I can still remember the first time I heard that Swarovski made optics like the Swarovski EL 8.5×42 binoculars. I thought, “You mean that company that makes the fancy crystals makes binoculars too?”
Yes. Yes, it does.
Perhaps you think of Swarovski crystals first when you hear the company’s name, but now you should also think of binoculars because Swarovski is considered one of the top three (along with Zeiss and Leica) optics manufacturers in the world.
Note: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
Let’s take a look at the EL 8.5×42 binoculars to see why they’re very possibly the right optics for you.
You can skip to a section of special interest using the table below. Otherwise, just keep on reading.
Where Are Swarovski Binoculars Made?
All Swarovski optics are (and have always been) made in Austria. For those who prefer products made in the United States, this fact might at first turn you away. But it shouldn’t because the quality is so high. Maybe you can take consolation that they are not made in China, which doesn’t have the best reputation for quality at times.
The EL (which stands for Ergonomic and Light) Swarovski debuted in 1999. It was the first to sport the open-bridge design. You can wrap your fingers all the way around the binocular tubes. This give you a level of comfort (ergonomic!) and security that was hard to find in the vast majority of earlier designs (from any company).
Swarovski took this design up a notch in 2010 when they produced what they called the EL Swarovision models. The original ELs were made of aluminum, but the newer models are composed of magnesium which is very lightweight (light!) and durable.
EL Swarovision binoculars also have an open bridge but each barrel is slimmer than before. For most people, this gives them an even more comfortable to grip. That comfort translates into being able to hold the binoculars for a longer period of time. That makes them great for birding or amateur astronomy.
What Makes Swarovski Binoculars So Much Better?
EL Swarovision binoculars have lenses made of high-density (HD) glass that contains fluoride. This was a major improvement over the previous EL models and over binoculars made by many other manufacturers.
The HD glass by itself improves resolution, color, and contrast.
The cool thing about this type of glass is that it improves color accuracy and lessens or eliminates the dreaded chromatic aberration – those colored fringes on your target that really shouldn’t be there.
The lenses are fully multi-coated (the best type of coating you can get). What’s so great about that? The answer is that good coating lets in more light. More light means a better view.
Inside the tubes, the prisms have dielectric coatings which further optimizes the transmission of the light from end to end. Since these are roof prisms, phase correction also enhances resolution and contrast on the inside.
The entire setup of these binoculars, including “field flattener lenses”, provides a “flat” field of view. That means you’ll get a very sharp, clear image all around. Yes, it’s still three-dimensional, but it feels like 2D so all parts of what you are viewing look similar.
Another feature of this great glass is that its external surfaces are coated with the proprietary Swaroclean™. This is a special coating that is non-stick (reminding me of those frying pans you can get on TV), making them easier to keep clean.
Swarovski claims that at least 90% of the light available at the objective lens will pass through the binoculars to your eye. So as you can see, Swarovski has done pretty much everything possible to make these binoculars top-notch.
How Do the Swarovski EL 8.5×42 Features Compare to Other Binoculars?
Reasons #6 and More
Here are some of the more important specifications of the EL 8.5×42 model that you can use to compare to other binoculars. I think that in most, if not all, cases, you will find that these specs meet or exceed those of other binoculars you might be interested in that are in the same class.
- Eye relief – 20mm
- Field of view – 399 ft.
- Close focus – 4.9 ft.
- Dioptric compensation – ± 5
- Diopter correction at infinity – 6
- Interpupillary distance – 2.2-2.9 in.
- Length – 6.3 in.
- Width – 5.2 in.
- Height – 2.4 in.
- Weight 29.5 oz.
- Functional temperature – -13 °F to +131 °F
- Storage temperature – -22 °F to +158 °F
- Waterproof depth – 13 ft.
As suggested in the list above, these binoculars come with a diopter for those with varying (left and right) eye strengths.
For those who prefer to wear their eyeglasses when viewing, there are eyecups that you can adjust to multiple positions. Set them wherever it feels best for you.
Also, as hinted at above, this model is both waterproof (using O-ring sealers) and fogproof (nitrogen-filled barrels).
What Accessories Come with the Purchase of the EL 8.5×42 Binoculars?
You get a snapshot adapter that lets you attach a point-and-shoot camera (not a DSLR), so you can capture digitally what you have seen in the distance.
Other items include the following.
- Objective lens covers
- Neck strap
Finally, the warranty the Swarovski provides is quite good and the company is known to be even more generous than the actual warranty states when it comes to problems you may encounter with their optics. (Any problems are likely to be few and far between anyway.)
There is a lifetime warranty on the optical system when you, as a US resident, make your purchase from an authorized Swarovski Optik North American dealer. If you need warranty service, you’ll have to provide a copy of your receipt. The warranty does not cover accidental damage.
Making the Actual Purchase of Your Swarovski Binoculars
If you are really concerned about the warranty, make sure you buy your Swarovski EL 8.5×42 binoculars from an authorized dealer. Personally, I wouldn’t be all that concerned about it. How often do you invoke the warranty on anything else you buy?
If you don’t care that much about the warranty, any reputable dealer, such as many found on Amazon will suffice.