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KAHLES HELIA S 42 is available for $1499 from europe (1 Viewer)

casscade

Well-known member
That actually sounds very credible, Kahles is already making high end tactical scopes, that happen to be some of the best on the market, while Swarovski is pretty set on hunting scopes only. Makes sense. The new Helica/SLC now gives them not just an alpha, but what many consider one of the top Alphas if it’s the same as the 19/20 slc production.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
I have no inside information but the new product 'buzz' within optics seems to be optics with added electronics and software such as the Swaro Digital Guide. I would guess any new production facilities would be with this kind of product in mind.

Lee
 

Canip

Well-known member
As far as I can tell, the focus mechanism is the same as in my SLC, and I am not sure I would want it “upgraded“ in any way, it is rather on the slow side (at least for birders) but allows very precise focusing.

In know that years back, the focusing of the SLC was the subject of many debates (noisy, focus wheel rotated more easily in one direction than the other, etc.) but this has been corrected some time ago.

I am sorry but if you don‘t like the focusing in the SLC, I am afraid you are not going to like the one in the Helia S either.

Canip
 
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Mikewander

Well-known member
Scotland
In the market for 10x42s, and have around £1k to spend, so looked at this. Add 30 euros shipping to the UK plus customs fees.
Maybe more expensive than i thought.
 

AlphaFan

Active member
United States
As far as I can tell, the focus mechanism is the same as in my SLC, and I am not sure I would want it “upgraded“ in any way, it is rather on the slow side (at least for birders) but allows very precise focusing.

In know that years back, the focusing of the SLC was the subject of many debates (noisy, focus wheel rotated more easily in one direction than the other, etc.) but this has been corrected some time ago.

I am sorry but if you don‘t like the focusing in the SLC, I am afraid you are not going to like the one in the Helia S either.

Canip
Thanks for the info. The issue with the SLC focus isn’t with its speed or precision, but rather the focus wheel / user interface itself.

You are correct that the slow focus of the SLC makes for a very precise optical device. That’s one of the reasons the hunting community adores it. They mostly do not need the quick/smooth focusing required to follow warblers hopping from limb to limb. Instead they are usually evaluating game animals at considerable distance, or picking apart a landscape with a tripod mounted glass to find hidden game. In either case, slow-precise focus and depth of field are areas of advantage. The SLC offers both. That’s part of the reason hunters loved them so much. IME the volume, range and speed of focusing activity in an average day birding is usually greater than required in a day hunting.

I own 2x SLCs and used many others in the field. IME the vast majority had at least some noticeablely uneven focus-wheel tension in opposite directions, and some had an additional measure of grinding/skidding/sticking (don’t know the % but it was more than a 1-off). Have handled SLCs of 2019 and 2020 manufacture that still have noticeably uneven focuser tension - don’t know who is claiming SW “fixed” this issue. If anyone compares the SLC focus wheel to the SF, NL, or EDG the difference will be obvious.

Not hating on the SLC. Personally, I’m very fond of this binocular. No optical device is perfect and the SLC although exceptional in many ways also has a wart IMO. It has exceptional resolution, is very bright, has an easy view with great depth of field, and a robust housing that handles very well and feels good in the hand. So, with all of that going for it, I’ll put up a focuser less than equal to the rest of the SLC’s features. But it really would have enhanced my interest in the Kahles if they had improved the focus wheel - user interface. YMMV
 

Canip

Well-known member
Kahles Helia S 8x42

Eye relief (acc. to spec): 18.5 mm
Useable eye relief (measured from rim of eyecup): 15.5 mm
IPD: 56 – 74 mm
RFOV: 7.8 degrees = 136 m
AFOV: 61 degrees
Minimum focus distance (measured): 3.0 m
Focus type: CF (direction of rotation from close to infinity: > clockwise)
Range of diopter adjustment: +/- 4 dpt
Excess travel of focus wheel beyond infinity position: 5 dpt*
Prism system: Schmidt-Pechan
Waterproof: yes
Weight (measured, with eyecaps, objective covers and strap): 879 g
Made in: Austria (?)

*irrespective of position of dpt adjustment

Below some personal reflections on Kahles in general and Helia S in particular.:

As far as I am aware, Kahles, founded in 1898, has never been a big name in binoculars. But as mentioned here before, it has been, and still is, a big name in riflescopes: A number of inventions made over the years bear Kahles’ name, and Kahles competes at a high level with the other big names in the industry.

But if you are not familiar with the hunting trade, chances are you may not have heard the name “Kahles”, a subsidiary enterprise of Swarovski for many years now. I myself became aware of it only in 2013, when I realized that a large Swiss trading company imported binoculars under the Kahles brand into Switzerland, and I ordered two models, first an 8x42 and later an 8x32.

They looked quite “old-fashioned”, certainly different from the other binoculars I had at the time. Judging from the brochures that accompanied the binoculars, I assumed they were made in Austria - an error that Jan and John Roberts Jan pointed out in posts # 28 and 30 above (the imprints on the box were in fact “Kahles Austria”, not “made in Austria”, so I should have known better). Their production was apparently outsourced to someone (Kamakura?) in Japan.

I found the Kahles 8x42 and 8x32 to be solid, well-built binos with modest fields of view and an average image quality; nothing much to write home about. For what they are, they were certainly overpriced in my view. It is my assumption that Kahles just wanted to have some binoculars in their program so that they could supply customers of their riflescopes if they asked for binos; these were clearly below the optical quality of e.g. Swarovski’s instruments (but in terms of price, they were comparable).

Then, in 2016, the Kahles Helia was introduced. A much more modern look, a fashionable open bridge design, and optically quite a step ahead (still not Swarovski quality) – only, these Helia binos were nothing specific “Kahles” anymore. The exactly same instruments with partially different external features are being sold under the names of Kite (Belgium) and DDoptics (Germany); it is a well-known fact that they are all produced in Japan. How successful Kahles is with these Helia models I have no idea, those from Kite and DDoptics have been on the market for a number of years and seem to be selling okay.

In 2021, another chapter starts with the introduction of the Helia “S”. It appears that the Austrian company Kahles for the first time sells binoculars made (fully or partially?) in Austria. Whether Swarovski produces these for Kahles, as John Roberts suspects, or what other arrangements there are, I don’t know. What I do know is that the Helia “S” is a rebranded, externally only slightly modified SLC. The mechanics and optics of the 8x42 look EXACTLY like in the SLC to me, objective lenses, coatings, eyepieces are identical. In the field, the – wonderfully bright and crisp – image is the same as in the SLC.

I don’t know what Swarovski’s strategy with the “SLC turned Helia S” is. With its price, the Helia S competes even above the level of the like of Conquest HD, Trinovid HD, Trinovid 8x40 ("Retrovid"), GPO Passion, etc. Why would customers not familiar with the Kahles brand choose the brown-armoured Helia S (most people probably will not know that this I a rebranded SLC) and not something better known ?

Those who do know, however, and who are looking for an “SLC type” binocular – high central sharpness, large sweet spot, not flat-field with a very acceptable off-axis sharpness, bright image, low CA, very little glare (!) – may find the Helia S a very good choice.
I personally don’t like the orange striped armour, both its color and its haptics; the neckstrap looks trendy but is unpractical in my view.
The Helia S comes with eyecaps and (tightly fitting) objective covers, but neither a bag nor a case are included, so you have to look for your own way to carry and store.

But ignore everything I just criticized and look THROUGH the Helia S – those who liked the SLC will almost certainly like the Helia S.

fwiw Canip
 

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jaymann

Well-known member
Kahles Helia S 8x42

Eye relief (acc. to spec): 18.5 mm
Useable eye relief (measured from rim of eyecup): 15.5 mm
IPD: 56 – 74 mm
RFOV: 7.8 degrees = 136 m
AFOV: 61 degrees
Minimum focus distance (measured): 3.0 m
Focus type: CF (direction of rotation from close to infinity: > clockwise)
Range of diopter adjustment: +/- 4 dpt
Excess travel of focus wheel beyond infinity position: 5 dpt*
Prism system: Schmidt-Pechan
Waterproof: yes
Weight (measured, with eyecaps, objective covers and strap): 879 g
Made in: Austria (?)

*irrespective of position of dpt adjustment

Below some personal reflections on Kahles in general and Helia S in particular.:

As far as I am aware, Kahles, founded in 1898, has never been a big name in binoculars. But as mentioned here before, it has been, and still is, a big name in riflescopes: A number of inventions made over the years bear Kahles’ name, and Kahles competes at a high level with the other big names in the industry.

But if you are not familiar with the hunting trade, chances are you may not have heard the name “Kahles”, a subsidiary enterprise of Swarovski for many years now. I myself became aware of it only in 2013, when I realized that a large Swiss trading company imported binoculars under the Kahles brand into Switzerland, and I ordered two models, first an 8x42 and later an 8x32.

They looked quite “old-fashioned”, certainly different from the other binoculars I had at the time. Judging from the brochures that accompanied the binoculars, I assumed they were made in Austria - an error that Jan and John Roberts Jan pointed out in posts # 28 and 30 above (the imprints on the box were in fact “Kahles Austria”, not “made in Austria”, so I should have known better). Their production was apparently outsourced to someone (Kamakura?) in Japan.

I found the Kahles 8x42 and 8x32 to be solid, well-built binos with modest fields of view and an average image quality; nothing much to write home about. For what they are, they were certainly overpriced in my view. It is my assumption that Kahles just wanted to have some binoculars in their program so that they could supply customers of their riflescopes if they asked for binos; these were clearly below the optical quality of e.g. Swarovski’s instruments (but in terms of price, they were comparable).

Then, in 2016, the Kahles Helia was introduced. A much more modern look, a fashionable open bridge design, and optically quite a step ahead (still not Swarovski quality) – only, these Helia binos were nothing specific “Kahles” anymore. The exactly same instruments with partially different external features are being sold under the names of Kite (Belgium) and DDoptics (Germany); it is a well-known fact that they are all produced in Japan. How successful Kahles is with these Helia models I have no idea, those from Kite and DDoptics have been on the market for a number of years and seem to be selling okay.

In 2021, another chapter starts with the introduction of the Helia “S”. It appears that the Austrian company Kahles for the first time sells binoculars made (fully or partially?) in Austria. Whether Swarovski produces these for Kahles, as John Roberts suspects, or what other arrangements there are, I don’t know. What I do know is that the Helia “S” is a rebranded, externally only slightly modified SLC. The mechanics and optics of the 8x42 look EXACTLY like in the SLC to me, objective lenses, coatings, eyepieces are identical. In the field, the – wonderfully bright and crisp – image is the same as in the SLC.

I don’t know what Swarovski’s strategy with the “SLC turned Helia S” is. With its price, the Helia S competes even above the level of the like of Conquest HD, Trinovid HD, Trinovid 8x40 ("Retrovid"), GPO Passion, etc. Why would customers not familiar with the Kahles brand choose the brown-armoured Helia S (most people probably will not know that this I a rebranded SLC) and not something better known ?

Those who do know, however, and who are looking for an “SLC type” binocular – high central sharpness, large sweet spot, not flat-field with a very acceptable off-axis sharpness, bright image, low CA, very little glare (!) – may find the Helia S a very good choice.
I personally don’t like the orange striped armour, both its color and its haptics; the neckstrap looks trendy but is unpractical in my view.
The Helia S comes with eyecaps and (tightly fitting) objective covers, but neither a bag nor a case are included, so you have to look for your own way to carry and store.

But ignore everything I just criticized and look THROUGH the Helia S – those who liked the SLC will almost certainly like the Helia S.

fwiw Canip
I think I am getting used to the brown color. Will buy 8x42 if they ever become available in USA.
 

jgraider

Well-known member
Swaro dropping the SLC line makes zero sense to me. I predict sales of this Kahles reintroduction to be abysmal compared to the SLC.
 

casscade

Well-known member
Yeah the fact it’s priced in the lower alpha realm could be an issue imo. Personally I wouldn’t pay Swaro/Leica/Zeiss prices for something that won’t hold a similar value or have the recognition. I’d buy a used slc or other older alpha instead.

That said, if it was in the conquest-monarch hg price range they would kill it in that market being the only true alpha in that category.
 

AlphaFan

Active member
United States
The 42mm SLC was extremely successful with American Hunters and enjoyed an almost cult following among that group. In addition to all of the premium optical features it also had brand cache (SW has their own hunting TV show), and a rugged looking build with dinosaur-skin green armor. All a price point below other Alphas, and a track record of excellent resale value.

Re-badging that optic to a less well known, less premium brand, while maintaining the price is a bit of a mystery. Not certain what market SW is targeting, but the color scheme of the new Helia S would suggest it isn’t the former SLC market.

Who knows, maybe SW is using the re-badged and proven SLC design to increase the Kahles brand cache, and making space in their lineup for yet another binocular release?
 

casscade

Well-known member
Agree, not sure what their target is. It’ll be an incredible binocular if it’s the slc but knowing how many hunters are they generally like name recognition, that or save a few dollars and get something mid priced like the conquest or Nikon HG. If full retail is 1500 maybe it’ll be available for several hundred less.
 
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Gijs van Ginkel

Well-known member
The Kahles Helia 42 is the SLC made in Austria with a new coat, in brown with orange stripes. It is sold as binocular only, you have to find a bag and strap yourself I just heard, so that is a challenge, but not a difficult one. The price of bag and strap must be added to the price of the binocular of course, but the amount of it depends completely on your choice/wishes.
Gijs van Ginkel
 

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
As far as I can tell, the focus mechanism is the same as in my SLC, and I am not sure I would want it “upgraded“ in any way, it is rather on the slow side (at least for birders) but allows very precise focusing.

In know that years back, the focusing of the SLC was the subject of many debates (noisy, focus wheel rotated more easily in one direction than the other, etc.) but this has been corrected some time ago.

I am sorry but if you don‘t like the focusing in the SLC, I am afraid you are not going to like the one in the Helia S either.

Canip
A favourable vote from me too. In use in the field I don't notice anything about the focus wheels in my 8 or 10x42 so, as with a passenger who doesn't notice the driving, that is a plus from me. But the first 8 did have to be returned as it was rough; the second one and the 10 have kept their heads well below the parapet and I always enjoy using them.

Tom
 

jan van daalen

Well-known member
Canip, post 48.

How do you think customers will react when they have to pay 1.510,00 euro for a (very fine) binocular but won't get a bag and decent neoprene neckstrap with it for that money and the decent Swaro SLC bag and neckstrap will cost them 100,00 euro extra.
Sigh........ sometimes Swaro's way is hard to follow.

Jan
 
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Hello everyone. My first post here.

I have looked at your forums for so many years.

So much good information here.

I sold my Steiner Peregrine's this past winter and was down to a new Bushnell Elite Hd 10x42 . The Bushnell has nice glass but I have never been fond of the plastic diopter set up, I always seem to move it inadvertently.

Read reviews of the Swarovski SLC and the Leica Trinovids. I thought either would be a nice step up from the Bushnell, and have always wanted a very nice binocular.

When I noticed the Swarovski 8x42 SLC did not seem to be available anywhere I stumbled on these threads on the rebranded SLC under the Kahles name. I have a helia Rd reflex sight from Kahles that I like, and their scopes I have seen are fantastic.

I ordered the Kahles Helia S 8x42 this morning, hopefully will have it in a few days to give it a going over.

Thanks for all the info on this forum.

Craig
 

jan van daalen

Well-known member
Hello everyone. My first post here.

I have looked at your forums for so many years.

So much good information here.

I sold my Steiner Peregrine's this past winter and was down to a new Bushnell Elite Hd 10x42 . The Bushnell has nice glass but I have never been fond of the plastic diopter set up, I always seem to move it inadvertently.

Read reviews of the Swarovski SLC and the Leica Trinovids. I thought either would be a nice step up from the Bushnell, and have always wanted a very nice binocular.

When I noticed the Swarovski 8x42 SLC did not seem to be available anywhere I stumbled on these threads on the rebranded SLC under the Kahles name. I have a helia Rd reflex sight from Kahles that I like, and their scopes I have seen are fantastic.

I ordered the Kahles Helia S 8x42 this morning, hopefully will have it in a few days to give it a going over.

Thanks for all the info on this forum.

Craig
Hi Craig,

Welcome on board!!
Please let us know what you feel about the "missing parts" of this magnificent bin.

Jan
 

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