Swarovski EL Binoculars Review
Friday morning Steve comes into my office with a green case in his hands. He drops it on my desk and says “Your first homework assignment… review these”. Looking down at the Swarovski EL binoculars, i heard him say a few other things, but all i remember was thinking “I love my job”.
First of all, this is a field review. That means i took the Swarovski EL binoculars hunting with me for the weekend and compared them to my Vortex Viper HD 10×50’s. I’m not getting into the technical details of coatings and other things I know nothing about. If you want that info, go to their website. Also, I know its not an apples to apples test, but it is a fair representation of what most of us carry vs. a pair of really high end binos. This is just my real world opinion without any research or in depth knowledge going in.
Second, I am not one of those guys who trades a good review for product, or favor with manufacturers. Over the last few years i have purchased ALL of my own gear. The way i look at it, if i give a product a thumbs down, then hopefully it’s going to save you from heartache down the road. Quite frankly, if it’s in our store it’s already a great product. Either way you can expect an honest review from me.
Using the Swarovski EL’s for the first time early in the morning I expected the view to be brighter and crisper than i was used to, and it was.The view was considerably brighter than my 10×50’s. Early on i wanted to switch back and forth so that i could get a feel for the differences. But i found myself favoring the EL’s. I was after all deer hunting, and i wanted to use the advantage of the EL’s brightness while i could.
About this time of the morning i try to make sure that my Viper HD’s are properly focused. My right eye is a little off and i feel like i am always adjusting to make the focus perfect across both eyes. Looking at the eyecups of the EL’s it’s not immediately apparent where the separate eye focus adjustment is. After a while i noticed that there was a dot near the focusing wheel. I pulled up on the wheel and when i spun the wheel I found that it was only changing focus for one eye. Score! Once my eyes were focusing the same the view was amazing. Quickly i realized the difference between nice glass (mine) and Swaro’s. The Viper’s never seemed to be perfectly focused, and certainly never across both eyes.
As the sun started to rise and color came into play it was like someone turned up the contrast knob a few notches. It’s easy to see distinction in colors that were similar shades. For instance a burned out tree trunk seemed to have 100 different shades of black, with texture. Unfortunately the sun never came out from behind the clouds so I didn’t get chance to compare glare or looking into shadows during mid afternoon.
I have never seen depth of field portrayed so well. Sometimes when you’re looking at a series of ridges through your binos, depth perception is not always easy to see. Does that ridge connects to the finger you are on, or is it another 500 yards behind it. It was very easy to make out the 3 dimensional features of the landscape with the EL’s. For instance a stand of rock on the other side of the hill in front of me did not look like it was stacked on top of the hill, but rather the hill was clearly closer, and the rocks farther.
Also using EL’s made me realize that my Vipers have a halo or unclear area near the edges. And honestly it’s not just near the edges, it’s almost half of the viewing area. Another benefit of high end glass.
Finally the feel and finish of the Swaro’s were top notch. The eyecup adjustment was almost fun to change. The focus wheel was precise. The casing was similar in feel to my Vipers and did not stand out, but that’s not a bad thing.
How do these observations equate to being better hunter?
- Clarity and color
- They help you isolate differences in colors when spotting deer in sage brush. The deer really do stand out, and are more pronounced in their difference in color.
- Depth perception
- When stalking i am always looking at the terrain to plan my stalk. The better prepared i am when i start out, the more likely i am to stick to the plan.
- Also, did those bucks run through those rocks, or just around them.
- early morning/late evening viewing. Easily the most critical time to be glassing, this one should be obvious. Its also the most apparent difference.
- Edge to edge
- Something that i have learned using my spotting scope is that it’s pretty easy to spot movement when the scope is stationary. Having the binos locked into one spot, you can see movement anywhere in the field of view, not just the center.
- Eye Strain
- When your eyes don’t have to compensate for not being perfectly in focus for hours at a time, you can sit behind your bino’s for a much longer period.
I’m sure there are things about these bino’s that you may not like, i personally thought they were on the heavy side. And the price..well, that is a tough one, but I’m not here to help you justify the cost. I will say however, that these would be the last bino’s you would ever purchase. Like Steve said to me, “when you finally purchase your Swaro’s, you never have to wonder again”.
Check them out for yourself at: