Swarovski SLC Binocular Review
Peter Jones reviews the Swarovski SLC 8x42 Binocular.
For those considering a purchase of some top quality optics, it is perhaps the name Swarovski, more than any other, that is at the fore front of most people’s minds, with Zeiss, Leica and one or two others also featuring fairly prominently.
(Above: The Swarovski SLC 8x42 Binocular)
More specifically, for most deer managers and stalkers, it has been Swarovski’s EL range that is he model being considered, and with which contenders are judged. It was therefore with great interest when Swarovski offered to let me trial a pair of Binoculars from their newly reintroduced SLC range.
Swarovski EL’s have, for some time now, been the ‘must have’ for not only deer stalkers but also Bird Watchers. In the UK, Bird Watchers represent the vast majority of Swarovski’s customer base, it seems however that Swarovski have identified what they consider to be a need for a slightly more affordable binocular, a binocular that has been unashamedly produced in order to catch the attention of hunters.
All Swarovski binoculars these days are quality products and have superb fluoride filled HD lenses that are treated with a non stick coating to disperse dirt and water. Irrespective of the range of Binocular that you purchase you will also get the same unrivalled level of after sales care for which Swarovski are known. When making an expensive purchase, this is peace of mind.
(Above: The Swarovski EL Range)
So what is it about the SLC that is different from the EL? Both are of a comparable weight and have the easily identifiable, green rubber armouring with comfortable thumb cut-aways on the underside of each barrel. The focus wheel on the SLC’s is also more or less identical to the EL design and operates smoothly and effectively, with around one and a half turns taking you from the closest focusing point to infinity.
So when comparing the two models it is the bridge design that first catches the eye. Unlike the EL range, the SLC sports a single broad bridge between the barrel’s, the EL’s on the other hand have a twin bridge that allows you to wrap your fingers more easily around the barrel. In my view the twin bridge design is a little easier to hold with one hand. Why this has been changed in the SLC’s? I do not know, it is very much a personal choice, however I have to declare my preference for the twin bridge design of the EL’s.
The second most noticeable difference is of course the price. The current RRP for a pair of Swarovski 8x42 SLC’s is £1,310-00 This is a marked difference and nearly six hundred pounds cheaper than a comparable pair of 8.5x42 EL’s priced with a current RRP of £1,900-00.
(Above: The SLC 8x42 Binocular in action recently in Scotland)
There must of course be sacrifices, but where have they been made, and do they matter? The first difference is in the focusing. The SLC binocular does not focus to such a short distance as the EL’s. Is this significant? Well No, not really. The SLC will still focus in to just a few yards and I’ve not been glassing many deer lately at shorter distances! No, this is not an issue, and if it means you save a few hundred pounds, then this is a sacrifice worth making and one that in all honesty, unless you are a bird watcher, you are never going to notice.
The second difference is around the very edges of the lenses. In the periphery of your vision, the outside 5-10% of the lenses do not quite match up to the clarity of the EL’s. This is of course another cost saving feature and perhaps the most important issue. However is there sizeable enough disparity between the two to justify the extra spend for the EL’s?
Well unless money is no object, then once again I’d have to say ‘No’ it’s not, at any rate not to deer stalkers. If you are a ‘Birdy’, and are not too pressed for cash, then I suspect you might go the extra mile in order to achieve clarity and colour right to the edge. After all when assessing fine detail in plumage, clarity and colour are overriding concerns. However for those that hunt deer I do not think that this marginal concession is one which will infringe on your enjoyment, or indeed your ability, to spot or identify your quarry.
Personally I have been fortunate enough to spend several months now with both the EL’s and the SLC’s. Both models represent a truly exceptional binocular. I have asked myself, if it were my money which would I go for? And I find myself unable to decide.
On occasion I find myself thinking that for deer stalking the SLC’s represent the best value for money. On other days, when perhaps feeling a little more ‘flush’, I find myself thinking that if I am going to make a sizeable spend, I might as well get the very best and go with the EL’s.....however if I am going to do that.....well what about the EL 10x42 range finders!
To read our review of the Swarovski EL Binocular please follow this link: swarovski-binocular-review
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