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Pardon my ignorance, but what do the letters mean? (1 Viewer)

SueO

Well-known member
Hi. I am looking for some new binoculars. Santa gave me a pair of Swaro EL 10x32s in 2009. They have gone through a lot! They worked very well for me when I birded in dense jungles. I am back at home in Southern California now and I need some 8x42s or something close to that. I came to browse through the bin forum and I am at a loss as to what NL, SLC, SF and even El (which I own) mean. Could someone please explain? Thank-you.
 

SueO

Well-known member
PS. I don't have to have Swaros. I was thinking of Zeiss or ?. I just need a light weight bin with a larger field of view than I have now. EDIT: good light gathering too.
 
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John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
Hi Sue,

As to what the letters mean, the short answer is: Not necessarily much!

Swarovski (like other manufacturers) uses letter combinations to distinguish their various product lines,
but as to how much insight that gives you as to the essential qualities of the various lines is debatable


In brief:
The NL is Swarovski’s newest line of roof prism binoculars introduced earlier this year
It is their current flagship model, and is most notable for the extra wide field of view, and unique ergonomics
Currently it's only available in medium size: with 42 mm diameter objectives

The EL was Swarovski’s previous flagship line. It's still available in small (x32 mm), medium (x42 mm) and large (x50 mm) sizes
It has a distinct 2 hinge open bridge design combined with centre focus, that was introduced by Swarovski

The SLC is also a high quality line, though with more conventional:
• external design, and
• curved field of view (verses the flat field of both the NL and EL)
It's available in both medium (x42 mm) and extra large (x56 mm) sizes

- - - -

The SF is Zeiss’ response to the Swarovski EL, with a wider field of view and a unique balance
It's available in x32 and x42 sizes

- - - -

For a better idea of what’s on offer from the premium manufacturers, I’d suggest starting with the Swarovski, Zeiss and Leica websites
Perhaps first download the catalogues so you can get an idea of who offers what, and so you can compare and contrast

Good luck on what should be an enjoyable journey


John


p.s. As to the 'official meaning' of the letters:
NL - New (or Nature?) Light
EL- Ergonomic (or Extra?) Light
SLC - Strong (or Shockproof?) Light Compact
and
SF - Smart Focus

For those interested in some history and detail of Swarovski's naming of various models see at:
https://www.birdforum.net/threads/what-are-the-german-words-for-el-slc.375599/
 
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SueO

Well-known member
Thank-you, John. I just thought the nl, etc. must mean something. I think about OZ all the time. I love you guys and your beautiful country. We spent two years there during our 13 year sailing circumnavigation. At the time, I used my husband's dearly departed father's ancient Bushnell's (I think). They looked like opera glasses! No matter, they worked well enough. I wasn't a birder when we cast the lines in 2000.
 

NDhunter

Experienced observer
United States
The only one that means anything in the Swarovski line is the CL, which means, Compact - Light.

Jerry
 

SueO

Well-known member
The only one that means anything in the Swarovski line is the CL, which means, Compact - Light.

Jerry
Thanks, Jerry. I figured the letters meant something along those lines. Was just curious. I googled but all I could find is what the numbers meant!
 

PeterPS

MEMBER
Thanks, Jerry. I figured the letters meant something along those lines. Was just curious. I googled but all I could find is what the numbers meant!
John has already explained some of these abbreviations; Two small corrections SLC=Slim, Light, Compact and NL=Nature Lover. Typically these abbreviations are nothing but marketing mumbo-jumbo.
 

Gijs van Ginkel

Well-known member
PeterPS, post 7,
Marketing mumbojumbo? I am quite happy that I do not need a lot of words to indicate a specific type of binocular from that specific brand, so it seems quite practical to me.
Gijs van Ginkel
 

PeterPS

MEMBER
Gijs,
I did not mean the abbreviations per se (which are convenient indeed), but what they abbreviate. Btw, are the SLCs slim, light and compact? Not really. On the other hand the NLs are rather slim but I guess Swaro did not call them Slim Nature Lovers to avoid confusion with a well-known TV show.
Peter
 

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
The use of letter pairs to identify binoculars is interesting. Firstly it’s widely used, including by Swarovski and Zeiss
(and of course letter pairs are also widely used in many other industries)
As Gijs indicates, the attraction is that it provides a convenient shorthand to clearly identify a model by a particular manufacturer
e.g. we use the designations all the time on this forum - and with brands like Leica we create the abbreviations: UV for Ultravid, NV for Noctivid!


With the major binocular manufacturers, I suspect that the use of letter pairs is now at a point where the letters are chosen first,
and then a 'meaning’ is assigned
Zeiss’ claim that SF means Smart Focus seems particularly unconvincing, considering it’s most notable features when it was introduced
e.g. see the contents and stress in the 60 page ‘The Art of Precision’ that was published along with the SF,
at: https://www.birdforum.net/threads/z...s-cutaway-views-and-more.370530/#post-3792159


Considerations - and therefore limitations - will likely include a letter pair that is both:
• consistent with the other products in a lineup, and importantly
• not likely to be confused with a product from another manufacturer
This may help explain Swarovski’s fondness for ‘recycling’ designations i.e. all new designs using previous designations
See my comments in the link in my previous post


And undoubtably there will be research that shows certain letters have more positive associations (including graphically, and in terms of sound),
and that others are considered less favourably. So there’s a further restricted range of possibilities
An obvious designation like 'WB' for Wide FOV and Balanced Handling, may not have met the criteria for Zeiss with the SF design


John
 
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NDhunter

Experienced observer
United States
John, thanks for that and so that means the letters used now do not mean much in describing the binocular.

The designation B, has been used for many years, means "brill" or to be more easily used with eyeglasses.
The letter B has been used by Zeiss and Swarovski, and does help distinguish earlier models from later.

With Swarovski, "G" is used to designate rubber armor ""gummi" armor, mainly in the Habicht porro series, which in current
production.

So, the letters do mean something some of the time.

Jerry
 

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
Hi Jerry,

I take your point, though I’d make a technical distinction: B and G (and W) have long been used by many including Swarovski
- though typically to indicate the presence or absence of a feature on particular models within a product line -
rather than to designate a product line
e.g. the previous Swarovski SLC 8x30 WB verses the SLC 7x30 B; and the current Habicht 8x30 W verses the 7x42 GA

And in terms of marketing considerations, another obvious alternative such as 'FH’ for Field of View and Handling
may also have been unacceptable to Zeiss for the SF (the potential for confusion with the FL?)


John
 
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KC Foggin

Super Moderator
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
United States
Sue, I can't tell you how much google time I wasted last night looking up all those letters ;)
 

Sterngucker

RⒶdneck
United States
As far as German-speaking manufacturers go, traditionally:
B = Brille (glasses - usually designates longer eye relief)
GA = Gummi armiert (rubber armored)
W = Weitwinkel (wide angle)

Of course nowadays many use these designations for their supposed coolness-factor and their traditional association with top quality glass, just like there are many cars with a 'GT' or 'GTI' on the back without even remotely representing what those letters originally stood for.
 

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
When I first started researching Swarovski Optik binoculars, I compiled a list of both common and less common abbreviations
Some are marked on the binoculars, though others are only in the printed material, either the packaging and/or the literature

I've checked the table, and in still seems to be accurate
Many of the German abbreviations are also used by other manufacturers (whether German speaking or not)

In the table I've referred to the metal bodied Porro prism binoculars collectively as the 'Traditional' model to be both more inclusive and precise:
• not all leatherette models were marked Habicht (e. g. single coated models were usually marked Falke, though there are variations)
• early RA models were not marked Habicht, and nor are the later IF ones (though both are described as Habicht's in the Swarovski literature)
• and at one stage, just about all of the product lines were called Habicht, and many were also marked as such


John
 

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SueO

Well-known member
As far as German-speaking manufacturers go, traditionally:
B = Brille (glasses - usually designates longer eye relief)
GA = Gummi armiert (rubber armored)
W = Weitwinkel (wide angle)

Of course nowadays many use these designations for their supposed coolness-factor and their traditional association with top quality glass, just like there are many cars with a 'GT' or 'GTI' on the back without even remotely representing what those letters originally stood for
Thanks, Sterngucker.
 

SueO

Well-known member
Some informative replies! Thanks all. Ordered some not as fancy bins today: Nikon Monarch HG 5 8 x 42's. We'll see (no pun intended).
 

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