A Deeper Dive into One of the Most Popular Binocular Options
Whether you’re a beginning bird watcher or you’re looking for a great pair of binoculars for hiking and camping, the Swarovski EL 8 5×42 might be for you. Learn more here.
Swarovski EL 8 5x42
When it comes to quality optics and powerful magnification, few names command the respect that Swarovski does. They have become synonymous with quality, performance, and longevity. How do the 8.5×42 EL binoculars stand up? They offer quite a few perks and benefits. In this Swarovski EL 8 5×42 review, we’ll dive deeper into what makes these such a stand out pair of binoculars and what they can offer you. We’ll also cover other important information that should be used to inform your buying decision, and even some of the more frequently asked questions by first-time binocular buyers. Whether you’re buying your first pair of binoculars, upgrading from a beginner set, or simply want to compare your options, this review will put you on the right path.
The first stop on our Swarovski EL 8 5×42 review is an overview of the model itself. This way, you can go into the deeper review with a better understanding of what these binoculars bring to the table, as we explore the features and capabilities. With these binoculars, you get:
- 5x magnification
- 42mm objective lenses
- 9mm exit pupil diameter
- 20mm eye relief
- Edge-to-edge sharpness
- Fluoride-containing HD lenses
- Improved lens and prism coatings
- Ergonomic body design
- One-touch focus
- Waterproof to 13 feet
- Limited Lifetime and 10-year warranties for various components
Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s dive deeper and find out what each of those features means to you, the user.
One look at the body of the Swarovski EL binoculars and you’ll immediately realize they differ from many other models on the market. We’ll break down those differences below so you can see how this pair stacks up:
- Material: The body is made of space-age metal alloy designed to be incredibly durable, strong, and light.
- Protection: You’ll find rubber armor strategically placed on the binoculars to help reduce damage from minor impacts.
- Design: These binoculars feature a unique, wraparound, ergonomic design. The split between the tubes is large enough for four fingers, while your thumb wraps around the bottom. This design is only found from Swarovski OPTIK and offers comfort, ease of use, and a firmer grip than most other binoculars can provide.
- Secure: The body features secure mounting locations for neck-straps or harnesses to help keep your binoculars secure while they’re in use.
The Swarovski 8.5×42 EL Binoculars feature 42mm objective lenses. These are large enough to provide ample light gathering, but also help to ensure true color representation while viewing. The 4.9mm exit pupil diameter ensures bright images even in low-light viewing situations, with 20mm of eye relief.
However, it’s about more than just the size of the lenses. No Swarovski EL 8 5×42 review would be complete without at least touching on specific aspects of lens design and the coatings used by the manufacturer.
Lens Type: These are fluoride-containing, HD lenses. Combined with the unique lens design, that reduces color fringing, while improving true color reproduction. It also helps improve resolution while delivering better contrast.
Lens Design: If you look at the lenses, you’ll find that they are flatter than many other models on the market. That flattening translates to the images the lenses transmit, which helps to improve sharpness. The result is the ability to catch even small details on your target, even if those are at the very edge of the image. With traditionally curved lenses, the edges would have far less detail.
Coatings: All binoculars worth their salt have some type of lens coating designed to help improve performance, but the Swarovski OPTIK system is one of the best in the world. You’ll find both lens and prism coatings such as Swarotop, Swarodur, and Swarobright, all of which speak to specific capabilities, such as durability and brightness. Swaroclean is applied to the exterior of the lenses and helps ensure that they are easy to clean and care for, and creates a Teflon-like nonstick surface that repels dust and debris.
FOV: Finally, we come to the field of view, or FOV as it’s abbreviated. The EL series of binoculars features the widest possible field of view, combined with edge-to-edge sharpness. According to the manufacturer, you get 399 feet per 1,000 yards with a 7.6-degree field of view for users with and without glasses
Focusing and Use
No innovative lens design, ergonomic grip, or amplification technology will do you any good if your binoculars are difficult to use. Thankfully, this pair provides simple but effective functionality. All you need to do is turn the focus wheel.
It is knurled to provide nonslip benefits, but it is also solid, rather than hollow. That provides a better feel and more heft during use. The wheel and focus mechanism are also designed to deliver reliable, accurate functionality for years of use.
While Swarovski has done a lot to help ensure protection for these lenses, coatings can only do so much. Lens caps are necessary to prevent dirt, dust, and debris from scratching them. However, the manufacturer was not content to use conventional removable lens caps and, instead, created a pair of connected lens caps that can be taken off the lens without being removed from the binoculars. With that being said, they can be removed if you prefer. Simply pull the tab to remove them from their mounting position.
What’s Included in the Package?
Wondering what you get for the price with these binoculars? Swarovski does a good job of covering their bases here. This is what you’ll get in the package:
- One pair of Swarovski 8.5×42 EL Binoculars in green
- One field bag for carrying and storage (soft)
- Two integrated objective lens covers
- Two ocular lens covers
- One lift carry strap
What’s the Final Say?
To round out our Swarovski EL 8 5×42 EL review, we’ll point out some of the most important pros and cons with these binoculars.
- Edge-to-edge sharpness
- Flattened objective lens design
- Ergonomic barrels
- Integrated objective lens covers
- Limited lifetime warranty and 10-year warranty
- Excellent magnification
- Great field performance
- Does not come with a body harness, only a lift strap
- Some customers have reported difficulty using the new strap securement system
Frequently Asked Questions
While we might have concluded our Swarovski EL 8 5×42 review, chances are good that you still have some questions about binoculars in general. This is particularly true if this is your first purchase, but it also applies to intermediate users. Below, we will walk you through some of the most frequently asked questions about binoculars and what you need to know before making a purchase.
Are Binoculars Better Than Spotting Scopes?
There is no “right” answer here. Both binoculars and spotting scopes serve similar purposes. That is, they bring distant objects nearer. The same is true for telescopes. Which is right for you? That will require that you define your needs and understand the differences between the various tools.
For instance, suppose you’re into bird-watching. Both spotting scopes and binoculars can be used here. Spotting scopes might even seem to have a slight edge since they are sometimes more powerful than binoculars.
However, you need to think about things like ease of use. While spotting scopes can be used by hand, they’re often better off being mounted to a monopod or tripod. That can be challenging to do while you’re hiking in the brush. On the other hand, binoculars can be tethered around your neck or attached to a chest harness, ensuring easy access even in tough conditions.
No one answer will satisfy everyone. Define what you want and need in terms of usability, convenience, and portability. Then match those requirements to the device. You might find that a spotting scope is right for you, but many people will find HD binoculars are a better fit.
Why Should I Use a Chest Harness for My Binoculars?
For those who used binoculars in years past, you’re familiar with the neck strap. It’s a simple affair that attaches to two points on the outside of the binoculars and then loops over your neck. It doesn’t get much easier to use. Think of it as being similar to a lanyard that holds a bade or something similar.
However, while neck-straps are simple and easy to use, they’re not all that great unless you’re sitting motionless. A neck strap will be just fine if you’re sitting in a boat, a blind, or hide, but what if you’re in motion? Anyone who’s used a strap before is familiar with the chest-thumping discomfort that occurs with motion.
The binoculars swing away from your chest, then come right back to hit you. That is uncomfortable enough to warrant another solution, but understand it’s not all about your comfort. There’s the potential for those very expensive binoculars to swing away from your body and connect with a tree or rocks, causing damage.
A chest harness eliminates that possibility by limiting travel. It wraps around your body and holds the binoculars close to your chest. That frees you up to hike as you need and to have both hands available to steady yourself, rather than being forced to hold your binoculars to prevent damage and potentially causing an accident.
You’ll note that the Swarovski binoculars reviewed above do not come with a chest harness. They do come with a neck strap. However, we recommend upgrading if you’ll be using these in active situations.
What Is the Best Way to Clean My Binoculars?
The Swarovski EL binoculars we reviewed use Swaroclean as a protective layer on the objective and ocular lenses. This creates a nonstick surface that helps to repel dust. However, you can still expect some dust to accumulate over time during normal usage. It’s also entirely possible to get fingerprints on the lenses.
The best way to clean them is to use the included microfiber cleaning cloth. Clean your lenses the same way you would eyeglasses – limit your use of cleaning sprays and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for deep cleaning. Most users will be fine with occasionally wiping the lenses to clean them.
What Do the Numbers Mean?
When you look at a pair of binoculars, you’ll see a series of numbers somewhere on the barrels or chassis. It is also usually part of the product name. For instance: Swarovski 8.5×42. Those numbers are important to know, as they give you some pretty critical information.
The first number is the magnification level offered by the binoculars. For our review, that’s 8.5x what you can see with the naked eye. The second number, 42 in this case, is the size of the objective lens in millimeters (42mm).
Is Higher Magnification Always Better?
There’s a notion that more magnification is always better. Many people shop for binoculars with magnification capabilities as their primary criteria. That’s understandable but incorrect. Magnification does play an important role, but it is not the most important factor to consider.
You also need to think about things that will impact your usability and user experience, such as lens coatings, sharpness, focus mechanics, and more. After all, being able to zoom in very close does you little good if the image is blurry or if the colors are not truly represented. For most users, 8x to 10x is ample magnification for just about anything.
Within this Swarovski EL 8 5×42 review, we’ve covered the features and functionality offered by this pair of binoculars. As you can see from the information above, it delivers some pretty interesting capabilities and benefits, and it certainly stands out from the competition for many reasons. We’ve also covered some of the most frequently asked questions to help you make an informed purchase decision.