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Binoculars review

Swarovski EL 10x42 WB

Swarovski EL 10x42 WB
11 May 2010
Optyczne.pl 
The Swarovski EL 10x42 WB is one of the most expensive compact set of binoculars on the market. More pricey are only the most sophisticated models from other producers, equipped with additional options such as range-finders, changeable magnification or image stabilization system or huge, high-powered observation binoculars with the objective lenses bigger than 100 mm.

The EL series consists of four roof prism instruments with the following parameters: 8x32, 10x32, 8.5x42 and 10x42.

All the optical elements of the binoculars are covered by high quality multilayer antireflection coatings (SWAROTOP/SWARDOUR on lenses and SWAROBRIGHT on prisms). According to the producer after using those coatings the light losses on any air-to-glass surfaces don’t exceed 0.2%. Additionally, the prisms are covered by so-called P layers, which damp down flared and eliminate light interference near the edges of roof prisms. The newest binoculars from this series have also an extra layer on the outer lenses, which prevents dust and dirt ingress and makes the cleaning easier.

The binoculars’ housing is made of magnesium alloys, padded with a high quality, anti-allergic rubber armour. The instrument is hermetically sealed, shockproof, dustproof, filled with nitrogen and watertight down to a depth of four meters. The EL series binoculars can be stored in a temperature range from –30 to 70 degrees C and work properly in –25 to +55 degrees C range.

Pictures
  • Lornetka Swarovski EL 10x42 WB
  • Lornetka Swarovski EL 10x42 WB
  • Lornetka Swarovski EL 10x42 WB
  • Lornetka Swarovski EL 10x42 WB
Manufacturer data

Manufacturer:

Swarovski
web site

Distribution / Sales:

Hubertus Pro Hunting
web site

Magnification Lens diameter Angular field of view Prisms Eye relief Weight Price
10 42 110/1000(6.3o) BaK-4/roof 15 mm 780 g 6900 PLN
Results of the review
Real front lens diameter Left:   42.24+/- 0.05 mm
Right:  42.2+/- 0.05 mm
8 / 8.0 pkt
Real magnification 9.87+/- 0.15x 3/3.0
Transmission 94+/- 3% 14/15.0
Chromatic aberration Very low in the centre, clearly visible at the edge. 7/10.0
Astigmatism Negligible. 8.5/10.0
Distortion The distance of the first curved line from the field centre compared to the field of view radius : 31% +\- 5% 3/10.0
Coma Low. 7.7/10.0
Blurring at the edge of the FOV The blur occurs in the distance of 87% +\- 5% from the field of view centre. 7/10.0
Darkening at the edge the FOV Negligible. 4.7/5.0
Whiteness of the image Perfect! 5/5.0
Collimation Exemplary. 5/5.0
Internal reflections
Left: Right:
Swarovski EL 10x42 WB - Internal reflections - Left Swarovski EL 10x42 WB - Internal reflections - Right
Noticeable.
3.5/5.0
Housing Very solid, comfortable to hold and to look through. There are thumb grooves. Physically light. Regulated eyecups with the possibility of buying angled ones. Perfect! 8/8.0
Focusing Very comfortable central screw. Moves smoothly. Individual focusing through a click stop system but with a ratchet. No lens moves outside. 5/5.0
Tripod You can buy a brand-name attachment as an accessory. 2/3.0
Interpupilary distance from 56 to 74mm 5/6.0
Closest focusing distance 2.0 m 2/2.0
Eyepieces FOV Apparent field of view of 61.1 degrees. 7/10.0
Field of view Measured by us amounted to 6.19 +\- 0.04 degrees and was slightly narrower that stated in specifications. 6.5/8.0
Quality of the interior of the barrels Dark but not entirely matt. You can see small fixing screws. Perfectly clean. 4.4/5.0
Vignetting
Left: Right:
Swarovski EL 10x42 WB - Vignetting - Left Swarovski EL 10x42 WB - Vignetting - Right
No. OP: 0.0%, OL: 0.0%.
8/8.0
Prisms quality High class BaK-4. 8/8.0
Antireflection coatings Orange-pink-green everywhere. Low intensity. 5/5.0
Warranty [years] 30 years 5/6.0
Final result
83.7%
5th place in the overall ranking of the 10x42 binoculars test.
142.3 / 170 pkt
Econo result 47th place in the econo ranking of the 10x42 binoculars test. -7.3pkt.

Summary


Pros:
  • excellent quality of housing and workmanship,
  • high transmission,
  • high quality of coatings and prisms,
  • perfect whiteness reproduction,
  • low astigmatism,
  • slight coma,
  • negligible light fall-off at the edge of the field,
  • sharp image in almost all the field of view,
  • long warranty.

Cons:
  • too high chromatic aberration at the edge of the field of view,
  • significant distortion.

There’s no doubt the Swarovski EL 10X42 is an excellent pair of binoculars. There’s no doubt either that such a product is always assessed from its price point of view. In this case the price is astronomical indeed which makes the final assessment not so perfect. First of all, if you buy a pair of binoculars with the price tag of more than 2000 USD, you should expect ideal optical properties. The EL, tested here, had two significant slip-ups in that category. Its chromatic aberration at the edge of the field would be acceptable perhaps in a 500 USD price range instrument. In the case of 2000 USD binoculars such a slip-up is jarring, especially as the manufacturer can afford using high class low-dispersion glass which would deal with the aberration perfectly. The same is true when it comes to the second flaw, listed above – the distortion. In such an instrument it should have been significantly lower.

The third slip-up, a bit less serious, are flares near the exit pupil area. All the Swarovski SLC series lenses which we have tested so far, have had exemplary pupils – perfectly circular, on a pitch black background! The EL binoculars was supposed to be even better than the SLC instruments but it is not the case and in this category it visibly lags behind.

We also can’t restrain ourself from comparing the result of the EL instrument with a test result of a Bushnell Elite 10x43. They are very much alike but the Elite is smaller, physically lighter, its objective lens – by 1 mm wider and the eye relief - by 2 mm longer. The Elite scored just one small point less in the test but its price is twice lower than the price of the Swarovski, and it’s not good news for the more expensive instrument. I, for instance, wouldn’t have any problems with the choice between those two.