Binoculars review

Swarovski NL Pure 12x42

Swarovski NL Pure 12x42
31 August 2020
On July 1st 2020 Swarovski Optic presented their new series of binoculars called NL Pure (NL standing for Nature Lover). It comprises of three roof prism models with the following parameters: 8x42, 10x42 and 12x42. As it befits the top-of-the-range series of a renowned producer they are supposed to offer all the best: excellent optics joined with high quality antireflection SWAROTOP and SWARODUR coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces (minimizing losses of light to 0.2% on one surface) and reflective dielectric SWAROBRIGHT coatings on one of surfaces of roof prisms system.

A truly intriguing shape of binoculars' contoured barrels, with untypical indentations in places where you usually place your hands to hold the instrument, sticks out at once. It was explained that the location of roof prisms had been changed (they were rotated relative to each other) in order to allow such a profile of the binoculars' barrels. As a result it became more comfortable and safer to hold, ensuring a firmer grip.

Fields of view of the new binoculars are the second, very interesting thing. The 8x42 model features a field of view as wide as 9.1 degrees, the 10x42 instrument's field of view is 7.6 degrees and the 12x42 binoculars feature a field as wide as 6.5 degrees. Construction of such wide angle eyepieces that, additionally, are supposed to correct properly optical aberrations up to the very edge of the field and assure you a comfortable eye relief, amounting to 18 mm, needs without doubt a complex optical system. Despite that complexity Swarovski claims that the overall transmission of their new binoculars reaches a very high level of 91%.

Buyers get in the box: caps for objective lenses and a joined cap for eyepieces, a strap, a very stylish case with its own strap, a soap and brush cleaning kit and a mcrofibre cloth. The product comes with a 10-year warranty period of the producer. You can also buy a special forehead rest for 129 Euro which is supposed to stabilize the binoculars during long observations, a very welcome feature especially in a case of the 12x42 model.

  • Lornetka Swarovski NL Pure 12x42
  • Lornetka Swarovski NL Pure 12x42
  • Lornetka Swarovski NL Pure 12x42
  • Lornetka Swarovski NL Pure 12x42
Manufacturer data


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Magnification Lens diameter Angular field of view Prisms Eye relief Weight Price
12 42 113/1000(6.5o) BaK-4/roof 18 mm 840 g 12990 PLN
Results of the review
Real front lens diameter Left:   42+/- 0.05 mm
Right:  42+/- 0.05 mm
8 / 8.0 pkt
Real magnification 12.08+/- 0.05x 3/3.0
Transmission 89+/- 1% 17/25.0
Chromatic aberration Corrected perfectly in the centre, a bit lower than medium on the edge. 8.5/10.0
Astigmatism Sensation. Stars are as point-like as it is only possible. 9.8/10.0
Distortion Distance of the first curved line from the field of view centre compared to the field of view radius: 86% ± 4% 10/10.0
Coma Starts in a distance of 60% of the field of view radius and is between very low and low on the very edge. 7.5/10.0
Blurring at the edge of the FOV Sharp image practically to the very edge of that huge field of view. Near the diaphragm itself you can notice slight worsening of quality but it's really a negligible effect. 10/10.0
Darkening at the edge the FOV Negligible. 4.5/5.0
Whiteness of the image Excellent. Almost flat transmission curve with a very shallow dip near 520 nm. In the blue part of the visible spectrum transmission level reaches 90% which is pretty high. 4.8/5.0
Collimation Perfect. 5/5.0
Internal reflections
Left: Right:
Swarovski NL Pure 12x42 - Internal reflections - Left Swarovski NL Pure 12x42 - Internal reflections - Right
The situation is not ideal – close to the pupil you can notice a ligher area and a bright arc. One glance at bright lampposts reveals that images are properly contrasted but the situation is not so perfect. When you move the binoculars sometimes you can catch one 'ghost' but, fortunately, its size is not big and its intensity is low. Perhaps it is a result of lack of proper blackening when it comes to parts near the focusing element.
Housing Very solid but slimmer than the EL series instruments. Indentations made after turning the prisms fit your hands very well so this instrument is a joy to hold and to look through. Still we notices traces of glue and seams on the rubber armour, not especially a nice sight. Rubberized eyecups are comfortable around your eye sockets; they have four detention stops. Binoculars produced in Austria. 7.8/8.0
Focusing Compared to the EL series the focusing screw changed a lot. Now it is covered by the bridge and behind you find a small joystick for dioptre correction. It looks and performs better than in case of the predecessors, resistance is a bit higher but everything moves as it should. Characteristic for other Swarovski devices you have to turn the screw a lot – its focus throw amounts to an angle of about 700 degrees. 5/5.0
Tripod You can buy a special brand name adapter. 2/3.0
Interpupilary distance from 55.9 to 74.1mm 5/6.0
Closest focusing distance 2.45 meters. 2/2.0
Eyepieces FOV Eyepieces with an apparent field of view of 78.0 degrees (according to the simplified formula) and 68.6 degrees (according to the tangent formula). 18/20.0
Field of view Measured by us amounted to 6.46 ± 0.04 degrees and it was, within the margin of error, in accordance with official specifications. A huge field of view for this class of equippment. 8/8.0
Quality of the interior of the barrels Interior of the tubes is dark, matt and ribbed in some places. Bottoms near the prisms are also dark and matt. The edge of the case surrounding the focusing element is a bit too bright. Additionally, when the focusing element moves towards the prisms and eyepieces, it reveals an internal tube which is equally bright but quite matt. We don't have any reservations concerning cleanliness inside the binoculars. We didn't find any specks of dust or dirt on the optics. 4.2/5.0
Left: Right:
Swarovski NL Pure 12x42 - Vignetting - Left Swarovski NL Pure 12x42 - Vignetting - Right
OL: 0.56% OR: 0.59 %
Prisms quality High quality BaK-4. 8/8.0
Antireflection coatings Green-yellow-purple on the objective lenses, green-yellow on the prisms, pink-green-yellow on the eyepieces. Low intensity. 5/5.0
Warranty [years] 10 4.5/6.0
Final result
167.3 / 190 pkt
Econo result 0pkt.


  • solid, stylish and handy casing,
  • very wide field of view,
  • good transmission level, in accordance with official declarations,
  • excelllent colour rendering,
  • sharp images across the whole field of view,
  • sensational correction of astigmatism,
  • slight chromatic aberration,
  • very low distortion with a good control of the rolling-ball effect,
  • low coma on the edge of the field of view,
  • good blackening and cleanliness inside the tubes,
  • coatings of excellent quality,
  • high quality prisms made of BaK-4 glass.

  • price?

We've dedicated a long article to the Swarovski NL Pure 12x42 binoculars, sharing our first impressions after handling that instrument for the first time so we are not going to repeat ourselves. Let's just sum up the most important things.

For many people even the EL Swarovision series is already close to perfection. Still the Swarovski company proved that they can produce something better. The build quality (better focusing mechanims), ergonomics (profiled tubes are indeed more comfortable to handle and make the binoculars more slim), and appearance of the new device are simply beyond reproach.

Swarovski NL Pure 12x42 and Swarovski EL 8.5x42 Swarovision.

Still the fact that they managed to correct such a wide field of view so well surprised and impressed us the most. When I saw specifications of the new NL Pure series for the first time I really doubted whether they would manage to guarantee high image quality on the edge of the field, similar to that of their predecessors. My doubts mainly concerned the 12x42 model with the most extreme wide-angle eyepieces applied.

Still I have to admit Swarovski managed that task exceedingly well. Sharpness is kept on a very high level practically till the very diaphragm, astigmatims remains invisible and chromatic aberration is corrected even better than in the case of EL series instruments. Only coma appears a bit faster but, after all, the field of that instrument is also wider so it can be justified up to a point.

We were very curious about transmission of the NL Pure 12x42 and for more than one reason. Firstly, we were wondering whether those 91%, declared by the producer, would be confirmed. Secondly, in our first impressions we wrote about a slight difference in hues of coatings that covered the objective lenses, especially when you looked at an obtuse angle. Drawing our transmission graph we decided to show two curves, one for each optical path.

As you see, once again Swarovski specialists have risen to the challenge. Above all you can notice a perfect coordination of both curves – they practically cover each other. Secondly, the maximum transmission we got near 600 nm wavelenth amounted to 91.7%, a value you can find in official parameters, stated by Swarovski. It's a pity there is a dip in the centre of the visible spectrum - because of it transmission decreases a tad below 90%. Still you are compensated by an excellent performance at the shortest wavelengths – there are few pairs of binoculars that get a result of 90% at that place.

A flat transmission curve and high values, oscillating near 90%, joined with a sensational correction of off-axis aberrations make images, provided by the NL Pure 12x42 very bright, vivid, with natural colours and great contrast. It would be really difficult to show any other set of binoculars which would be able to beat that.

Swarovski NL Pure 12×42 and Swarovski EL 8.5×42 Swarovision

The Swarovski wasn't better than the unique Nikons WX. Still the WX devices are very specific – heavy and big, clearly earmarked for stationary observations with a tripod. NL Pure are terrain binoculars which can be carried around and taken on any trip or hunting expedition you can think of. Their weight is not a trifle for the 42 mm class but in return they will provide brilliant image quality and exceeding ergonomics.

Sad but true: the necessity of sending back the NL Pure 12x42 after a round of testing was undoubtedly one of the hardest decisions I have to make as a tester, an optics fiend and a connoisseur of good optical instruments. It simply broke my heart. For the entire week, every pair of binoculars from my private collection seemed to be just average by comparison...