Swarovski 10X42 Binoculars, the Best and Still Improving

Swarovski binoculars have a storied reputation for innovation and for producing the best binoculars available. With the FieldPro Package, they’ve improved their complete offering.

A new descriptive title has arisen in many competitive fields that may sound derogatory but is, in fact, a great compliment: “GOAT.” Today when someone or something is referred to as “the GOAT,” the meaning is “greatest of all time.” This expression has been applied to athletes, artists, and automobiles. If we were to apply this description to field glasses, a strong case could be made for Swarovski binoculars and, in particular, their 10X42 glasses with the accompanying FieldPro Package.

It can frankly be said that the last two decades have seen a revolution in magnifying lenses for viewing and hunting scopes. Swarovski optics has been leading those revolutionary forces, setting standards, and achieving innovations that other manufacturers have scrambled to imitate. In this review, we’ll take a close look at the Swarovski 10X42 binoculars and their field package, examine its specs and listen to the comments of those who have reviewed it.

SWAROVSKI EL 10x42 Binocular with FieldPro Package

SWAROVSKI EL 10x42 Binocular with FieldPro Package

It could be said that the story of Swarovski’s dominance among field glasses began in 1999 with the introduction of their EL “open bridge” design that allowed the viewer’s hands to grip the lenses with ease and even make one-handed diopter adjustments. Immediately a number of binocular manufacturers began to offer open-bridge binoculars. Along with the radical design innovation, the field glasses themselves were astounding in their quality. With long eye relief and an exceptionally wide field of view, users were treated to optics that offered a clarity of resolution to all sides of the image. It could truly be said that Swarovski had shown a brilliant new light on the binocular industry.

What can you expect from Swarovski 10X42 binoculars? The first thing many viewers notice is an exceptional flatness in the lens as opposed to the distortion seen through many binoculars. The proprietary Swarovski lenses are made with fluoride coated HD glass, which has the property of eliminating both distortion and chromatic aberration. This results in the brightness of true-color imaging. Both the exterior lens and the interior prisms in the Swarovski 10X42 are coated with three patented emulsions: Swarobright, Swarotop, and Swarodur to give the most enhanced visual quality. Additionally, the ocular and objective lenses, as well as the exterior glass, are coated with Swaroclean to resist dust, water, and any sticky substance.

It’s not just how they look but how they feel. The ergonomic body of the Swarovski 10X42 is designed to fit the hands of the user, including thumb rests on the body of the housing. The four-adjustment eyecups, intended for glasses-wearers as well as the unaided eye, and the feel of the binoculars are designed to prevent user fatigue after even after a lengthy day of use. The lens caps are not only attractive and unique but are constructed so as not to be misplaced. The eyepiece caps are made to adjust with the movement of the open bridge, meaning once the ideal position for the viewer is achieved, covering the lenses will not alter the adjustment.

Another factor setting these binoculars apart even from other top of the line glasses is the FieldPro Package. Included are the outstanding field bag—which has been called the best bag offered by any binocular manufacturer—carrying strap, lens cloths, lens cover, and a multi-language instruction manual. Additionally, Swarovski offers several available accessories for the 10X42, including binocular support suspenders, a cleaning set, winged eyecups, and a hard-shell carrying case. Perhaps the most important accessory that comes with the binoculars is the warranty: lifetime for the optics and 10 years for the rest of the parts.

Let us take a glance at the specs of the Swarovski 10X42.

Magnification 10X
Effective objective lens diameter (mm) 42
Exit pupil diameter (mm) 4.2
Exit pupil distance (eye relief) (mm) 17.3
Field of view (ft/1000 yds / m/1000 m) 330/ 110
Field of view (degrees) 6.3
Field of view for eyeglass wearers (degrees) 6.3
Field of view, apparent (degrees) 61
Shortest focusing distance (ft / m) 16.4/5
Dioptric compensation (DPT) ±5
Light transmission (%) 91
Pupil distance (in / mm) 2.2-2.9/56-74
Twilight factor acc. to DIN 58388 20.5
Length approx. (in/mm) 6.3/160
Width approx. (in/mm) 5.4/137
Height approx. (in/mm) 3.2/81
Weight approx. without batteries (oz/g) 31/880
Functional temperature (mechanical -13º F to +133º F

The Swarovski 10X42 in the Field

The Swarovski 10X42 in the Field

Based upon their specs and performance alone, the Swarovski 10X42 have long been recognized as the standard by which binoculars should be judged. Ironically, two different groups of enthusiasts seek to claim these binoculars as being ideally suited for them: birders and long-range hunters.

Birders are particularly appreciative that Swarovski made a design improvement in their EL series of binoculars in 2010, switching from an aluminum housing to an even lighter weight magnesium alloy. This also made the barrels of the binoculars easier to grip as they became somewhat smaller. The attached lens covers are also a plus for birders in the field as they can be instantly slipped off without fear of being lost, then replaced without taking one’s eyes off the field. For cleaning or esthetic purposes, it is possible to remove and then reinstall the objective lens covers. In case you do choose to remove them, Swarovski includes small lens gap covers.

Carrying binoculars in the field throughout a long day of birding can be taxing, even if the glasses weigh just less than 2 pounds, as with the Swarovski 10X42. For this reason, Swarovski devised a new rotating strap connector that allows their binoculars to be attached to a harness. This frees the hands and makes the binoculars feel weightless. Birders are also enthusiastic about the camera adapter that allows images to be captured through the remarkably detailed lens.

As with other groups intent on discovering which brand of equipment is absolutely the best, birders have continually subjected the Swarovski 10X42 to comparisons against those competitors who might lay claim to being the very best. In particular, Swarovski is often compared to Leica and Zeiss in a variety of categories and is invariably judged to perform at least as well—if not better—than any other brand.

The other group that lays proud claim to the Swarovski 10X42 are long-range hunters, particularly Western hunters who stalk and evaluate game animals at distances greater than a mile. There is a shared recognition that the fixed 10X42 magnification is the default lens for hunting. It allows swift, broad focus with a field of vision that allows game animals to be sighted peripherally through slight movement. These binoculars are excellent for “glassing”: slow, overlapping vertical or horizontal sweeps across the terrain to detect animals. The clarity of resolution is sufficient not simply for recognizing animals but also evaluating them as potential game targets.

Another plus for distance hunters is the ample eye relief the Swarovski 10X42 provides. In bright, sunlight higher elevations or on snow-covered slopes, hunters often find it necessary to wear sunglasses and, of course, eyeglasses. These Swarovski binoculars provide four eyecup settings intended to make viewing clear and comfortable for users regardless of whether glasses or the unaided eye is in use. Made to be usable with a single hand, the diopter has a sure feel and resonates when adjusted. The settings are clearly numbered so that the viewer can quickly return to a previous position. Likewise, the focus wheel, which is used by pulling it toward the viewer from the housing, is easily accessible and can be manipulated with no trouble.

Like birders, long-distance hunters are particularly enthusiastic about how the Swarovski 10X42 binoculars can be used for a full day of glassing without experiencing overt eye strain. There were also comments on the contrast present in the image, allowing the user to perceive greater depth within the field of vision. This allowed hunters to be able to judge the distance of game from landmarks without resorting to rangefinders.

Reviewers Comment on the Swarovski 10X42

Before discussing ratings and reviews, it’s important to remind ourselves that these binoculars are not simply regarded as among the best in the world, they are also among the more expensive. Binoculars that are on the higher end suffer in the overall review process, typically through no fault of their own. We should note that there are a great number of users who simply will accept no glasses except Swarovski’s. With that said, reviewers give the Swarovski 10X42 4 out of 5 stars, and 72% of purchasers rated the binoculars with 5 Stars.

One of the most common comments of reviewers is that the clarity and sharpness of the image from side-to-side is startlingly detailed. Many expressed surprise at the colors of birds and animals that had not been visible before they used the Swarovski 10X42. Those who had previously used Swarovski binoculars commented that the manufacturer has actually improved on the excellent quality of the optics.

It was commented that the Swarovski 10X42 binoculars travel well and stay at home well. The implication was that the lenses could focus on brilliantly colored hummingbirds only 15 away—or birds soaring about the yard—and yet are equally of service when focusing on an elk or moose at a mile and a half.

Many users commented on their intentional or accidental personal journeys through several different brands of binoculars until they finally ended up with the Swarovski 10X42. One birder reported wondering why so many colleagues in the field used Swarovski binoculars until at last trying them. Like others, this individual reported that, once you try a pair of Swarovski binoculars, you understand why so many others use them. Another birder wondered how many birds he had missed over the years simply because he had not been using binoculars of Swarovski’s quality.

Those who have taken the binoculars into the field have recommended protecting them by purchasing the hard-shell protective case for walking across particularly rugged terrain. Others reported taking a tripod for use in glassing. The tripod was not necessary to give stability, because the binoculars are light and designed to be steady in the hand. Rather, the tripod was used to rest the hands and arms when using the binoculars for several hours at a time.

There were several positive comments on the Swarovski warranty. The customer service has been consistently rated as excellent. Needed repairs have been handled promptly, and the result has been exactly what was required.

The cost of the Swarovski 10X42 was also a frequently discussed topic. It’s absolutely fair to say that many purchasers wrestled with whether or not to buy these binoculars when so many other brands were available at a lesser price. The typical response was that, once they had obtained and begun using the Swarovski 10X42, they had no regret about the cost.

PROS:
  • May be the best for clarity of image and field of vision
  • Ergonomically pleasing to use
  • Well-supported by the manufacturer
CONS:
  • Among the more expensive binoculars
  • Trouble reattaching straps and lens caps

Conclusion

The Swarovski 10X42 has been a class leader for high-end binoculars for 20 years and continues to refine and improve their optics. Those who have used the brand in the past report that the qualities of side-to-side image, resolution, contrast, and trueness color for which Swarovski has been known have only improved. Another constant among Swarovski 10X42 users is the sentiment that the binoculars only seem expensive until you start using them.

Different groups of users want to claim these particular field glasses as their own. Long-distance hunters, particularly in the open ranges of the west, are attached to the Swarovski 10X42’s ability to give an extremely wide, stable field of view that yields itself to glassing and true depth perception of game animals. Birds are delighted in the marvelous detail and true color images they can obtain with the 10X42, both at extremely close and much longer distances. Those who use the Swarovski 10X42 have nothing for it but praise.

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