I use Swarovski scopes and binoculars, and am more than happy with them.  Following is a review of their CL Pocket binoculars that I did for the SSAA, a few yeras ago.

I crawled in behind some fallen, dead trees and slowly raised my head.  About one hundred metres ahead of me, amongst a sea of dark shapes in the shadows of the gidgee scrub, one particular silhouette moved slightly.

Without taking my eyes off that movement I shrugged the Ruger RSI 7×57 carbine off my shoulder then with practiced ease slowly, and quietly, opened the action.  Soundlessly I slipped a round into the chamber.  It was a handloaded 140 grain Nosler Partition.  Leaving the action slightly ajar I raised the rifle to a ready position, taking a comfortable lean off the solid, dead timber.

Now that I was closer, I was positive I was looking at a big sow or maybe a boar.  Either way it was fair game.  While there were often small pigs to be found in the gidgee scrub, bigger specimens were few and far between.  I could clearly see a large, rounded dark shape and distinct ears.  The shape and the ears moved a little once more.  The gidgee was home to sheep, cattle and roos as well as the occasional pig, so I needed to be sure before I considered pulling the trigger.

From my pocket I pulled a pair of compact 8x binoculars and brought them to eye.  I twitched the focus to get a razor sharp image and gave the animal intense scrutiny.  Now some, hopefully not many, folks might ask why did I not just look through the rifle scope.  One of the first things I had drummed into me as a youngster when I started shooting was to never, ever, point a rifle, loaded or unloaded, at anything I was not prepared to shoot.  I have been faithful to that principle all my shooting life.

Through the crisp Austrian optics I suddenly discovered that my “pig” was just a big, old buck Wallaroo.  In the mid morning heat he was hunkered down in a patch of dense shade amidst a jumble of old, darkened, fallen timber.  I chuckled to myself as I ejected the round.  It had been good fun stalking in on my quarry and I did not feel in any way disadvantaged in  not getting a shot.

Trophy hunters appreciate the need for good optics and it is a rare devotee of that sport who does not carry quality binoculars.  Often these folks opt for the bulkier and heavier binoculars in the 8 or 10 x 40 in order to get the very best in optical clarity and light gathering at dawn and dusk.

Compact, pocket-sized binoculars are generally in 8 or 10 x 20, or x 25 size.  The first number is the magnification while the second x number is the diameter of the objective lens in millimetres. The bigger the diameter of the objective lens the greater the light gathering ability of the binoculars.

I consider binoculars essential for any hunter, whether of the trophy, meat or pest persuasion.  Frankly, I am surprised that more hunters do not carry binoculars, particularly the pocket models.  These compact little binoculars can slip into a standard shirt pocket, producing a small, inconspicuous bulge.  Alternately, they can be folded together into an even more compact size and slipped in trouser pockets.

The compact and light weight of pocket binoculars makes them extremely useful in applications other than hunting.  Both outdoor and indoor events can be much better appreciated through a pair of 8x binoculars.  If not required they be slipped into a pocket or purse, conveniently and discreetly out of sight, and ready for instant use.

There has been a long standing acknowledgement that such pocket binoculars achieve this great convenience at the cost of some loss of optical sharpness and light gathering.  While that is essentially true, it is really only noticeable under very low light conditions and by comparison with bigger binoculars under the same conditions.  So to me, that argument is often over-stated for most applications.

In fact, recent technological advances are narrowing that gap in the technical specifications of pocket binoculars versus larger models.  This is no more apparent than in the new CL Pocket binoculars from Swarovski which became available in September 2013.  Swarovski have once again raised the ante in field optics with these new CL Pocket models.

Following on with the same optical innovations that were show-cased in the 2010 release of their updated EL series binoculars, Swarovski have applied these newly developed lens designs and coatings, collectively known as “Swarovision”, to the new CL Pocket binoculars.  Two new models, the 8×25 B and the 10×25 B have been released.  See the specification table for a detailed technical comparison.

The visual clarity and colour rendition of these new Swarovski binoculars have been significantly improved by Swarovision features such as Swarodur & Swarotop coatings for optimal image brightness and contrast.  Swarobright produces maximum colour fidelity while Swaroclean coatings on the external lenses repels moisture and dirt.  This makes keeping the glass surfaces clean during use much easier. 

In field testing the CL Pockets alongside of my 10×42 ELs I felt that there were negligible differences in image quality between the different models when used in normal daylight conditions.  By image quality I mean the combination of various aspects, such as optical sharpness, depth of focus, full field of view clarity, contrast and colour rendition that we perceive as an overall image quality.  Certainly in the period following sunset, through the night to first light, the bigger objective lenses of the 10×42 EL binoculars clearly had an advantage, as you would expect. 

Focussing was fast and precise. Five quarter-turn flicks of the focussing knob took me from the minimum distance of 2.5 metres out to infinity.  The rubberised coating on the alloy metal housing provides a comfortable grip, while the small size and light weight of the CL Pocket binoculars make them easy to hold, and focus, one handed for extended periods of time – something that can become a chore with larger, heavier binoculars.  Despite their light weight these new Swarovski CL Pocket binoculars offer the expected toughness for field use in all terrains, with dust proofing, anti-fog filling, waterproofing to 4 metres and an ability to function over an extreme range of temperatures.

Another excellent innovation that Swarovski have introduced on these CL Pocket binoculars is big diameter eyepieces with a large adjustment range.  This allows spectacle wearers to use these new compact binoculars without loss of field of view.  For naked eye viewing the big eyepieces sit snugly against the eye sockets for a firm, comfortable and steady view as you find on larger sized binoculars.

These changes mean that the eye strain normally associated with extended use of compact binoculars has been largely eliminated.  That is a major benefit that should not be understated, especially for trophy hunters and birdwatchers who can spend a lot of time looking through their binoculars. 

The majority of people have some difference between each eye.  The Swarovski CL Pocket binoculars have a diopter adjustment located at the front of the bridge.  Having focussed the left eye on a suitable object, the dioptre knob is then adjusted to give a clear picture for the right eye.  Once that is done the binoculars are set for that particular user, giving a matching sharp image to both left and right eyes for any focussing distance.

The dimensions and weight of the 8×25 and 10×25 models are virtually identical, allowing the decision on which model best suits an individual to be made purely on expected usage.  Typically, hunters would likely lean towards the 8×25 while birdwatchers would generally favour the 10×25.  Either way, many of the perceived shortcomings of compact binoculars have been laid to rest by these latest models from Swarovski.  It is well worth visiting your local optical store to see for yourself just how good these new compacts are.

Specification Table for Swarovski CL Pocket Binoculars

Swarovski Model

8×25 B CL Pocket

10×25 B CL Pocket

Magnification

8x

10x

Objective lens diameter

25 mm

25 mm

Waterproof to depth

4 m / 13 ft

4 m / 13 ft

Length (with eyecups twisted in)

110 mm / 4.30 in

110 mm / 4.30 in

Width closed

65 mm / 2.60 in

65 mm / 2.60 in

Weight

345 g / 12.2 oz

350 g / 12.3 oz

Housing

rubber coated alloy

rubber coated alloy

Colours

green / tan / black

green / tan / black

Accessories

field case & strap

field case & strap

Exit pupil diameter

3.1 mm / 0.12 in

2.5 mm / 0.10 in

Exit pupil distance

17 mm / 0.67 in

17 mm / 0.67 in

Field of view (m/1000m & ft/1000yards)

119 m / 357 ft

98 m / 294 ft

Field of view naked eye (degrees)

6.8

5.6

Field of view for spectacles (degrees)

6.8

5.6

Field of view, apparent (degrees)

52

53

Shortest focusing distance

2.5 m / 8.2 ft

2.5 m / 8.2 ft

Dioptric compensation, left / right

± 5 dpt

± 5 dpt

Dioptric correction at infinity

6 dpt

8 dpt

Interpupillary distance

50 – 74 mm / 2.0 – 2.9 in

50 – 74 mm / 2.0 – 2.9 in

light transmission

88 %

88 %

Twilight factor as per DIN 58388

14.2

15.8

Number of optical elements

20

20

Storage temperature

-30 to +70 C / -22 to +158 F

-30 to +70 C / -22 to +158 F

Operating temperature

-25 to +55 C / -13 to +131 F

-25 to +55 C / -13 to +131 F