.

- Brightness and detail in low light.

These are the traditional advantages the 10x50 has over the 10x42, and the eye placement issue I have definitely noticed in other brands (cf. the 10x42 Meostar HD while delivering a very good image, I found noticeably more finicky in terms of eye placement than the 10x50 from the same stable - but I've found the SLCs I've used and tried to be very "easy on the eye", albeit only one has been a 4mm exit pupil model). It'll be interesting to have your take on how closely the 10x42 SLC approaches the 10x50 SV in these aspects.

Very best regards

patudo

PS. which dealer was it that provided the excellent service you noted?

Hi Patudo,

Following up on your quoted post above and also on my private message, I am looking forward to when I am able to use the 10x50 EL WB again and compare it for handling, view, eyecup position, glare and so on with the 10x42 SLC WB. Meanwhile the SLC is continuing to be a pleasure to use and the view just so easy. The quality of manufacture continues to feel excellent - nothing loose or imprecise. Also, while I have nothing serious against the Field Pro strap system, the system on the SLC is as much as and exactly what I want. Two things are a minor niggle with the FP system: one is that while I know the click and rotate pins should stay secure on an EL it's hard to be certain without checking; the other is that when you take the binoculars off from being round your neck it is all too easy for the strap cords to rotate 360 deg. on one or other side and then you need to unspin it before you can wear it quite right again. Easily done but a small annoyance.

I will let you know as soon as there are any updates.

All the best,

Tom
 

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
Hi Tom,

I've just read your review with great interest.

I currently use the Zeiss HT 8x42 as my general go- to's. I'm now contemplating a pair of x10's and its probably between the Habicht 10x40wga and the SLC10x42.

Just wondering if you ever considered the Habicht's? I really like the classic look of them and they get fantastic reviews with regard to brightness and general view.

I remember looking through the SLC 8x42's when purchasing the HT's and they had a surprisingly easy, bright and relaxed view.

Would be interested to know your views.

Regards
Sollas

Hi Sollas,

Thanks for reading my review - once I start I find it hard to stop!

I do love the Zeiss 8x42 HT and more than once have found myself wondering which I prefer - the HT I bought from Lee or the 7x42 FL I bought from Tobias Mennle! I think I see more detail with the HTs which is not surprising considering they are slightly higher mag. and also more modern with Schott glass. However, without the HTs I wouldn't exactly have reason to feel deprived of first class viewing; the FL is a great glass, very sharp and bright and well respected. It also handles very nicely indeed. So, anyway, the HT is very fine and I like using it, forward balance and all. The focuser is especially good.

Are those your findings with the HT also? The brightness is I suppose typical Zeiss and AK prisms - the first time I used them for birdwatching I marvelled at the clarity and what people refer to as the 'washed clean' look.

To your question. I have to keep myself in check as am close to/already past the point where enjoyment will decrease with increased options what to use. So though I have read about the Habichts on this forum a number of times and am sure I would have great fun and satisfaction using something like that I'd rather not even try one out! Don't tempt me... seriously, I expect I will try one some day but of course at present trying is not an option anyway.

I'll keep an open mind all the same, and please let me know your own experiences if you try a Habicht or anything similar.

Best wishes,

Tom
 
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Sollas

Well-known member
Hi Tom
Yes the HT’s can almost be considered too bright at times but that’s more an observation than a complaint. they certainly come into their own on dullish days of which we get a few!

The hunt and investigation for my 10x shall continue for the time being. For the money it’s probably hard to go past the SLC or Habichts..... I shall continue my research ��

Cheers
 

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
Hi Tom
Yes the HT’s can almost be considered too bright at times but that’s more an observation than a complaint. they certainly come into their own on dullish days of which we get a few!

The hunt and investigation for my 10x shall continue for the time being. For the money it’s probably hard to go past the SLC or Habichts..... I shall continue my research ��

Cheers

Just to add I've been reading all through Hermann's old and resurrected thread about the Habichts. I'd certainly love to try one when the chance arises at some time in the future after present circumstances. In due course!

Tom
 

Sollas

Well-known member
The level of knowledge on BF is quite astounding. There is no stone left unturned when dissecting the pros and cons of any model.

It does however give you OCD before you make any purchase....not sure if that’s a good or bad thing mind you ��

The truth is of course as has been so often mentioned on here is that there’s no right or wrong binocular, there’s just the one that works for you!! ��

Sollas
 

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
The level of knowledge on BF is quite astounding. There is no stone left unturned when dissecting the pros and cons of any model.

It does however give you OCD before you make any purchase....not sure if that’s a good or bad thing mind you ��

The truth is of course as has been so often mentioned on here is that there’s no right or wrong binocular, there’s just the one that works for you!! ��

Sollas

... and do you find as I have been doing in recent times that the one that works for you is suddenly not so great after all? You lay it aside, then for some reason give it a shot a few weeks later, and all of a sudden it is reinstated as the best thing since sliced bread! (I never saw what's so great about sliced bread but that's another matter.)

Tom
 

Sollas

Well-known member
I'd say that the binocular bug is a highly infectious one. The constant scrutiny of all things optical be it real or imaginary does indeed stimulate the mind and eventually the wallet, poor moths!

There is however nothing quite like real feedback from users with historic and often jurassic experience. ;-0

Anyhow my ultimate dilemma over the coming weeks shall be SLC 10x42 or Habicht 10x40 wga, I may open another thread to this end.

Just listened to Churchills speech when the enemy finally surrendered....an amazing and historic day!

Enjoy your weekend.
 

NDhunter

Experienced observer
United States
I'd say that the binocular bug is a highly infectious one. The constant scrutiny of all things optical be it real or imaginary does indeed stimulate the mind and eventually the wallet, poor moths!

There is however nothing quite like real feedback from users with historic and often jurassic experience. ;-0

Anyhow my ultimate dilemma over the coming weeks shall be SLC 10x42 or Habicht 10x40 wga, I may open another thread to this end.

Just listened to Churchills speech when the enemy finally surrendered....an amazing and historic day!

Enjoy your weekend.

Good luck with your decision, you need about 2 weeks with both to decide which binocular is best for you. ;)

Jerry
 

tenex

reality-based
The truth is of course as has been so often mentioned on here is that there’s no right or wrong binocular, there’s just the one that works for you!!
I would remove the "the". Like other things in life, there are probably at least several that would work as well for you, and believing there is only one (and worrying whether this is really it after all) contributes significantly to the obsession aspect.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
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