SWAROVSKI 8 x 32 EL
Some words of explanation...
The name binocular derives from the Latin bi (meaning two) and oculus (meaning eye) and describes a hand held optical device whose function is essentially to magnify distant images using an eyepiece and so allow them to be examined in detail.
Objective lens - this is the large lens at the far end of the binocular.
Ocular lens - the lens in the eyepiece.
There are two main designs of binocular:
Porroprism: traditional, classic shape and design.
Roof-prism: recognized by its straight tube like appearance.
Prism - a block of glass with triangular section having accurately polished edges, used to reflect light. Roof prism binoculars tend to have straight barrels.
What do the figures mean?
All binoculars have a set of two figures indicating their specification (for instance 8X32).
The first figure refers to the magnification (8x). Typically between 7x and 10x, although specialized binoculars range higher and lower than these. The second figure(32) describes the diameter of the large lens (called the objective, see above) in millimetres. Generally speaking, the larger this lens is, the greater the amount of light that will be gathered and therefore, the brighter the image.
The higher the magnification can make the binoculars difficult to hold steady (over 10x) and will also cause loss of brightness. Conversely lower magnification allows closer focusing, greater field of view and depth of field.
Field of View(FOV)
When looking through a binocular, the widest dimension of circular viewing area that you can see is described as the field of view. Normally measured in terms of linear metres at a 1000m range. The FOV will decrease as the magnification increases therefore 12x binocular will usually have a smaller FOV than 7x. However, FOV is also determined by optical design of the ocular lens (the eyepiece) and is not lust a function of the objective lens.
Depth of Field(DOF)
The distance from "near to far" that is in focus at a certain setting of the focus adjustment or at a certain distance. In a given optical system, as the magnification increases, DOF decreases. At very high magnifications, the depth of field can be so shallow that precise focusing is critical being able to easily reach the focus wheel is important as is your ability to hold the bins steady. DOF also changes with the distance observed, usually decreasing in depth as the distance decreases.
ER refers to the distance behind the binocular eyepiece at which the whole field of view is clearly visible to the observer. This distance will vary from as little as 5mm to as much as 23mm with binoculars and is an important consideration to spectacle wearers. Binoculars without a minimum ER of approx 15mm, will pose uncomfortable observing and seeing the complete FOV when wearing specs.
Also known as purple fringing. You can see it when a dark area is surrounded by a highlight. In between the dark and light, you may see a band of purple pixels that shouldn't be there.
Swarovski EL 8 X 32
These Roof Prism binoculars (bins) with there distinct design have been my pleasure to own for 3 months. The Swarovski's may be regarded as top quality class leaders but at £815 each you wouldn't expect anything less would you?
Who are Swarovski?
Swarovski is known throughout the world for making some of the finest crystal ever known with their reputation preceding them, Swarovski adheres to the same high standards in their optical equipment.
Who are they for?
I'm sure that Swarovski would say anyone that has an interest in the outdoors and nature watching, however, given the price point then you need to be serious about your hobby. In reality they are aimed primarily at the bird watching fraternity and also due to their close focusing ability they are excellent for viewing dragon flies and butterflies. They have an exceptional field of view which means that you will be able to follow birds in flight more easily.
The bins arrived in a square green box with the Swarovski logo embossed on the outer cover, right from the start you are made to feel that you are dealing with quality bins. Inside the box apart from the bins is a Swarovski strap which is made from neoprene for comfort, a sturdy case, lenses cloth and instruction booklet. There is also a rainguard and objective covers which you need to attach to the bins with the strap.
The booklet explains quickly how to customise the settings for your eyesight. This is a painless process consisting of covering an objective lenses and adjusting the focus to suit each eye. The bins once this is done may be regarded as 'set'.
Attaching the strap was rather more painstaking, the diagrams in the book do their best but it is difficult to see what needs to be threaded through what before the strap is secure. If you want to use the rainguard, make sure that you do it whilst attaching the strap. The objective covers attach via a ring and are useful, however, I've already lost one and given up on the other, I just put the bins in the case when not in use.
The first thing that you will notice is that they are comparatively lightweight but feel very robust courtesy of the magnesium alloy body. The bridgeless design allows you to wrap your hands around them with your thumbs resting neatly in the thumb depressions and they feel totally comfortable as you raise them to your eyes. They also allow pretty good one handed performance due to the barrel design and light weight. It is also possible to focus rapidly one-handed for the same reasons.
The central focusing wheel is within easy reach and responds rapidly adjustments. I have tried the bins with a pair of gloves and can confirm that grip is still good and access / adjustment to focusing is still quite easy.
The wide angle eyepiece means excellent FOV and the image is sharp with just the right amount of contrast producing true colours enhanced by the prism coating Swarobright even in low light conditions. It is great to be able to pick up birds in flight and follow them without having to constantly re-focus. I have not experienced any 'purple fringing' or chromatic aberration, however, I have read other reviews where the author has mentioned a tiny amount becoming occasionally noticeable.
The bins simply do not fog, due to the nitrogen filling they are airtight, dustproof and watertight to a depth of 4 m.
I spent some wonderful late summer afternoon's at a local nature reserve testing the close focusing (2.1m) ability on the local dragonfly population and was not dissapointed, particularly due to the rapid focusing wheel.
The velcro strap is very comforatble although you do get hot in summer. The rainguard can occasionally get in the way but you learn eventually to live with it. The objective covers are not the best, they tend to flip open when you don't want them to and indeed are easily lost. I've lost one already (they can be ordered seperatley for about £5), and no-longer bother attaching them.
The lens coating makes the objectives easy to clean with a damp cloth. The oculars unscrew and can be 'blown' clean and wiped very easily. The casing is very robust and just needs a wipe
I would recommend the 8 x 32 EL's to anyone who needs a serious pair of bins for nature watching. I cannot pick many faults with them, they are nicely balanced good for close focusing and decent at longer range with a wide FOV. For those who will be solely birdwatching I would suggest that you try out the 8.5 x 42's aswell, they possess more of 'sweet spot' than the 8 x 32's but are £100 more expensive. Swarovski guarantee their binoculars for 30 years.
When buying any binoculars the most important thing to do is visit a reputable dealer and try as many pairs as possible. They are very much a personal choice and more than likely will be with you a long time so it really is important to try as many as you can.
Specification 8 x 32 EL
Objective lens diameter (mm) 32
Objective lens diameter (in) 1.26
Exit pupil, diameter (mm) 4.0
Exit pupil, diameter (in) 0.16
Eye relief (mm) 15
Eye relief (in) 0.59
Field of view, real (m/100 m) 140
Field of view, real (ft/1000 yds) 420
Field of view, real (degree) 8
Field of view, apparent (degree) 62
Shortest focusing distance (m) 2.1
Shortest focusing distance (ft) 7
Diopter compensation (dpt) +-3
Interpupillary distance (mm) 56-74
Interpupillary distance (in) 2.2-2.91
Twilight factor (DIN 58388) 16
Length, approx. (mm) 138
Length, approx. (in) 5.4
Width, approx. (mm) 114
Width, approx. (in) 4.5
Height, approx. (mm) 60
Height, approx. (in) 2.4
Weight approx. (g) 610
Weight approx. (oz) 21.5
Universal binoculars newly designed to give intense sharpness of images and totally natural colour reproduction.